A Badagry Magistrates’ Court in Lagos State yesterday remanded four men over alleged membership of an unlawful society and being in possession of charms and cutlasses.
According to our correspondent, the defendants are: Yusuf Abu, 20, RilwanuDauda, 18, Mohammed Sikiru, 23, and OladimejiAbayomi, 18.
The defendants, whose addresses are not known, were arraigned on a two-count charge of belonging to an unlawful society and being in possession of charms and cutlasses.
However, the defendants pleaded not guilty to the charges.
The Magistrate, Mr Patrick Adekomaiya, gave an order that they be remanded in prison and adjourned the case until Sept. 3 for mention.
The Prosecutor, ASP. Patrick Nkem had earlier told the court that the defendants committed the offences on Aug.15 at about 11:30am at No 15 Alado Str., Shibiri community, Ajangbadi, Lagos.
Nkem told the court that the defendants belonged to an unlawful society and had cutlasses and charms in their possession.
He said, “One of the defendants, Abu, was caught administering oath on the three defendants.”
Nkem added that the defendants, who were in possession of cutlasses, were inciting members of public.
He stated that the offences contravened Sections 42, 41 and 45 of the Criminal Laws of Lagos State, 2015.
Inaugurate NDDC Board, IYC, Others Urge Presidency
The Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) Worldwide has kicked again against President Muhammadu Buhari’s continued silence and alleged refusal to form a substantive board for the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
The IYC expressed resentment that despite the hue and cry raised by critical stakeholders from the Niger Delta, Buhari was yet to constitute the board after the submission of long-awaited forensic audit was concluded and submitted to the government.
Other Ijaw groups, the Ijaw Consultative Forum (ICF), Ondo State chapter, and pan-Ijaw group, Ijaw National Congress (INC), also aligned with the IYC to demand the inauguration of the board without further delay.
The IYC’s anger is contained in a statement, yesterday by its National Spokesman, Comrade Ebilade Ekerefe, wherein it urged the President to constitute same immediately without further delays.
It advised him not to allow myopic and self-centred politicians to provoke violence in the region and discredit his administration.
“We accept the submission of the audit report as commendable but demand the immediate of the substantive board of the NDDC,”the IYC noted.
The group argued that the quick decision of the President to constitute the EFCC board, the NNPC board and other boards of agencies and parastatals showed that his position on the conduct of the forensic audit and submission of the report were mere excuses and cover-up of his disdain for the people of the region.
The IYC noted that though the region had remained peaceful despite the repeated failed promises on the inauguration of the substantive board, the youth of the region would no longer condone excuses for the delay as the forensic auditors had concluded their job.
It further argued that the Niger Delta was losing big time due to the continuous delay in the constitution of the board.
The IYC said, “The NDDC was set up to plan and execute developmental projects in the region, especially in the areas of skills acquisition and youth empowerment programmes, construction of roads and jetties, provision of health care facilities, employment, agriculture and fisheries, housing and urban development, water supply, electricity and industrialisation.
“We can categorically say that the region has lost greatly in the aforementioned due to the deliberate delay of the constitution of the board. Let it be on record that since President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration, the NDDC has been functioning without recourse to the Act which established it and that has contributed largely to the underdevelopment of the region despite the forensic audit which was used as an excuse for the delay of a substantive board.
“Notwithstanding the decision of the Ijaw youths to study carefully the submitted audit report which showed that over 13,000 abandoned projects in the Niger Delta with 77 road projects completed, the reported claim of recommendation for a part-time membership of the board is unacceptable. It is a violation of the provision of the Act setting up the NDDC and we will resist it at all costs.”
The IYC pointed out that the purported recommendation for a part-time membership of the NDDC board was the handiwork of self-styled politicians who desired to turn the NDDC as their own personal enterprise.
It warned that any strange clauses smuggled into the NDDC aside the constitution of a substantive board would be resisted and the activities of the commission crippled.
