With international organistaions and local agencies running out of funds, and with food shortage at its crescendo, the acting President of Nigeria, Prof Yemi Osinbajo approved N5.8 billion for supply of food to Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the NorthEast, thereby saving hundreds of thousands of Nigerians who were going to die out of starvation. The noble action of the Vice President has been misinterpreted in some quarters even though he acted within the ambit of the law. In this interview, Gloria Adagbon, a human rights activist makes a case for the Vice President and warns against politicizing everything.
Why didn’t the acting President involve NASS in the process before releasing N5.8bn?
Given that the law allows the Vice President to release such funds in an emergency, he seized the opportunity to do so. The national assembly has proven to be anti-progressive, it took them over six months to pass the budget, we could not let Nigerians die away while they padded the North East Emergency budget. The acting President needed to act and that was why he constituted the Presidential Committee which included Minister of fast Finance, Minister of Budget and National Planning, Minister of Agriculture, CBN governor, Deputy Chief of Staff to the President, SSA to the President, Office of the Chief of Staff, SSA to the President Planning and Coordination among others. It was an emergency and it would have been suicidal to go through the national assembly, given their greed and self-centeredness. The process was transparent, FG bought local grains from Nigerian farmers and the Nigerian Police, Nigerian Military including the Air Force, were actively involved providing essential and logistical support. There is nothing clandestine by the process, it was there for all to see.
Why was procurement process ignored before money was released?
The procurement process wasn’t ignored or bypassed. Like I explained earlier, this is an emergency and the acting President needed to act fast. Waiting for the agencies to ponder over procurement would have translated to massive loss of lives. The VP was never going to allow that happen under his watch as Acting President. Section 43 of the BPP Act empowered him to approve the funds in an emergency, which was what he did. He acted in good faith and he saved hundreds of thousands of lives by doing this. We must understand that international organisations including the World Food Programme, UNHCR, International Committee of the Red Cross and others were involved in this process, this was carried out transparently and in order. The international aid agencies like WFP were already dealing with shortage of funds to provide humanitarian aid, as funding was cut down by about 85%. This necessitated urgent collaboration between the Government and NGOs, in order to save lives of Nigerian citizens
Why didn’t the VP oversee and ensure the distribution of the rice donated by the Chinese govt?
You will recall that the acting President kicked off the multi-billion naira relief intervention plan for grain distribution in the NorthEast. At the time, about 1.8m people would be reached regularly and 40,000 metric tonnes comprising rice, maize, sorghum and soya beans grown locally by Nigerian farmers would be distributed. But to ask the acting President to monitor NEMA activities alone and leave other pressing issues in the country is ignorance on the part of such persons. Agencies were set up to be managed on day-to-day basis by persons that have been appointed and were qualified to do so. It’s not the duty of the acting President to micro-manage and monitor the delivery or distribution. Duties were delegated, and this was done appropriately.
What is the scope and job duties of the VP as NEMA chairman?
He has an oversight function he does not oversee the day to day running of the agency. It’s like asking the Chancellor of a university why some lecturers involve in sex for marks. This falls on the lap of the Vice Chancellor because he is involved in the day-to-day administration. It’s important to understand that the role of the chairman is somewhat ceremonial and that is why you will not find his picture or profile on the website of the agency. People demanding that he did not act as chairman are uneducated and mischievous, and if adults cannot understand the organogram of agencies, you fear for the kind of orientation of what they are passing on to the younger generation.
Why is the House calling for the reinstatement of the six NEMA directorsand sack of the NEMA DG?
This is the clearest case of corruption fighting back. The directors in NEMA were accused of corruption and financial misappropriation. EFCC found monies in their accounts that could not be accounted for, but instead of insisting that these directors be probed, House of Reps led by a certain Ali Isa jumped to their defence insisting that they be reinstated. The House had claimed that Civil Service Rule was grossly abused, and natural justice turned upside down even after the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Mrs. Winifred Oyo-Ita and acting EFCC chairman Ibrahim Magu had appeared before the Committee to explain that their suspension was in order. EFCC explained that they were suspended in order to allow detectives unfettered access to vital documents. The directors knew what investigators would find and they immediately got corrupt lawmakers to make noise out of nothing. This is a shame and that is why this administration has insisted that if we don’t kill corruption, corruption will kill us.
Did the VP release N5.8bn or N33bn?
The VP only approved N5.8billion as against the N33billion peddled about in the media by some unscrupulous persons. These are agents of fake news who are trying all they can to tarnish the blistering career of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo but unfortunately for them, Nigerians are wiser now. We know our left from our right and we can see clearly. If you have read all the reports from NEMA to the House of Reps report, you will find that the VP approved N5.8 billion which was very much in order. We must not allow agents of fake news to derail us in our fight against corruption.
EU report: 2019 elections fair, Presidency insists
Ahead of the 2023 elections, the European Union Election Observation Mission to Nigeria has called for a reform of the nation’s electoral process.
It stated that a lack of transparency and inconsistent numbers during the collation of results by the Independent National Elecoral Commission cast a long shadow over the integrity of the 2019 elections.
