A disappointed President Muhmmadu Buhari spoke yesterday against the backdrop of the ongoing investigation of the affairs of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), expressing regrets that some public officials put in positions of trust had abused the confidence reposed in them.
He vowed that all ongoing investigations into previous and new corruption cases would be painstakingly pursued.
Buhari, speaking after the private Eid prayers held with his family and aides at the forecourt of the State House, Abuja yesterday, said he emplaced the special investigative panel on EFCC to ensure the probe of all cases.
He also spoke on the security challenge in parts of the country, pledging more resources for the military, the police and other security agencies to deal with the situation.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that when asked how he felt about recent revelations coming from the EFCC and the NDDC, Buhari said: “There has been abuse of trust by people trusted by previous administration and this administration.
“A number of assets have been recovered and some money.
“But we have introduced TSA where all the monies are taken and I said asset should be sold and the money be put through TSA so that it can be identified at any level and I will see who will come after us and take it back again to those who misappropriated public funds.”
While assuring that all past and present cases would be fully investigated, he said: “This is why we put the commission (of investigation) in place.”
On the Niger Delta, the President’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, said Buhari decried the wastage of the resources, especially the 13% derivation meant for improving the lives of the people of that region.
He said corruption has not helped the generality of the people.
In a series of tweets two weeks ago, Buhari asked the National Assembly and other agencies investigating the misuse of national resources to work together in ensuring transparency and accountability from individuals and institutions entrusted with public funds.
”I am determined to get to the root of the problem undermining the development of the Niger Delta in spite of the enormous national resources dedicated to this annually. This administration remains committed to bringing rapid, even and sustainable development to the region,” he said in one of the tweets.
Buhari also yesterday warned against the vandalization of oil pipelines in the oil- producing areas which often results in environmental pollution.
His words: “Those who are blowing pipelines and interfering with the production of petroleum products are hurting their people more than the rest of Nigerians because majority of their people are fishermen, fisherwomen and farmers.
“Now if they pollute the land and the waters, the fish goes into the deeper sea where the people cannot go and they cannot grow anything. They are hurting their immediate communities more than any other thing.”
Buhari described the deteriorating security situation in the North West and the North Central as “very disturbing.”
President Buhari said that while much had been achieved security wise from the situation he inherited in 2015, more still needed to be done.
“I want Nigerians to be very conscious of their country, and what we inherited when we came in 2015 was Boko Haram – North East and the militants, the South-South. Nigerians know that we have done our best,” he said.
Responding to a question on the performance of the Service Chiefs which he recently said needed to get better, the President said that the military, the police and other security agencies were working hard.
“We are making resources available to them to even do better,” he said.
He added: “From the reports I am getting, they could do much better…they could do much better. But we are keeping them on the alert all the time to do their duties.”
Asked what he wished Nigerians as they celebrate the Eid El-Kabir, the President said: “I wish Nigerians the best of luck.
‘In the Eid-Kabir sermon, the Imam has said it all. We want security, prosperity and wellbeing of all Nigerians. We want Nigerians to be very conscious of their country.”
The President after the prayer personally slaughtered his own ram in accordance with Islamic injunctions.
The Senate and the House of Representatives are currently investigating how the Interim Management Committee (IMC) of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) allegedly squandered N40 billion within a few months.
There is a separate forensic audit into the affairs of the commission by the Presidency.
The Presidency also set up a Presidential Probe Panel headed by retired Justice Ayo Salami to investigate allegations of gross misconduct against the suspended acting Chairman of the EFCC, Ibrahim Magu.
The setting up of the Ayo Salami panel followed a memo by the Attorney General of the Federation and Justice Minister, Abubakar Malami, in which he accused the EFCC under its suspended chairman, Ibrahim Magu, of “not acting in the overall best interest of the country and the policies of this administration due to its mismanagement and lack of transparency in managing recovered assets; diversion of recovered assets for personal enrichment; neglecting to investigate the P&ID case as directed by the President; flagrant disobedience to directives and to court orders.”
