...MDAs to receive 15% of Capital votes July Ending
President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday signed into law Nigeria’s revised budget of 10.8 trillion naira for the year.
At the event, Buhari promised that ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) of government would receive 15 percent of their capital votes by the end of July. The signing took place at the Council Chamber of the Presidential Villa in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital.
The President explained that the budget had to be revised because of the effect of coronavirus on the nation’s economy. The global virus pandemic cut the price of crude oil, which accounts for about 85 percent of the governments revenue. It also reduced the volume of oil production by the country following the fall in the demand for oil.
Friday’s event marked the end of a journey that began last December when the National Assembly passed a budget of N10.594 trillion. That figure had to be revised downward to N10.509 trillion as the covid-19 pandemic set in. A final revision of the plan led to the figure of 10.8 trillion, which was finally signed by the President.
The budget allocated the sum of N2.951 trillion for debt service, with domestic debts getting N1.873 trillion, foreign debts took N805.470 billion, while a sinking fund to retire maturing debt received N272.900 billion.
Those who witnessed the signing ceremony included Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo; Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, and Chief of Staff to the President, Ibrahim Gambari.
Others were Senate President, Ahmed Lawan and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila and other principal officers also witnessed the signing.
Also at the event were Zainab Ahmed, minister of state for finance, budget and national planning; Clement Agba, Minister of State for Finance; Godwin Emefiele, governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, and Ben Akabueze, director-general of the Budget Office.
President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the immediate suspension of Ibrahim Magu as Ag. Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in order to allow for an unhindered inquiry by the Presidential Investigation Panel under the Tribunals of Inquiry Act and other relevant laws.
This was contained in a statement issued by Dr. Umar Jibrilu Gwandu, Special Assistant on Media and Public Relations Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice made available to newsmen on Friday the 10th day of July 2020.
According to the statement, President Muhammadu Buhari has also approved that the EFCC Director of Operations, Mohammed Umar, should take charge and oversee the activities of the Commission pending the conclusion of the ongoing investigation and further directives in that regards.
Magu was arrested on Monday and has since then been detained in Police custody. He is being investigated by the presidential panel on allegations of corruption against him.
Nigeria cannot guarantee a low price for petrol because of the impact of market forces and the need to end subsidy for the local consumption of the product, the government said Thursday.
Timipre Sylva, the country’s junior minister for petroleum resources, said this in a statement published on the Instagram page of the ministry.
President Muhammadu Buhari holds the portfolio of the Minister of Petroleum Resources.
Sylva explained that the government had concluded to discontinue the practice of carrying the burden of petrol subsidy.
The practice of subsidizing petroleum products in Africa’s leading oil producer has often ended up as a scam, as many companies that obtained funds to import the subsidized products ended up not delivering them.
“After a thorough examination of the economics of subsidizing PMS for domestic consumption, the Federal Government concluded that it was unrealistic to continue with the burden of subsidizing PMS to the tune of trillions of naira every year, more so when this subsidy was benefiting in large part the rich, rather than the poor and ordinary Nigerians,” Sylva said in the statement titled ‘Deregulation: The facts and the reasons behind the policy’.
According to him, the meaning of deregulation is that the government would no longer continue to be the major supplier of petroleum products. Instead, it would encourage the private sector to take over the responsibility of being the supplier of the products.
“This means also that market forces will henceforth determine the prices at the pump. In line with global best practices, the government will continue to play its traditional role of regulation to ensure that this strategic commodity is not priced arbitrarily by private sector suppliers,” Sylva said.
A consortium of American Ivy League universities led by Harvard and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), both in Cambridge, Massachusetts, have sued the Trump administration, seeking to block a directive that would strip foreign college students of their visas if the courses they are taking this Fall semester are entirely online. According to the new policy, foreign students enrolled in American institutions must to transfer to in-person colleges or they will be deported. The US State Department also announced that going forward, it will no longer issue visas to students to attend schools that offer online classes.
The guidelines issued Monday by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) would bar international students, including 16,039 Nigerian students from staying in America, if they attend a school that offers only online courses during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Most US colleges and universities have resolved to pursue the fall semester using a hybrid model of in-person and online classes while some, including Harvard, have migrated all classes online. While Princeton announced it will be filing an amicus brief to support the joint Harvard/MIT lawsuit, the University of California (UC) said it plans to file another suit against the government over the policy.
The Harvard/MIT Civil Action lawsuit No. 1:20-cv-11283 is seeking a declaratory and injunctive relief against the US Department of Homeland Security; the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Chad F. Wolf, in his official capacity as Acting Secretary of the US Department of Homeland Security; and Matthew Albence, in his official capacity as Acting Director of ICE; as defendants. The two universities said the new policy would prevent many of their 9,000 combined international students and hundreds of thousands of students at other universities across the country from staying in the United States. Their suit, filed in federal court in Boston, seeks a temporary restraining order preventing the government from enforcing the policy because it violates the Administrative Procedure Act.
The lawsuit, a copy of which was obtained by Huhuonline.com is asking the court “to set aside” the ICE action which the suit described as “contrary to law and arbitrary and capricious… which will cause an imminent, concrete, and irreparable risk to Plaintiffs’ ability to achieve their educational missions unless halted by this Court. Plaintiffs also have standing to assert claims on behalf of their F-1 visa-holding students, who face the imminent, concrete, and irreparable risk of harm to themselves, their families, their educations, their short-term and long-term health, and their future education and employment prospects if Defendants’ actions are not halted by this Court.”
Nigeria is the largest source of African immigration in the United States with an estimated population of 376,000 immigrants, including first- and second-generation children, according to the Migration Policy Institute. Massachusetts is among the 10 top states with a high Nigerian-born population, according to the American Community Survey. Rachel Canty, Deputy Director, ICE Student and Exchange Visitor Program, told Huhuonline.com that Nigeria has the highest number of students from Africa studying in America. Canty estimated the number at over 16,039 Nigerians of the 36,000 students from Sub Saharan Africa currently in the US.