It has, therefore, presented 30 recommendations on electoral reform to improve future elections in the country.
The EU EOM final report on the 2019 elections was presented by the EU Chief Observer, Maria Arena, and her deputy, Hannah Roberts, at a press conference in Abuja on Saturday.
The report read in part, “The EU observed 94 collation centres. In almost all, the results forms and smart card readers were not packed in tamper-evident envelopes as required.
“Numerical discrepancies and anomalies on polling unit results forms were identified and were mostly corrected by collation officers on the spot, but without a clear system of record-keeping.”
It added, “Leading parties were at fault in not reining in acts of violence and intimidation by their supporters, and abuse of incumbency at federal and state levels.”
“Inconsistent numbers during collation, “lack of clear checks and explanations, and insufficient public information undermined the integrity of the elections.
“Citizens did not have sufficient means to scrutinise results. INEC did not provide centralised information on the declared results for the different locations and has not posted complete results data on its website.
“Similarly, there is a lack of disaggregated results by local government, ward or polling unit, which would allow for thorough checking of results.”
The mission observed further that the discrepancies and the insufficient public information were not in line with international standards for access to information and public accountability.
It also noted that the citizens did not have sufficient means to scrutinise results, stressing that INEC did not provide centralised information on the declared results for the different elections.
The mission, in its recommendations, stressed the need to strengthen the procedures for the collation of results to improve integrity and confidence in electoral outcomes.
It submitted that the systemic failings seen in the elections, and the relatively low levels of voter participation, indicated the need for fundamental electoral reform.
Arena said, “Such reform needs political leadership that is dedicated to the rights of Nigerian citizens, and an inclusive process of national dialogue involving state institutions, parties, civil society and the media. This needs to be urgently undertaken to allow time for debate, legislative changes and implementation well in advance of the next elections.”
She also said INEC should considerably strengthen its organisational and operational capacity as well as its internal communication, noting that the inter-agency body responsible for electoral security should work more transparently and inclusively with regular consultations with political parties and civil society.
The mission said the the seven areas of priorities for electoral reform included requirements in law for full results transparency with data easily accessible to the public.
The EU EOM also called for the introduction of a legal requirement for parties to have a minimum representation of women among candidates, faulting the low number of female candidates for the polls.
It further recommended that election tribunals should cover pre-election cases in order to improve access to remedy and to avoid petitions being taken to different courts at the same time.
Overall, the EU EOM concluded that the elections were marked by severe operational and transparency shortcomings, security problems and low turnout.
It added, “Positively, however, the elections were competitive, parties were able to campaign and civil society enhanced accountability. Leading parties were at fault in not reining in acts of violence and intimidation by their supporters, and abuse of incumbency at federal and state levels.”
N2.8bn Fraud: Court admits more evidence against Ex-NAMA MD, Abdulsalam
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on Thursday tendered more evidence against Ibrahim Abdulsalam, a former Managing Director of the National Airspace Management Agency, NAMA, who is being prosecuted before Justice Babs Kuewumi of the Federal High Court in Ikoyi, Lagos over an alleged N2.8bn fraud.
Abdulsalam is facing trial alongside Nnamdi Udoh (still at large), Adegorite Olumuyiwa, Segun Agbolade, Clara Aliche, Joy Ayodele Adegorite, Randville Investment Limited and Multeng Travels and Tours Limited for conspiring to induce NAMA to deliver the sum of N2.8 billion to Deposit Limited, Air Sea Delivery Limited and Sea Schedule Systems Limited under the pretext that the money represented the cost of clearing NAMA’s consignments.
One of the counts reads: “That you, Ibrahim Abdulsalam, Adegorite Olumuyiwa, Agbolade Segun, Clara Aliche, Joy Ayodele Adegorite, Randville Invesment Ltd And Multeng Travels And Tours Ltd, between the 1st day of January and the 30th day of December, 2015 within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, did commit an offence, to wit: conversion of the sum of N336,803,308 property of NAMA, which sum was derived from stealing, and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 15(1) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) (Amendment) Act, 2012 and punishable under Section 15(3) of the same Act.”
At the resumed hearing today, a prosecution witness, Nurudeen Bello, told the court that the total sum of N2.8 billion was transferred from the Agency between 2013 and 2015 to different companies’ accounts for the personal use of the defendants.
Led in evidence by the prosecution counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, Bello, an investigator with the EFCC, told the court that “The money was transferred in tranches to Randville Investment Limited and was further disbursed to several companies’ accounts, including another different account owned by Randville Investment Limited.
“The companies that received part of the money included Multeng Travel and Tours, Multeng Engineering and Multeng Aviation, among others.
“N30 million was transferred to the account of a filling station belonging to the third defendant, Segun Agbolade, while N50 million was transferred to one Alaba Odunlami.”
In his further testimony, Bello also said that over N100m cash, mostly in tranches of N3m, were withdrawn from Randville by Agbolade.
Bello said the balance in the account of Randville before the fraud was perpetrated was N8.7 million, adding that “when the unlawful act was carried out, the credit turnover of Randville Investment Limited was N3.6billion while the debit turnover was also N3.6 billion.”
