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Friday, July 12, 2024

Nigerian newspapers headlines Friday morning

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Race For NASS Clerk Intensifies, As 5 Jostle For Omolori’s Job [LEADERSHIP]

Barely 24 hours after it was reported that outgoing Clerk of the National Assembly, Alhaji Mohammed Sani-Omolori, and 150 top officials of the federal legislature who have attained the retirement age of 60 or spent 35 years in service had been asked to go, intense lobby for the job of the clerk has commenced, with five top civil servants angling to replace him.

LEADERSHIP Friday gathered that the secretary of procurement, estate and works, Arch Amos Olatunde Ojo; secretary of legal matters, Bala Mohammed Yabani, Clerk of the Senate, Nelson Ayewoh, Clerk of the House of Representatives, Patrick Giwa and director of legal services, Ademola Adebanjo are jostling for the juicy position.

The senior civil servants, it was learnt, had been lobbying principal officers of the National assembly, key lawmakers and some members of the commission, asking for their support in the selection of Sani-Omolori’s replacement.

“The offices of principal officers of the National Assembly have become Mecca of some sort for these senior civil servants. They go there very often to confer with the lawmakers they consider influential enough and seek their support for the clerk position”, a senior legislative aide confided in our correspondent.

As the controversy over the sack of the clerk and others rages, a group under the auspices of ‘Omolori’s Solidarity Group’ has register its displeasure with what it perceived as illegal retirement of the former clerk.

The group accused the leadership of the National Assembly under

Senator Ahmed Lawan of unlawfully removing Sani-Omolori to plant

his lackey as new Clerk.

The group comprising some affected staff of the National Assembly and other concerned Nigerians threatened to not only drag Senate President Lawan and Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila before President Muhammedu Buhari over the development but also stage a 1000-man match to register what it described as “callous and mischievous memo from the National Assembly Service Commission (NASC) implying that Sani-Omolori must be retired”.

The group wondered why Sani-Omolori and others were forced to retire when “the extant regulation as contained in NASS’ Revised Conditions of Service duly passed by both Chambers of the 8th National Assembly puts the retirement age of staff at 40 years of service and 65 years of age

– whichever comes first”.

Sani-Omolori had yesterday, after the notice of his retirement

came, argued that the resolution of the 8th National Assembly on the

conditions of service of staff has not been rescinded nor abdicated by the National Assembly, which under the authentic National Assembly Service Act 2014 as passed is empowered to review any proposed amendment to the conditions of service by the commission.

Meanwhile, as the jostle to clinch the Clerk position continues, a civil society organisation, Crusade Against Corruption and Injustice in Nigeria (COCIN), has written to the National Assembly Service Commission, asking it to review alleged irregularities in the promotion of the secretary of procurement, estate and works, Arch Amos Olatunde Ojo.

The petition dated July 15 and jointly signed by its executive director, Alhaji Abubakar Danjuma; director, public affairs, Comrade Patrick Momoh and director, investigations, Comrade Oyekunle Ajani, asked the commission to clear the augean stable in the National Assembly.

The group in the petition alleged that Ojo’s promotion to the directorate level did not comply with the statutory 4-year provision, even as he did not sit for any promotion examination to the Salary Grade Level 17.

The petition reads: “That in order to restore sanity and professionalism in the National Assembly service, you must make a clean sweep of the old order, which held the bureaucracy to ransom in the absence of a board.

“That we have reliably gathered that Arch. Amos Olatunde Ojo, the secretary, procurement, estate and works, who has been alleged to be part of the cabal that perpetrated all manner of irregularities in the absence of a commission, is lobbying to be the next CAN.”

The group told the commission that Ojo was not fit enough to be considered as the next clerk of the National Assembly.

COCIN continued: “Hon chairman, we wish to state without mincing words that Arch Ojo is not fit to be the face of the National Assembly bureaucracy because of the atrocities he had allegedly committed and the irregularities inherent in his career progression, which are in clear violation of the Public Service Rules.

WTO: Okonjo-Iweala Thanks PMB, NASS, ECOWAS Over Support [LEADERSHIP]

A former Minister of Finance and coordinating Minister for the Economy, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, yesterday, expressed gratitude to President

Muhammadu Buhari and the National Assembly for nominating and

supporting her candidacy for the position of Director-General of the World Trade  Organisation (WTO).

Okonjo-Iweala stated this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Geneva.

She also thanked ECOWAS for endorsing her candidacy as the race for

the WTO Director General position enters the selection phase.

“I want to also thank the Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr Geoffrey

Onyeama, the Chief  of Staff to the President Prof. Ibrahim Gambari,

Hon. Ndudi Elumelu  and the Nigerian ambassadors to Switzerland, WTO

as well as the Permanent Mission to the UN in Geneva,” she said.

