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HEDA Sues AG, Wants Details Of ?173bn MDA Budget

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A Federal high Court in Abuja has been asked to compel the Accountant General of the Federation to release details of the N173billion released to various Ministries, Departments and parastatals during Covid-19.

The ministries, parastatals including security agencies, educational institutes and other contractors are alleged to have received some N173billion from federal purse in the first half of 2020 without accounts documentation.

Nigeria’s foremost anti-corruption concern, Human and Environmental Development Agenda, (HEDA Resource Centre) in a motion ex-parte filed at the Federal High Court in Abuja is seeking the order of mandamus to compel the Accountant General of the Federation (AG) to release details of the expenditure up to May 29, 2020.

In what promised to be another historic case, HEDA said the AG’s professionalism and his association or membership of local and international accounting groups is at stake if the court finds him guilty.

HEDA cites Section 6 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, Order 26, Rule 6, of the Federal High Court as the basis for the judges’ powers.

HEDA submitted as exhibit the publication in the respect of Dataphyte consortium titled, “173 Billion payments without Description Defeats Nigeria’s Open Government Initiative”.

HEDA’s Chairman, Mr. Olanrewaju Suraju said the N173billion payment raises concern about how government parastatals expend public funds adding that his group seeks details to determine if the funds were judiciously utilised and in public interest.

The Dataphyte analysis of data on the open Treasury Portal had indicated that the whopping sum of ?173billion worth 1,353 payments was made to various parastatals between January, 2020, and April, 2020, without descriptions.

HEDA said it made several requests in writing asking the AG to release the expenditure without any response prompting the legal redress.

The group said it is in the public interest that the details were released.

HEDA said there are very strong indications that the office of the Accountant General of the Federation has continued to neglect proper description of payments issued to contractors and government agencies, expressing fear that the trend may defeat transparency and accountability, key elements necessary for good governance.

A breakdown of the figures showed that the zero description payments in January and February were ?5.16billion and ?6.76billion, respectively.

In March and April, 2020, the Federal Government also paid ?85.2billion and ?15.22billion without description.

“The way these payments were made suggests unprofessional accounting procedures that will undermine transparency”, Suraju said.

Analysts contend that most of the payments were made to contractors under the National Rural Electrification Agency, National Directorate of Employment (NDE), Nigerian Navy, Federal Fire Service, Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports development, National Inland Waterways Authority.

Other end users were Nigerian Air Force, Nigerian Defence Academy, Nigerian Correctional Service, and Federal Ministry of Niger Delta.

In earlier report, Dataphyte said between January and November, 2019, ambiguous payments were also made.

The values of the questionable transactions were set at ?510.2billion representing 16 percent of the total payments done by the government in the same period.

The group said the description makes it difficult to establish accounts expenditure.

The case has been assigned to Court 3, Federal High Court, Abuja.

Nigeria remains at the lowest rank of Transparency International (TI) rating prompting the country’s continuous decline in global corruption rating.

 

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Gov Uncovers 3,900 Ghost IDPs In Borno Camp

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The Borno State Governor, Prof Babagana Umara Zulum has fished out fake internally displaced persons (IDPs) at a IDPs camp in Maiduguri during a surprise visit to the camp.

Around midnight, yesterday, Zulum showed up at Mohammed Goni College of Islamic and Legal Studies in Maiduguri, where internally displaced persons (IDPs) from Abadam Local Government Area of northern Borno were being camped.

Zulum immediately sealed the entrance and supervised a headcount to identify actual IDPs, in order to put a stop to rampant cases of dubious residents pretending to be displaced, who spend day time at IDP camps to share food meant for IDPs, and towards the night, they return to their homes to sleep, with some of benefiting from other means through which the state distributes food to vulnerable non-IDPs in communities.

The governor’s mission, which ended past 1am, discovered that out of 1,000 households in the records of humanitarian officials, 650 households comprising 3,900 IDPs were ghosts.