The prosecution counsel, Oyedepo, through the witness, sought to tender in evidence before the court the statements of the fourth defendant dated February 15, 16, 17, 18, 29 and March 12, 2016.
Oyedepo also sought to tender in evidence the statements of sixth defendant dated February 15, 18 and 22, 2016 as well as the statements of the fifth defendants dated February 24, 25, 29 and March 3, 2016. The statements were admitted in evidence by the court.
However, when the prosecution counsel, Oyedepo, sought to tender the statements of the first, second and third defendants, their counsels objected to the admissibility of the statements by the court.
Counsel to the first defendant, Etti Olawuni, objected to the admissibility of his client’s statements dated February 12 and March 6, 2016 on the grounds that they were not made voluntarily.
He therefore urged the court to conduct a trial within trial to verify the statements of his client.
Counsel to the seventh defendant also opposed to the admissibility of the statements of his client, saying, “the statements were purportedly made.”
He, therefore, also asked the court to conduct a trial within trial to verify the statements.
Also, counsel to the second defendant opposed the admissibility of the statements of his client on the grounds that the prosecution had failed to front- load the statements amongst the “proof of evidence”.
In response to the arguments of the defence counsels, Oyedepo told the court that the statements of the first defendant was taken voluntarily and that there were no confessional statements made by him that could warrant a trial within trial.
Regarding the second defendant’s statements, Oyedepo applied to make copies of the statements available to the defence counsel after the proceedings. His application was granted by the court.
However, Oyedepo admitted that the statements of the seventh defendant were contentious.
“I will not oppose the prayer of the defence counsel to the seventh defendant for trial within trial,” he said.
In his ruling, Justice Kuewumi held that “trial within trial shall be conducted to verify the statements of the seventh defendant”.
The Judge further held that he would need time to peruse the statements of the first defendant before ruling on it.
Consequently, Justice Kuewumi adjourned the case to June 14, 2019 for the commencement of trial within trial and also for ruling.
Amnesty Programme beneficiaries ‘ll transform Nigeria’s economy – Osibanjo
…As 137 graduates get starter packs
Vice President Yemi Osibanjo said yesterday, that beneficiaries of the Presidential Amnesty Programme who have been trained in various skills and empowered in their respective trade areas will become the backbone of Nigeria’s economy.
He gave assurance that the Federal Government under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari will continue to work to create an enabling environment for beneficiaries of the programme to actualize their aspirations.
Speaking at the graduation ceremony for 137 beneficiaries held at the Eko Hotel and Suites, Victoria Island, Lagos, the vice president told the graduates that there are opportunities for linkages with relevant agencies for loans, grants and technical support for their prospective businesses.
Osibanjo, who was represented at the occasion by a director in his office, Mrs. Lauren Braide, described the Amnesty Programme as a much-needed intervention developed and implemented as part of a larger developmental agenda for the Niger Delta region.
“I have no doubt that what you have learnt from this Programme will translate into significant personal and professional advancement for you and into great benefit for your communities and for the Nigerian economy as a whole. The kinds of skills you have acquired in this programme are the backbone, the engine of Nigeria’s economy. Without our artisans, our technicians, our small business people, Nigeria’s economy would be a vastly less productive one.
The Programme has made available start-up kits and packages for your use; ensure that you use them for the purpose for which they have been given to you. As you proceed from here, never forget that hard work and integrity are non-negotiable, and will make all the difference you seek. As fashion designers, leather workers and technology professionals, apart from your service skills, the most important asset you will have will be your reputation – for honesty, diligence and reliability”, he admonished.
The vice president reaffirmed the Federal Government’s commitment to the full implementation of the New Vision for Niger Delta, an umbrella initiative aimed at fast-tracking the development of the region and ensuring that communities and people in the region benefit from the wealth of their land. “It is not mere rhetoric when I say that young people are at the heart of our vision for the Niger Delta”, Osibanjo emphasized.
Earlier in his opening remarks, Coordinator of the Amnesty Programme, Prof. Charles Dokubo, said henceforth, beneficiaries of the Programme will immediately be given starter packs at the end of their training for them to commence their businesses.
He noted that the 137 beneficiaries cutting across the entire Niger Delta region and are to receive their starter packs at the end of their graduation ceremony, were products of six months of meticulous and painstaking training in fashion and design, leather works, Information and Communication Technology.
“In my just over one year in office, the PAP has trained over 1, 500 delegates in vocational skills. In addition to the above, over 800 other delegates are undergoing various training programmes in about 20 qualified local training partners for duration of three to six months. The uniqueness of today’s graduation is that the delegates would receive instant empowerment. It is the first of its kind in the history of the Presidential Amnesty Programme.
It has been observed that from the inception of PAP that after completing their training, delegates would have to wait a considerable amount of time before being empowered. This basically is as a result of the tight budget within which the Programme operates. But we intend to make a statement here and change the narrative. Be that as it may, over 1,200 delegates have been empowered during my tenure”, Dokubo disclosed.
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