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Sunday, July 14, 2024

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Federal, states, others review terms for schools reopening [Nation]

Our plans for resumption, by Osun, Anambra, Ogun, Lagos

ANOTHER step towards the reopening of schools will be taken today as Federal and state governments meet to review the level of compliance with the conditions.

The 52-page guidelines released by the Federal Ministry of Education is designed to navigate the path for the resumption of pupils in exit classes to enable them write their external examinations despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

A decision on the return to school by exit class pupils may likely be taken at the end of today’s meeting.

The ministry’s virtual meeting with Commissioners of Education and special advisers on Education in the 36 states and the Education secretary of Federal Capital Territory will also pick a likely date for the safe reopening of schools.

The meeting will be attended by officials of the National Examinations Council (NECO), National Business and Technical Examinations Board (NABTEB) and the West Africa Examinations Council (WAEC).

Also expected are representatives of the National Association of Proprietors of Private Schools (NAPPS), the umbrella body of private school owners and the All Nigeria Conference of Principals of Secondary Schools (ANCOPSS).

But National President of NAPPS Chief Yomi Otubela said on Sunday that he was not aware of the meeting.

Permanent Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Education (FMoE) Sonny Echono said a decision on 2020 West African Senior School Certificate Examination organised by WAEC will be taken having received a feedback on the options available to Nigeria from the examination body.

He said the government had agreed on a date to hold the national common entrance examination into unity colleges.

The permanent secretary said the date for the common entrance examination will be announced at the end of today’s meeting.

Minister of State for Education Emeka Nwajiuba had last week said Nigeria was open to the option of writing the General Certificate Examination (GCE) organised in November/ December.

Echono said: “We (FG), all the commissioners of education, examination bodies, private school proprietors, ANCORPS, Secretary of Education, FCT and other stakeholders are going to meet tomorrow (today).

“We have invited them so that if they require explanations and their own input we will hear from them at once.

“The subject is for us to decide on the issue of reopening of schools for all the exit classes to take their final examinations.

“We have already agreed on a date for the common entrance. That one is for primary schools so it is not an issue. It doesn’t have much problem. The date will be announced after the tomorrow’s meeting.

“We have received a feedback from WAEC on what options are available and we want to discuss those when the new date will be and let us agree as a group and not just impose our view on the others.”

Director of Information in the ministry, Ben Gong, said: “The emphasis is on the exit classes who are going to do WASSCE, NECO, Common Entrance and NABTEB,  With the decision they (WAEC) took, by next month they should be starting the examination. Being a bigger customer we said no.

“We want to meet within us to discuss and look at the timetable. WAEC is proposing either August or November. We are saying since we have a number of exams there is nothing cast in stone to say that we must start with WAEC.

“Since WAEC is saying next month; which we have disagreed with or November, the exit classes can resume and start preparations and do all these exams (NECO, NABTEB and common entrance) then we will meet WAEC by November.”

Some of the conditions given to state by the Federal Government include school management, provision of infrastructure for social distancing, disinfecting schools, provision of water and soap for handwashing, the provision of infra-red thermometers, the use of face mask, appoint incident managers, appointing classroom wardens, among others.

National President of NAPPS Otubela said he was only aware of a meeting to review preparations for resumption scheduled to hold on July 30.

He said: “The one I heard about should be on 30th of this month but I have not confirmed the Invitation.

“Until after that meeting before update. They have asked schools to fill a form based on the 52-page guidelines and submit by July 29. After July 29 there will be a meeting.”


EFCC: DSS shifts probe to CCB [Nation]

THE Department of State Services (DSS) has been working with the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) on the Asset Declaration Form filled by the suspended Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr. Ibrahim Magu, it was learnt at the weekend.

Sources said this  is in line with the ongoing investigation into the activities of the EFCC under Magu’s leadership.

But, it was not clear if this action is connected with the Justice Ayo Salami panel — before which Magu was dragged— based on the allegations raised by Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami (SAN).

A highly-placed source said: “The DSS approached the CCB for collaboration on the Asset Form. It said it was in respect of the information it shared with the Bureau.

“So, whatever CCB is doing is at the instance of the DSS. The security agency sought for joint investigation with the bureau.

“It is difficult to say whether it is a separate issue or the activities of the Salami Fact-Finding panel. CCB is already cooperating with the agency.”

Also on Sunday, the EFCC boss said he was yet to be asked any question by the Presidential Investigation Committee, even as spoke on the recovered N329 billion for the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).

He said the cash was promptly remitted to a designated account and not touched by the EFCC.

Magu said EFCC has preferred charges against those implicated in the alleged N3 billion scandal in the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS).

He said he will no longer keep quiet while his image is being maligned on false allegations.

