The former Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Comrade Timi Frank, yesterday, described the silence of the President Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government over the alleged $2.5billion stolen crude oil as evidence of complicity.
Documents recently unearthed showed how 48 million barrels of Nigeria’s Bonny Light Crude, valued at $2.5billion was allegedly stolen and sold in China by some officials of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) in connivance with top functionaries of the Buhari’s government.
Frank, who made the assertion in a statement, said that the failure of the Presidency to condemn the heinous crime and act to bring the conspirators to book can only point to tacit support by the Federal Government.
He wondered why history seems to have repeated itself under Buhari as Minister of Petroleum Resources in the last five years.
He recalled the missing “53 suitcases saga in 1984 when Buhari was Military Head of State. Again, $2.8billion oil money disappeared in similar circumstances when Buhari was federal commissioner in charge of petroleum under the Olusegun Obasanjo regime in 1978.”
He added that now, another $2.5billion has again been allegedly stolen under the watchful eyes of Buhari as President in a democratic setting, “making it seems as if he has a penchant for missing money whenever he is in charge.”
The activist lamented that his earlier call on Buhari to sack, arrest and prosecute government officials responsible for the reprehensible act fell on deaf ears.
He insisted that the silence of Buhari and the Group Managing Director (GMD) of the NNPC, Mele Kyari, over the international embarrassment was a direct insult on Nigerians.
Frank vowed to mobilize both local and international mass protests against the Federal Government if it refuses to act, to ensure that “this crime against the Federal Republic of Nigeria, perpetuated by influential members of the present regime is not swept under the carpet as usual.”
Frank said: “It is almost a month since this international scandal against top officials of the present administration became public knowledge, yet, no action or reaction from the Federal Government as to seeking redress and sanction against perpetrators and their collaborators.”
He, however, called on the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), other labour unions and prominent civil society organisations to speak up against what he described as looting of the public treasury in the country.
“It is appalling to note that the Federal Government recently borrowed $3.4billion from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), yet it appears to see nothing wrong with a few officials pocketing $2.5billion stolen oil cash.
“Buhari, in his capacity as the ‘African Union (AU) anti-corruption champion’ cannot afford to keep quiet over this mind-boggling rape on the nation’s common patrimony, an organized criminal activity that has further ruined the reputation of the country in the comity of nations.
“Those who committed this daylight robbery must of necessity be brought to immediate justice so as to deter other criminally-minded appointees out to make the world believe that anywhere you turn under Buhari’s administration you see corruption.
“I dare say that Nigerians and future generations will not forgive Buhari and his cabal, if the humongous amount involved in this open plunder is allowed to go without lawful investigation, arrest, prosecution and appropriate punishment served on the perpetrators and their collaborators – including the full recovery of the amount now cooling in the pockets of few fraudulent officials.
“The Chinese Government cannot also afford to be silent on this continental malfeasance which appears to have been coordinated and consummated in their domain.
“They must also ensure that any of their officials found to have fraudulently aided the theft and sale of the $2.5billion Nigerian crude oil is made to face the law.
“I hereby call on Nigerians, wherever they are domiciled on the face of the earth, not only to condemn this brazen criminality but to demand urgent action from their elected representatives at all levels”, he added.
He urged them to organize mass demonstrations if the Federal Government neglects to act to recover the $2.5billion now fraudulently cornered by the officials entrusted with the exploitation and sale of the nation’s natural endowments – meant for the overall development and benefit of the masses of this country.
‘Senate Begins Constitution Review After Sallah’
The Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege has said that work on altering the Constitution would commence after the Sallah break.
Omo-Agege, who chairs the Senate Committee on Review of the 1999 Constitution, disclosed this when two groups – Women Education Advocacy and Development Initiative (WEADI) and League of Women Voters of Nigeria (NILOWV) – paid him courtesy visits in Abuja.
He stated that rights of women and the girl-child would be protected in the exercise.
He added that his committee would take into account experiences from other African countries.
“Immediately after the Sallah, we are going to hit the ground running with Constitution review exercise. And there are a lot of bills dealing with women rights advancement.
“We will take the Ugandan and Rwandan experiences into account to see how we can meet up with the agitation of our women in the Constitution review exercise,” he stated.
