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Corruption, Ravaging Nigeria Under Buhari, SGF, Sagay, Others Cry Out …Vacate Office If You Can’t Lift Nigerians Out Of Poverty, President Told

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The Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha; and the Chairman, Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC), Prof. Itse Sagay (SAN), yesterday, lamented that despite concerted efforts by the President Muhammadu Buhari’s led administration to eradicate corruption, the scourge still ravages the country.
The duo among other stakeholders spoke at an event in Abuja where they highlighted steps that needed to be taken to strengthen the government’s anti-corruption agenda.
Also at the event: “One-day Dialogue Session on Strengthening the Anti-Corruption Agenda: Ensuring Accountability and Transparency,” goodwill messages were delivered on the subject matter by the Chairman, Senate Committee on Anti-corruption and Financial Crimes, Senator Sulieman Kwari; the Director of Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) and organisers of the event, Idayat Hassan and Director, Africa Office, MacArthur Foundation, Kole Shettima, the funding partner.
The SGF, who spoke through the Permanent Secretary, Special Services, Amina Shamaki, disclosed that the Buhari administration had since 2015, recorded “unprecedented level of successes” in the fight against corruption by securing “the most number of convictions, including very high-profile personalities” and making “world-record recoveries in terms of money and assets.”
He, however, lamented that despite the successes recorded, the anti-graft war had not been won.
He said: “Nonetheless, we should not rest on our oars with the illusion that the war has been won despite the level of the successes I have enumerated.
“While the fight has been very successful in tackling monumental corruption, less grandeur cases are perceived and even reported.
“While the government has displayed uncommon courage to relieve its appointees especially, in its agencies, of their positions and responsibilities, there still exist some level of infractions on Public Procurement Act, and other laws. These tend to diminish the efforts of government in this direction.”
While proffering solution to end the scourge, the SGF expressed the need to bring about “innovative legislations, policies and measures to deal decisively with the lingering acts of corruption.”
In addition, he posited that the roles of audit departments/units and auditors in aiding and abetting corruption in ministries, departments and agencies should be addressed.
To this end, he called for the prosecution of auditors who sanction corrupt payments alongside the main culprits in corruption cases.
He added: “I should like to see the Office of the Auditor-General for the Federation come up with innovative policies and measures to empower auditors to halt any payment that is clearly in breach of Public Procurement Act, Financial Regulations, Public Service Rules in particular, and other laws, in general.
“For such auditors that compromise, or are complicit, such policies and measures should isolate them for disciplinary action which should not preclude prosecution.”
On his part, Prof. Itse Sagay noted that the consequence of corrupt acts, included “massive unemployment, unequipped clinics, and hospitals, wretched schools, colleges, and universities without facilities, bad roads, lack of electric power and so on.
“Deaths on the roads, deaths in hospitals, deaths in maternity facilities, militants, kidnappers, armed robbers, murders, suicides are also a direct product of this Nigerian culture,” he added.
As a short-term solution to the corruption problems, Sagay suggested that “the existing Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit structure be adopted as the centre of Nigeria’s intelligence databank for sharing information and intelligence on corruption.”
Adding his voice to the issue, the CDD Director, Hassan, who spoke through the Senior Programme Officer of the organisation, Lukman Adefolahan, also said “a lot more still needs to be done to strengthen the fight against corruption, promote accountability and transparency”, despite “the great strides” that had been made in the fight against graft.