Magu, who made the clarifications in a statement through his lawyer, Mr. Wahab Shittu, said the Salami panel was yet to raise any issue on his asset.

He lamented that he had been the butt of attacks in the last three weeks on unfounded allegations, saying that the only thing going for him in spite of these sponsored attacks is his conviction of innocence.

Magu explained how the agency his watch recovered N329 billion for the NNPC.

The statement said: “Contrary to the misleading media reports, EFCC under our client’s watch never misappropriated any funds recovered for NNPC.

“The truth of the matter is that, well over N329 billion recovered by EFCC under our client’s watch was remitted directly into NNPC dedicated accounts via REMITTA under a special arrangement endorsed by NNPC, EFCC and the affected NNPC’s indebted marketers.

“By virtue of the said special arrangement, NNPC had requested formally the EFCC to recover the said amount from the affected NNPC’s marketers who were expected to pay such funds directly to NNPC while NNPC in turn confirmed receipt of such payments to EFCC.

“Therefore, EFCC never took custody of any of the recovered funds and so, the question of misappropriation of such funds by EFCC or our client could not have arisen as falsely published. This can be independently verified both at the NNPC and the EFCC records. Interestingly, the Pipelines and Products Marketing Company LTD (PPMC), a subsidiary of NNPC had in a letter dated August 17, 2017 with reference number PPMC/MD/254, actually commended the EFCC under my client’s watch.

“The PPMC in the said letter stated as follows ”We wish to express our profound gratitude for the successful collaboration between the EFCC and PPMC/NNPC which largely resulted in the huge recovery of debts from the marketers, from the inception of the recovery exercise in 2016 till date.

“We appreciate your commission’s professional and diligent handling of the recovery of debts from the marketers throughout the period and we look forward to further collaboration in further areas

“The issue of NNPC recovered funds has never featured in the proceedings of the panel and our client has never been confronted with such wild allegations. Our client is alarmed at the motive behind such spurious allegation in spite of altruistic service to country without personal pecuniary benefits.”

On assets declaration, the EFCC boss said: “Again, this falsehood being orchestrated in the public space and attributed to the panel proceedings is a gross misrepresentation and blatant falsehood.

“Our client has never been confronted with any such allegations purportedly arising from the Panel’s proceedings.

“The story attributed to the panel which has become a recurring decimal, is a dangerous attempt to discredit the work of the honourable panel.

He faulted the allegation that he excluded suspects implicated in the alleged misapplication of N3billion in Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS)


NDDC received N946. 91b allocation in 18 years [Nation]

THE Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) received a whopping N946. 91 billion as budgetary allocation in 18 years, findings by The Nation has shown.

The sum is  part of the N9.43 trillion allocated between 1999 to 13 per cent derivation  to the nine oil producing states and other agencies of the Federal Government involved developing oil producing communities.

Figures sourced from the Budget Office of the Federation and the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation (OAGF) at the weekend contain the figures.

Information garnered from the Budget Office  showed that the NDDC allocation is subsumed in the Ministry of Niger Delta’s total allocation.

It is only in few instances that the commission’s allocations were separated.

For instance, the NDDC got a budgetary allocation of N61,94bn in 2014;   N45.78bn in 2015  and   N71. 2bn in 2018.

Other allocations that the commission got were buried in the main allocation of the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs and  so the exact amount could not be readily determined.

But budgetary allocation to the  NDDC, from 2004 to 2019 stands at N769bn with the highest allocations of N81.9bn  in 2018 and ?100.19bn in 2019.

Monthly  FAAC disbursements, NDDC though the oil mineral producing states benefitted from 13% derivation amounting to N8.66trillion.

Figures from the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation (OAGF) showed that without fail, the 13% derivation was paid to the governments of the states identified as oil mineral producing states.

Distribution from Foreign Excess Crude Savings Account for July, 2009 Augmentation; Distribution of $2billion from Foreign Excess Crude Savings Account; and Exchange Gain Difference were also paid out to the oil producing states among other pay outs.

The office of the  Auditor-General of the Federation has  queried over N70 million  spent  by the NDDC to accommodate persons at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel in Abuja between 2008 and 2012.

In the extract review of responses to its audit query, the office also noted multiplicity of hotel bills and receipts, some of which the commission said were missing.

It also identified about N133.16 million spent as advances on community engagements and project inspection which   were not properly accounted for.

The extract review reads in part: “In view of this, the then Acting Managing Director…. accordingly gave approval for the guests to be accommodated at the Transcorp Hilton Hotels, Abuja. The rooms were reserved in the name of the Ag. Managing Director and her S.A. At the end of it, the hotel management issued us with receipts.

