The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has cautioned federal government and the governing All Progressives Congress (APC) against increasing pump price of fuel from the existing N145 per litre.
The party said its position is predicated on its unwavering commitment to the welfare of Nigerians, stressing that any increase in fuel price will result in upsurge in cost of goods and services thereby worsening the biting hardship being faced by Nigerians.
A statement by the spokesman for the PDP, Kola Ologbondiyan, yesterday, said that “at a time like this, rather than musing an increase in the price of such essential commodity, a responsive leadership ought to be engaging stakeholders and seeking ways to achieve a reduction in the interest of the people.”
The statement said: “Our party insists that the price comparison being contemplated by the APC-controlled Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to warrant an increase, is untenable and further demonstrates that the APC is a party of selfish, unfeeling and insensitive individuals, who relish in inflicting pain and anguish on Nigerians for their selfish desires.
“Moreover, in arguing that petrol price is cheap in Nigeria without also comparing our market and production variables as well as social and economic infrastructure, with those obtainable in other countries, the APC-controlled NNPC is trying to play on the intelligence of Nigerians to pave way for further fleecing of our citizens.
“Such anti-people position can only come from leaders who do not have the mandate of the people and as such think that they are not answerable or accountable to the citizenry
“This is the same APC, which, in 2015, promised to reduce fuel pump price, only for it to jerk it up from N87 per liter, stabilised by the PDP, to an exorbitant N145, from which it now seeks a further increase.
“Moreover, the APC-led Federal Government has no justification whatsoever to contemplate any increase in pump price of fuel, when President Muhammadu Buhari has failed to recover the N9trillion ($25billion) oil money stolen under his watch, through sleazy contracts, as detailed in the leaked NNPC memo.
“President Buhari had also failed to recover the N1.1trillion worth of crude oil allegedly stolen, using 18 unregistered companies, reportedly linked to APC interests.
“It is therefore unacceptable that rather than recovering the over N10trillion stolen oil money and channelling same to our domestic energy needs, the APC-led Federal Government is seeking to shift the burden of the humongous corruption in the NNPC, as confirmed by the new Group Managing Director, Mele Kyari, on our already deprived and impoverished compatriots.
“It is saddening that at a time Nigerians should have been enjoying the benefits of Atiku Abubakar’s economic recovery plan, they are still being faced with apprehensions of more economic hardship under the hypocritical and unfeeling APC”.
Meanwhile, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), yesterday, advised motorists and other petroleum product consumers to disregard the trending rumour of a planned hike in the pump price of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), popularly known as petrol.
It explained that the statement of the corporation’s Group Managing Director, Mele Kyari, at the National Assembly, last Wednesday, did not suggest any plan to increase the price of the white product.
The NNPC Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division, Mr Ndu Ughamadu, clarified that what the NNPC GMD stated during his engagement with the Senate President, Senator Ahmed Lawan, was that the price of petrol was abysmally low in Nigeria compared to what obtained in neighbouring West African countries.
Ughamadu noted that Kyari had observed at the event that the huge disparity in the pump price of petrol between Nigeria on the one hand and her neighbouring countries, on the other hand, tended to encourage cross-border smuggling.
This, according to Ughamadu, was why the NNPC boss sought the support of the leadership of the National Assembly to curb the malaise of smuggling.
The oil firm advised Nigerians to disregard the insinuation of a planned hike in the price of petrol by NNPC.
It stated that statutorily, NNPC was not even in a position to regulate the price of petroleum products, adding that the corporation’s role as an operator must be differentiated from that of any of the industry regulators.
Ughamadu stated that as directed by relevant agencies of government, the pump price of petrol remains N145 per litre.
The NNPC cautioned petroleum products’ marketers not to sell petrol above N145 per litre following the disclaimed rumour.
It advised Nigerians to remain vigilant and volunteer information to the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), the industry regulator, or to any law enforcement agency around them, on any station which sells petrol beyond N145 per litre.
Earlier, the Group Managing Director (GMD) of Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mele Kyari, had last Wednesday, lamented at the Senate over the N145 per litre fuel price in Nigeria.
