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Probe N881bn Spent By 367 MDAs Without Appropriation, SERAP Tells Buhari

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The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged President Muhammadu Buhari “to direct the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami, SAN, and appropriate anti-corruption agencies to investigate the reported spending of over ¦ 880billion of public funds by 367 ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) in 2018 without appropriation.”
SERAP said, “Any such investigation should establish whether public funds have been mismanaged, diverted or stolen. Anyone suspected to be responsible should face prosecution as appropriate, if there is sufficient admissible evidence, and any misappropriated public funds should be fully recovered.”
In the open letter dated August 7, 2021, and signed by SERAP Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, the organisation said, “These damning revelations suggest a grave violation of the public trust, the Nigerian Constitution of 1999 (as amended), and international human rights and anti-corruption standards. Spending of public funds without appropriation will create opportunities for corruption.”
According to SERAP, “Investigating and prosecuting anyone who spent public funds without appropriation and authorisation will send a powerful message that this illegal and unconstitutional practice will not be tolerated under your watch.”
The letter, read in part, “Complying with constitutional requirements and international standards on spending of public funds would ensure effective and efficient management of public resources, and put the country’s wealth and resources to work for the common good of all Nigerians. This in turn would reduce the growing levels of borrowing and public debts.
“We would be grateful if the recommended measures are taken within 14 days of the receipt and/or publication of this letter. If we have not heard from you by then, SERAP shall take all appropriate legal actions to compel your government to comply with our request in the public interest.”
“According to part 2 of the 2018 annual audited report by the Auditor-General of the Federation, ¦ 880,894,733,084.811 was spent by 367 MDAs without appropriation. 14 MDAs reportedly spent ¦ 162,924,630,539.20 without appropriation. Similarly, 100 MDAs spent ¦ 229,136,261,325.73 on ‘social benefits’ without appropriation.
“Furthermore, 151 MDAs exceeded their 2018 Overhead Appropriation by ¦ 476,625,502,048.87 without any evidence of supplementary appropriation or approved virement to support the extra-budgetary spending. 102 MDAs also reportedly spent ¦ 12,208,339,171.01 on subsidies without budgetary provisions. The Auditor-General is concerned that the money may have been misappropriated.
“Identifying and naming and shaming those who spent public funds without appropriation would improve the chances of success of your government’s oft-repeated commitment to fight corruption and end the impunity of perpetrators. It will also serve the public interest.
“SERAP is seriously concerned about the adverse consequences of unconstitutional and poor management of public resources on the human rights of poor and vulnerable Nigerians, including denying them access to essential public goods and services such as quality healthcare, education, and clean water.
“Public confidence and accountability in public administration are instrumental to the prevention of corruption and greater efficiency. Transparent and accountable public financial management is a key pillar of good governance, and of vital importance to provide public goods and services to citizens, as well as to create and maintain fair and sustainable economic and social conditions in the country.
“Corruption thrives in contexts that provide opportunities to engage in illicit conduct, widespread motives to take advantage of such opportunities and weak controls. The prevention of corruption is more effective in environments that minimize opportunities, comply with constitutional and international legal requirements and standards, as well as encourage integrity.
“SERAP also urges you to direct Minister of Finance Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, to publish widely the details of MDAs and public officials involved in the unconstitutional spending of public funds.
“SERAP urges you to ask the heads of the MDAs involved to explain why they reportedly spent public funds without appropriation, contrary to constitutional and international requirements, and standards of transparency and accountability in the preparation, processes and decisions on their budgets, and to return any money spent without approval to the public treasury.
“Section 80(2) of the Nigerian Constitution provides that no money shall be withdrawn from the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federation except to meet expenditure that is charged upon the fund by the Constitution or where the issue of the money has been authorized by an Appropriation Act, Supplementary Appropriation Act or an Act passed in pursuance of Section 81 of the Constitution.
“Similarly, articles 5 and 9 of the UN Convention against Corruption to which Nigeria is a state party impose legal obligations on your government to ensure proper management of public affairs and public funds, and to promote sound and transparent administration of public affairs and public property.”
The letter was copied to Malami; Chairman, Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), Prof Bolaji Owasanoye; Chairman, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr Abdulrasheed Bawa; and Mrs Ahmed.

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UBEC, RSUBEB Begin Digital School Construction In Rivers

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As part of government’s efforts to realize its dream of making the nation’s educational system a global digital community, the Federal Government, through the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) and the Rivers State Universal Basic Education Board (RSUBEB), have commenced the construction of a modern digital Smart Basic School in the state, with 14-month completion schedule.
The school, which is a pilot modern basic education facility, is designed by UBEC in collaboration with RSUBEB to entrench digitization of ICT-driven basic education system across the 36 states and FCT, Abuja.
Speaking with journalists at a brief handover ceremony of the proposed smart school site to UBEC by RSUBEB at the Community Primary School, Uzuoba in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area of the state, over the weekend, the National Consultant, UBEC Smart School Project, Prof Masud Abdulkarim, said the school was designed to incorporate digital technology into the basic education system in the country, which he said, has been in practice in advanced countries for years.
Abdulkarim stated that the desire of the Federal Government was to ensure that Nigerian children were not left out in the digital space, saying that the school would have great impact on the youth and give them equal opportunity to compete globally in the technology world.
He described the school as the first of its kind in the history of the country, adding that the school would have four categories that would take care of the nursery, handicapped, primary as well as junior secondary students with a maximum of 35 persons per class of two streams.
Abdulkarim noted that with the strategy, no fewer than 700 children would be enrolled into the school.
According to him, the school would afford the children the opportunity to become robotic engineers, artificial intelligence (AI) engineers and ICT engineers, and added that as future leaders, they need to be equipped and encouraged.
The UBEC consultant commended the state government for the provision of the school for the construction of the smart school, and described the site as the most suitable across the 23 states so far visited.
“Let me thank the RSUBEB for the site, in fact, it is the best and most suitable site among the 23 states we have so far visited. Because it has an existing school structure with a fence to protect our equipment and infrastructure. Moreso, the project will impact on the schools around because they will benefit from our Wi-Fi”, he stated.
Abdulkarim called on the host community to jealously guard the project as a growing child, till its maturity to adult stage, saying that they were important stakeholders in the project.
Also speaking on behalf of the Chairman of Rivers State Universal Basic Education Board (RSUBEB), Ven Fyneface Akah, a commissioner in the board, Chief Faith Amaso, called for synergy between the contractors and host community in other to remove every impediment that may affect the delivery of the project on schedule.
Akah opined that the project, when completed, would improve basic education in the state, and expressed happiness over the commencement of the project in the state.