In a statement, the University of California (UC) President; former Arizona Governor and Secretary of Homeland Security, under President Barack Obama, Janet Ann Napolitano described the ICE decision as “mean-spirited, arbitrary and damaging to America.” Like Harvard, MIT and Princeton, UC had resolved that all students, enrolled on its 23 campuses, will take fall semester classes online. “The safety of our students and the campus community is our paramount concern and guides what we do,” Napolitano said in the statement, adding: “The idea that the federal government would add to the burden of students and universities working to navigate this global health crisis beggars belief. UC will fight this blatant disregard for the law and public health with all the legal means at our disposal.”
The Harvard/MIT lawsuit said: “Immediately after the Fourth of July weekend, ICE threw Harvard and MIT— indeed, virtually all of higher education in the United States—into chaos. On July 6, 2020, ICE announced that it was rescinding its COVID-19 exemption for international students, requiring all students on F-1 visas whose university curricula are entirely online to depart the country, and barring any such students currently outside the United States from entering or reentering the United States. ICE also purported to require schools whose classes would be entirely online to submit an “operational change plan” no later than Wednesday, July 15, 2020—nine days after the change was announced. It also announced that universities that have adopted a hybrid model—a mixture of online and in-person classes—will have to certify for each student on an F1 visa that the “program is not entirely online, that the student is not taking an entirely online course load for the fall 2020 semester, and that the student is taking the minimum number of online classes required to make normal progress in their degree program.” To do so, universities on a hybrid model will be required to issue a new Form I-20 for each of these students—in some cases, numbering in the thousands per university—by August 4, 2020.”
International students, many of whom pay full tuition, are a major source of revenue for American universities, and losing them would be a huge blow to the finances of many public and private schools, which are already suffering losses because of the pandemic. According to Mathew Washburn, program officer at the US State Department agency, EducationUSA, international students on US campuses make a significant financial impact on the United States, with an estimated contribution of over $42.4 billion to the US economy through tuition, room and board, and other expenses, and supporting over 500,000 US jobs. Figures from the State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs show that the 16,039 Nigerian students currently studying in the US ranked first among African countries with an estimated contribution of $514 million to the US economy in 2019; behind China ($14.9 billion) and India ($8.1 billion). Washburn cited studies showing that 33,236 international students contributed $1.2 billion to Michigan’s economy in 2018.
Harvard and MIT said some 9,000 foreign students enrolled on their campuses could be denied visas under the new Trump administration policy. University leaders and immigrant advocates called the new policy cruel and reckless, with several education groups saying they planned to join the legal battle. The Massachusetts attorney general vowed to support Harvard and MIT’s efforts to block the new policy. “Massachusetts is home to thousands of international students who should not fear deportation or be forced to put their health and safety at risk in order to advance their education,” Massachusetts attorney general, Maura Healey, said in a statement yesterday, adding: “This decision from ICE is cruel, it’s illegal, and we will sue to stop it.”
Rachel Canty of the ICE Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) also told Huhuonline.com that as at March 2019; there were 16,039 Nigerian students studying in the United States with 54% male and 46 % female. This number represented an increase of 3,342 students from the over 12,693 students recorded in November 2018. Canty said Nigerian students are enrolled in about 800 institutions across America’s 50 states. The most popular state is Texas, with 2,713 students, while the most popular college/university is Houston Community College, with 220 students. According to Canty, the top five states for Nigerian students in US are: Texas (2,713), California (856), Maryland - DC Metro (827), New York, (818) and Florida (753). Canty said undergraduate students constituted 34%, Masters (36%), Doctorate (12%), Associate degrees (12%), while other non-degree programs constitute 5%.
Harvard and MIT argue that the new Trump administration policy was politically motivated and would throw higher education into chaos. A source close to the President and Fellows of Harvard College told Huhuonline.com that the new policy was an effort by the White House to pressure colleges and universities into reopening and abandoning the cautious approaches that many have adopted to reduce coronavirus transmission. Harvard’s president, Lawrence S. Bacow, called the Trump administration’s action reckless and said in a statement that it appeared to have been designed to pressure universities to hold in-person classes “without regard to concerns for the health and safety of students, instructors and others.”
The political intent cannot be clearer,” said Miriam Feldblum, executive director of the Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration, which includes the leaders of about 450 public and private universities, said in a statement. “They want to force campuses into the position they have to declare themselves open, or at least in a hybrid model.” The American Council on Education, an industry group, said it planned to file a brief in support of the lawsuit, and some 25 institutions of higher learning including the American Association of Community Colleges, the Association of American Universities and the Association of Land Grant Universities, were expected to join the lawsuit.
ICE said it would not comment on pending litigation. Ken Cuccinelli II, acting deputy secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), defended the new policy in an interview on CNN, saying DHS was providing more flexibility for international students than in the past, when in order to qualify for a visa, they could take no more than one of their courses online. Now they can take more, as long as at least some of their instruction is in person. “If they’re not going to be a student or they’re going to be 100 percent online; then they don’t have a basis to be here,” Mr. Cuccinelli said, adding, “They should go home, and then they can return when the school opens.”
The Harvard and M.I.T. suit says that the government recognized that the pandemic posed a unique crisis on March 13, when it suspended a rule that students in the country on F-1 student visas had to attend most classes in person. “The government made clear that this arrangement was in effect for the duration of the emergency,” the lawsuit says.
In reversing that earlier guidance on Monday, the universities say, the government has put the ability of international students to continue studying and working in the U.S. in jeopardy, and it has disrupted the careful planning process that many universities have used to restart higher education in the fall, after shutting down campuses in mid-March. “The effect and perhaps even the goal is to create as much chaos for universities and international students as possible,” Harvard/MIT said in the lawsuit. The leaders of many universities, including Vanderbilt and Cornell have issued statements supporting their foreign students and criticizing the Trump administration’s new policy directive.