Okonjo-Iweala is vying for the top job alongside candidates from Kenya, Egypt,

Saudi Arabia, UK, Moldova, Mexico and the Republic of Korea.

All the candidates are in Geneva to make presentations to the WTO

General Council and addressed the press from July 15th – 17th.

The former Minister who had previously urged the WTO to elect

its Director-General base on merit, told NAN that given her resumè as

a development economist she was best suited for the top job.

Heads May Roll In NDDC As PMB Orders Speedy, Coordinated Probe [LEADERSHIP]

Heads may roll as President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday

ordered for a speedy and coordinated investigation into the activities of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).

The president directed that there should be a better coordination

among security and investigating agencies with the National Assembly

to ensure that the administration’s effort to bring sanity, transparency and accountability to the management of the large amount of resources dedicated to development of the Niger Delta sub-region is not derailed.

In his reaction to the unfolding drama, which include attacks and

counter attacks between and around persons, institutions, and the

Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), President Buhari in a

statement by his spokesman, Garba Shehu expressed his strong

determination to get to the root of the problem undermining the

development of the Niger Delta and its peoples in spite of enormous

national resources voted year after year for this singular purpose.

According to the directive, auditing firms and investigative agencies

working in collaboration with National Assembly Committees to resolve

the challenges in the NDDC must initiate actions in a time-bound

manner and duly inform the Presidency of the actions being taken.

The President also directed timely sharing of information and

knowledge in a way to speedily assist the administration to diagnose

what had gone wrong in the past and what needs to be done to make

corrections in order to return the NDDC to its original mandate of

making life better for people in Niger Delta.

President Buhari said the administration wants to bring about “rapid,

even and sustainable development to the region.”

The President gave firm assurance that his administration would put in

place a transparent and accountable governance framework, not only in

the NDDC but in all other institutions of government.

NDDC Crisis: Buhari Orders Speedy, Coordinated Probe [THE NATION]

PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday spoke on the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) N40 billion probe, which has sparked a row between the National Assembly and the agency’s Interim Management Committee (IMC).

The President ordered a “speedy” and “coordinated investigation” of the activities of the NDDC management.

He said there should be a better coordination among security and investigation agencies, and the National Assembly to unravel the problems militating against the agency’s performance and factors undermining the development of the Niger Delta.

President Buhari, who vowed to wield the big stick against culprits in the agency’s mismanagement, expressed his determination “to get to the root of the problems.”

The President also said he will not tolerate any form of disrespect to the National Assembly by his appointees.

The president, in a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, titled: “NDDC: President Buhari directs speedy coordinated investigation”, said sanity, transparency and accountability should be restored in the management of resources allocated to NDDC for the development of the region.

Also, Senate President Ahmed Lawan, who expressed dismay at the rancorous investigation, warned that the National Assembly will no more tolerate rascality on the part of government’s appointees.

President Buhari and the Senate President issued their stern warnings, shortly after the NDDC Managing Director, Prof. Kemebradikumo Pondei, walked out on the Olubunmi Ojo-led House of Representatives Committee, which is investigating the alleged N40 billion sleaze in the agency.

Southsouth governors backed the forensic probe of the NDDC, saying that it is in the interest of the region.

The chairman of the Southsouth Governors’ Forum, Delta State Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, said the probe would reposition the agency for better performance.

There was drama at the committee sitting when Pondei declined to make a presentation on the ground that Tunji-Ojo was an “interested party” in the NDDC affairs.

42% Of Jobs Lost To COVID-19, Says World Bank Chief [THE NATION]

ALMOST half of those employed have lost their jobs due to Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the World Bank has said.

The bank put the percentage of individuals who were working before March, but now out of employment at 42.

Its Senior Financial Sector Specialist, Ahmed Rostom, shared the information in a data during a Development Bank of Nigeria (DBN) virtual conference on risk sharing.

The panellists agreed that credit risk guarantee will provide a safety net for Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) to access credit post COVID-19.

Speaking on the impact of the pandemic on the local economy, Rostom stated: “42% of individuals who were working before March 2020, especially those working in hospitality and service industry are no longer working.”

He described the situation as disturbing.

The panellists agreed that MSME’s are the largest employers of labour as they account for about 84 per cent of jobs in the country.

“They are important industrialisation agents, and a driving force in the attainment of industrial growth because of their value chain diversification and expansion of industrial production. They contribute nearly half of the country’s GDP at 48 per cent yet less than 5 per cent of MSME’s have access to finance,” they said.