“We used the receipts as part of the documents in retiring the N70,000,000 (N50.000,000 and N20,000,000) that we collected for this purpose. The N10.000,000 that was left unspent at the end of the exercise was refunded.


Akpabio names lawmakers on NDDC contracts’ list [Punch]

The Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio, has linked some members of the National Assembly to some contracts awarded by the Niger Delta Development Commission, The PUNCH has learnt.

Akpabio, however, did not state if the lawmakers were directly awarded the contracts or they nominated the projects under their Zonal Intervention Projects, also known as constituency projects.

The former Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on the NDDC, Mr Nicholas Mutu, who represents the Bomadi/Patani Federal Constituency of Delta State, is among those linked by the minister with contracts.

The minister listed Mutu’s name against 74 projects, including various emergency road projects in Delta, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa and Rivers states.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission had on February 3, 2020, arraigned Mutu before Justice Folashade Giwa-Ogunbanjo of the Federal High Court in Abuja for alleged abuse of office and fraud involving about N320m.

Akpabio also linked the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Peter Nwaoboshi (Delta-North), with 53 projects, which included emergency repairs of Asue Street, Owa Phase 2; ldumuogbe Road via Ojemaye; Otolokpo College Road, Otolokpo; and the Police lshu Ani Ukwu Road, Issele Uku.

Other lawmakers that Akpabio listed projects against are Senator Matthew Urhoghide (Edo-South), six; James Manager (Delta-South), six; Samuel Anyanwu (Imo-West, 8th Senate), 19; and others simply identified as Ondo and Edo Reps.

The minister, however, did not provide the cost of the projects listed against the lawmakers’ names, while the cost of contracts given to non-lawmakers had costs of various projects attached to them.

Our correspondents also observed that contracts listed against the names of the lawmakers were not up to 60 per cent of the 266 on the list provided by Akpabio.

Non-National Assembly members are also on the list.

It was further observed that the minister copied to the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN).

The House had on Thursday resolved to sue Akpabio for alleged perjury and defamation of the parliament.

Akpabio had on Monday, while appearing before the House Committee on the NDDC during an investigative hearing on the alleged illegal spending and mismanagement of funds, alleged that members of the National Assembly were awarded 60 per cent of contracts by the commission.


Ex-banker facing $153m Diezani loot trial testifies against Magu [Punch]

  • In three weeks, I surrendered N9.08bn to EFCC account in CBN, says Lawal
  • It’s absurd for someone on trial to testify against Magu — Ex-EFCC boss lawyer

A former Executive Director with First Bank of Nigeria Plc, Dauda Lawal, appeared before the Justice Ayo Salami-led presidential panel on Saturday to give evidence against the suspended Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Ibrahim Magu.

Lawal is currently standing trial before a Federal High Court in Lagos for allegedly receiving $25m out of the $153m loot traced to a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke.

A source close to the panel said the former banker was invited as part of a probe into the investigative deficiencies of the EFCC under Magu.

He said Lawal was asked to testify without prejudice to his ongoing corruption trial.

It was learnt that while the former banker was giving his testimony, Magu walked into the venue at the Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa around 12pm, three hours before he was scheduled to appear.

A top source said, “Lawal appeared before the panel to clarify some allegations he had made in the past against the EFCC some of which had been reported to the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation. This was without prejudice to his ongoing corruption trial.

“However, Magu strolled in around 12pm even though he was expected to arrive at 3pm. The panel members were initially reluctant to let Magu witness the hearing but he pleaded and was permitted to do so.”

Lawal, however, repeated the allegations he made against the EFCC in a counter-affidavit he filed before Justice Muslim Hassan of a Federal High Court in 2017.

The EFCC had frozen Lawal’s accounts and applied for the permanent forfeiture of his funds which the ex-banker challenged.

In a counter-affidavit he deposed to which formed the basis for his invitation by the panel, Lawal said the EFCC detained him for 11 days in 2016 and promised to release him only on the condition that he return some funds.

On how he received the $25m, Lawal said he received a call from a friend, Stanley Lawson, March 2015 to help collect the money, which he subsequently paid into an account provided for him.

“I had no idea of the origin of the said funds and only acted in the course of normal banking business,” he said.

The former banker said the EFCC allegedly compelled him to provide funds he never received.

Lawal said in the affidavit, “Having been invited and subsequently detained in Lagos for 11 consecutive days and without access to members of my immediate family, the EFCC investigators kept suggesting and insisting that there was a shortfall of $40m, which I had yet to account for.

“They were alleging that I had in fact taken $65m as opposed to the $25m, which I stated that I had received. The EFCC investigators interrogating me made it clear that the only way that I could/would leave detention is if I made their suggested shortfall available to them.