“These different dimensions of corruption have characterised Nigeria’s landscape and by implication made it be consistently rated among the most corrupt countries in the world by Transparency International in its Corruption Perception Index.”
She accordingly called for “pragmatic measures to curb corruption to safeguard Nigeria’s future given the implication of the problem on security, political, social, and economic prospects of the country.”
But Kwari said the Senate through its committee on Anti-Corruption and Financial Crimes “is also reviewing all the anti-corruption and financial legislations with a view to bringing them in line with current day realities and making them more effective.”
Meanwhile, a leading legal practitioner in Nigeria and President of the Caleb and Greg Foundation (CAGG), Olusegun Bamgbose, has said that President Muhammadu Buhari should have nothing doing in the State House, if he can’t tackle poverty.
He called on the President to declare war on poverty and joblessness among the youths in the country.
Bamgbose had earlier told newsmen that he can fix Nigeria in 24 hours, if he takes over from Buhari in 2023.
In a statement, yesterday, the senior lawyer said, “Extreme poverty in Nigeria is alarming and assuming a new and dangerous trend. Most recently the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Farouq, asserted that 90 million Nigerians are living in extreme poverty.
“This is actually not shocking but a sad one. If these Nigerians were a country, it will be more populous that Germany. It’s really not good news because almost six people in Nigeria fall into poverty trap every minute.
“We, therefore, call on Buhari’s government to declare total war against extreme poverty and go further to declare state of emergency on joblessness in the country. Wars can’t be fought without weapons.
“The weapons should be pragmatic and purposeful programs that will clearly minimize poverty in Nigeria.
“The World Poverty Clock has clearly indicated that if nothing seriously and sustainable is done to curtail poverty, Nigeria might be home to 120 million people living in extreme poverty come 2030.
“This is dreadful. I want to say here with all sense of responsibility that this is certainly not the best of time for President Buhari to be out of the country for more than five days.
“The economic status of Nigeria being the poverty capital of the world must change.
“Something urgent and cogent must be practically done to nip in the bud this perennial problem of poverty, hardship and joblessness.
“The introduction of N-Power is quite good but more is expected from the government to reduce meaningfully the poverty trend in Nigeria.
“Poverty and joblessness breed crime and violence. Our youths are finding crime attractive because the jobs are not there.
“No country in the world has ever succeeded in curbing the wave of crime without first tackling poverty headlong.
“Mahatma Gandhi once said that poverty is the worst form of violence. It’s not in doubt that poverty is a nightmare.
“The government must search for extraordinary ways through which poverty will be minimized if not eradicated.
“It won’t be out of place to come up with a committee with a mandate to come up with blueprints on how jobs can be created and poverty minimized.
“If this government can’t find a way to minimize poverty then the government has failed in its responsibility.
“President Buhari has nothing doing in State House if he can’t tackle poverty. On our part as Foundation, we shall launch LEAP Community in 2020.
“Let’s Eradicate Abject Poverty (LEAP). It’s our expectation that about 25 million Nigerians will be part of the community.
“Our main aim is to join forces with the government and stakeholders to eradicate poverty in Nigeria not later than 2030. We, however, expect President Buhari to take the lead in fighting poverty.
“Our universities turn out graduates every year but joblessness stares at them. Crime and prostitution are now on the increase as a result of poverty and joblessness. The time to act decisively is now”, he added.