The Management of NNPC told the Senate that its fuel was the cheapest in the entire West African sub region.
Kyari, spoke last Wednesday, during a courtesy call on the President of the Senate, Senator Ahmad Lawan in his office to make submissions on revenue generation by the agency, along with the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) and Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS).
Speaking further, the NNPC GMD who noted that the low fuel price and smuggling, are the two key factors hampering high revenue generation of the agency, said, “The N145 per litre fuel price regime Nigeria runs against the N350 per litre most of the other west African countries operate, encourages smuggling, which invariably affected revenue generation for the agency and by extension the country.”
Kyari, who noted that Nigeria is not benefiting optimally from gas production, however, informed the Senate leadership that as far as projected daily production level was concerned, remarkable achievement has been made with the 2.3million barrel daily production being recorded as against 1.6m barrel recorded on daily basis in 2016.
He, however, assured that before the year runs out, the corporation would meet the revenue projection of the appropriations act since the NNPC was working tirelessly with the customs and security agencies in controlling and containing cross border activities of the oil smugglers.
In his submission, the Director of Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), Rufai Ahmed Ishaku, however, called on the National Assembly to speed up the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill, saying that doing so will significantly transform the oil and gas industry and attract revenues.
In his remarks, President of the Senate, Senator Ahmad Lawan told the executives of the revenue agencies that the purpose of the collaboration was to gear them up in making more revenues for the government for effective and efficient budget implementation.
Lawan said: “It is very worrisome that the country within the last few years , have been resorting to borrowing from external lenders for implementation of capital components of the yearly budget.
“This is not good for the country economically when we have agencies that can assist in generating revenues at home for execution of such projects.
“What is happening today is not healthy and must be critically addressed by all stakeholders involved.”
N148bn Funds For Roads: Wike Slams Buhari, APC, FG Over Deliberate Neglect Of Rivers …Says Real Madrid Football Academy Has Come To Fruition
The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, has berated the Federal Government for deliberately neglecting Rivers State in the recent release of N148billion for roads’ construction across the country.
Wike declared that the action of the Federal Government was the most shameful act of marginalisation in a federation where Rivers State contributes to the financial sustenance of the country.
The governor said this before commissioning the new Rivers State Civil Servants’ Quarters at Amassoma Street in Port Harcourt, yesterday.
He said Rivers politicians in APC should be able to plead with the Federal Government to site projects in Rivers State to expand their political relevance.
According to Wike, “The Federal Government released N148billion for the construction of roads and it did not consider one road in Rivers State. Look at the condition of the East-West Road.
“Shame on those who say they are working with the current Federal Government, but cannot protect the interest of Rivers State in that government.
“We are producing oil that finances projects in the country and the Federal Government can release N148billion for roads and Rivers State was neglected. You are working with the Federal Government and you cannot attract projects to Rivers State. Anyone who is in APC and is from Rivers State, shame on you.
“You are there; you cannot even say for my sake, help me and give me one road, so, I can go home and tell my people this is what I brought to Rivers State.
“What offence has Rivers State committed in this country that this Federal Government cannot for one day remember the state? They have our son who was their director general. If for nothing, since he was your director general, help him and do one project for his people.
“Tomorrow, you will say Rivers people should vote for you. Which vote? We won’t do that. Nobody is a slave. We are not slaves. We cannot be conquered by anybody”, Wike added.
Similarly, the Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike has expressed happiness that the Real Madrid Football Academy has become a reality, saying that major international football stars will be groomed at the facility.
Addressing journalists, yesterday, after inspecting the Real Madrid Football Academy in readiness for the commissioning programme on Saturday, Wike said that all the facilities have been put in place for the successful take off of the academy.
“The administrator in charge of Africa and Asia for Real Madrid will be in Port Harcourt on Thursday night. Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State will be commissioning the project on Saturday.
“When we promised that we will set up a Real Madrid Football Academy that will help groom international stars in the area of football, so many people played politics and said that it was fake.