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Rivers United Beat Young Africans Of Tanzania 1-0

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Rivers United Football Club of Port Harcourt, yesterday, at the Adokiye Amasiemaka Football Stadium, trounced the Young Africans Football Club of Tanzania 1-0 in a return leg match of the ongoing Confederation of African Football Club Champions League competition.
The stadium, which was filled to capacity, witnessed a trilling encounter, which saw the crowd craving for more.
It would be recalled that Rivers United had defeated the Young Africans of Tanzania 1-0 in the first leg of the championship at the Benjamin Mkapa Stadium, Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania, last Sunday.
Reacting to the feat, the Chairman of Degema Local Government Area, Hon. Michael John Williams, expressed joy over the victory of the Rivers United FC of Port Harcourt against the Young Africans of Tanzania in the ongoing Confederation of African Football (CAF) Champions League.
The match, which ended 1-0 in favour of the Rivers United FC, took place at the Adokiye Amiesimaka International Stadium in Rivers State, yesterday.
Top government officials in the state, including Rivers Deputy Governor, Dr. Ipalibo Harry Banigo; LG council chairmen and commissioners, amongst other sports enthusiasts, graced the event.
Speaking on the outcome of the match, Williams stated that the Rivers United players exhibited the Rivers team spirit, which culminated in their victory.
The political heavyweight in Degema LGA, noted that nothing would be impossible for Rivers people to achieve when they work together in unison and firm determination.
He added that the massive support and huge investment in the sports sector by the Governor Nyesom Wike administration, also motivated the Rivers team, who worked hard to secure a back-to-back victory.

By: Nelson Chukwudi

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NJC Okays Six Chief Judges, 30 Others For Appointment

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The National Judicial Council (NJC), has recommended the appointment of chief judges and 30 others as judicial officers to beef up judicial functions in some states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
At its 95th meeting held on September 15 and 16, 2021, the council considered the list of candidates presented by its Interview Committee, and recommended the 36 successful candidates to their respective state governors for appointment as heads of courts and other judicial officers in Nigeria.
They are Hon. Justice Richard O. Olorunfemi as chief judge, Kogi State, Hon. Justice Joe Itsebaga Acha for Edo, Hon. Justice Akintoroye Williams Akin for Ondo, Hon. Justice Husseini Baba Yusuf for FCT, Hon. Justice Ekaette Francesca Fabian-Obot for Akwa Ibom, and Hon. Justice J. O. Adeyeye for Ekiti State.
Others are Hon. Kadi Baba Gana Mahdi as Grand Kadi, Yobe; Umaru Ahmad Liman as Grand Kadi, Bauchi; Hon. Justice Osagede Osado Emmanuel as President, Customary Court of Appeal, Nasarawa; Hon. Justice Mashud Akintunde Akinfemi Abass as President, Customary Court of Appeal, Oyo State; and Siyaka Momoh Jimoh Usman as President, Customary Court of Appeal, Kogi State.
Three judges are recommended for High Court of Gombe, and they are Zainab Abdulkadir Rasheed, Abdussalam Muhammad, and Daurabo Suleiman Sikka.
Akwa Ibom has Effiong Asukwo Effiong; Bauchi has Nana Fatima Jibril; while Kaduna High Court has Abdulkarim Mahmud.
The three candidates recommended for Katsina State are Kabir Shuaibu, Ibrahim Ishaku Mashi, and Ibrahim Abubakar Mande, while Prof Alero Akeredolu was recommended for Ondo State.
Four successful candidates for Oyo State are Olusola Adebisi Adetujoye, Folabimpe Beatrice Segun Olakojo, Prof Taiwo Elijah Adewale, and Kareem Adeyimika Adedokun.
Kogi State has three candidates, and they are Abubakar Sule Ibrahim, Abdullah Sulyman, as well as Aminu Ali Eri.
Two Kadis for Sharia Court of Appeal are Adamu Kuna Jibril and Ahmed Baba Bala, while the four for Bauchi are Musa Sani Abubakar, Mahdi Manga, Khamis Al-Hamidallah Muhammad and Sani Musa with Ondo State having one in the person of Orimisan James Okorisa and Oyo Customary Court of Appeal having Ajadi Olubukola Omolayo.
A statement by the NJC Director of Information, Mr Soji Oye, and released in Abuja, yesterday, said that all the recommended candidates are expected to be sworn-in after approval by President Muhammadu Buhari, and their respective state governors, and confirmation by the respective state Houses of Assembly.

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