“Because I never had this EFCC invented $40m to give, I had to use my personal connections to source for and raise about 50 per cent of the said amount while I was in detention. I managed to borrow some of the money from the bank where I am an executive director and surrendered it to the EFCC through my legal counsel and was eventually released from detention on May 20, 2016.

“Consequently, in a three-week period between May 13 and June 6, 2016, I was made to surrender to the EFCC Recovery Account at the Central Bank of Nigeria the total sum of N9.08bn.”

We’ll no longer condone allegations – Magu’s lawyer

Meanwhile, Magu’s lawyer, Mr. Wahab Shittu, says his client will no longer condone allegations levelled against him.

Shittu said this in a statement on Sunday titled, ‘Re: Magu faces questions over assets declaration – Fresh Propaganda Against Our Client Prejudicial to Panel Proceedings’.

The statement was in reaction to media reports that Magu was facing fresh investigation for failing to declare his assets before the Code of Conduct Bureau as required by law.

The lawyer said they were shocked by several false and defamatory imputations not arising from the proceedings of the panel.

He said, “Take notice that our client can no longer fold his hands in the face of these sustained malicious attacks to prejudge him in the public space. Our client will henceforth, point by point reply to all false allegations orchestrated against him in the public space on a daily basis as well as present his comprehensive defence for the world to see.”

It’s absurd for person on trial to testify against Magu – Ex-EFCC boss lawyer

When contacted on the telephone, a lawyer to Magu, Mr. Tosin Ojaomo, said it was immoral and absurd for Lawal who is standing trial, to give evidence before a panel against Magu.

Ojaomo said, “It is absurd that Dauda Lawal who is standing trial and has returned money believed to be proceeds of crime is being used as a witness. This is against the principle of natural justice. This is what we have been complaining about.”


I sold bad product to Edo people in 2016 – Oshiomhole [Punch]

A former National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, Adams Oshiomhole, has declared that he sold a bad product to Edo State people in 2016.

He stated that he supported the governorship aspiration of Godwin Obaseki in 2016 to ensure the continuity of his projects and programmes.

Oshiomhole stated these on Sunday at the Government Reservation Area, Benin, while addressing members of the APC.

He said, “Obaseki is MoU (Memoranda of Understanding) governor, but Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu is a man of God, who will ensure good governance in Edo State from November 12 this year.

“I have made my honest mistakes. Only God is perfect. I am now 68 years old. I have come to apologise for the mistake of supporting Obaseki in 2016. I am in Edo State to repair my mistakes.

“Obaseki has abused the trust of Edo people. With our permanent voter cards, we shall punish Obaseki on September 19. Ize-Iyamu will not repeat the mistakes of Obaseki. Ize-Iyamu will take Edo State to the next level.”

Earlier, Ize-Iyamu alleged that Obaseki had not done well in almost four years as governor of the state and had lost focus.

Meanwhile, Ize-Iyamu has received the blessing of the Enigies in the Benin Kingdom.

The event took place on Sunday when the governorship candidate and other leaders of the APC, including Oshiomhole, visited the Enigies at the palace of its President, Edomwonyi Iduozee Ogiegbean, the Enigie of Egbaen, to present the core policies and plans of his campaign manifesto, the SIMPLE agenda.

Enigies are heads of various towns and villages that make up the Benin Kingdom like Obozuwa, Evbobanose, Udo, Okpaihe, Ugo Isi, Obagie, Enyaen, Ugo-Niyekorhiomwon, Uruegbe and Urhonigbe, among others.


Why I dumped PDP –Dogara [Sun]

  • VON DG predicts more defections to APC

Yakubu Dogara, immediate past Speaker of the House of Representatives, has claimed that failure of governance in his home state, Bauchi under the administration of Governor Bala Mohammed led to his defection from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).

Dogara announced his defection on Friday after which he met with President Muhammadu Buhari.

In a letter of resignation addressed to the Bogoro ‘C’ Ward Chairman of the PDP dated July 24, 2020, he said he cannot successfully ask questions about those issues without being accused of disloyalty if he were to remain in the PDP.

The lawmaker currently representing Bogoro/Dass/Tafawa Balewa federal constituency said failing to tell the truth to power in Bauchi, having done same under the administrations of Isa Yuguda and Mohammed Abubakar, former governors of the state, will make him irresponsible.

“Specifically, I intend to ask questions about the following: What has happened to LGA allocations since May 2019?,  What happened to our campaign promise to conduct LGA elections within six months of the PDP government?, What happened to the N4.6 billion loan taken from a bank and paid directly into an private company’s account?, why are we segmenting salaries and why is payment of salaries of state workers outsourced to a private firm as consultants?, why are contracts inflated, awarded and payment of mobilisation done in violation of extant rules on procurement?, Why are our highly revered Traditional Rulers and Elders treated with odium contrary to the guarantee we gave during the campaign that such will not happen under a PDP government?