The Edo State Chapter of the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) has commended the giant strides of the Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, in the education sector, reaffirming the union’s support for the reelection bid of Governor Obaseki and his deputy, Rt. Hon. Comrade Philip Shaibu.
In a statement by the Union’s chairman, Pius .O. Okhueleigbe and the Assistant Secretary-General, Moni Mike Modesty Itua, the state chapter of the NUT hailed the governor’s uncommon and unprecedented transformation of Basic and Technical Education in Edo State within three years of his administration, urging residents to support the governor and his deputy to consolidate on the achievements recorded in their first tenure.
The Union further dissociated itself from an online publication purportedly made by one Suleiman Abdul who claimed to be a teacher in Akoko Edo Local Government Area of the state.
The teachers said the publication was aimed at maligning the union and Governor Obaseki, describing the publication as the handiwork of mischief-makers.
They said the union conducted an investigation into the source of the malicious publication and discovered that: “There is no teacher in Akoko Edo Local Government Area known by the name Suleiman Abdul; which means that the publication is the handwork of mischief makers.”
According to the NUT, “The Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Nogheghase Obaseki came tops as the 2019 Best Governor in Nigeria due to his uncommon and unprecedented transformation of Basic and Technical Education in Edo State within three years of his administration; which also received and has continued to receive both national and international commendations and adoption. The Award was never a purchased one but given by a very reputable Teachers Organisation to a very responsive, foresighted, humane, people-centered, and knowledge-driven Governor.”
The statement noted: “The Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) Membership Register does not have Suleiman Abdul as a member of the Union. Therefore, as an impostor, the author of the publication does not have any locus standi to write for or on behalf of Edo State Teachers or the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) Edo State Wing; for such powers in accordance with the Union's Constitution, are vested in the State Chairman and State Secretary.
“For the purpose of the 2019 World Teachers Day National Award bestowed on His Excellency, Mr. Godwin Nogheghase Obaseki, which was twisted in the said publication, the Union wishes to emphasize that a very diligent and painstaking exercise of screening/evaluation was carried out by its constitutionally empowered Award Committee (as contained in Article 10(vii); in Abuja vis-à-vis the use of stringent benchmarks for determining who wins the Annual Award amongst all the Governors nominated.
It added: “Nonetheless, the pending issues of Teachers' welfare in Edo State are already being jointly attended to by both the Union and the State Government. Therefore, any individual or group that has misgivings or hatred against Edo State Government or the Executive Governor of the State and his appointees, should not hide under any cloak or drag the NUT into it but seek redress by exploring the laws of the land.
“The Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) Edo State Wing, hereby informs the general public and readers of the evil publication earlier mentioned, (or any other ill-motivated publication(s) that may surface after now); to totally disregard the contents, their intents and discard them into the trash-bin.”
For those who say Nigeria is a country where wonders shall never end, they had vindication yesterday when former Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Andrew Yakubu, told the Federal High Court in Abuja that the $9.7million and £74,000 seized from his house in 2017 by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), were part of monies he received as bride price for his daughters and gifts.
Testifying as his own witness at the resumed proceeding at the trial court, the former NNPC boss, who is facing money laundering charges, opened his defence, saying that people gave him monetary gifts on occasions such as birthdays, thanksgiving services, and other celebrations he hosted after he left office. Yakubu said he received the monies in tranches of not more than $10,000 and not more than £5, 000.
Led in evidence by his lawyer, Ahmed Raji (SAN), Yakubu said: “Yes my lord, I confirm that the monies were contained in a safe taken from my property. As I stated in my statement with the EFCC, the money found in the safe, is mine. The money was not received in bulk. It was received in tranches of not more than $10,000 and not more than £5,000. Substantial part of that amount was given to me after I left service. It was given to me on such occasions as birthdays, thanksgiving services, and other celebrations that I hosted after leaving my office. I also hosted marriages of my daughters.
“In fact, over 98 per cent of the money came from gifts. The purpose of keeping the money was to think of business ventures I will embark on, but it was not my intention to go into business investment without going through a financial institution. Since the money was given to me unexpected, I kept the money in safety, in a safe, pending when I decide on specific business venture to embark on. And as soon as the decision is crystallized, the business would be funded through the financial institutions.
“For over 25 years, I had reason by virtue of my schedule to travel to many parts of the world. I was entitled to estacodes in United States dollars. Any saving I made during the trip, I came back and saved. The other two per cent of the funds recovered from my safe was from such savings I made from travels. The prevailing rate of dollar at that time was average of N150 to a dollar and N250 to Pound Sterling. That was about the bank rate at that time. When I was asked the time frame within which the safe was placed in the location, I told them that it was within 2010 to 2014,” Yakubu said.
Acting on a tip-off by a whistleblower, officials from the anti-graft agency raided the defendant’s guest house situated at Sabon Tasha, Kaduna State, and recovered the alleged loot in hard cash. EFCC said it discovered the sum of $9.7million and £74,000 that Yakubu hid in a fireproof safe inside the house. A Federal High Court in Kano, on February 13, 2017, issued an interim order that forfeited the recovered monies to the federal government.
The EFCC later filed a six-count criminal charge against Yakubu but the trial court, on May 16, 2019, struck out counts 5 and 6 of the charge based on a no-case-submission that was made by the defendant.
Also, following an appeal by defendant, the Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal further struck out counts 1 and 2 of the charge and ordered Yakubu to open his defence with respect to only counts 3 and 4 of the charge.