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PH Law School Campus Ready For Commissioning …As Wike Hands Over C Of O To Ngige …Says Institution’ll Be Self-Sustaining

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Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, has re-emphasised that the Dr. Nabo Graham-Douglas Campus of the Nigerian Law School in Port Harcourt has been provided to be a self-sustaining institution in Nigeria, saying that the campus was now ready for commissioning.
To achieve that mandate, Wike, last Monday, handed over the Certificate of Occupancy (C of O) of adjoining property to the campus acquired by the Rivers State Government to the Chairman of the Council of Legal Education, Chief Emeka Ngige, SAN.
The presentation was made when Wike conducted the Chairman of the Council of Legal Education, Chief Emeka Ngige, SAN, together with the Director General of Nigeria Law School, Prof. Isa Hayatu Chiroma, SAN, and other dignitaries round structures within the law campus that were completed and ready for formal handover.
Wike said the acquisition of the adjoining property to the campus would enable the operators of the campus to use them for sundry commercial and revenue generating activities in order to meet the financial needs of the law school in Port Harcourt.
“We are using this opportunity to present the Certificate of Occupancy of the property we have acquired and paid for by the Rivers State Government for the Nigerian Law School, Dr. Nabo Graham-Douglas, Port Harcourt Campus to you (chairman).
“We are giving the property to you for the purpose of making some revenue to run this campus. Whatever revenue derived is to be utilised for this campus alone.
“Very soon, the State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice and the Director General will meet to prepare a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). It will ensure that you won’t take revenue from here to subsidise for other campuses. Any money you make here; put it here in this campus.”
Wike also told them that with the construction work on all the structures in the campus now completed, the state government awaits the Council of Legal Education to choose a date when they desire the campus to be formally handed over to them.
In his response, Chairman of the Council of Legal Education, Chief Emeka Ngige, SAN, noted that they were on inspection of the facility, and were amazed at what they have seen.
“17th July, 2021 was when we came for the foundation laying ceremony, and the governor promised that this project will be delivered in one-year. Behold, today is June 27th, not up to July yet, and he had delivered.
“Recall that when we were doing the ground breaking ceremony, the governor promised that every month, he will give this campus N10million for four years, and will be given in advance, that is about N480million to run this institution.
“When I learnt that he had acquired adjoining property: houses, shopping malls and other business facilities for the law school to rent out to raise revenue to run this institution, I can tell you, it is unparalleled,” Ngige said.
On his part, the Director General of Nigerian Law School, Prof. Isa Hayatu Chiroma, described the Dr. Nabo Graham-Douglas Campus in Port Harcourt as the best and mother of all law campuses in Nigeria.
“On behalf of the council, we are very grateful for a promise made and promise kept. This is the turning point in the history of legal education in Nigeria”, Chiroma said.
During the inspection of the lecturers’ quarters in New Government Residential Area in Port Harcourt, former President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Onueze C. J. Okocha, SAN, said Wike was a performer, who keeps promises and has delivered the Dr. Nabo Graham-Douglas Port Harcourt Campus that was tastefully constructed and furnished before the record time he set for himself.
Also speaking, another former President of the NBA, Okey Wali, SAN, noted that Wike had done this to show that he was a lover of democracy and for promotion of the judicial system in Nigeria.
The Rivers State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Prof. Zacchaeus Adangor, SAN, described the project as historic and iconic because there was nothing like it across the country.
He said Wike has provided it as a commitment to advancing legal education in the country.

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Again, INEC Extends CVR For Nigerians …Warns Against Political Campaigns

