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Saraki kicks against use of $1.05bn NLNG dividends for fuel subsidy

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Senate President Bukola Saraki has faulted reported use of $1.05billion, by the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), from its dividends from the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) for fuel subsidy.

Bukola Saraki

Saraki said the Senate would, therefore, on resumption of plenary today investigate the claims made before the Senator Ahmad Lawan’s Ad-hoc Committee by the Group Managing Director of the NNPC, Mr Maikanti Baru, on how and why the corporation diverted the dividend from the NLNG to defray the cost of under-recovery in the importation of fuel.

The Senate president, who was quoted as saying this while speaking with newsmen at the Ilorin airport on Monday, according to a statement by his media adviser, Mr. Yusuph Olaniyonu, admitted that he had received series of telephone calls on the issue by many concerned Nigerians, “Who wanted to know the position of the Senate on the issues raised by the NNPC’s GMD before the Ahmad Lawan’s Ad-hoc Committee.”

Saraki expressed grave concern that the NNPC GMD was claiming that the illegal diversion of dividends from the NLNG, which should be paid into the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federation for the purpose of funding the fuel subsidy “was done ‘in compliance with the National Assembly directive that NNPC as the supplier of last resort should, and has, maintained robust petrol supply”.

He wondered what “so if the National Assembly called on NNPC to carry out its legitimate duty of ensuring adequate fuel supply to Nigerians, the GMD logically thinks the corporation by that call has the licence to perpetuate illegality, spend money without approval and violate appropriation laws”.

“It is my belief that if the National Assembly said the corporation should perform its duty effectively as a supplier of fuel to Nigerians without exposing people to needless suffering, that ought to be done within the ambit of the law.”

Saraki added that Senate probe of the unauthorised spending by NNPC will require the GMD to produce the approval given by the National Assembly and other necessary approving bodies authorising the NNPC to divert the dividend from the NLNG investment, “which ought to be paid into the Consolidated Revenue Fund belonging to the three tiers of government, for the payment of fuel subsidy”.

According to him, the disclosure by the NNPC boss in response to enquiries by the Senate ad-hoc committee probing the issue of illegal payment of subsidy on fuel, called for further investigation by the Senate and also showed that as alleged in a motion moved earlier by Senate Minority Leader, Senator Biodun Olujimi, a lot of illegal and unapproved spendings are going on in the petroleum corporation.

He, therefore, assured Nigerians that Senate would thoroughly investigate this matter saying “there will be no cover-up.”
Saraki also expressed confidence that the ad-hoc committee would do a thorough job.
“All the issues will be unearthed. That is why when the Senate set up investigative committees on issues, we want Nigerians to have confidence in us that we do not act because we want to embark on a wild goose chase. There must be some serious issues to be looked into. The revelations by the NNPC’s GMD have justified the need for this investigation and they have shown that we are acting in good faith.

“When in my ruling on the motion raised by Senator Olujimi, I insisted that we want a transparent, honest and non-partisan investigation on the fuel subsidy issue, it was clear to me and my colleagues that there are certain irregularities being perpetrated and we should let Nigerians know the truth. That is why we set up the committee in the first place and to demonstrate the seriousness we attach to the issue, we decided that the ad-hoc committee should be led by the Leader of the Senate, Senator Ahmad,” Senate President further said.
Baru had last Thursday told the Senator Lawan-led ad-hoc committee that the corporation spent $1.05billion to defray the under-recovery cost of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) from October 2017 to date.

He emphasised that what the corporation did in the wake of a shortfall in fuel supply between October 2017 and January 2018″ was to devise other means of securing PMS on the advice of the National Assembly.”
According to him, NNPC utilised $1.05billion from its dividends in NLNG to finance the additional landing and other expenses of PMS.

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National News

ASUU to reply FG today

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The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) will today communicate its decision on the offers made to it by the Federal Government, its National President Prof Abiodun Ogunyemi said yesterday.

ASUU President, Prof Abiodun Ogunyemi

The union had urged the government to show concrete evidence of commitment to agreements on meeting its demands on its on-going strike.

Ogunyemi said that contrary to some media reports, the union did not reject the government offer neither has it make fresh demands.

Labour & Employment Minister Chris Ngige, after meeting with the union on January 4, said the government was about resolving the dispute with the lecturers who embarked on a strike on November 5, last year.

Dr Ngige said the Ministry of Finance and the Office of the Accountant- General of the Federation had provided evidence that N15.4 billion for the payment of salary shortfall in public universities.

He also noted that there was evidence that Mr President had approved N20 billion to offset the outstanding arrears of the 2009 and 2012, audit verified earnings in the university system.

The minister, however, said the fund was being worked on and would be released to ASUU as soon as the process was complete, among other demands of the union.

The ASUU president said: “We have been reviewing the offer made by the government and we have concluded our consultations with our members.