Similarly, the Ijaw Consultative Forum (ICF), Ondo State chapter, aligned with pan-Ijaw group, Ijaw National Congress (INC), and Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) to call on President Muhammadu Buhari, to inaugurate the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) board since the commission’s forensic audit has been submitted to him.
In a statement signed by the Chairman of the group, Suffy Uguoji, the group maintained that with the submission of the forensic audit to Buhari, nothing should further delay the inauguration of the board.
The ICF chairman noted that the delay in inaugurating the substantive board will further encourage the sole administrator to remain in office whereas the law setting up NDDC does not recognise sole administrator.
The statement read, “We strongly demand that President Muhammadu Buhari should, as a matter of importance and urgency, inaugurate the NDDC Board since the forensic audit report had been submitted to him by the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godwill Akpabio, through the Attorney General and Minister of Justice”, over three weeks ago.
The umbrella body of the Ijaw nation worldwide, Ijaw National Congress (INC) recently also cautioned that, “any further delay in the inauguration of the NDDC board is a clear betrayal of trust and display of state insensitivity on ljaw nation and Niger Delta region.”
The INC call followed the promise of Buhari in June, 2021, while receiving the Ijaw National Congress in Abuja, that the NDDC Board would be inaugurated as soon as the forensic audit report was submitted and accepted.
The President said, ‘‘Based on the mismanagement that had previously bedevilled the NDDC, a forensic audit was set up and the result is expected by the end of July, 2021. I want to assure you that as soon as the forensic audit report is submitted and accepted, the NDDC Board will be inaugurated.”
According to Ijaw Consultative Forum, the Federal Government also reiterated its position to inaugurate the Senate-confirmed board during the inaugural ceremony of the Interim Management Committee (IMC) of the NDDC, on October 29, 2019, to oversee the activities of the commission pending the completion of the forensic audit.
The group emphasised, “It is therefore incumbent on the Federal Government and the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, which is charged with the responsibility of overseeing the activities of NDDC to go the whole hog to ensure that the board is inaugurated urgently to put an end to all the manipulations.”
It further noted that, “the orchestrated rigmaroles characterising NDDC since the last board was dissolved in 2018 is taking its tolls on the development of our communities and it is capable of heightening tension and unrest which we are managing to maintain.”
The group affirmed that, “once the board is inaugurated, we are sure it will ensure fair representation of the nine constituent states and proper management of the fund of the commission in line with the provisions of the act establishing the agency.”
ICF also noted that, “our people have suffered a great deal of neglect due to the absence of their representatives in the management of the commission which is being administered by a sole administrator.”
ICF, therefore, re-affirmed, “We wish to emphasise here that our major concern now is how the board will be inaugurated without further delay and not the report of the audit knowing that it is the board that will be called upon to ensure that justice is done to the outcome of the report.”
The group has, therefore, made a clarion call on the leadership of Ijaw National Congress (INC) led by Prof. Benjamin Okaba, to concentrate on how the board will be inaugurated rather than calling on the Federal Government to make the report of the forensic audit public because “in the absence of the board the mechanism for checkmating large scale fraud is no more there and the sole administratorship contraption which is not known to the law that established the commission is at liberty to perpetrate anything unwholesome.”
Ohanaeze Hails Buhari Over NNPC Appointments
Apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, has thanked President Muhammadu Buhari, for giving the South-East zone two appointments in the newly established Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) Ltd.
It would be recalled that Buhari, had, last week, appointed Senator Ifeanyi Araraume as chairman of NNPC Ltd Board of Directors; and Senator Margaret Chuba Okadigbo as a member of the board.
Araraume is three-time Imo governorship candidate while Margaret is widow of former Senate President and Buhari’s running mate in the 2003 presidential election, late Senator Chuba Okadigbo.
Expressing its “profound gratitude” to Buhari, the Ohanaeze, in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Chief Chiedozie Alex Ogbonnia, yesterday, said “most people of the South-East of Nigeria were highly elated by the above appointments”, and expressed the hope that this is the beginning of a new dawn.
