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THE NATION

Reps insist on probing N2.8b Federal Fire Service fund

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The House of Representatives on Wednesday said it would investigate the status of the N2.8 billion appropriated for the Federal Fire Service in the 2011 budget.

This was sequel to a motion by Hon. Ayeola Abayomi on the need to unravel the mystery behind the withheld fund at the plenary in Abuja.

He said the House was at a loss over the whereabout of the money; hence, there was a need to investigate the utilisation or non-utilisation of the N2.8 billion.

He said investigation became imperative, considering the rising number of lives and property lost to fire in some parts of the country.

Abayomi said: “Besides, the confusion over the status of the fund on whether it was not released or misappropriated made the investigation more imperative.”

He said it was disheartening that “the federal fire service is in a terrible condition, being poorly equipped and thus cannot respond to its current challenges”.

He added: “In 2011, N2.8 billion was appropriated for the federal fire service to purchase trucks and equipment.

“But till date, the money has not been released, hence the need to probe the whereabouts of the money.
“Only 15 out of the 36 states of the federation have functioning fire services, this exposes people of the 21 states to the consequences of an inferno.”

Abayomi said there had been several fire disasters in public places ”such as the Ogbete main Market, Enugu in which 35 shops were destroyed in November 2017”.

He also recalled that in 2016, during the Sabon Gari Market inferno in Kano, 3,800 shops were razed by fire.

He said: “The National Association of Nigerian Traders said that in the last 17 years, traders lost about N5.3 billion to fire disasters.

“Oftentimes, people do not give the right of way to fire trucks to pass in the course of a fire incident.
“In many cases, buildings have been arbitrarily erected in streets, thereby obstructing fire trucks from reaching burning buildings.”

However, attempt by the Deputy Minority Leader, Chukwuka Onyema, to discourage the House from proceeding with the investigation was rebuffed.

Onyema said his argument was based on the fact that the non-release of the fund took place before the timeline of the current House, a development he said had limited the powers of the House.

The motion was unanimously adopted after it was put to a voice vote by the Speaker, Yakubu Dogara.
Dogara then referred the matter to the Committee on Interior for investigation.

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THE NATION

DSS denies tapping telephone lines of Nigerians

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The Department of State Services (DSS) has denied tapping the telephone lines of Nigerians.

A political group had alleged that the DSS had tapped the telephone lines of Nigerians.

But Mr Peter Afunanya, the Public Relations Officer of the DSS, said in a statement on Wednesday in Abuja that the organisation was committed to its professional ideals and would not engage in unethical conduct.

He said the DSS had been criticised by unpatriotic citizens who fed the public with fake news and hate speeches against it.

The spokesman said that the social media had been awash with wrong information regarding the operations of the DSS that were misunderstood and misrepresented.

“It is obvious that some merchants of violence are determined to use their platforms to misinform the public for their selfish and political ends,” he said.

He warned mischief makers against misleading the public, adding that the law would catch up with them.

“The DSS is a responsible organisation and thus professionally adheres to the ideals of intelligence and security governance expected of it in a democracy,” he said

Afunanya urged the public to disregard the claims of the political group.

He said that the DSS should be left out of politics to maintain its usual transparency and neutrality in the discharge of its mandate.

The spokesman enjoined carriers of fake news and social media manipulators to always think of Nigeria.

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THE NATION

Kebbi Gov. Bagudu signs 2019 N151bn budget

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GOVERNOR Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi state, on Wednesday, signed the state 2019 N151 billion budget into law.

Bagudu, while signing the budget at the Government House, Birnin Kebbi, said it would consolidate the gains achieved in 2018.

He said N104 billion of the budget representing 70 per cent is for capital expenditure while N47 billion representing 30 per cent is for recurrent expenditure.

“The budget will improve on infrastructure, power supply and exploration of mineral resources.

“It will further add value and improve the lives of the people,” he said.

The governor also commended the state House of Assembly for the speedy passage of the budget.‎

Earlier, the state’s Commissioner of Budget and Economic Planning, Alhaji Muhammad Yauri, commended the house ‎for passing the budget on time.

The Speaker, Alhaji Abdulmuminu Kamba, said the house has fulfilled it promised of ensuring speedy passage of the budget with thorough scrutiny.

Kamba also assured that the house would sustain its cordial working relationship with other arms of government in the state

‎The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN

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THE NATION

Airspace to remain open throughout election period – NAMA

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The Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) has insisted there was no disruption in the provision of air traffic services on Saturday, a day earlier scheduled for the Presidential and National Assembly elections before it was shifted till next Saturday.

The airspace manager said the flight service was in keeping with the agency’s mandate to provide uninterrupted safe, effective, efficient, and economic air navigation services in the country.

The agency also said it had earlier on Friday ensured a 24-hour operation at all Nigerian airports to facilitate the transportation of materials nationwide by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

The claim counters Saturday’s claim by INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu that adverse weather condition stalled movement of electoral materials by air.

Some airline sources said apart from slight delays as a result of weather, there was no cancellation of such of flights.

NAMA in a statement by the General Manager, Public Affairs, Khalid Emele explained that it has sustained 24-hour operation in line with the directive of the Minister of State (Aviation), Sen. Hadi Sirika.

It said, “In the same vein, NAMA wishes to reassure all airspace users and the general public that the Nigerian airspace shall remain open for all airspace users before, during and after the rescheduled 2019 general elections.

“Thus, the agency has put in place appropriate contingency measures to ensure safe flight operations within the period, as well as possible extension of operational hours of any domestic airport when the need arises”.

NAMA urged airline operators, the travelling public and other service providers who are dependent on the agency’s services, to go ahead with their businesses as usual.

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