No fewer than 450 households were found to be real IDPs after Zulum’s midnight headcount which was conducted by the governor alongside an official of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Air Commodore M. T. Abdullahi, and two commissioners (Agriculture, and Local Government and Emirate Affairs).

In humanitarian system, a household normally consist of at least six persons who are either related through families, or chosen to stay together for the purpose of receiving household aids.

Officials, who were part of the midnight headcount, said Zulum was not averse to approving support for any citizen who may be vulnerably in need of food since there is a committee doing that.

The governor also expressed opposition to some residents making dubious claims in other to take what is meant for IDPs while also benefiting from other existing welfare activities that target non IDPs

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Troops Chase Boko Haram Fighters Out Of Borno Town

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Soldiers, yesterday, prevented Boko Haram fighters from mounting a barricade on Damaturu-Maiduguri highway in Borno State.

The soldiers reportedly engaged the insurgents in a gun battle around Mainok and Jakana towns.

A commercial driver said that the incident happened shortly after the usual daily road closure was eased in the morning.

Troops usually close the road in the evening and open it at 7am, every day.

The driver said suspected insurgents who were about to mount road barricades and attack travellers were overpowered and driven away by soldiers.

“We were on our way to Maiduguri after spending the night in Damaturu when we were stopped by soldiers at a place after Mainok.

“We were earlier asked to turn back and later we were told to stay there. Shots were later fired ahead of us, which sounded like gunfire exchange. We were asked to proceed after about thirty five minutes,” he said.

He said extra patrols were stationed along the road.

Boko Haram has made life a hell for those who ply that route.

It was on the route that a newlywed bride was abducted last week but she was freed 24 hours after.

Before decorating the new service chiefs, last Friday, President Muhammadu Buhari gave them a few weeks to tackle the widespread insecurity in the country.

 

 

 

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Suspend 25% Contribution To Federation Account, FAAN Begs FG

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The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) has called for the stoppage of its 25 per cent revenue contribution to the Federation Account.

FAAN said this would help it to address some infrastructure gaps.

The General Manager, FAAN, Mr Rabiu Yadudu, made the appeal during an oversight visit of the Senate Committee on Aviation at the Lagos Airport, yesterday.

Yadudu decried accumulated airlines debt to aviation agencies, particularly FAAN, adding that a particular airline owed N13billion for services rendered and unpaid.

Yadudu noted that one way to ensure development in the industry was to allow revenue generated by agencies in the sector to be ploughed back.

The managing director said that the practice was obtainable across the globe and was also part of the international standard and recommended practice.

“The industry still has an infrastructure gap to stabilise; therefore, government’s support in stabilising the industry is needed.

“This can be achieved by suspending the contributions to the Federation Account in compliance with ICAO Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs) Doc 9562.

“This document on airport generation provides that revenue generated by the airport should be transparently re-invested wholly in operating and developing airport facilities,” he said.

Yadudu said revenue generation was low as only two airports – the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA) and the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport (NAIA) mainly sustained other airports expenditures.

He also highlighted the global economic challenge, both national and international, which had affected airline operators, causing them to reduce fleet, frequencies or withdraw operations, thus affecting the agency’s revenue generation.

Yadudu lamented the rising operating and maintenance cost of the new terminals and existing ones due to inflation and the devaluation of the naira.

However, the managing director said the agency was tweaking its plans to make other airports that were not breaking even to perform.

He also said the airport management had embarked on aggressive debt recovery, while introducing a Pay As You Go system, adding that it had also commenced a cashless policy among other loophole blockage areas.

Responding, the Chairman of the Committee, Sen. Smart Adeyemi, said the idea was commendable, noting that the issue was constitutional and would require a constitutional review to achieve.

Adeyemi stressed the need for rehabilitation of airports.

“There are quite a lot of airports in the country that we need to start looking at budget inclusion for next year, not this year.

“We will not wait till there is a mishap before we start looking at fixing the runways which are in bad shape, a number of them since they were constructed have not been touched, and at times when you land in some of these airports, you don’t need to be a pilot to know that the plane will not maintain a balance,” he said.

 

 

 

 

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