On her part, the Managing Director of JNC International and a Director at DBN Mrs. Claire Omatseye stressed the importance of risk sharing among all stakeholders.

According to her, “for MSMEs, risk sharing helps eliminate financial oppression and predatory lending, while also ensuring prosperity is shared equitably. For the government, risk sharing contributes to the realisation of its economic objectives and stabilisation policies”

Bello Heads Ondo APC Primary Election Committee [THE NATION]

KOGI State Governor Yahaya Bello has been appointed by the Caretaker/Extra-ordinary National Convention Planning Committee (CEONCPC) of the All Progressives Congress (APC) to head a nine-man Ondo State Governorship Primary Election Committee slated for Monday.

The party also approved Emperor Chris Baywood Ibe to head a nine-man Primary Election Appeal Committee.

A statement on Thursday in Abuja by the Deputy National Publicity Secretary, Yekini Nabena, said the National Chairman of the Caretaker Committee, Governor Mai Mala Buni, has approved the constitution of the committees.

The committee has Olorogun o’tega Emerhor as secretary, while Alwan Hassan, Chief Samuel Sambo, Hajiya Binta Salihu, Mr. Emma Andy, Dr. Adebayo Adelabu, Abdullahi Aliyu and Mrs. Margret Ngozi Igwe are to serve as members.

Abdulmimuni Okara, an architect, is to serve as secretary to the Governorship Primary Election Appeal Committee, while Mr. Festus Fientes, Mr. Okon Owoefiak, Mr. Abba Isah, Alh. Umar Duhu, Sani El-katuzu, Mrs. Osuere Eunice and Emeka Agaba are appointed as members.

63% Of Sanitisers Are Counterfeit, Says Fed Govt [THE NATION]

About 63 per cent of alcohol-based hand sanitisers in circulation may not be genuine, the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 said yesterday.

PTF Chairman and Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) Boss Mustapha said most sanitizers are not registered.

Speaking at the PTF briefing in Abuja, he said the Minister of Health had issued an advisory to the public to procure pharmaceutical products from credible sources.

The SGF said: “As part of the non-pharmaceutical measures, we recommended in line with global practice, the use of hand sanitizers. Ordinarily, that ought to stimulate local production because of increased demand.

“We regret to inform you that following a survey conducted by the Nigeria Institute for Pharmaceutical Research and Development (NIPRD) to check the influx of substandard goods, it was revealed that 63 per cent of alcohol-based sanitizers in Abuja does not have NAFDAC registration numbers. There could also be similar situations around the country.

“The PTF appeals to the patriotic spirit of Nigerians and request that they desist from manufacturing sub-standard goods which could further endanger other unsuspecting Nigerians who innocently purchase them.”

The SGF deplored the violation of airport COVID-19 protocols by dignitaries.

“We have received reports about violations by some dignitaries who failed to follow the protocols at our airports.

“We believe leaders must lead by example. In truth, as leaders and followers, we must change our behaviour if we must overcome the pandemic.

“This virus does not discriminate by status, age, tribe, creed or color. All we require is diligent compliance and vigilance,” he said.

PTF National Coordinator, Dr Sani Aliyu, said every Nigerian was at risk of contracting the virus if not careful.

Magu’ll Be Cleared Of Allegations, Reinstated, Says Counsel [PUNH]

The suspended acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Ibrahim Magu, on Thursday expressed confidence that he would be reinstated to office.

Magu, who was suspended last week by the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), over corruption allegations leveled against him at the ongoing proceedings of the Justice Ayo Salami-led presidential investigative panel, said the charges leveled against him were trumped up.

He spoke to our correspondent through his lawyer, Mr Wahab Shittu, who said he had his instruction to give an update on the probe to Nigerians.

Shittu said, “I have the instruction of Mr Magu to tell Nigerians that he is not against the ongoing probe.

“Mr Magu asked me to tell Nigerians that he is not against the probe. The allegations against him are trumped up. He strongly believes that his name will be cleared and he will be reinstated back to office.”

Meanwhile, Shittu on behalf of Magu sent a letter to the panel denying a series of allegations reported in the media.

Specifically, he denied giving N4bn to Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, and giving N28m to Mr Femi Falana (SAN).

Both Osinbajo and Falana had separately denied the allegations.

The letter titled, ‘Publications prejudicial to the proceedings of this honourable panel,’ was sent to the panel on Thursday.

Shittu stated that the “serial falsehood publications in the media” in respect of matters  “never featured in the proceedings of this honourable panel.”

He said, “The charges against our client are trumped-up allegations designed to tarnish his image and rubbish the credibility and image of the EFCC which has been stellar and outstanding under our client’s watch.