Under cross-examination by the prosecution counsel, MS Abubakar, Yakubu told the court that he joined NNPC in 1980 and became the Managing Director of a subsidiary of NNPC Warri Petrochemical & Refining Company in 2007. “I was appointed the Executive Director in charge of Exploration and Production in 2011 at NNPC headquarters. I became the Group Managing Director of NNPC in 2012 and retired in 2014.” The former NNPC boss told the court that he made a total of four statements to the EFCC. Trial Justice Ahmed Mohammed adjourned the case to July 22 for EFCC’s lawyer to respond and for further cross-examination of the defendant.
The Nigerian government on Wednesday cancelled its plan to reopen schools to enable students sit for the senior secondary certificate examinations and junior secondary certificate examinations.
The Minister of State for Education, Mr Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, had said on Monday, July 6, that schools would reopen for graduating students on August 4.
This changed on Wednesday when the government announced that all schools controlled by the Ministry of Education would be shut until their safety is guaranteed.
Nigeria also cancelled its participation in the West African Examination Council (WAEC) examinations this year, citing rising cases of the coronavirus pandemic.
Nigeria's confirmed cases of the virus infection rose beyond 30,000 on Wednesday, according to figures released by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control.
Adamu Adamu, the Minister of Education, explained in Abuja that schools in Nigeria would remain closed until the spread of COVID-19 abates.
Referring to the earlier announcement, Adamu declared that Nwajiuba had been misquoted.
Mohammed Umar, the Head of Operations at the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, has been appointed the acting chairman of the agency.
Umar’s appointment follows the suspension on Tuesday of Ibrahim Magu, the former acting chair who has been in detention since Monday, being quizzed over allegations of corruption against him.
The new acting chairman is a Deputy Commissioner of Police. However, it is not clear how long he will act in this capacity.
COVID-19: Edo death toll hits 50 as govt intensifies campaign on measures to protect elderly population
The death toll from coronavirus (COVID-19) in Edo State has climbed to 50, with a total of 1,435 people testing positive for the disease, while 840 persons have been discharged from the state isolation facilities.
Commissioner for Health, Dr. Patrick Okundia, who disclosed this to journalists in Benin City, noted that over 50 percent of the deaths recorded in the state fall within the age category of 60 years and above, urging residents to be cautious to protect themselves and their loved ones.
While expressing worry over the alarming rate of community spread of the virus, Okundia advised that there was a need for residents to take responsibility and support the government's efforts at containing the pandemic across all communities in the state.
According to him, "Physical distancing, compulsory use of face masks, hand hygiene and other epidemiological safety rules must be strictly followed in order to prevent further spread of COVID-19 and protect the people, especially the elderly, who are most vulnerable to COVID-19."
The commissioner explained that the state recorded 52 new confirmed cases with 32 tested at the Irrua Specialist Hospital (ISTH) laboratory, while the remaining 20 cases were confirmed at the University of Benin Teaching Hospital (UBTH) laboratory.
Okundia, however, reiterated the need for citizens to present or report themselves through the Edo State COVID-19 toll-free response lines following any recent travel from high incidence states or contact with confirmed cases.
He noted, "Two new toll-free lines for COVID-19 response have been introduced by the Edo State Government to strengthen the initial lines from the State Ministry of Health and the World Health Organisation (WHO), distributed at the onset of the outbreak.
…rejects request for prolonged adjournment
A Federal High court in Benin has ordered the candidate of the All Progressives Congress in the September 19, 2020 gubernatorial election in Edo State, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu to appear in court on Tuesday July 14, 2020, over the alleged N700m money laundering case that was preferred against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Justice Mohammed Garba who gave the order on Tuesday following the absence of Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, who is the first defendant in the suit No. FHC/BE21C/ 2016, however did not order the arrest of Ize-Iyamu, who was said to be indisposed.
But the judge held that the hearing of the pending motions challenging the jurisdiction of the court would be held on July 14, 2020 after rejecting the oral request for a prolonged adjournment of the case by the Counsel to Ize-Iyamu, who argued that his client will not disobey the order of court.
Justice Garba stated that the last time somebody was here, he (the judge) made an order for the accused person to appear in court or face arrest.
Earlier in his application to the court, counsel to the first defendant (Ize-Iyamu), Mr Charles Edosomwan (SAN) told the court that his client was sick and thereafter presented Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu’s medical certificate which was also admitted in court as evidence without any objection by the prosecution.
The accused persons including former Deputy Governor of Edo State, Mr Lucky Imasuen, Mr Efe Erimuoghae-Anthony and others are facing eight-count charge of money laundering to the tune of N700 million meant to prosecute the 2015 general elections.
Speaking during an interview with journalists, Mr. Pascal Ugbome, Counsel to the Second defendant, said "the case was adjourned due to the inability of the first defendant (Ize-Iyamu) who is sick to be present in court.
“And we were served with medical certificate to the effect that the first defendant is sick and he is unable to be in court because he was indisposed and then adjourned the case.
Also speaking, Mr. Charles Edosomwan, Counsel to Ize-Iyamu, said the court had to adjourn because of the absence of the first defendant, and the court in the circumstances adjourned the matter to July 14, 2020 for hearing of pending motions. “We have a motion challenging the jurisdiction of this court. That is what is to be held on July 14, 2020.
“The first defendant’s motion is not the only motion in the suit. Other defendants also have their own motions challenging the jurisdiction of the this honourable court.
“There was no threat of Ize-Iyamu's arrest, but the judge said that we should be in court on July 14.
“He (Ize-Iyamu) has never missed a court date. Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu will come to court if the circumstances are correct. The laws provide him (Ize-Iyamu) protection as far as he is willing to face his trial.”
Responding to the court order, the EFCC Prosecution Counsel, Mr. Ahmed Imoovba, said the matter was adjourned consequent upon the application of the first defendant who is unavoidably absent in court. He is said to be sick. The judge ordered him (Ize-Iyamu) to appear on the next adjourned date.