Omo-Agege had said that Sexual Harassment Bill recently passed by the Senate was not targeted at lecturers in higher institutions of learning.
He said the bill was to flush out the few bad eggs tarnishing the image of their colleagues.
The lawmaker regretted that few educators were soiling the image of their colleagues, majority of whom he described as “decent”.
He said: “This bill is not targeted at our lecturers in tertiary institutions. To the extent that it is targeted at anybody, it is targeted at the errant few, the few predators in their midst. And we have them everywhere.
“So, this bill is targeted at the very insignificant few who cause most of these atrocities and we have decided that we should put a stop to it. I am sure that even most of these lecturers know that they are not the target.”
He expressed optimism that given the level of overwhelming support from the Presidency, it would get presidential assent once it receives concurrence from the House of Representatives.
The Bill to Prevent, Prohibit and Redress Sexual Harassment of Students in Tertiary Educational Institutions, 2020, which was passed by the Senate at its sitting on July 7, 2020, prohibits sexual harassment of students in tertiary institutions and prescribes jail term ranging from two to 14 years for various degrees of offences.
Sponsored by the Deputy President of the Senate and co-sponsored by 106 lawmakers, the proposed legislation also prescribes N5million fine for offenders.
When signed into law, any educator who whistles or winks at a student or makes sexually-complimentary or uncomplimentary remarks about a student’s physique would be liable to two years imprisonment or a fine of N1million, if found guilty.
Court Bars NDDC From Executing Projects Without RSG Consent
A state High Court sitting in Port Harcourt has ordered the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) to always seek the consent of the Rivers State Government before the execution of projects in any part of the state.
This was the judgment of the state High Court presided over by Justice Adolphus Enebeli, last Wednesday, in a suit by the Rivers State Government, Governor Nyesom Wike, and the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice of Rivers State against the NDDC, and its former Managing Director, Nsima Ekere; former Executive Director, Finance and Administration, Derick Meene; and others instituted in 2017.
Justice Enebeli, in his ruling in the matter, granted a declaration sought by the claimants that under Rivers State Physical Planning Law, Rivers State Land Law, and Rivers State Urban Development Law, the NDDC or its agents have no power to claim any land or execute any project, including street lights, water supply, road, jetty, and other infrastructures in any part of Rivers State without the consent of the government.
The court, however, refused to grant the declaration sought by the claimants to invalidate or void Section 7 and 8 of the NDDC Act, which borders on the developmental roadmap of the nine states of the Niger Delta region without recourse to other Niger Delta states.
Justice Enebeli said the proposed 60 projects for execution across the state by the then NDDC-led management team, which was the subject of the litigation, if allowed, will affect urban development and undermine the Land Use Act as applicable to Rivers State.
He, therefore, ruled that there was need for the commission to seek the consent of the state government for the execution of such projects in the state as development agents.
COVID-19: Group Provides Palliatives To Andoni Vulnerables
Some prominent sons and daughters of Ikuru Town, Andoni Local Government Area of Rivers State under the aegis of Illustrious Sons and Daughters of Ikuru Town have donated Palliatives worth millions of naira to indigenes of the community.
The palliatives include thousands of bags of garri, face masks and others.
Some members of the organisation which include, Engr Emiyare Ikuru, chief Ndeng Ofik, Chief William Mike Omani, and Architect Ntimam Finomo told newsmen during the distribution exercise that the gesture was to cushion the effect of hunger in the community as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
Engr Ikuru particularly told newsmen that the exercise was the first of a series of programmes outlined for the community by its prominent sons and daughters.
According to him, the second phase of the programme will start within the next few months.
Meanwhile, the Okan-Ama of Ikuru Town, King Aaron Ikuru has charged indigenes of the community to observe all protocols against the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
The King who spoke to newsmen during the distribution exercise said protocols put in place by government to check the spread of the disease were not meant to punish anyone.
He commended the illustrious sons and daughters of the community for the gesture and urged other illustrious sons and daughters of other communities in Andoni to emulate their counterparts in Ikuru Town by doing the same to their people.
A cross section of beneficiaries made up mostly of women and other vulnerable groups commended the donors for the gesture.