“Mr. Chairman, you will agree with me that I cannot raise these issues and many more questions without a charge of disloyalty levelled against me if I were to remain a member of the PDP.”

Meanwhile, Director General of Voice of Nigeria (VON), Osita Okechukwu has predicted that many more political bigwigs would dump their parties for the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), ahead of the 2023 general elections.

He described the return of Dogara to the APC as good omen.

Okechukwu who spoke to newsmen in Enugu, reasoned that the former speaker must have been attracted back to the APC by President Muhammadu Buhari’s agrarian revolution and the transformation going on in the party under the Caretaker Committee headed by Yobe State Governor, Mai Mala Buni.

He noted that Dogara “is from agrarian community and cannot fail to be ignited by the unprecedented Buhari’s Agrarian Revolution.”


10 killed in fresh Southern Kaduna attacks [Sun]

  • Genocide taking place –Middle Belt Forum

Again, bandits terrorising Kaduna State killed 10 persons at the weekend in two separate attacks on three villages in Jema’a and Kaura local government areas.

Governor Nasir El-Rufai had on Friday night extended the 24-hour curfew imposed on troubled Zangon-Kataf to Jema’a and Kaura LGAs to bring the situation under control. The governor, on his Twitter handle on Friday night, said, “at the request of security agencies, the Kaduna State government has extended to Jema’a and Kaura LGAs the 24-hour curfew that is in force in Kauru and Zangon Kataf LGAs to help contain violence, restore law and order in the area.”

This time, the bandits attacked Zikpak, Ungwan Masara, in Fantsuam Chiefdom of Jema’a Local Government and Maraban Kagoro, in Kaura LGA, around 7pm on Friday. The attack on the three communities left nine persons dead on the spot, another one died a few hours later, while at least 12 people were said to have sustained varying degrees of injuries. Many houses were also razed.

Though the state Police Command is yet to make an official statement on the development, a witness account said gunmen numbering about 40 invaded the villages and started shooting indiscriminately.

The source said one of the victims who sustained injuries in the Friday night attack died in the hospital Saturday morning, raising the casualty figure to 10.

A Kafanchan-based journalist who was at Zikpak to assess the situation on Saturday said he escaped by the whiskers when the gunmen suddenly launched another attack Saturday morning.

“I was at Zikpak this morning to interview survivors of the Friday night attack. In fact, the youth leader had taken me and a colleague round the village to see the scenes. So, we stood in front of a house to do interview. Suddenly, we started hearing gunshots from the bush at the back of the house. We had to run for our dear lives,” he said.

He said the Saturday morning attack was successfully repelled by men of the vigilance group and no casualty was recorded.

The incessant attacks and attendant deaths have drawn the ire of the Middle Belt Forum (MBF) and the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN).

Reacting last night, national publicity secretary of MBF, Dr. Dogo Isuwa, alleged that it was part of the agenda to Islamise Nigeria, cautioned that “it is real and should not be treated with kid gloves.”

He blamed the state and federal governments for not showing responsibility in protecting the people of Southern Kaduna.

“It has been there probably since 2011. It is genocide on the people of Southern Kaduna. It is an attempt to wipe off all the people of Southern Kaduna. It is alarming that there is a conspiracy; I do not know how to describe the conspiracy, to the extent that, at the federal level, they do not see anything wrong in it.

“To me, and we in Southern Kaduna, we believe that there is that understanding between the Kaduna State and Federal Government to wipe off the people of Southern Kaduna, otherwise, nobody in his right senses would be talking of what has been happening of recent that it is revenge. The Kaduna State government imposed a 24-hour curfew. As I am talking to you now, today, it is 44 days, if I am not making a mistake. Would one not say that you imposed the curfew to even stop the local people from defending themselves so that the criminals, mercenaries and terrorists that have been contracted to wipe us out will now have a field day without any form of resistance?

“Where are the security officials that have been stationed to enforce the curfew when these people are coming in their dozens to kill us every day? How can a reasonable, responsible and logical government go and pay terrorists so that they would not come and kill us, yet the terrorists are killing us now more than ever before? So, we can conclude that the Kaduna State governor did not go to pay the terrorists to stop killing us but to give them more money to buy arms to come and kill us more. That is my interpretation.”

But elder statesman and Second Republic lawmaker, Dr. Junaid Mohammed, regretted that the Middle Belt Leaders Forum would  make such “irresponsible and incendiary” comments, rather than contribute to the solution of the problem.