Our Correspondent reports that unlike the previous hearing, security was relaxed around the court premises.
In a related development, the Federal High Court in Benin presided over by Justice Mohammed Garba on Tuesday adjourned the suit to determine the mode of Edo State All Progressives Congress Primary election to July 23, 2020, pending the determination of the pending motion of appeal at the Supreme Court in Abuja.
The court adjourned the suit following an application of stay of execution by the Counsel to APC, Chief Henry Ogbodu, SAN at the resumed hearing of the case.
The judge held that he would take a decision on the suit pending the outcome of the motion at the appellate court.
Main opposition People’s Democratic Party has told Ibrahim Magu, the embattled Acting Chairman of Nigeria’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, to step aside in order to make possible a credible probe into allegations of corruption levelled against him.
There were reports that Magu had been arrested Monday by the Department of Security Services, but it was later confirmed that was invited to appear before an investigative panel on allegations of corruption bordering on owning four properties and using an agent to transfer money out of the country.
PDP in a statement issued by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbodiyan, in Abuja, on Monday, said that Magu’s invitation by a panel on allegations as serious as those in the public domain, should be of interest to all.
PDP’s statement was titled: “Magu’s Invitation, Investigation Confirms Malfeasance in EFCC- PDP…He Should Step Aside To Forestall Destruction of Evidence”.
The statement said the “The People’s Democratic Party has asked the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration to show the genuineness of its war against corruption by allowing the unhindered investigation of the acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
“The party said Nigerians are already aware that Magu has been pulled in for questioning, adding that the fact that he has to be accompanied by an attorney shows that the said ‘invitation’, is beyond the routine.”
PDP said it believed that the development around the EFCC acting Chairman, as well as “the desperate attempt” by the Commission to cover his investigation, had only raised more integrity questions regarding Magu’s activities in the EFCC.
According to the party, “Only last month, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, released a memo in which he indicted Magu of alleged diversion of recovered funds and fraudulent sale of assets seized by the EFCC.
“Our party, Nigerians and indeed, the international community are keenly monitoring the development and expect the Buhari Presidency to muster the courage to carry out a comprehensive investigation and make its findings available to the public.
“Now that Magu has been pulled in for investigation, the Federal Government should preserve the integrity of the office of the Chairman of the EFCC by ordering him to step aside while investigators take charge of every activity of the office to forestall the destruction of evidence as well as unnecessary interferences in the matter,” the party said.
According to the opposition party, with the allegations and investigation, Magu has lost the moral rectitude to continue to preside over the anti-corruption agency. He should step aside until he proves himself innocent, it said.
Despite the massive mobilization of resources by the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) to ensure victory for their candidates in the forthcoming gubernatorial elections in Edo and Ondo states, there are emerging indications that APC candidates – Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu and his Ondo counterpart will be disqualified if the courts ruled that the caretaker committee chairman, Yobe Governor, Mai Mala Buni who signed the party endorsement form of the APC candidates is illegitimate; hence his actions are null and void.
APC bigwigs, who spoke to Huhuonline.com on condition of anonymity, ostensibly not to be seen as giving advice to the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), expressed concern that history might repeat itself when the party won in Zamfara state but its candidates were all disqualified because of failure to conduct a legitimate primary. The same situation occurred in Rivers state where the APC candidates were all disqualified.
The palpable fear intensified after another lawsuit was filed yesterday, challenging the legitimacy of APC caretaker committee. Despite the appeal by the new national caretaker committee and the National Executive Committee (NEC) to all aggrieved members to withdraw all their cases from the courts, an APC chieftain in Lagos State filed a lawsuit against the party at the Federal High Court in Lagos, seeking the sack of the caretaker committee.
The APC member, Chief Lateef Arigbaruwo, in the suit number FHC/L/CS/789/2020 is faulting the NEC meeting of the party held on June 25, which sacked the party’s National Working Committee and replaced it with the caretaker committee. The suit has the APC, Chief Victor Giadom who convened the NEC meeting, NEC and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as first to fourth respondents respectively.
Arigbaruwo, who claims to be a chieftain of the APC in Ojo LGA in Lagos State is asking the court to declare whether having regards to Article 25, paragraph B (i) and (ii) of the APC constitution, the 24 hour-notice given by the 2nd defendant (Giadom) for the June 25 NEC meeting was valid and legal.
The lawsuit, which was filed on July 1 on behalf of the plaintiff by Dimien Edonkumoh, is also seeking “an order of the court setting aside all the decisions taken in the NEC meeting, which he declared illegal on the grounds that it was conveyed on June 24 and held on June 25, contrary to Article 25 of the APC Constitution,” which mandates a 7-14 day prior notice. The plaintiff is also asking the court to restrain the caretaker committee members from parading themselves as such. Chief Arigbaruwo also wants the court to grant an order allowing the APC National Vice Chairman (South-south), Mr. Hilliard Eta, to pilot the affairs of the APC as acting national chairman and to preside at all meetings of the National Working Committee and NEC.
When the case came up on Tuesday, Justice Mohammed Liman, to whom the case was assigned, declined, insisting the matter be heard at the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) where the defendants reside. He then transferred the case file to the Chief Judge of the court in Abuja for re-assignment.
This came a day before the Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal fixed July 16 for hearing in the appeal brought by APC members in Rivers state loyal to the Minister of Transport, Rotimi Amaechi. A three-man panel of the appellate court, led by Justice Stephen Ada, announced the date for hearing in the substantive suit after the court dismissed the preliminary objection raised by the Acting Chairman of APC in Rivers State, Igo Aguma, who is of Senator Magnus Abe’s group.