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The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), has, again, extended the continuous voter registration (CVR) exercise in the country until further notice.
This is even as the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has cautioned political parties and their proxies against hiding under the excuse of the ongoing voters’ registration exercise to engage in any form of politicking or campaigns.
The commission made this position known in a statement signed by the National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye Esq, in Abuja, yesterday.
The statement read: “The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) met today, (Thursday, 30th June, 2022) and deliberated on a number of issues, including the Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) exercise, the issuance of Certified True Copies (CTCs) of documents and the commencement of the Uploading of the List and Personal Particulars of Governorship and State Assembly Candidates.
“The Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) will continue nationwide, and all the Resident Electoral Commissioners and Electoral Officers have been directed to continue with the exercise pending further directives from the commission.
“The commission has consistently reiterated its resolve to continue to provide electoral services commission has yet again deployed additional machines to areas of pressure and will continue to serve the people of Nigeria.
“Furthermore, the case at the Federal High Court relating to the terminal date of the CVR came up yesterday Wednesday, 29th June, 2022, and based on the request of the Commission, the Court granted an accelerated hearing and adjourned the matter to Monday 4th July 2022 for hearing of the substantive matter. The commission will give an update after court hearing next week.
“The Commission has been inundated with applications for CTCs of various documents. So far, 186 requests for CTCs, some running into hundreds of pages, have been processed. The Commission is working round the clock, including weekends, to attend to all such requests. We wish to assure political parties, aspirants, candidates, and all applicants for CTCs of documents that their applications will be treated expeditiously and will be issued in earnest.
“By the Timetable and Schedule of Activities released by the commission, Political Parties that conducted valid Governorship and State Assembly primaries shall upload the list and personal particulars of their nominated candidates between 1st and 15th July, 2022.
“We urge political parties to scrutinise the list and personal particulars of the candidates they propose to sponsor at the election to avoid any mix-up and duplication of names. Political parties are advised not to wait until the last day before uploading the list and personal particulars of their candidates.
“The Candidates Nomination Portal will shut down at 6pm on 15th July, 2022. Political parties that have challenges with uploading documents should contact the commission’s Help – Desk, through the dedicated telephone lines or contact the candidate nomination centre at the commission’s headquarters”, the statement added.
Meanwhile, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has cautioned political parties and their proxies against hiding under the excuse of the ongoing voters’ registration exercise to engage in any form of politicking or campaign.
The Resident Electoral Commissioner, Kano State INEC, Risqua Shehu, issued the warning at a press conference in his office in Kano, yesterday, saying that that any political party that was found wanting in this regard would face the law.
Risqua, a professor, reminded the political parties that doing such was against the dictates of the Electoral Act, which has since set forth a time frame for campaigns for the governorship and presidential elections.
“The commission monitors and would need to establish full proof cases and then allow prosecution to take place. We do not prosecute, but we gather evidences against any defaulting political party and I assure you that that would be done”, he stated.
While applauding the upsurge in the number of registrants in the state, he, however, lamented the huge cases of illegal and double registrations, saying that over 40percent of registrants in Kano State were found to have registered before.
Risqua explained that INEC has been making concerted efforts to educate the people that the PVCs issued by the commission do not expire; hence there was no need for anybody to register twice.
He cautioned that, “When one is found guilty, he is liable to a fine or an imprisonment or both. There is a provision for a fine of N100, 000 or one year imprisonment or both.
“But at the moment, I am not in the position to establish what the commission would do to those with double registration, considering the huge number of offenders across the country”, he said.
“The beautiful thing is this. We have made adequate arrangements in our robust system to be able to identify and eliminate all those who have registered twice and cancel their new registration and retain only the old information that is there. That is what the commission is doing now”.
While appreciating all stakeholders that have been sensitising and supporting eligible Nigerians on the registration exercise, he stressed that under no condition should any individual, cyber -café, civil society or group extort or collect money from any registrant for that exercise.

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Reps Plan Separate Contributory Pension Scheme For NASS

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The House of Representatives has begun the process of pulling out the National Assembly from the Contributory Pension Scheme under the administration of the National Pension Commission.
The House is to create a separate body to administer matters relating to pensions for workers in the federal parliament.
At the plenary, yesterday, the House passed for second reading, the legislation titled ‘A Bill for an Act to Amend the Pension Reform Act, 2014 to Exclude/Exempt the National Assembly Service from the Contributory Pension Scheme and Establish the National Assembly Service Pension Board.’
Chairman of the House Committee on National Planning and Economic Development, Hon Olododo Cook, who sponsored the bill, said the proposal was to exempt the personnel of the National Assembly from the Contributory Pension Scheme and to establish a National Assembly Service Pensions Board “to be charged with the responsibility of administering the pension scheme for personnel of the service.”
Cook stated, “This bill is in consequence of the exit of the service from the application of the contributory pension scheme under the Pensions Reform Act, 2014.”
The bill seeks to amend Section 5(1)(a) of the Act by inserting the words ‘the National Assembly service’ to read thus: “The categories of persons exempted from the Contributory Pension are (a) the categories of persons mentioned in Section 291 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), members of the intelligence community and the National Assembly service personnel.”
Clause 2(1) of the bill also proposes that, “There is established a pension board which shall be charged with the responsibility of managing payment of pensions and gratuities to all personnel of the service.
“Application of the bill to personnel who retired before the commencement of this bill: (2) This bill shall apply to all personnel of the service, including those who had retired before the commencement of this bill. (3) The retirement benefits of personnel referred to in Subsection (2) above shall be adjusted to be commensurate with the provisions of this bill.”

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