“We are happy that it has come to fruition. We have sent people to Madrid and they have been trained as instructors and coaches. We also sent the players of Banham Model Primary School, winners of Channels Television Kids Cup to Madrid for training. They will form the first set of students”, he said.
The governor said the development of the Real Madrid Football Academy was a confirmation that his administration was serious with keeping promises made to Rivers people.
He said that on Saturday, Nigerians will watch live on television to excellent facility that will produce the next set of international soccer stars.
Also yesterday, the governor visited the Judges’ Quarters, which would be commissioned by the administration in October, 2019.
He said: “Rivers State has provided the basic infrastructure for the Judiciary. Anybody who comes here will attest to the fact that Rivers State has provided quality infrastructure for the Judiciary to do their work as expected”.
The governor later inspected the Fruit Garden Market built by his administration after the initial market was gutted by fire.
The Fruit Garden Market would be commissioned next week.
$9.6bn Scam: Court Winds Up P&ID, Orders Forfeiture Of Assets …As Nigeria’s Legal Team Meets In London, Moves For Revocation of Fine
The Federal High Court in Abuja, yesterday, convicted and subsequently ordered the winding up of Process and Industrial Development Limited and its Nigerian affiliate, P&ID Nigeria Limited, for charges of fraud and tax evasion in respect of the contract leading to the recent controversial judgment of a British court empowering the firm to seize about $9.6billion worth of Nigerian assets.
Justice Inyang Ekwo, in his judgment also ordered the forfeiture of “the assets and properties” of the two firms to the Nigerian government.
The judge made the orders shortly after the two firms, through their representatives, pleaded guilty to the 11 counts instituted against them by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Relying on provisions of Section 19(2) of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act, 2011, and Section 10(2) of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Related Offences Act, 2006, the court ordered the Federal Government to wind up the two firms and confiscate all their assets in the country.
While P&ID Limited incorporated in British Virgin Island was represented in the dock by its Commercial Director, Mohammad Kuchazi, P&ID Nigeria Limited was represented by Adamu Usman, who is also a lawyer.
Kuchazi was represented by his lawyer, Dandison Akurunwua, while Usman represented himself.
Both men pleaded guilty on behalf of the companies to all the 11 counts read to them before Justice Ekwo, yesterday.
They were accused of among others, fraudulently claiming to have acquired land from the Cross River State Government in 2010 for the gas supply project agreement which led to the $9.6billion judgment.
After the defendants pleaded guilty to the 11 counts, an EFCC investigator, Usman Babangida, was called to the witness box for review of facts which was not opposed by the defence.
Documents relating to the controversial 2010 gas supply contract and EFCC’s investigation activities were tendered and admitted by the judge as exhibits without objection from the defence.
The judge then went on to pronounce the two firms represented by the two men guilty.
Making an allocutus, plea for mercy, P&ID’s lawyer Akurunwua, urged the judge to consider “the forthrightness and candour” of P&ID by pleading guilty and not wasting the time of the court in the trial.
Meanwhile, with the trial and conviction of both the British Virgin Island and the Nigerian affiliate of Process and Industrial Development Limited (P&ID) by a Federal High Court for fraud and corruption, Nigeria is set to present the United Kingdom Appeal Court handling the case, with a new set of pleading to revoke the monumental award against the country.
Beyond the conviction of the company, the Nigerian federal court also ordered the forfeiture of the assets of the company to the Federal Government.
Arising from the judgment, a consortium of Nigeria’s legal team is set to meet in London early next week with a view to reviewing the case and making an appropriate adjustment to its deposition towards the revocation of the award earlier granted by the court to the shadowy company, which has now been convicted.
It was learnt that with the conviction, Nigeria is likely going to argue before the court of appeal that the UK commercial and Arbitration Court was misled by the suspects to grant the huge award and should, therefore, be revoked given the new and better information that was unavailable to the country at the time.
Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, yesterday, confirmed that the legal team would be converging in London to review the case and take further steps to advance the cause of justice and Nigeria in the case, which has drawn global attention.