He said terrorism was not only a national but international problem that should not be politicised.

He said members of the forum were not representing the people of the Middle Belt but only finding ways to enrich themselves.

He, however, noted that Kaduna government under Governor El-Rufai has not shown enough responsibility in handling the problem.

Regardless, chairman, Northern CAN, Rev. John Hayab, accused the government of promoting an agenda against Christian communities.

“We don’t know what’s the plan of the government but from all indications and response, the government has a hidden agenda against Christian communities in Southern Kaduna.

“It’s unfortunate that people are killed on a daily basis in Southern Kaduna and government officials described it as a reprisal. Can they define reprisal? There’s nothing like that. Just recently, people of a particular community were doing their marriage festival when they were attacked by these unknown people. Besides, do we have a law in Nigeria that allows people to destroy peoples source of livelihood in reprisal?

“If we are in democracy in Nigeria, as we claim, and want to go by the rule of law, then the police or the court should intervene, if crime is committed, not people engaging in self-defense. Unfortunately, government is continuously justifying the ‘reprisal’.

“We have been asking our people to be law-abiding, obedient and patient, but for how long? Our people are being killed on daily basis. This morning (Sunday), one of our very celebrated lawyers was killed in his house by these unknown gunmen, and his wife and son taken away. This happened in Kaduna town, just by the toll gate.”

Hayab accused government of irresponsibility and blackmail against anyone bold enough to speak.

He equally accused Governor El-Rufai of being an “all-knowing man” who neither listens to contributions of people nor gives room for advice.

“The governor does not hold meeting with anybody. He claims to be an all-knowing governor with solution to everything, and that’s why Kaduna is suffering.”

He said key leaders of the church in Kaduna would meet today to deliberate and analyse the issues, and possibly arrive at a decision, “and we might also encouraged the people to defend themselves and their communities in whatever way they can.”


S/East govs to name joint security outfit next meeting [Sun]

  • Urge Anyim, Arthur Eze to cease fire

South East  Governors Forum, yesterday, said the much-awaited joint security network for the South East zone will be finally unveiled and given a unique name during the next meeting of the governors with the leadership of Ohaneze, National Assembly members and other leaders of the zone.

They said after the naming of the joint security network, governments of the five states of the zone will be mandated to proceed to their Houses of Assembly with a bill for a law to back the security network in the various states.

Chairman of the forum and Governor of Ebonyi State, Chief David Umahi, disclosed this to newsmen in Abakaliki, yesterday, after their virtual meeting attended by the President of Ohaneze Ndigbo, Nnia Nwodo; former deputy senate president, Ike Ekweremadu, Chief  Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu and the Chairman of the zone’s security committee, Obi Umahi among other leaders of the zone.

Umahi stated that the forum also deliberated on the escalating feud between the former senate president, Anyim Pius Anyim and the Igbo oil magnet, Prince Arthur Eze and called on the duo to ceasefire for the interest of peace and unity in the zone.

He further noted that the forum equally requested Nwodo to meet them and resolve their differences.


We’ll Enforce Quarantine Act In Edo, Ondo Gov’ship Polls – INEC [Leadership]

As campaigns for the Edo and Ondo governorship elections gather momentum, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) said yesterday that it will work with security agencies to enforce the Quarantine Act to ensure political parties and electorate comply with public health and social measures (PHSM) on control of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The electoral body told LEADERSHIP in an exclusive interview that any infringement of the laws by parties or electorate will be followed with stipulated sanctions.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and other stakeholders had introduced public health and social measures (PHSM) for the conduct of elections.

For politicians, the NCDC said the parties are expected to publicise and adhere to codes of conduct including public health and social measures during rallies and at election locations.

“This should be done through relevant communication channels -posters, TV and radio jingles. Avoid utilising campaign venue to full capacity; we recommend one-third of venue capacity (minimum of two metres should be observed among people at the gathering).

“Hand hygiene facilities including soap and water/ hand sanitisers should be made available for people before gaining access to campaign ground. The use of face masks must be mandatory for everyone attending the campaign rally,” the guideline stated.

In addition to the NCDC guidelines, Edo and Ondo States had also passed laws to check the spread of the virus. While the Quarantine Act is operational in Edo, the Dangerous Infectious Diseases (COVID-19) (Emergency Prevention) Regulations was passed into law in Ondo.

Speaking exclusively to LEADERSHIP yesterday in Abuja, the director of Voter Education and Publicity (VEP) in INEC, Oluwole Osaze-Uzzi, stressed the need for political parties to comply with all the existing law and guidelines regarding COVID-19 during their campaign.