For instance, Malami said: “EFCC reported a total naira equivalent of N46, 038,882,509.87 while the naira equivalent of the foreign currency lodgments were N37,533,764,195.66, representing a shortfall of N8,505,118,314.21.
“These inconsistencies cast a serious doubt on the accuracy of figures submitted by the EFCC. It is the committee’s view that the EFCC cannot be said to have fully accounted for cash recoveries made by it.
“While EFCC reported total naira recoveries of N504,154,184,744.04, the actual bank lodgments were N543, 511,792,863.47. These discrepancies mean that EFCC’s actual lodgment exceeded its reported recoveries by N39, 357,608,119.43.
“This is an apparent case of manipulation of data in a very brazen and unprofessional manner and this has greatly eroded the public confidence in the anti-corruption efforts.”
He said Magu refused to clarify the discrepancies and inconsistencies in the figures.
The minister also cited alleged mismanagement of recovered assets by the EFCC.
Magu denied all the allegations.
In his defence to the panel, Magu said: “The existing structure in the EFCC on the recovery of assets and the management of same will not allow any form of mismanagement of recovered assets to be perpetrated.
“In the Commission under my watch, funds are recovered vide bank drafts issued in favour of the Commission and lodged in the recovery accounts domiciled with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
“Even when cash is recovered during execution of search warrant, such funds are meticulously counted, kept in the safe custody of the Exhibit Keeper and lodged in the recovery account.
“I am not a signatory to these accounts and the funds therein. I have never approved a withdrawal from any of the Commission’s recovery accounts for my personal benefit.
“Nowhere have I reported the Naira equivalent of the foreign currency recoveries. As a matter of standard practice and procedure, the Commission under my leadership reports foreign currency recoveries and not the naira equivalent of same.
“The commission under my leadership has never converted foreign currency recoveries to Naira.”
Reps Uncover Abandoned Power Projects Worth Over N156bn
The Federal House of Representatives, in its oversight function, has uncovered many power projects, put together at the cost of N156 billion, that are being abandoned or are yet to be completed by the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN).
Two of such uncompleted projects include a 240 MVA sub-station in Walalambe Community of Nasarawa Local Government Area and a 330 KVA station in Rimin Zakara, Ungoggo Local Government Area.
Chairman, House Committee on Power, Magaji Da’u Aliyu, made the revelation when he led some committee members to visit two substations in Kano State at the weekend.
“We have over 156 billion uncompleted projects lying for over 10 years,” he said.
The lawmaker revealed that the projects were awarded about 10 to 16 years ago but had not reached the level of completion.
He however, assured the people that the committee would complete the projects in Kano in six months.
He explained that the House of Assembly member from the area wrote him and, knowing how the project will impact on the people in many ways, he said he would come and see the project.
“This project has a lot of values to the people of Kano and Nigerians. Employment and economic opportunities will speed up when this project is completed. It must be completed in the next six months.
“I will follow it to the later. I will talk to the Speaker of Federal House of Representatives and also involve the governors of Kano and Kaduna.
“The funding is not a problem. The contractor should come out with his work plan and submit to me tomorrow and send a copy to Abuja,” he said.
During the visit to the 240 MVA sub-station in Walalambe, Nassarawa Local Government Area, which had been uncompleted for 16 years, the committee chairman expressed displeasure at the state of the project.
He ordered TCN to complete the project within six months period, stating that the committee would facilitate full funding to achieve the completion within the stated period.
He said: “I have been mandated by the Speaker, House of Representatives, to come and supervise the level of the project and do the needful. So, since the materials of this project are on ground, I direct you to complete this project before or on February 1; that is six months. I will make sure the funds are available for the completion.”
TCN’s Assistant General Manager (AGM) Kano Service, Muhammad Bello, said the completion of the project would be within the six months period. According to him, all the offshore and other materials are on ground but the funding is what has been delaying the project.
“Since the committee has assured to release of the funds, I assure you that we can finish this project even before the six months.”
He stated that the project had reached 30 percent level of completion as the first phase had been completed, assuring that what is left would be completed within the stated period.
