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.
Enugu: Court Remands Siblings For Alleged Murder Of Makeup Artiste
An Enugu State High Court, presided by Justice I. K. Okpe yesterday remanded two siblings allegedly involved in the murder of makeup artiste, Ijeoma Nneke, in Enugu Correctional Center.
The prosecuting counsel, Mrs Ngozi Ikem-Okoye. informed the court that the prosecution also had an application that sought the leave of the court to call additional witnesses in the matter.
However, the defence counsel, Mr C. U. Okafor, in response, said that the application was unnecessary as the accused had yet to take pleas.
Okafor held that the case was not yet before the court, adding that the prosecution did not seem to be ready to prosecute the case.
Delivering judgment, Okpe adjourned the case until August 25 for ruling on the application to call additional witnesses.
Recall that the two siblings were alleged to have conspired to kill Ijeoma on November 11, 2020, at 66 Ozubulu Street, Independence Layout, Enugu.
They were also alleged to have killed the victim by forcing her to drink poisonous substances and thereafter poured acid all over her body.
Court Criticises DSS Over Failure To Produce Detained Igboho’s Aides
A Federal High Court, Abuja, yesterday criticised the Department of State Services (DSS) over failure to produce in court the 12 persons arrested at the residence of Yoruba nation’s agitator, Sunday Adeyemo, popularly known as Sunday Igboho.
Justice Obiora Egwuatu, in a ruling, also ordered the DSS to produce the applicants in court in the next adjourned date.
The Tide learnt that Justice Egwuatu had, on July 23, ordered the DSS to produce the detainees in court yesterday.
The order followed a fundamental right enforcement suit that the lawyers to the detained applicants, Pelumi Olajengbesi, filed on their behalf, pursuant to Section 32(1) and (2) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) as well as Sections 6(6), 35 and 36 of 1999 Constitution, as amended.
The 12 persons, who had been in the DSS detention since July 2, are; Abdullateef Ofeyagbe, Amoda Babatunde (Aka Lady K), Tajudeen Erinoyen, Diakola Ademola, Abideen Shittu, and Jamiu Noah.
Others are Ayobami Donald, Adelabe Usman, Oluwafelumi Kunle, Raji Kazeem, Taiwo Opeyemi and Bamidele Sunday.
The Tide source reports that the DSS had, on July 1, confirmed that its operatives stormed Igboho’s home in Ibadan, arrested about 13 suspects; including a female and 12 males.
It also disclosed that two people were killed in the raid.
However, at the resumed hearing yesterday, Counsel to the DSS, I. Awo, informed the court that the applicants could not be brought because the service procured an order to hold the detainees.
Awo based the absence of the 12 detainees on the grounds that investigations into the circumstances that led to their arrest at Mr Igboho’s home were ongoing.
He hinted that of the 12 detainees on the court’s order, only three were being held by the DSS.
The lawyer listed the three detainees in the DSS custody to include: Amoda Babatunde (Aka Lady K), Diakola Ademola and Bamidele Sunday.
Reacting, Olajengbesi, urged the court to reject the service’s explanation as it was in contempt of the court’s order.
“The apparent affront on the authority of the court by the DSS cannot be justified,” the applicants’ lawyer argued.
He urged the court to discountenance the purported detention order that was procured by the DSS, arguing that it was not a Certified True Copy (CTC).
The lawyer prayed the court to admit his clients to bail.
Olajengbesi also informed the court that he had been denied access to his client, and urged the court to make an order in that regard.
Ruling, Egwuatu charged the DSS to purge itself of such a negative public perception as it did not paint a good picture of Nigeria before the international community.
He then ordered the security outfit to produce the detainees and show cause why they should not be granted bail.
“An order is hereby made directing the respondent (DSS) to allow the applicants’ counsel have access to the applicants, and the respondents are ordered to produce the applicants on the next adjourned date,” he said.
He adjourned the matter until August 2 for continuation of hearing.
Anambra Poll: Obi, Ozigbo Beg PDP Stakeholders To Unite For Victory
Former governor of Anambra State, Mr Peter Obi and one of the two factional governorship candidates of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Mr Valentine Ozigbo, have begged stakeholders and members of the party to unite for easy victory during the November 6 election in the state.
Obi and Ozigbo spoke yesterday in Awka, during a reconciliation meeting of the party, which was summoned by Ozigbo to reunite members of the party, after the rancour caused by the holding of two primary elections by the party on June 26, which produced Ozigbo and Senator Ugochukwu Uba.
Obi, while speaking at the meeting called on everyone to come together and work for the victory of the party in the forthcoming governorship election, saying that the primary was over and should be done with.
“I’m ready to beg all the aspirants for us to win the election. This candidate must win this election and we will not run away in our State because of anyone. I will win my local government and that is my assurance, nothing will stop us from winning the governorship election. Anambra must not go back to what it used to be.
“PDP has the best candidate for this election and we are going to win it, we have a formidable candidate and we need a formidable team to win it. I’m committed to PDP 24 hours and the party’s governors in the country are committed to winning the Anambra State election. It is our own election and we will win it,” the former governor said.
Ozigbo, in his address, reeled out the efforts he had made in reconciling every member and aspirants but regretted that the litigations in the party had held it down, adding that the party’s legal team was not relenting in evacuating the obstacles.
“I didn’t win the primary, but PDP and Anambra won. We’re one family but we are going to unite soon. Our enemies are not within, but outside PDP. PDP is a platform that will bring Igbo together, nobody should weave in what is happening now. We’re going to occupy the government house by the grace of God.
“The major reason for the gathering is to thank you for what you did and thank you for what you will do in the coming days because the real battle is coming. We are not celebrating because the real celebration will come on November 6. There’s a need for us to go into the governorship battle as a united family.
“I’ve visited my co-aspirants and I received positive vibes from Senator Uche Ekwunife, Hon Chris Azubogu, Dr Obiora Okonkwo, Dr Godwin Maduka, Mr Godwin Ezeemo and others.
“What I want to tell you now is that every other party in this State is counterfeit from APGA to APC to YPP and that is why I’m begging all our stakeholders to have faith in me and I won’t disappoint them.
“They should forgive and forget and I’m ready to make every sacrifice for all of us to come together. We want to make the founder of PDP, late Dr Alex Ekwueme, proud whereever he is and that’s the assurance I gave the daughter, lady Chidi Onyemelukwe, when we spoke before the meeting.
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