10 Cultists Sleep With New Female Member During Initiation –Girl [PUNCH]

A 19-year-old girl and member of a cult known as the Marine Girls, Blessing David, on Thursday confessed to having slept with 10 men after she was initiated into the group.

The teenager, who was initiated along with other girls, said sleeping with the men was part of the initiation rites.

She said this at the headquarters of the Edo State Police Command in Benin City, when the Commissioner of Police, Mr Johnson Kokumo, paraded 15 armed robbery suspects, six cultists, three kidnappers and four murder suspects.

The cultists paraded were three teenage girls, who were said to be members of the Marine Girls.

Blessing told PUNCH Metro that she was initiated into the group in 2019.

“My name is Blessing David. I was initiated into the cult last year. I slept with 10 men as part of the initiation process,” she stated.

Another 16-year-old girl, Ada Emeka, said she also slept with 10 men as part of the initiation rites.

The CP said two suspected armed robbers were killed in the early hours of Thursday by operatives of the command.

“An eight-man robbery gang, who operated at the Amagba area of Benin City, robbed 13 houses, injuring victims with machetes and other weapons during the operation that started around 12am on Thursday and lasted till 3am. The police engaged them in a gun duel and in the process, two of them were killed,” Kokumo stated.

One of the victims, who gave his name simply as Eghosa, said he was sleeping with his wife in the bedroom when he suddenly saw torch lights pointing at them.

Edo People Behind Us In This Election –PDP [SUN]

Ahead of the forthcoming election, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has reiterated its preparedness to contain the All Progressives Congress (APC).

The PDP also denied the allegation by the rival candidate that the party’s flag bearer, Governor  Godwin Obaseki, bribed the party with N15 billion to get the ticket.

Chairman of the Publicity sub-committee  of  PDP on Edo election, Raymond Dokpesi, stated this yesterday, when members of the committee briefed journalists in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.

Dokpesi declared that PDP would contain the federal might with people’s might, assuring the Edo electorate that they would not be disappointed.

He stated: “We are fully ready under the leadership of Governor Nyesom Wike. And we assure our teeming supporters in Edo State, we are going to give APC the defeat they never imagined.

We are battle ready at any time.

“If they are thinking of federal might, we are thinking of people’s might. We are leveraging on the electorate.”

The party expressed surprise at the APC to seek the transfer of their case on  Suit No: FHC/B/C569/2020 PDP V. INEC & 2 Ords from the Benin jurisdiction to Abuja.

He, however, expressed confidence that PDP would get justice, saying  that parties should be guided by the right steps in legal matters.

He said: “The request by the APC violates the circular of the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court dated August 6, 2018, and June 24, 2020, which cautioned against entertaining matters of the cause of action arose from outside judicial divisions.

“On this particular matter, our party could have sued in Abuja jurisdiction, but for the policy direction of the Chief Judge of hearing matters only within jurisdictions.

“The petition of the APC, therefore, contradicts the policy directive of the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court and we, therefore, expect the court to ignore same. Moreso, as the matter has not been heard in Benin jurisdiction.”

COVID-19: Guilty Vips, Others’ll Be Sanctioned –FG [SUN]

Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Ndubuisis Orji, Abuja and Chinelo Obogo

The Federal Government said it has begun investigating the flouting of COVID-19 protocol put in place at three domestic airports of country by VIPs, warning that if found guilty, they will either go to jail of two months and above or pay a fine.

Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, gave the warning at the briefing of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, yesterday.

He spoke against the backdrop of reports that Governor Ahmadu Fintiri of Adamawa State allegedly flouted COVID-19 protocol at the domestic wing of the Port Harcourt International Airport, Omagwa, Rivers State.

FAAN had accused Governor Fintiri of refusing to observe the airport security and public health protocols by refusing to have his temperature checked or sanitised by the health officials.

The agency said Fintiri arrived Port Harcourt International Airport aboard aircraft 5N-IZY at 17:08 hrs on 14th July 2020 with eight people in his entourage who did exactly as he did.

Fintiri’s team was also reported  to have driven right through the barricades up to the terminal building ignoring traffic and aviation security instructions when they came to receive him.

The agency said the governor’s action is unacceptable.

Fintiri is the second high profile person that has been accused by the agency of flouting guidelines this week.

On Wednesday, July 15, FAAN accused former Zamfara governor, Abdulaziz Yari, of violating public health procedures on travels at the Aminu Kano International Airport.

The agency said Yari refused to adhere to the protocols and procedures put in place by the Federal Government through the PTF on COVID-19 by forcefully pushing away an officer of the environment department when he insisted that his luggage must be disinfected.












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