Justice George Omereji of a Rivers State High Court had on June 9 declared Aguma as the acting APC chairman in Rivers state. But the sacked Chairman of the party’s Caretaker Committee, Isaac Ogbobula, who is a loyalist of Amaechi, had approached the Court of Appeal to challenge the judgment of the Rivers State High Court that sacked his committee and affirmed Aguma as the acting chairman of the APC in the state. Aguma, APC and APC former suspended national chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, are first, second and third respondents.
If the courts rule that the caretaker committee was born out of an illegal process, then the APC is jinxed because every action that ensued following that illegality, including the validation of APC candidates by the caretaker committee chairman, will, in the eyes of the law, be a nullity and of no effect. It was the famous British Justice Alfred Lord Denning who said, you cannot put something on nothing and expect it to stand.
Prof Yemi Osinbajo, Nigeria’s Vice President, did not collect N4billion from former Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, as was reported in some online publications, his Senior Special Assistant on Media has said.
Laolu Akande, in a statement issued on Wednesday, said he had been “inundated by wide the circulation of Fake News about VP’s purported involvement in some EFCC recovery billions”.
Akande said the reports were “all LIES: calculated to confuse and concocted to smear Prof. Osinbajo's image”.
His words, “With all emphasis at our disposal, let it be firmly stated that these are totally false and baseless fabrications purporting to reflect goings-on at the probe panel investigating Mr Ibrahim Magu. They are indeed completely absurd in every respect.
“Sadly, such mindless, vicious and reckless publications have now become the preferred tool of unscrupulous and reprobate elements in our society who are procured with monetary inducement to peddle blatant falsehood, tarnish the image of upright public officials and mislead unsuspecting Nigerians.”
He assured that Nigerian Number Two citizen “hasn't & will never be involved in any such shady activities”.
Magu has been detained since Monday after he appeared before an investigative panel probing him over allegations of corruption leveled against him.
President Muhammadu Buhari suspended him on Tuesday.
Seven people lost their lives in an explosion that occurred at an oil facility operated by a unit of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), the organization said in a statement Wednesday.
The incident happened at Gbetiokun, OML 40, operated by the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC), on behalf of the NPDC/Elcrest Joint Venture.
The incident, which occurred on Tuesday during the installation of a ladder on a platform (Benin River Valve Station) for access during discharging of Gbetiokun production, unfortunately, caused 7 fatalities, an NNPC Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division, Dr. Kennie Obateru, has said in a statement.
The statement said that detailed investigation of the cause of the explosion has commenced, while the Department of Petroleum Resources has been duly notified and Form 41 was being prepared for the Industry regulator as required in circumstances of this nature.
The bodies of casualties have been deposited in a morgue in Sapele, while families of the personnel involved are being contacted by their employers: Weld Affairs and Flow Impact, which are consultants to NPDC.
The release stated that all personnel onboard the platform had been fully accounted for.
NNPC Group Managing Director, Mallam Mele Kyari, in the statement commiserated with the families of the bereaved, praying that God grants them the fortitude to bear the irreparable loss of their loved ones.
The Ondo State House of Assembly on Tuesday served an impeachment notice on the Deputy Governor, Agboola Ajayi, ending days of speculation.
Relationship between the deputy and his principal, Rotimi Akeredolu, have been soured since Ajayi jumped ship by decamping from the ruling All Progressives Congress the People’s Democratic Congress to contest the governorship election against the incumbent.
Fourteen out of the 26 members of the Assembly singed the impeachment notice, leaving nine others, including the Deputy Speaker.
The Constitution requires two-thirds of the members of the House to sign the impeachment notice for it to succeed. The 14 that signed Tuesday’s notice fell short of 18 that would be required.
Among the offences listed against him were Gross Misconduct; abuse of office; financial recklessness, and abandonment of office, official duty and other assignments.
He was also accused of taking an action on Sunday, June 21, 2020 which was likely to cause breech of peace “in reference to 1983 political crisis with the intent to incite the citizens against the government of Ondo State.”
This refers to an event that was caught in viral video that showed Ajayi being prevented by security officials from leaving the government house in official vehicles.
Other offences listed against him were:
“Publications dated Tuesday 23rd June 2020 on the new media and prints media by his sacked aides Babatope Okeowo credited to his person and office by Sahara reporters and others, maligning the credibility of the legislative arm of the government of cash inducement,
“Petition from the APC, Ondo chapter on his alleged movement to the People’s Democratic Party, having sworn in as the deputy governor on the party’s ticket with Mr. Governor for a four-year term,” according to the impeachment notice.
Ajayi is currently one of the contestants for the gubernatorial candidacy of the PDP for the governorship election.
The Edo State Chapter of the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) has condemned in strong terms an online publication, purportedly made by one Suleiman Abdul who claimed to be a teacher in Akoko Edo Local Government Area of the state, aimed at maligning the union and the state governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki.
In a statement by the Union's chairman, Pius O. Okhueleigbe and the Assistant Secretary General, Moni Mike Modesty Itua, the NUT dissociated itself from the impostor, describing the publication as the handwork of mischief makers.
They said the union conducted an investigation into the source of the malicious publication and discovered that: "There is no teacher in Akoko Edo Local Government Area known by the name Suleiman Abdul; which means that the publication is the handwork of mischief makers.
"The Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) Membership Register does not have Suleiman Abdul as a member of the Union. Therefore, as an impostor, the author of the publication does not have any locus standi to write for or on behalf of Edo State Teachers or the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) Edo State Wing; for such powers in accordance with the Union's Constitution, are vested in the State Chairman and State Secretary."
The statement further reads: "For the purpose of the 2019 World Teachers Day National Award bestowed on His Excellency, Mr. Godwin Nogheghase Obaseki, which was twisted in the said publication, the Union wishes to emphasise that a very diligent and painstaking exercise of screening/evaluation was carried out by its constitutionally empowered Award Committee (as contained in Article 10(vii); in Abuja vis-à-vis the use of stringent benchmarks for determining who wins the Annual Award amongst all the Governors nominated.
