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Maina’s Trial: Ndume Knows Fate, Today

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The Federal High Court in Abuja has deferred ruling on the bail application Senator Ali Ndume filed to secure his release from the Kuje Correctional Centre, till today.
Trial Justice Okon Abang adjourned ruling on the application after he entertained arguments from both Ndume’s lawyer, Mr. Marcel Oru, and counsel to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr. Mohammed Abubakar.
The court had, last Monday, remanded the lawmaker who is representing Borno South Senatorial District in custody following his failure to produce the former chairman of the defunct Pension Reform Task Team, Abdulrasheed Maina, whom he stood surety for.
Maina is facing 12-count money laundering charge the EFCC preferred against him and a firm, Common Input Properties & Investment Limited, had since September 29, refused to attend his trial.
Satisfied that he jumped bail, the court issued bench warrant for his arrest, even as it remanded his surety in prison custody.
The court ordered the surety to either produce Maina for the continuation of his trial, or forfeit the N500million bail bond he signed on behalf of the Defendant.
Alternatively, the court directed the sale of Ndume’s property situated at Asokoro in Abuja to raise the N500million it said should be paid into the Federation Account.
Justice Abang said the surety should remain in custody pending the fulfilment of any of the conditions, even as he gave the Prosecution the nod to try the Defendant in absentia.
Ndume had since lodged 12 grounds of appeal to challenge his remand by the trial court.
Aside from his notice of appeal, the embattled lawmaker brought an application before the trial court, seeking to be released on bail, pending the hearing and determination of his appeal.
He predicated the bail request on Section 36 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, and section 179 of the Administration of Justice Act, 2015.
Moving to the bail application, yesterday, Ndume’s lawyer, Marcel Oru, described Maina’s action that led to his client’s remand as “highly despicable”.
Oru admitted that his client indeed signed an undertaking and swore to an affidavit to forfeit the N500million bail bond should the Defendant jump bail.
He, however, argued that the forfeiture proceedings the EFCC initiated against the lawmaker was not completed before the court made the remand order.
Counsel to the detained surety maintained that the trial court denied his client fair hearing since he was not allowed the opportunity to show cause why he should not be punished over Maina’s misconduct.
Ndume’s lawyer said he approached the trial court with the bail application in view of the fact that it could take about six months to determine “serious issues of law” his client has raised before the appellate court.
He contended that allowing the Applicant to remain in prison custody for that long, would amount to allowing him to inadvertently serve a punishment prescribed by law, for an offence he has not been convicted for.
Moreso, the lawyer prayed the court to have sympathy on Senator Ndume, noting that he has already spent four days in custody over Maina’s action.
He drew attention of the court to the fact that Ndume regularly attended the proceedings even when it was obvious that Maina had jumped bail.
Condemning Maina’s conduct, Oru said: “My Lord, from going by what has played out in this case, only God knows from the lesson learned, whether a Nigerian with a good heart will ever stand surety for anyone anymore”.
He urged the court to in the interest of justice; grant the surety bail pending the conclusion of the case he filed before the Court of Appeal in Abuja.
However, the EFCC, through its counsel, Mr. Mohammed Abubakar, opposed Ndume’s bail application.

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RSNC GM Tasks Medical Practitioners On Emerging Pandemics

