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FG Recovers N18bn Looted Funds – Minister

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The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami (SAN), says the Federal Government has recovered N15billion and $10.5 million so far in its asset recovery drive.
Malami disclosed this yesterday in Abuja when the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters visited the ministry on its oversight function to appraise the 2016 budget performance of the ministry.
“Let me put it on record that the Federal Ministry of Justice has equally significantly recorded success in the recovery drive as it relates to the looted funds.
“In that regard and direction, over N15billion has been recovered by the ministry and $10.5million was equally recovered in that direction,’’ Malami said.
The minister said that exclusive of the recoveries, the revenue profile of the ministry as at December 31, 2016, was N12.4million.
He said this was generated from sale of journals, renting of part of the headquarters building to commercial entities, use of its conference hall, tender fees and sale of un-serviceable items.
He added that the total expenditure profile of the ministry within the same period was N3.7billion, including personnel and non-regular allowances.
The chief law officer of the country said that the ministry, by virtue of its mandate, was in a vantage position to articulate and implement the present administration’s broad policy objectives in four major priority areas.
“The anti-corruption campaign, the recovery of stolen national assets, the rule of law component of the anti-terrorism war and the institutionalisation of law and order in all aspects of national life,’’ he said.
On Nigeria’s non-membership of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), Malami explained that it will take the collaboration of both the executive and the legislature to scale all the hurdles.
“Among some of the demands required to become a member are the passing of the Money Laundering Act, Proceeds of Crime Act and Autonomy of the Financial Task Force.
“All these bills are still pending before the legislature and have not been passed, so we need to work together to get Nigeria registered.’’
The Chairman of the Committee, Sen. David Umaru (APC-Niger) said the 2016 budget was fraught with challenges but noted that the ministry and its parastatals was able to make judicious use of it.
He said the committee was not oblivious of the recent economic challenges in the country and was already preparing for the 2017 budget defence.
Umaru said the committee would work in consultation with the executive, particularly the justice ministry, to ensure that the budget was passed so as to address the economic situation in the country.
He added that the committee was also working to ensure that all bills necessary to make the work of the ministry and its parastatals easier were been looked into with a view to passing them soon.
A member of the committee, Sen. Chukwuka Utazi (PDP-Enugu) decried Nigeria’s non-membership of the FATF.
According to Utazi, as a country that really wants to fight corruption, if we are on the FATF, it will help us to recover some of the stolen assets.
“Nigeria is not a member of FATF, this is a very important membership which we have not yet gotten and this can help us recover stolen assets since it is one of its core mandates.’’
He lamented that office of the attorneys-general always put in applications for membership every year but failed to follow it through.
The lawmaker said that the shuttle diplomacy Nigeria was engaging in would not yield much without a membership of the FATF as no other member would give Nigeria support unless it was registered.
It would be recalled that N3.9billion was appropriated for the main ministry in the 2016 budget with overhead cost taking over N1.7billion.
Meanwhile, the House of Representatives has begun investigation of the allegedly missing $1.1billion signature bonuses which accrued to the country from Oil Prospecting Licences (OPLs).
Consequently, the House has invited the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr Godwin Emefiele; the Group Managing Director, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation NNPC), Dr Maikanti Baru, and the Executive Secretary, Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), Mr Mordecai Baba Ladan, to come and explain the whereabouts of the money.
The chief executives are expected to appear before the ad-hoc committee of the House on Oil Prospecting Licences (OPLs) and Oil Mining Leases (OMLs) on Monday, February 1, 2017.
The committee had Wednesday refused to grant audience to representatives of the agencies, as they observed that none of them could present a letter authorising them to represent their chief executives in that capacity.
The committee particularly complained that the CBN boss had ignored the three letters it had written to the apex bank, and threatened to issue a warrant of arrest on Emefiele should he fail to appear before it as scheduled.
Chairman of the committee, Hon. Gideon Gwani, noted that the signature bonuses paid by owners of some OPLs, which amounted to over $1billion, could not be traced.
According to Gwani, all efforts to trace the money were futile as the DPR, CBN, Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF), NNPC and the accountant-general’s office denied the committee details of the transaction.
He explained that the DPR could not confirm if the fees claimed to have been paid by the oil companies had actually been received by the government through the CBN, the banker to the Federal Government.
“It has been realised through our investigation that we need, seriously, evidence to prove that signature bonuses are paid,” he said.
Gwani stated further that the DPR advised the committee to request the information directly from the CBN, while the CBN told the committee to liaise with the NNPC on OPLs and OMLs, with the DPR on royalties, and with the accountant-general of the federation on signature bonuses.
The committee established that signature bonuses amounting to $835 million, which accrued from OPL 250, 291, 332, 276, 321,323,283,315, 257, 279, 285, 288, 298, 471, 289, 284 and 236, as well as part payment of $271.18 million signature bonuses from OPL 214, 324, 320, 318, 256, 242, 223, 221, 245, 247, 322, 248 and 249, could not be traced.
“We need evidence that full payments were made for OPLs 250, 291, 332, 276, 321, 323, 283, 315, 257, 279, 285, 288, 298, 471, 289, 284 and 236, and the total amount we are looking for is $835 million.
“We also need evidence of part payments of OPLs 214, 324, 320, 318, 256, 242, 223, 221, 245, 247, 322, 248 and 249, which amount to $271.18million, leaving the balance of $648.2million,” Gwani said.
Although the committee acknowledged that most of the OPLs had been converted to OMLs, Gwani said they were listed at their state when the transactions took place.
“Most of the OPLs have been converted to OMLs, but we have chosen to list them at the state at which the debt and payment occurred,” he clarified.
The lawmaker explained that the committee was mandated by the House of Representatives to investigate the award of all OPLs and OMLs granted to oil companies by the Federal Government, to, among other things, ascertain whether due process and guidelines for the acquisition of oil and gas assets were complied with.
“It is, therefore, noteworthy that payment of fees before and after the acquisition of oil blocks fall part of due process required to be fulfilled by the Petroleum Act, which this committee was mandated to investigate,” he said.
Gwani pointed out that the agencies’ refusal to provide required information spoils the image of government and undermines its fight against corruption, adding that “The development is unfortunate, especially at the time when the government is in dire need of money to fund its projects.”