Representative of the Kano Electricity Distribution Company (KEDCO), David Omoleye, lamented that the committee had visited the site twice but nothing was done.
“It is stories upon stories and promises upon promises. This is the third time House committee members are coming here over this project.
“This project is very important to KEDCO, because we will use the feeder to supply industrial areas in Kano. The project would boost power supply in Kano and generate revenue for KEDCO.
“We are ready for the project because we have already fixed our marines for the transmission since, but it is yet to be completed,” Omoleye, said.
It was gathered that an agreement has been reached for TCN to pay for all the houses on the land, while the state government is to pay for all the lands affected, for relocation, which costs over N3 billion.
The line from Kaduna to Kano is also critical and must be expanded to be dual circuits in order to supply customers better.
The visiting House Committee members on Power called on the governors of Kaduna and Kano to grant the right of way for the projects to be completed.
Why We Increased Hate Speech Fine To N5 Million — Lai Mohammed
The Federal Government says it increased the fine for hate speech from N500, 000 to N5 million in the amended National Broadcasting Code to deter people who are willingly violating the provision to destabilise the country.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed gave the explanation on Friday when he featured on a TVC live Programme, “This Morning”” monitored by the News Agency of Nigeria in Abuja.
NAN recalls that the minister in 2019 announced the approval of President Muhammadu Buhari for the increase of the fine which was later stipulated in the ammended Broadcasting Code.
“What motivated the amendment was that when the fine was N500,000 we saw the provision being violated at will because the amount was very easy to pay,” he said.
The minister explained that some desperate people, who know that their broadcast content contains hate speech, will insist that the broadcast stations should air it while they bear the cost of the fine.
The minister noted that those attacking the government over the increase, must remember that hate speech had destroyed many countries.
He recalled that Rwandan lost 800,000 lives to hate speech while Bosnia and Cambodia equally lost thousands of lives to the menace.
Mohammed said that Nigeria is not the only country to impose sanction on hate speech, adding that some nations have more stringent provisions.
“Chad has today slow down the speed of its internet service to slow down the growth of hate speech.
“Iceland has a provision in its penal code against hate speech and the punishment is up to five years in jail.
“The sanction in Norway is up to two years imprisonment while South Africa separated hate speech from the protection their citizens can get from the constitution,” he said.
The minister said that hate speech is not new but the social media and its wildfire capacity to spread information made it to be more problematic.
He, therefore, reiterated the resolve of the government to regulate the social media without stifling the freedom of speech.
Buhari Signs Amended Companies And Allied Bill Into Law
President Muhmmadu Buhari, on Friday in Abuja, assented to the Companies and Allied Matters Bill, 2020, which was recently passed by the National Assembly.
President Buhari’s assent to the bill repealed and replaced the one hitherto in effect; Companies and Allied Matters Act, 1990. The new law comes in 30 years after the previous one.
According to a statement issued by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity Mr Femi Adesina, the new law is coming with several corporate legal innovations geared toward enhancing ease of doing business in the country.
Among the newly introduced innovations to the law, according to the statement are the following: “Filing fee reductions and other reforms to make it easier and cheaper for small and medium-sized enterprises to register and reform their businesses in Nigeria;
“Allowing corporate promoters of companies to establish private companies with a single member or shareholder, and creating limited liability partnerships and limited partnerships to give investors and business people alternative forms of carrying out their business in an efficient and flexible way;
“Innovating processes and procedures to ease the operations of companies, such as introducing Statements of Compliance; replacing ‘authorised share capital’ with minimum share capital to reduce costs of incorporating companies; and providing for electronic filing, electronic share transfers, e-meetings as well as remote general meetings for private companies in response to the disruptions to close contact physical meetings due to the COVID-19 pandemic;
“Requiring the disclosure of persons with significant control of companies in a register of beneficial owners to enhance corporate accountability and transparency; and
“Enhancing the minority shareholder protection and engagement; introducing enhanced business rescue reforms for insolvent companies; and permitting the merger of Incorporated Trustees for associations that share similar aims and objectives,” the statement said.
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