He said, ‘’Political parties have to comply with all the existing laws and guidelines regarding COVID-19 during their campaign and during elections. If parties or electorates violate the laws the security agencies will do their job.

“We will also rely on Quarantine Act provided by the state executive.’’

He added that any party that breaches the PHSM will face the sanction stipulated therein.

“In as much as the laws provide sanction, it all depends on the breach of the guideline. For example, if there is breach of the guidelines and Quarantine Act they will face the sanction stipulated,” he stressed.

The INEC director said the commission was awaiting a formal petition against the Edo State governor, Godwin Obaseki and former national chairman of APC, Adams Oshiomhole, over the non-observance of the COVID-19 guidelines and laws by their supporters who thronged their recent political events in the state.

While his loyalists besieged the party secretariat in Benin when Obaseki defected to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Oshiomhole’s recent return to his home town saw his loyalists thronging the streets in large numbers.

APC Knocks PDP, Says Opposition Party Is In ‘Do- or- Die’ Mode

Meanwhile, the All Progressives Congress (APC) has lambasted the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) over what it termed a “do-or-die” plot to ensure incumbent Governor Godwin Obaseki wins the September 19 election in the state.

The APC further stated that it will not allow PDP turn the state into a killing field, wondering why the opposition needed a show of force to govern.

APC was reacting to the violence that characterised Saturday’s flag off campaign of Obaseki’s re-election bid.

The party, in a statement issued yesterday in Abuja by its deputy national publicity secretary, Yekini Nabena, also accused PDP members of desecrating the Oba’s Palace in Benin where innocent residents were wounded.

The party said, “The disturbing images and reports of the destruction of property and violence meted on hapless victims during Saturday’s campaign of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Edo State governorship candidate, Godwin Obaseki in Benin City, the state capital is a glimpse into the “do or die” plot the PDP plans to unleash in the lead up to the September 19 Governorship Election.

“To imagine that the PDP chose to desecrate the Palace of the Oba of Benin, Oba Ewuare II is despicable, unheard of and a new low even by PDP’s ignoble standards.

“The PDP in Edo State is not campaigning for votes but relying on brute force, violence and intimidation ahead of the governorship election. The Governor of River State, Nyesom Wike promised on Saturday to make sure that everything needed is done to foist the PDP governorship candidate on the good people of Edo State.

“We definitely will not watch helplessly and allow the PDP and Wike turn Edo state into a killing field in their attempt to foist an unpopular candidate.”

APC strongly condemned the violence and called on security services to fish out perpetrators and their sponsors of the weekend mayhem wrecked on Benin residents.


Electricity: Nigeria Requires N9trn To Achieve 20,000mw [Leadership]

Amid the recurring power challenge facing Nigeria which appears to have become intractable, experts have said the country’s power sector, particularly the transmission subsector, requires about N9trillion investment to address weak network infrastructure.

The experts who spoke to LEADERSHIP in separate interviews called for the repositioning of the sector to attract the much needed investments.

In an implicit response to the suggestions of the experts, the federal government recently gave a hint that it was about to sell off over 216 non-core assets of the defunct Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) and reinvest the proceeds in the sector.

The industry experts who also supported the plan by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission to unbundle the Transmission Company of Nigeria(TCN), said the company requires as much as N9 trillion to be able to evacuate 20,000 megawatts of electricity being projected by the federal government.

LEADERSHIP reports that the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) had said it was committed to the unbundling of the TCN into two entities so as to achieve greater efficiency in the electricity sector.

In the document titled, “Towards greater independence for the electricity System Operator,” NERC explained that the move to unbundle TCN was in line with the Electric Power Sector Reform Act which provided for the licensing of the successor transmission company.

According to a registered member of Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria (COREN) and UK chartered power system engineer, Engineer Idowu Oyebanjo, the reported plan to unbundle TCN into Transmission Service Provider (TSP) and Independent Service Operator (ISO) could be a good development if the authorities know exactly why it is doing it.

Recalling that since the privatisation exercise was done in 2013, the system was still struggling, he said, “It is whether or not the conditions have been met to carry out the unbundling and whether the timing is right.

“It is not enough to copy other privatised electricity markets in what they have done or what they want to do, but to ask ourselves whether we are actually ready for it or not. Whether we unbundle TCN or not, we will not have power until consumers are metered. The illiquidity in the power sector is mind boggling.”

Oyebanjo noted that if unbundling of TCN will make the Independent System Operator to carry out its functions as enshrined in the Electricity Power Sector Reform (EPSRA) Act, it will be a welcome development.”

He observed that the current transmission network was radial and needed to become a mesh network.

On funding, he said there is need for huge financial and technical intervention as the investment should not be carried out without proper power systems studies.