"At the end, Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Nogheghase Obaseki came tops as the 2019 Best Governor in Nigeria due to his uncommon and unprecedented transformation of Basic and Technical Education in Edo State within three years of his administration; which also received and has continued to receive both national and international commendations and adoption. The Award was never a purchased one but given by a very reputable Teachers Organisation to a very responsive, foresighted, humane, people-centered and knowledge-driven Governor"
It added: "Nonetheless, the pending issues of teachers' welfare in Edo State are already being jointly attended to by both the Union and the State Government. Therefore, any individual or group that has misgivings or hatred against Edo State Government or the Executive Governor of the State and his appointees, should not hide under any cloak or drag the NUT into it, but seek redress by exploring the laws of the land.
"The Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) Edo State Wing, hereby informs the general public and readers of the evil publication earlier mentioned, (or any other ill-motivated publication(s) that may surface after now); to totally disregard the contents, their intents and discard them into the trash-bin."
As details emerged on the events surrounding Ibrahim Magu, the embattled acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, the Department of Security Service (DSS) on Monday barred journalists from having access to Conference Centre of the State House, where he being interrogated by a Presidential probe panel, over alleged corruption.
Journalists who cover Aso Rock, Nigeria's seat of power, were turned back by officers of the DSS as the newsmen tried to ascertain the state of affairs there.
“They said you people should excuse the use of this place for today,” a security official politely told reporters.
Magu was reported to have been arrested by the DSS over alleged fraud, including owning four property and using agents to transfer money abroad.
However, both the EFCC and the DSS have denied the reported arrested. Magu's commission said in a statement to went to honour an invitation.
"The Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr. Ibrahim Magu on Monday, July 6, 2020, honoured an invitation by a Presidential Panel reviewing the activities of the EFCC, at the Banquet Hall wing of the Presidential Villa, Abuja," it said in a statement
“He was served the invitation to the Panel, while on his way to the Force Headquarters, Abuja for a meeting.
“The EFCC's boss was neither arrested nor forced to honour the invitation. A member of a legal team from the EFCC is also with him on the Panel.”
Nigeria’s COVID-19 cases jumped to 30,249 as it recorded 460 cases on Wednesday, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) announced on its official twitter handle. The NCDC said as at July 8, the number of new confirmed cases was 460 with 15 deaths recorded, while no new state had reported a case in the last 24 hours.
According to it, a total of 30,249 cases have been confirmed, 12,373 cases discharged and 684 deaths recorded in 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory.
The NCDC said that the 460 new cases were reported from 21 states: Lagos (150); Rivers (49); Oyo (43); Delta (38); FCT (26); Anambra (20); Kano (20); Plateau (18); Edo (14); Bayelsa (13); Enugu (13); Osun (12); Kwara (10); Borno (8); Ogun (7); Kaduna (6); Imo (4); Bauchi (3); Gombe (3); Niger (2) and Adamawa (1).
The NCDC said that COVID-19 was severe in persons who were over 50 years old and those living with Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs.) such as diabetes, hypertension, and asthma.
“Families and communities should continue to #TakeResponsibility and support their members who have COVID-19 especially the vulnerable,” it stated.
It advised that Nigerians should continue to protect themselves and others by observing physical distancing, wearing face masks and washing hands frequently.
The NCDC said that in the absence of a vaccine, compliance with Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) measures remains the most effective intervention to control the COVID-19 pandemics. (NAN)
Governments and development partners must respond in a more coordinated, targeted, and rapid manner to be effective in limiting impact; An additional 49 million Africans could be pushed into extreme poverty by the pandemic and its aftermath; West and Central Africa stand to be worst hit.
Africa’s economic growth could rebound in 2021, provided that governments manage the COVID-19 infection rate well, according to updated forecasts from the African Development Bank (www.AfDB.org), released on Tuesday.
In a comprehensive socio-economic assessment of the pandemic’s impact, the Bank said growth was now projected to rebound to 3% in 2021 from -3.4% in the worst-case scenario for 2020.
The predictions are contained in a supplement to the Bank’s African Economic Outlook, which was released on 30 January. At the time, Africa’s growth was forecast at 3.9% in 2020 and 4.1% in 2021.
The supplement cautioned that the growth outlook for 2021 and beyond would depend largely on African governments’ effectiveness in flattening the curve of the outbreak and policies to reopen economies.
Charles Leyeka Lufumpa, Acting Chief Economist and Vice President for Economic Governance and Knowledge Management, at the African Development Bank, said: “To reopen economies, policymakers needed to follow a phased and incremental approach that carefully evaluates the trade-offs between restarting economic activity too quickly and safeguarding the health of the population. “
“Economic activities can be restarted incrementally on the basis of the transmission risks of different sectors,” Lufumpa said.
The spread of the virus in Africa depends largely on the preparedness of countries to separate and treat infected patients, the supplement stated, noting that only 21 out of 54 African countries are clinically prepared to deal with epidemics.
Executive Director of the African Economic Research Consortium and former Governor of the Central Bank of Kenya, Njuguna Ndung'u described the African Economic Outlook 2020 supplement as “a very important and useful policy tool for African countries who actually need it at this time.”
“It will be useful now and in the future. It gives us important short, medium- and long-term strategies,” he added, stressing crises like COVID-19 present a good opportunity for innovative reforms in countries.
The supplement noted that the curve of the pandemic in Africa was flattening gradually. However, COVID-19 remains a serious threat to lives and livelihoods, given weak healthcare systems and limited social protection. The continent also remains vulnerable to other regional threats such as the locust swarms that have struck East Africa, as well as to extreme climate events.
Under projected scenarios for contraction of growth, Africa could lose between $145.5 billion and $189.7 billion of GDP in 2020, according to the publication.