Malami said: “Nigeria is expected to review its strategy in view of the unfolding development as it relates to the conviction of some of the suspects that have admitted to fraud and corruption that gave rise to the award.
“The implication of today’s conviction of the suspects by the FHC in Nigeria is that Nigeria has a judicial proof of fraud and corruption as a foundation of the relationship that gave rise to a purported liability and arbitral award.
“From the available evidence, Nigeria now has a cogent ground to ask for the setting aside of the entire liability.
Female Hotel Murders: Kudos To Rivers Police Command
The response of the Rivers State Command of the Nigeria Police over the incidents of hotel murders of at least eight ladies, qualifies for attention, given the far reaching impact it will have beyond the immediate circumstances of the heinous crimes. Following the incidents of murder of these ladies in some hotels in the state, the Commissioner of Police, Mustapha Dandaura, summoned hotel owners to a meeting where some new codes of practice in guest reception and management were adopted. Among these were the installation of close circuit television (CCTV) systems and detailed profiling of hotel guests pursuant to providing same information to the police on demand. To accentuate his point, the Commissioner clarified to them that in the event of untoward developments in their facilities – such as the incidence of criminal conduct, they as hotel operators and staff immediately qualify as accomplices to the crime, at least until their innocence is proved beyond reasonable doubt.
Drastic and novel as the measures may be seen by some, they constituted the minimum standard with respect to the issue of integrity of hotel services. The utility of such measures far outweighs whatever inconvenience and costs they may impose on the respective hotel operators and guests. Just as well, the implications of the measures with respect to enhancing the general state of insecurity in the state justify by far, the need for their effective implementation. Already, their effectiveness has been established as some suspects in respect of the reported crimes have been arrested and are helping police investigations. The most recent was that of a man who was allegedly in the act of suffocating with a pillow, the lady he spent the night with in a Diobu hotel. Her vigilance saved her life as she was able to stop him from executing his plan before raising alarm. Meanwhile, as a manifestation of the public revulsion over the development, the outcry over it has been stringent with at least one group of sympathetic women has actually taken to the streets to express solidarity with the victims of the dastardly acts.
Seen within the context of the riot act by the Police to the hoteliers, it could not have come at a more auspicious time than now. Even as it can be said that the unprecedented murders of the unfortunate ladies prompted the Police order to hoteliers in the Rivers State, the measures are better late than never. Among the factors that define the merit of the Commissioner’s position are at least two. In the first place is the fact that hotel management has its traditional code of ethics which are intended to guarantee the safety of both workers and guests. Being locations where anybody no matter the character, capabilities and motives can come in and enjoy hospitality, there are traditional risks associated with their operations. For this reason, developed countries where hoteling has been better managed, pay premium attention to the issues of identity of guests and other patrons of hotels. Among hotel guests can be the good, the bad and ugly characters, and as the playwright, William Shakespeare put it, one cannot tell the character of any individual just by the facial features. So ordinarily, hotel monitoring remains a primary duty of the Police as they constitute the choice locations for sundry crimes, due to the anonymity they provide guests.
Secondly, given the heightened scale of anti-crime operations in the state courtesy of the resolve of the government to tackle its perpetrators to a standstill, the traditional bases of the miscreants are under surveillance, hence, forcing them to seek fresh bases which include hotels, especially the non – descript ones that can easily escape the prying eyes of the law. Hence, the new initiative by the Rivers State Police Command offers the promise of placing tracers on not only serial women killers but also other criminals that habitually use hotels as their operational rendezvous. Thus, by the riot act to the hoteliers, the Police is expected to kill more than one bird with that single metaphorical stone.
Meanwhile, this is to express the condolence of this column to the bereaved families of the deceased, whose deaths have stirred the conscience of the society to the outrage spawned by the presence of demented serial killers in our midst. We have been hearing of killings by armed robbers whose proclivity to murder their victims is borne out of the devilish urge to instill fear and facilitate compliance with their demands. There is also the spate of killings by cultists in order to press home their underworld values. What then can be said about killers who do it for no justifiable reason other than the fun of seeing others, and in this case women with whom they could have been passionately intimate, die?
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