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SERAP, Pensioners Drag Buhari To ECOWAS Court

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The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) and several pensioners’ associations have asked the ECOWAS Court of Justice in Abuja to order the Federal Government led by President Muhammadu Buhari to deduct the pensions, salaries and gratuities of pensioners and workers across several states of Nigeria from the statutory allocations of the indebted state governments.
They also want President Muhammadu Buhari to order the payment of same directly to the pensioners and workers on a-monthly basis.
In the suit marked number ECW/CCJ/APP/39/2017, the plaintiffs are suing over violations of the human rights of workers and pensioners to equality and equal treatment.
They want immediate payment of all outstanding pensions, salaries and gratuities through deductions from statutory allocations of the indebted state governments, and payment of adequate monetary compensation of N50 million to each of the pensioners and workers.
Other plaintiffs joining SERAP in the suit are First Bank of Nigeria Pensioners (Lagos); Mrs Comfort C. Owoha, Joseph Agabi; Osemwenkha G.O and Mrs J.E. Enabunlele. The plaintiffs are suing for themselves and on behalf of their members and other workers and pensioners across the country whose salaries and pensions have not been paid by the states and Federal Government for several months.
In the suit filed on their behalf by Solicitor to SERAP, Femi Falana, the plaintiffs argued that the retirement system in Nigeria violated the right to equal protection of the law and dignity since senior public officials continue to receive “privileged pensions”, salaries and gratuities while the 2nd—7th plaintiffs, their members and several other Nigerian pensioners and workers continue to be denied their entitlements, salaries and gratuities.
They also argued that, “Under international law, Nigeria cannot invoke the provisions of its internal laws or the nature of its federation as justification for its failure to perform a treaty obligation. A fundamental rule of the law of State responsibility is that a State cannot escape its responsibility on the international plane by referring to its domestic legal situation.”
The suit read in part: “Ultimately, the Federal Government cannot escape its responsibility to achieve the effective realization of the rights of Nigerian workers and pensioners to timely and regular payment of salaries, entitlements and gratuities, as it retains ultimate responsibility to ensure the rights of workers and pensioners are fully realized.”
“Workers and pensioners in several states in Nigeria have been victims of violations of civil and political rights and even more severely, of economic, social, and cultural rights. The 2nd-7th plaintiffs and their members and other Nigerian pensioners and workers have experienced extreme poverty, discrimination, social exclusion, stigmatization, and deprivation of protections and entitlements on an ongoing basis due primarily to the failure and/or negligence of the Federal Government to ensure that several states of Nigeria pay accrued pensions, salaries and gratuities.
“By granting the reliefs sought, the ECOWAS Court would be recognizing and reiterating the need for the government and its federating units to protect the rights and interests of the vulnerable, disadvantaged, and marginalized groups.
“Despite their obligations to protecting the human rights of vulnerable, disadvantaged and marginalized individuals and groups, the government has failed to prevent the systematic violation by several states of the federation of a wide range of human rights as a result of the continuing failure and/or negligence to ensure that the states timely and regularly pay workers’ salaries and pensioners’ entitlements and gratuities.
“The government has failed and/or neglected to ensure the timely payment of over 42 months of outstanding pensions and gratuities in Edo State of Nigeria despite Edo State receiving funds in the form of over N29 billion Paris Club refunds between November 2016 and July 2017 from the government.
“The government has since 2013 failed and/or neglected to ensure payment of accrued pensions and gratuities to about 4000 members of the Association of Retired Local Government Staff and Primary School Teachers in Delta State across 25 Local Government Councils of the State, leaving the pensioners to live in extreme poverty.
“Mrs Comfort C. Owoha served for 35 years as staff of the Sokoto State Primary School Board. But payment of her pensions expected to commence in 2001 after verification was inexplicably stopped by the Sokoto State Government.
“The government has failed to exercise due diligence, leading to the refusal and failure of the First Bank of Nigeria PLC to pay its pensioners accrued entitlements and gratuities and when pensions and gratuities are paid the Bank pay as low as N11,000, 13,000 as pensions despite the enormous amount in the Banks’s pension fund.
“The government has since December 2014 failed and/or neglected to ensure that Osun State of Nigeria remits monthly pensions deducted from the contributory pensioners. The government has also failed and/or neglected to ensure regular and timely payment of pensions and gratuities in Osun State, and that contributory pensioners have not been paid since January 2015.
“The government has failed and/or neglected to pay members of the Federal Civil Service Pensioners Association of Nigeria accrued pensions. The government continues to engage the Nigeria Union of Pensioners while deliberately sidelining the Federal Civil Service Pensioners Association of Nigeria and its members. The government is failing and/or refusing to ensure payment by several states of Nigeria of workers’ salaries and pensioners’ entitlements, amounting to billions of Naira in arrears.
“International human rights treaties to which Nigeria is a state party impose obligations on the government to ensure that economic difficulties and times of severe resource constraints cannot be used to undermine the enjoyment of the human rights of workers and pensioners in Nigeria, and disproportionately hurt them.
“The right to timely and regular payment of pensions and salaries is essential, particularly when a person does not have the necessary property available, or is not able to secure an adequate standard of living through old age or economic and social factors.
“According to the Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE), 23 states of the federation currently owed workers arrears of salaries ranging from one to 24 months. NULGE gave the breakdown of states as follows: Bayelsa State: 10 to 16 months; Kogi State: between seven to 15 months; Delta State: eight to 14 months; Kaduna State:12 months; Oyo State: three to 11 months; and Edo State: 10 months.
“Others are Abia State: five to nine months; Kwara State: two to nine months; Benue State: nine months; Nasarawa State: seven months; Ondo, Ekiti, Imo States: six months; while Zamfara State has not implemented minimum wage. Adamawa, Rivers, Akwa Ibom, Ebonyi, Plateau States are owing four months; Taraba and Federal Capital Territory: three months while Osun state has been paying half salaries for 24 months; and staff are owed few months in Enugu State.”
“A declaration that the continuing failure and/or negligence of the Defendant to promote and ensure timely and regular payment by several states of Nigeria of pensioners’ entitlements and workers’ salaries and gratuities cannot be justified under any circumstances.
“A declaration that the failure and/or negligence of the Defendant to provide an environment necessary for securing and promoting the enjoyment of the human rights of pensioners and workers at the federal level and in several states of Nigeria to equality and equal treatment; equal protection of the law and non-discrimination; to dignity and independence; is unlawful.
“A declaration that the failure of the Defendant to promote and ensure an effective remedy and reparation for pensioners and workers who have continued to suffer due to the non-payment of pensions, salaries and gratuities by several states of Nigeria is unlawful.
“A declaration that the refusal of the Defendant to ensure the payment of pensions, salaries, and gratuities of the Plaintiffs is illegal and unlawful.
“An order directing the Defendant to respect, protect, promote, and fulfil the human rights of pensioners and workers to timely and regular payment of pensions, salaries and gratuities and therefore, to equality and equal treatment; equal protection of the law and non-discrimination; to dignity and independence; to the respect of the dignity inherent in a human being; to adequate standard of living and well-being; to property; to work; to family life; and to economic and social development.
“An order directing the Defendant and/or its agents to provide effective remedies and reparation, including adequate compensation, restitution, satisfaction or guarantees of non-repetition that the Honourable Court may deem fit to grant to pensioners and workers that have continued to suffer due to the failure and/or refusal by the Defendant to promote and ensure payment by several states of Nigeria of pensioners’ entitlements and workers’ salaries and gratuities.”