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Boko Haram Killed 847 Soldiers, Buried In Borno Cemetery, Ndume Reveals …48 Doctors Abducted In Two Years, NMA Laments

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The Chairman, Senate Committee on Army, Senator Ali Ndume, said on yesterday that 847 Nigerian soldiers killed by the Boko Haram terrorists from 2013 till date were buried in the Military cemetery located in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital.
He said the figure did not include other soldiers killed by the insurgents and buried in other military cemeteries located in other parts of the North-East geopolitical zone.
Ndume, who stated this while briefing journalists in Abuja on the findings by his colleagues who recently returned from Maiduguri, however, denied reports of mass burial of soldiers killed by the terrorists.
He also said the Senate panel was already investigating allegations that some non-governmental agencies operating in the North-East were providing useful information to the Boko Haram leaders.
Ndume also dismissed claims of the existence of mass graves where soldiers killed by Boko Haram insurgents had been buried.
He said during the visit of his committee to theatre commands in Borno State, it was discovered that soldiers were under-equipped to confront the insurgents.
Ndume also decried the inadequate number of soldiers confronting insurgents.
He called on the government to recruit more men into the service to aid the fight.
However, as the Chairman, Senate Committee on Army, Senator Ali Ndume, yesterday, alleged that a total number of 847 soldiers were killed and buried in the military cemetery in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital, the Nigerian Army has challenged him to provide a proof to substantiate his statement.
Ndume had reported that 840 Nigerian soldiers were killed by Boko Haram terrorists from 2013 till date, noting that other soldiers killed by the same insurgents, and were buried in other military cemeteries are not inclusive.
But in a repost by Army’s spokesman, Col Sagir Musa, the Nigerian Army quashed the allegation, and challenged Ndume to provide a proof to substantiate his statement.
Musa said, “If he says so, then, he should substantiate. What is his source? Let him provide it”.
Similarly, the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) has raised the alarm that no fewer than 48 medical doctors have been abducted across the country in the last two years.
Its National President, Dr Francis Faduyile, who said this in Akure during the association’s 2019 Physicians Week, described the development as worrisome and unacceptable.
Faduyile lamented that “Some of our members that were kidnapped in some cases even died in the kidnappers’ den.
“At least, two doctors have been kidnapped in two-third of the states across the country within the last two years.
“It is worthy of note that all is not well with Nigerian doctors, the kidnapping of our members in the course of discharging their duties to the Nigerian state with some still in captivity.
“Incessant harassment/assaults by patients and their relations and the unfortunate maltreatment by employers (government), ranging from poor general working environment and emoluments to irregular payment of salaries with arrears running to 12 months or more in some states.
“Our members, two in number, kidnapped in Taraba in the last six months have not been released by their abductors.
Faduyile, therefore, appealed to government at all level to be more responsive and responsible to the welfare of Nigerian physicians who are making selfless sacrifices to sustain healthcare delivery in the country amidst challenges, including incessant harassment, kidnapping in the line of duty.
“The abysmal physicians to patients ratio and rise in brain drain brought about mainly by the poor general working condition in the health sector”.
He said the theme of this year’s Physicians Week, “Care of the Unknown Patient” was chosen to bring to fore issues affecting Nigerians who suddenly find themselves in an unconscious state from traumatic cause to majorly road traffic accident or medical conditions.
The NMA regretted that the government “has not deemed it pertinent to accord the desired attention and value to this category of patients.
“There is a lack of commitment to the implementation of the National Health Act which provides for the care of patients in an emergency situation.
“There is no enduring policy to cater for victims of a road traffic accident which accounts for large numbers of unknown patients”.
Faduyile equally lamented that there is no policy statement that clearly addresses the various components of the emergency care service for victims of gunshot injury.
The association, therefore, called for “an enduring and unambiguous policy statement that takes into consideration the critical aspects of care in an emergency.
“We advocate for the provision of defibrillators at the strategic public arena and health facilities for the prompt care of patients with a heart attack and related conditions either in the hospital setting or before taking such patients to a health care facilities for proper care”, he added.