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The General Manager of the Rivers State Newspaper Corporation, Publishers of The Tide Newspaper, Chief Ernest Chinwo, has called on medical practitioners in the country to assist the government find workable solution to the array of emerging pandemics, including COVID-19, Lassa fever and monkeypox currently ravaging the country.
Chinwo said this in his office during a courtesy call by organisers of the Rivers State Joint Health Summit 2022.
Represented by the Acting Chairman of Editorial Board and Supervising Editor, Mr Nelson Chukwudi, the general manager also stressed the need for the health professionals to come up with private sector-driven health insurance scheme for the country.
He said that it also behoves on them to pool resources together with a view to building mega hospitals in the country to stem the tide of medical tourism abroad while at the same time curbing brain drain.
The general manager also tasked them to check the incidence of quackery in the medical profession.
Chinwo commended them for the proposed summit, assuring of the cooperation and support of the corporation, especially in providing adequate coverage to their activities.
He said the corporation, since inception has been on the forefront in publicising health issues, stressing that it was against this background that a page was dedicated in The Tide newspaper for health, and called for medical experts to contribute to the robustness of content on the page.
He further noted that beside newspaper publishing, the corporation also does all kinds of commercial printing jobs, and solicited patronage from the health professionals.
Earlier, Secretary General of the Rivers State Joint Health Summit, Dr. Joseph Olawuyi, said the summit with the theme “Repositioning HealthCare services in Rivers state” earlier proposed for the 22 to 26 of August 2022 was moved to October 2022 to ensure mass participation by both government and non-governmental organisations.
Olawuyi said the summit which is being put together by private medical practitioners in partnership with government aims at refocusing the health sector for quality service in the state.
He said a lot of people both within and outside the country have started registering for the summit.
According to him the event will also be used to train health practitioner’s on biomedical engineering as well as encourage the utilization of abundant medical equipment by practitioners.
He urged for a health bank in the country to create access to soft loans by health practitioners.
Olawuyi said the event which will be declared open by Governor Ezenwo Nyesom Wike will be attended by people from all walks of life including members of the armed forces amongst others.

By: John Bibor & Oreoluwa Adigun

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FG Spends N18.69bn Daily On Subsidy, Minister Confirms

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The Minister of Finance and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, has disclosed that Nigeria spends N18.69billion daily on petroleum subsidies.
She stated this, yesterday, when she appeared before the House of Representatives ad hoc committee investigating oil subsidies.
The minister claimed Nigeria consumes 64million litres per day, and that the figure could have been influenced by smuggling.
Ahmed said the executive is also concerned about the increment in daily consumption.
She noted that some of the products are being smuggled outside the country, adding that during COVID-19 locked down, daily consumption dropped significantly.
She stated that the president alone cannot take the decision on removing subsidy, insisting that there must be a multi-stakeholder approach, including all political parties, who must sit to make the decision.
The minister disclosed that the landing cost of petroleum is N448 per litre and that the NNPC takes care of the rest through under recovery.
She further said the Federal Executive Council has also expressed worry about the figure presented by the NNPC, adding that as the Minister of Finance, she has no access to the bank statement of the NNPC.
The Chairman of the Committee, Ibrahim Aliyu, questioned the figure provided by the minister.
Aliyu said even during the COVID19 locked down, Nigeria was still consuming high volume, which according to him was not logical.
He claimed the daily petroleum consumption was about 32million litres.
But the minister responded that she is not sure whether daily consumption has doubled and not also sure if the total number of vehicles in the country has doubled in the past 10 years.

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Over 20 Countries Arrive Abuja For 2022 INAC

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The 2022 International Arts and Crafts Expo (INAC), themed “Networking Nigerian Crafts to the World”, was, yesterday, declared open in Abuja, by the Director-General, National Council for Arts and Culture, Otunba Segun Runsewe.
The 15th edition of the Expo holding at the Abuja Sheraton Hotels & Towers has in attendance no fewer than 25 countries and eight states in Nigeria.
Some of the countries already on ground include Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Venezuela, Syria, India, Philippines, China, Iran, Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, Cuba, Malaysia, Benin Republic, Sudan, Lebanon, South Korea and Tanzania.
States in Nigeria that have arrived Abuja for the annual international event are Lagos, Ogun, Akwa Ibom, FTC, Kaduna and Katsina.
Speaking at the opening ceremony, Runsewe said the aim of the expo is to better project Nigerian crafts to various countries of the world given that our stories are better told by us. It is also to promote cultural exchange programmes and improve inter-country collaborations in music, arts, drama, etc.
The expo, as usual, is expected to amongst other items, feature skill acquisition trainings for young people, free medical examination and care, display of countries art documentaries, exhibitions of countries’ arts, crafts and culture.
Runsewe said: “This is another opportunity we have to showcase Nigerian crafts to the world and to let the world know that Nigeria is a safe place to be. We want Nigerians to know that the creative industry is capable of tackling Nigerian insecurity problems by engaging the youths in our crafts for revenue generation.”
The 2022 expo holds from August 18 to 20, 2022.

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