He further suggested that decentralisation of the power system was the fastest and most economical way to develop the Nigeria Electricity Supply Industry (NESI) and is also the most technical.

Oyebanjo continued: “We can have regional grids with all parts of the country connected to the grid electrified via distributed generation from renewables such as solar, wind, landfill gas, hydro at Mambilla, Shiroro, Gurara, Jebba, in the North; Gas, Coal, Waste to power, oil, solar, etc in the South.

“The existing grid can act as inter tie that will be used to move power around the country where there is excess supply/demand from one area to another.”

He expressed concern over lack of coordination in on-going projects, loans and external interventions which may definitely lead to white elephant projects, duplicity of roles, financial mismanagement, waste of resources etc.

According to him, there is absence of Research & Development (R&D) and inflexible system operation due to lack of supervisory control, data acquisition (SCADA) and Communication Systems, coupled with an avalanche of uncompleted legacy projects as well as absence of coordination at transmission interfaces with GenCos and DisCos.

On his part, the executive director of PowerUp Nigeria, Adetayo Adegbenle, observed that over the years, the Transmission grid is a power subsector that also suffers from lack of investment like all other subsectors.

He stated that while generation and distribution were getting privatised, the government was holding on to the Transmission. “Lack of funds therefore remains a major challenge to upgrading Transmission facilities” he said.

On government’s plan to unbundle the sector, Adegbenle said, “Absolutely, it is on record that our organisation, PowerUp Nigeria, has identified this and asked that if the Transmission be broken down into more manageable units, with small focused investments, it would improve subunits of the Grid.

“We will also be following the parts of countries like USA (11 ISOs), Mexico and Brazil (3 ISOs). These are countries with similar geographic spreads and population compared to Nigeria.”

He further said that the argument put forward while the privatisation model was being designed was that the government should hold on to Transmission for security reasons, adding however that he did not subscribe to this fears.

He stated: “We should be focused on the Power Sector Reform. Basically, what this means is that when we try a policy and it’s not working, we try another.

“Our Transmission is still suffering from inefficiency and lack of investment. Let’s break it down to manageable units. This is also expected to affect and improve performance,” he submitted.

Since inception, the TCN has been charged with the responsibility for building and maintaining the physical national transmission network and the system operations function.

The NERC however noted that it was envisioned in the Electric Power Sector Reform Act that a time would come when the mandate of TCN would be uncoupled and the system operation function be transferred to an Independent System Operator.

The regulator notes that there had been a gradual transition to a contract-based electricity market where participants were expected to be held accountable for their obligations under the industry contracts.

NERC said based on the recent tariff orders issued by the commission and performance standards contained therein, it was therefore imperative to consider granting greater independence for the system’s operator.

It stated that it has already invited stakeholder inputs to inform the commission on the readiness of the electricity industry for the unbundling of the SO function to an independent system operator. This would be done by taking into consideration the stage of market development and the key technical prerequisites for an efficient ISO.

ERC has also requested stakeholders to recommend the degree of independence that could be granted to the system’s operator without causing disruptions in market stability.

Azura Power Plant Project Precedes PMB’s Administration – Presidency

Meanwhile, the presidency yesterday shed more light on the agreement reached between the federal government and the Azura Power Plant.

It explained that the Power Purchase Agreement became operational in April 2013 followed by several other aspects of the deal coming to force soon after, years before the Buhari Administration.

The Senate had last Wednesday called for a review of the Share Purchase Agreement (SPA) between the federal government and Azura Power Plant, saying the agreement was a drain on the nation’s resources.

The upper chamber passed the resolution as additional prayer by deputy Senate president, Ovie Omo-Agege, while adopting the recommendations of the Senate committee on Power on “Addressing Nigeria’s Power Problems”.

The recommendations were presented by chairman of the committee, Senator Gabriel Suswam, during plenary.

Presenting the report, Suswam who said that the agreement between the federal government and Azura power plant was signed between 2016 and 2017, noted that government ordinarily shouldn’t have signed those agreements.

However, a top presidency official also confirmed over the weekend that top federal government officials would be communicating at some point with the Senate to clarify some of the misconceptions that featured last week when the chairman of the Senate committee on Power, Suswam, presented a report on addressing Nigeria’s power sector problems for debate at plenary.

Suswan dwelt on the Azura Power Generating Company and what the transaction was costing the federal government.

Our presidency source noted that contrary to speculation in the media, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and the immediate past Power minister, Babatunde Fashola did not feature in the agreement nor signed any contract as they were not in office when the agreement was signed in 2013.

The source who did not want his name in print said, “Neither Vice President Osinbajo nor Mr Fashola signed any such agreement. They were not even in office when the Azura agreements were signed.

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