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Recover Govt Property From Illegal Occupants, Wike Charges Task Force …Explains Focus On Massive Urban Renewal

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The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike has inaugurated the state Task Force for the Recovery of Government Properties, with a charge to members of the task force to work diligently for the state.
Inaugurating the committee in Government House, Port Harcourt, last Monday, Wike said several permanent secretaries and top civil servants have retired from service, but were still illegally occupying government quarters.
Wike noted that several attempts to ensure that they vacate government quarters, so that serving officers can reside in such houses have met with resistance from the retired senior civil servants.
“You are by this inauguration required to recover all government properties illegally occupied by some persons.
“There are many civil servants who have retired from service, but are still occupying government buildings several years after retirement. This has made it difficult for those in service to have official quarters allocated to them”, he said.
The governor told members of the task force that they would face challenges while carrying out their responsibilities, and advised them to be firm.
He assured that the Rivers State Government would provide the required security and logistical support for them to carry out their functions.
Wike said that some top civil servants have gone as far as taking illegal measures to own government properties, noting that in some blocks of flats, some have gone to illegally acquire Certificates of Occupancy (CoOs).
“If you are a civil servant, you already know when you are to retire. Therefore, you have to plan for retirement.
“It is regrettable that some civil servants even fail to maintain government buildings where they reside. Do this assignment diligently. Except there is a clear court order, recover government buildings that have been illegally occupied”, he directed members of the task force.
The governor also charged the task force to locate government lands that have been illegally occupied and recover same.
Responding, Chairman of the Task Force for the Recovery of Government Properties, Barrister Rufus Godwins appreciated the governor for the confidence reposed in the members to carry out the important responsibility.
Godwins, who is also the Head of Service, assured the Rivers State governor that the task force would locate, identify and recover all government properties illegally occupied.
He said where the task force meets resistance; it would recommend prosecution of the affected persons to the office of the Attorney General of Rivers State.
Meanwhile, the Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike has explained that the ongoing urban renewal of Port Harcourt City and adjoining towns of the state capital was aimed at returning the city to its Garden City status.
Speaking after inspecting ongoing projects, last Monday, Wike said that his administration was committed to reconstructing key roads in the state capital to ease traffic congestion and boost the economy.
He said because his administration was committed to constructing roads that would last, adding that 70 per cent of the urban renewal scheme would be handled by a Nigerian-based international construction company.
“We are working hard to return Port Harcourt City to its Garden City status. That is why we have embarked on massive urban renewal across the state capital.
“Seventy per cent of the roads under construction will be handled by international construction company, Julius Berger. We are committed to delivering roads that will last for the people of the state”, he said.
On one of the roads under construction near the Polo Club, Port Harcourt, Wike said that he would invite the management of Polo Club to work towards removing the shanties that deface the area.
He said if the management of Polo Club fails to act, the state government would be compelled to take tough action.
“We cannot allow the kind of shanties that I am seeing here. I have sent for the President of Port Harcourt Polo Club to come and give them notice to quit”, he said.
The governor said that the Judges’ Quarters have already been completed, while contractors were concluding work on the external services, especially the drainage system.
He said that the Mother and Child Hospital would be completed by the end of the year, and commended the quality of work done by the contractors.
Wike was accompanied on the project inspection by the Rivers State Chairman of PDP, Bro Felix Obuah and Senator Olaka Nwogu.

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Super Eagles’ Future Very Bright -Rohr

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Nigeria national team coach, Gernot Rohr, believes that the Super Eagles have ‘good future’ after they played out a 1-1 draw against Brazil in last Sunday’s international friendly in Singapore.
The 66-year-old German tactician paraded a young team against the five-time world champions, following a spate of withdrawals by some of his experienced players, including Captain Ahmed Musa.
The team, however, gave a good account of themselves with Joe Aribo, making his second appearance for the Super Eagles, scoring the opening goal in the 35th minute before Casemiro’s second-half effort saved the South American champions from defeat.
The draw is the second in a row for the Brazilians after they were held by Senegal in last week’s friendly outing.
Rohr is impressed with the performance of his side but admitted the three-time African champions still have to improve.
“It was tough for us as the second game because Brazil would not have wanted to leave Singapore without winning, and it feels very good to know that we can play so well against some of the biggest names in football,” Rohr said in a post-match press conference.
“We didn’t have our best team here, but our wingers gave Brazil a lot of problems on the counter-attack and I am proud of our players. They can have a good future.
“We can still improve in defending set-pieces. We have height, with players as tall as two metres, but we have to be better in the air.
“It is not enough just to have good size, they need to jump well with good timing.”
Rohr believes African football is improving after both Nigeria and Senegal avoided defeat against the world number three.
“These results are good for African football when Senegal and Nigeria did not lose to Brazil, one of the strongest teams in the world,” he added.
Nigeria will hope to secure good results when they take on Benin Republic and Lesotho in Africa Cup of Nations qualifying games in November.

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