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Rivers LG To Give Grants To 80 Post-Graduate Candidates

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The Obio/Akpor Local Government Area of Rivers State, has concluded process of giving grants to 80 indigenes of the area to pursue Masters and Doctorate degree programmes in universities in the state.
The council Chairman, Barrister George Ariolu, disclosed this, yesterday, when the leadership of the Correspondents’ Chapel of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) visited him in his office at Rumuodomaya, near Port Harcourt.
Ariolu stated that grants will be given to 50 candidates to pursue Masters degree programme and another 30 to those pursuing Doctorate degree programmes in University of Port Harcourt, Rivers State University and the Ignatius Ajuru University of Education.
He said: “Our main focus as we promised our people is the area of human capacity development. Not that we don’t have interest in infrastructures, we do.
“As it stands today, we are giving grants to our people, those who are interested in advancing their academic qualifications by taking up Ph.D and Masters degree programmes.
“For Masters degree, we have grants for 50 while Ph.D is 30 for now. But because of pressure, we will likely take it up to 50. We set up a committee made up three professors, an academic doctor, who is a senior lecturer and a lawyer. Today, they are conducting interviews for the applicants at the Rivers State University, Port Harcourt.
“Our catchment areas are University of Port Harcourt, the Rivers State University and the Ignatius Ajuru University of Education. Those are universities in Rivers State so that little money we will give will be of immense benefit to them.”
Earlier in his remarks, Chairman of the Correspondents’ Chapel of the NUJ, Amaechi Okonkwo, assured the Council Chairman of the support of journalists throughout duration of his tenure in office.
Okonkwo said: “We have had a relationship with you before now and we are happy with that relationship because we were getting quality service and advise from you.
“So, we deemed it fit and necessary to come to say congratulations to you and to assure you of our support through your stay as Chairman of Council.”