Hanan Morsy, Director of the Macroeconomic Policy, Forecasting and Research Department at the African Development Bank, said “The African Economic Outlook 2020 Supplement shows that for the first time in the last half-century, Africa would be facing an economic recession as a fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic. This would affect the gains achieved in poverty reduction as an estimated 49 million Africans could be pushed into poverty, with about 30 million jobs at the verge of disappearing. Policymakers need to act fast to alleviate the impact of the crisis on vulnerable groups through well targeted social safety net measures.”
Urgent interventions required
The report called for urgent policy interventions to mitigate the impact of the pandemic: “Across Africa, the response must be well-sequenced and multi-@pronged, involving a public health response to contain the spread of the virus and minimise fatalities, a monetary policy response to ease liquidity constraints and solvency risks, and a fiscal response to cushion the economic impacts of the pandemic on livelihoods and to assist businesses.”
Other proposed interventions included labour market policies to protect workers and their jobs, and structural policies to enable African economies to rebuild and enhance their resilience to future shocks.
The supplement warned that the tourism, transportation, and entertainment sectors may take longer to recover. Between 2017 and 2018, African travel and tourism grew by 5.6%, compared with the global average of 3.9%.
According to Morsy, the supplement projected that, in the worst-case scenario, an additional 49 million Africans could be pushed into extreme poverty by the pandemic and its aftermath. The number of people in extreme poverty in Africa (using the $1.90 international poverty line) could reach 453.4 million in 2020 as a result of the pandemic, compared to 425.2 million under the no-outbreak scenario.
People in West and Central Africa faced a higher risk of falling into extreme poverty due to the pandemic, but COVID-19 would also deepen poverty in East and Southern Africa.
Confirmed cases of COVID-19 in 54 African countries stood at 304,642, with 8,087 reported deaths as of 22 June 2020. According to the supplement, reported figures were likely to be higher in reality because of limited testing capabilities in most countries.
The authors said to reopen economies, policymakers needed to follow a phased and incremental approach that carefully evaluated the trade-offs between restarting economic activity too quickly and safeguarding the health of the population. They also must build public trust and buy-in and address structural bottlenecks that make the continent more vulnerable to future shocks.
Domestic flights resumed Wednesday morning at two of Nigeria’s airports- Abuja and Lagos after a shutdown in March because of the coronavirus pandemic.
At the local wing of the Murtala Mohammed International Airport in Lagos, intending passengers could be seen observing social distancing and were given hand sanitizers as they queued to board a flight for Abuja.
At the time of this report, an Air Peace flight from Abuja was about to land in Lagos, while an Arin flight had taken off from Lagos.
Passengers have to pay 48% more for the flights as the airlines raised their fares to make up for the reduction in the number of passengers.
Ibrahim Magu, the suspended Acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission spent his second night in custody Tuesday while Police combed his Abuja home.
Magu on Monday honoured an invitation by a Presidential panel investing allegations of corruption against him, and has since then been in detention at the Force Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department.
The panel headed by a retired Justice Ayo Salami, quizzed him for hours on Monday and gain on Tuesday.
President Buhari suspended Magu on Tuesday to enable the panel carry out its duties without hindrance.
Ibrahim Magu, the embattled Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission spent Monday night at a Police cell in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja, following allegations of maleficence against him.
This was despite denials on Monday by both the EFCC and the Department of State Security, which was alleged to have arrested the commission’s helmsman.
But the commission that advises Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari on the fight against corruption has said that Magu is a victim “power-play by power blocs in the corridors of power” led by the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation.
“the information reaching us is that Ibrahim Magu was only invited to appear before a Panel set up not long ago concerning some alleged memo by Malami, Attorney General and Minister of justice, regarding some alleged malfeasance an along with nominations for his replacement.
Details have emerged that Magu was quizzed for seven hours by a 7-man Presidential Panel investigating allegations against him. The panel is headed by retired Justice of the Court of Appeal, Ayo Salami, and has members from other government agencies.
Some of the 22 allegations are as follows:
Alleged discrepancies in the reconciliation records of the EFCC and the Federal Ministry of Finance on recovered funds
Declaration of N539billion as recovered funds instead of N504b earlier claimed
Insubordination to the office of the AGF by not seeking his approval on some decisions
Not providing enough evidence for the extradition of ex-Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke
Alleged late action on the investigation of Process and Industrial Development (P&ID) leading to legal dispute
Not respecting court order to unfreeze a N7billion judgment in favour of a former Executive Director of First Bank
Alleged delay in acting on two vessels seized by Nigerian Navy leading to the loss of crude
Alleged favoring of some investigators called Magu’s Boys
Reporting some judges to their presiding officers without deferring to the AGF
Alleged sales of seized assets to cronies, associates and friends
Alleged issuance of investigative activities to some media prejudicial to some cases.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has dismissed reports about the alleged arrest of its acting chairman, Ibrahim Magu by the Department of State Service (DSS) saying he just honoured a panel invitation.
“Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr. Ibrahim Magu on Monday, July 6, 2020, honoured an invitation by a Presidential Panel reviewing the activities of the EFCC, at the Banquet Hall wing of the Presidential Villa, Abuja, the commission said in statement by its spokesman, Dele Oyewale.
“He was served the invitation to the Panel, while on his way to the Force Headquarters, Abuja for a meeting.
Oyewale explained that: “The EFCC's boss was neither arrested nor forced to honour the invitation. A member of a legal team from the EFCC is also with him on the Panel.”
There were reports that the EFCC boss had been arrested Monday in Abuja by the Department of Security Services on allegations of that he owns four properties and was an agent to allegedly transfer funds abroad.
The DSS has also denied arresting Magu. In a statement by Peter Afunanya, its spokesman, the Spy Police said that “The Service, has since, today, 6th July, 2020, been inundated with enquiries over the alleged arrest”.