“The two appointments offered to the two eminent Igbos came shortly after the Igbo stakeholders met with Mr. President at Owerri, Imo State on September 9, 2021 is a signal that the visit to South-East is yielding quick signs of benefits to the people of South-East.”
He added, “This kind disposition by Mr. President is a source of motivation to Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide in their quest and aspirations for a peaceful united Nigeria buttressed by equity, justice and fairness.
“It is hoped that Mr President will continue on this path of honour and reflective national peace building. Mr President has less than 18 active months in Office. The remaining period of his eight years incumbency can be used to take some far reaching decisions which will affect the entire Nigeria, either positively or negatively. It is therefore hoped that Mr. President will choose the better option of addressing the crisis in the South-East.”
NARD Gives FG 72 Hours To Pay Withheld Salaries, Others
The Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) has given the Federal Government a 72-hour ultimatum to pay the salary arrears of its members on the GIFMIS platform, and that of its Medical Residency Training Fund (MRTF).
It stated that for the strike which began on August 2, 2021, to end, the government needs to meet its minimum demands, which also include: payment of withheld August and September salaries, withdrawal of the case against it in court, payment of salary arrears and allowances owed its members in state tertiary health institutions, among others.
The President of the NARD, Dr. Dare Ishaya, made this known in a statement at the end of the association’s 41st Annual General Meeting (AGM) and Scientific Conference in Bauchi, last Saturday.
He said, “The AGM faulted the Federal Government for taking NARD to court due to the ongoing strike to demand for the improvement in the welfare of our members.”
They decried the undue hardship members on GIFMIS platform are facing due to the delay in payment of their salaries ranging from three to eight months.
The AGM also, “Lamented the delay in payment of the Medical Residency training Fund despite the claim by the government that the money meant for it is available and the list of beneficiaries have been submitted.
“The AGM noted the explanatory circular from Salaries, Income and Wages Commission (NSIWC) stating that House officers’ salary scale and wages will not be affected by their removal from the scheme of service, however they reiterated their earlier position that the circular should be withdrawn.
“They also observed that some House Officers are still owed 1-2 months salaries and refunds of their illegally deducted accommodation fees. The AGM noted that bench fee for outside postings by resident doctors has been abolished, however, some chief medical directors are yet to fully implement it.
“The AGM bemoaned the delay in payment of death in service insurance benefit to the next of kin of our fallen heroes despite their sacrifices to the country.
“They observed with concerns the conditions of our members under different state governments’ employs, especially Abia, Imo, Ekiti and Ondo state governments who currently owe our members 20 months, six months, four months and four months’ salary arrears, respectively.”
Enumerating its minimum demands, he added, “after critical appraisal of the performances of both federal and state governments on all the issues that led to the ongoing strike as stated above, the AGM unanimously resolved by vote to continue the total and indefinite strike action until our minimum demands are met.
“The AGM in particular demanded that the Federal Government should ensure the following urgently for the purpose of restoring normalcy to the health sector: Payment of the Medical Residency Training within 72 hours, since the money meant for it is available and verification of the list for payment has been completed; Payment of the arrears of salaries of our members on GIFMIS platform within 72 hours while the migration process continues; Withdrawal of the case against us in court in the interest of peace; Payment of our withheld August and September salaries.
“The Federal Government should prevail on various state governments to urgently pay arrears of salaries and allowances owed our members in the state tertiary health institutions as stated above.
“The AGM also urged the Federal Government to consider universal implementation of the MRTA in all training institutions in the country, including those in the states. The AGM reiterated unequivocally, especially to the members of the public that we are committed to the smooth running of the health sector, however, we can only do so when our welfare is given the desired attention.
“We, therefore, call on all well-meaning Nigerians to prevail on the government to set aside all technicalities as directed by President Muhammadu Buhari and resolve the aforementioned demands in the interest of the masses and our members who are currently suffering because of the ongoing strike action.”
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