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Insecurity: Address Nigeria’s Descent Into Chaos, Nigerians Tell UN Assembly

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The Nigerian Indigenous Nationalities Alliance (NINAS), yesterday, urged the United Nations General Assembly to take urgent steps to address the country’s alleged descent into chaos, saying that Nigeria has failed as a state.
This was contained in a letter addressed to United Nations Security Council, the Trusteeship Council and the General Assembly by NINAS at the 76th Session of the UN General Assembly in New York.
The letter was signed by Chairman of NINAS and Ilana Omo Oodua, Prof Banji Akintoye; Prof Yusuf Turaki of Middle-Belt Movement; and Secretary-General, NINAS and Lower Niger Congress, Tony Nnadi.
The letter reads, “We, the Indigenous Peoples of Nigeria at the Headquarters of the United Nations in New York to alert the United Nations, and the rest of the global community that the union of Nigeria has failed irredeemably; and is now at the verge of a violent disintegration with catastrophic consequences for global peace, and security as our population of over 200million would become an instant global refugee nightmare.
“Amidst the extraordinary difficulties inflicted by the imposition and enforcement of Sharia by a section of Nigeria in a supposedly secular union, the immediate reason for this looming catastrophe is the cocktail of mass killing, kidnapping and general banditry being orchestrated against the indigenous peoples of Nigeria by an invading Fulani militia masquerading as herdsmen in an undisguised ethnic cleansing campaign that progressively demonstrate the complicity of the Federal Government of Nigeria headed by President Muhammadu Buhari, a Fulani man, who as Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria is also the Life Grand Patron of the notorious Miyetti-Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN), that proudly takes responsibility for the murderous exploits of the Fulani herdsmen militia designated the fourth most deadly terror group.
“Compounding their impunity, the same Miyetti-Allah Cattle Breeders Association at a recent press conference organised to mock the planned NINAS million-man freedom march to the UN boasted to be in control of the UN through their daughter, the Deputy Secretary-General at the UN, Amina Mohammed.
“An indication that (Amina Mohammed) nominated to that exalted UN position by President of Buhari, is in some way a part of the grand protection design for the Fulani herdsmen in their bloody, onslaught against the indigenous peoples of Nigeria.
“It will be recalled that following widespread extrajudicial killings in Nigeria, the UN in August of 2019, dispatched a Special Rapporteur Mission to Nigeria led by Agnes Callamard. The damning verdict of that Rapporteur Mission was that the widespread extrajudicial killings were flowing from the unitary constitutional arrangements of Nigeria, which operates as a pressure-cooker for injustice and that Nigeria under that Constitution is a danger to global peace and security.
“The report warned that unless something is done urgently, Nigeria would snap, plunging its 200million population into turmoil that will trigger a large-scale refugee crisis of unprecedented magnitude at a time the global terror networks, ISIS, ISWAP and AL-Qaeda are already converging in Nigeria.
“That Nigeria has failed as a State is no longer a subject for debate, having emerged the global poverty capital, and playing host to two of the world’s top four most deadly terrorists’ organisation, with three-quarters of the constituent components (South and Middle-Belt), seeking urgent extrication by way of referendums from what has become a union of death.
“Looking back at the recent turn of events in Afghanistan, this freedom march to the United Nations Headquarters in New York, is to alert the global community of the rapidly degenerating situation of Nigeria, and to invite United Nations, particularly the Security Council, and Trusteeship Council, to initiate urgent steps to arrest Nigeria’s descent into chaos, as besieged communities drift dangerously to self-help.”

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Power Sector Revenue Declines By 4.54% In Q2’21

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Gross revenue of Nigeria’s electricity market declined by 4.45per cent in the second quarter of 2021, Q2’21, to N176.27billion against N184.27billion generated in the first quarter, Q1’21, latest data from the sector has shown.
The data from the Power Sector Working Group, however, showed that the N360.54billion generated in the first half of this year was 24.57per cent higher than the N271.96billion generated in the last six months of 2020.
A monthly analysis of the power sector financials in the first six months of 2021 showed that revenue has been fluctuating month-on-month.
A total of N64.98billion was generated in January, but revenue, however, fell by 13.30per cent in February to N57.35billion.
Further analysis showed that revenue in March rose by 7.41 per cent to N61.94billion but declined again in April by 8.76 per cent to N56.955billion.
In May, revenue rose by 8.24 per cent to N62.07billion.
It, however fell in June to N57.25billion, a drop of 8.42 per cent.
The Power Sector Working Group blamed poor power supply as well as glitches for the fall in revenue in the second quarter, especially in the month of June.
“June is a bit short due to glitches in the sweep mechanism and a low energy supply (there were gas payment challenges we have been working on).
“Through the collection discipline via CBN there is full visibility to DisCos collections. Collections over the past six months have stabilized at between N57billion to N65billion.
“The regulator and policymakers are focusing in the second half of the year on boosting electricity and rolling out phase 1 of Mass Metering to boost supply to reduce tariff and increase collections.
“Procurement is being completed for most of the CAPEX interventions that will help boost supply”, the group added.
Earlier, the group disclosed that the Federal Government has concluded arrangements for the commencement of the second phase of its metering program tagged National Mass Metering Program which it expects to drastically reduce estimated billing by DisCos, that will ensure consumers are billed appropriately for the electricity they consume by installing meters free of charge in household and business premises that are currently unmetered.
The Federal Government provided funding for the program through loans from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), to DisCos.
“Meters are provided to customers free of charge. This is indeed unprecedented and has so far led to the tremendous success recorded so far”.
Speaking on how to grow the electricity market, a leading power sector expert and Managing Director of Target Energy Ltd, Abdullahi Umar, harped on the need to review some of the policies that may be hampering growth and development in the power sector.
Umar said at the weekend that the new Minister of Power, Engr. Abubakar Aliyu, needs to conduct a thorough review of the sector.
“I am part of those stakeholders who are of the view that the declaration of the transitional electricity market (TEM) in February 2015 was too ambitious and premature.
“What should have been was a phased transition into TEM or at the minimum a testing of the market before the full declaration of TEM.
“The errors of such declaration have continued to plague the power sector with a heightened liquidity crisis in 2016 and 2017, that saw a drastic decline of the revenue flows in the power sector, DisCos remittance went from 70 per cent to a sharp decline averaging about 28 per cent – 30 per cent for that period,” he said.
He pointed out that July, 2021, saw the end of Eligible Customer Regulation in the Nigeria Electricity Supply Industry (NESI), adding that the decision by the Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), to rescind the ECR, has sent mixed signals across the board.
Umar further stated that “we have seen the accusations and counter-accusations between the generating companies (GenCos) and distribution companies on the issue. The action by NERC has signalled the lack of preparedness of the market to accommodate direct sale between market players.
“It is a case of willing seller, willing buyer and an unwilling infrastructure; the market cannot accommodate any distortion at this time especially as the grid still operates at average capacity.”
The ECR allows GenCos and Independent Power Producers to bypass the Bulk Trader for excess un-contracted capacity within their portfolio and sell directly to eligible customers who can take a minimum of 2MW of power monthly.
“The ECR was issued on the 6th of November, 2017 by the then Minister of Power, Works, and Housing, Barrister Babatunde Fashola”, Umar also averred that the “recent repeal of the ECR further demonstrates the weakness in the NESI and the need for more effective and consistent regulation.”
He further advised, “With a new Minister of Power in the saddle, I suggest that a cue is borrowed from the former Minister of Power, Work, and Housing; who commenced his tenure with sector-wide stakeholder consultation and monthly review meetings, it is important that new Minister of Power gets a proper briefing with all market participants in the same room to curtail self-serving suggestions and recommendations.”
“The frequent policy conflict is fast eroding the little gains of the NESI since the declaration of TEM and plunging the sector deeper into uncertainty.
“The new Minister of Power must pursue sector-wide collaboration and effective corporate governance to move the sector forward.
“It is time to go back to the drawing board,” he concluded.
The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission has, however, denied that it has ended or suspended the Eligible Customer Regulations which allowed power generation companies, GenCos, to supply electricity directly to large demand customers.
NERC, in a statement by its General Manager, Public Affairs Department, Dr. Usman Abba Arabi, stated that the Eligible Customer Regulations has not been suspended and at no time has the commission issued a directive for discontinuation of service to any customer.
The commission explained that what it suspended was the unauthorized direct supply by GenCos to big consumers.

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