“We have concluded our consultations and hopefully by tomorrow, we are going to transmit the feedback from our members to the Minister of Labour and Employment.

“What we said was that we are not insisting on having the total package. We are saying if the government could give us one out of the five tranches on the revitalisation fund it will be a kind of bending backwards in the interest of the students and national interest.

“So, rather than insisting that government should release a total of one trillion naira which we know is not feasible, the government can, at least, give one tranche that can be spread over four quarters, starting with the first quarter now.

“This is the shift that the media are misinterpreting to mean a fresh demand. There is no fresh demand on our list whether you are talking of revitalisation or earned an academic allowance.”

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Politics

PDP and corruption are siamese twins – APC

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All Progressives Congress has stated that the opposition party, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is no different from the national vice, corruption. Named them siamese twins.

According to APC, PDP exposed itself as a party with a natural inclination to rise up in defense of cases of alleged corruption.

“PDP and corruption are Siamese twins that are difficult to separate from each other”, the APC publicity secretary, Mallam Lanre Issa-Onilu said on Sunday.

The APC made the observation in the wake of PDP swift condemnation of the ‘purported’ move to prosecute Justice Walter Onnoghen, Chief Justice of the Federation, over an alleged infraction on the Code of Conduct laws.

“Resort to baseless postulations anytime issues of corruption is leveled against public officers only confirm what Nigerians already know.

” One would have thought that the PDP will call for impartial investigations when corruption cases are leveled against public officers, but spinning falsehoods and conspiracies remains the opposition party’s favorite past time.

“The fight against corruption remains a cardinal promise made by the APC to the electorate. We assure the PDP and indeed all Nigerians that the President Muhammadu Buhari-led APC administration remains uncompromising in its determination to rid the country of this malady.

“As noted on many occasions by President Buhari, it is only those who have committed crimes that need to worry. The APC administration will not hesitate to investigate and prosecute any public officer if and when such is indicted for corruption.

“Achieving acceptable elections in all democratic climes is a collective effort which requires the contributions and support of all well-meaning Nigerians, political parties, institutions, and sundry interests.

“Commendably, in successive elections conducted under the APC administration, the Party has played by the rules, which has led to credible elections. This cannot be said of the PDP era when state institutions were deployed to manipulate the electoral process.

“The PDP’s baseless conspiracy theory on APC’s participation in the 2019 general elections should hereby be disregarded. We remain solidly committed to ensuring that the forthcoming election goes on record as one of the freest, most credible and peaceful elections in the country”.

NAN

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Politics

CJN arraignment: This is a plan to rig 2019 elections – Arewa

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The Arewa Youth Consultative Forum, AYCF, has revealed that the arraignment of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Walter Onnoghen, was a plan to rig the 2019 elections.

In an interview with DAILY POST, AYCF President, Yerima Shettima said the planned arraignment of Onnoghen by the Buhari-led government was an assault on Nigeria’s democracy which has come to stay, hence Nigerians should kick against it.

The Federal Government will on Monday, January 14, 2019, arraign the CJN before the Justice Danladi Yakubu-led Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) in Abuja on charges of failure to declare his assets as required by law and for operating Bank Domiciliary Foreign Currency Accounts.

The charges against Justice Onnoghen were filed and served on him on Friday at his official residence in Abuja preparatory to his appearance at the tribunal.

However, Shettima, who described the planned move as a “grand conspiracy”, insisted that the case against Onnoghen was a plot to rig the forthcoming election.

According to him, “I think there is a grand conspiracy to undermine the sensibilities of Nigerians. At this critical period when we have one month to the election, the present Buhari, APC-led administration has been seen to bring tension, panic and it’s a clear indication that they are not prepared for the election.

“These all points to the fact that our democracy is in danger, our democracy has been undermined and this is a call for all Nigerians to rise up to protect our democracy”.

“It appears from all indications that most of them in government were never part of those who advocated for democracy; they didn’t know what people suffered; what we went through but today they find themselves in power and knowing they have not paid their dues, they just act in whichever way”.

“But for us, Nigeria is our country, we have paid our dues and will not accept any anti-democratic act”.

“So, this is a call to Nigerians to ensure that democracy is protected. We have seen them making attempts to undermine the legislature and now it has moved to the judiciary.

“If you now kill the legislature and the judiciary where is the democracy then? There is no democracy, Nigerians must all rise up and condemn this act, this country must remain together. This country has come this far and we will not allow anyone to undermine us”.

“We must all condemn the act, it’s unacceptable, to an extent they are becoming more desperate and I think it’s a way to intimidate the judiciary so that they will rig the election and uphold the judiciary and the head of judiciary and at the end of the day, they will put fear in the mind of other justices and people and this must stop”.

“The judiciary must rise up to the occasion never to accept any intimidation from any angle.”

Shettima also said: “Whether Cabals or not, he (Buhari) must take responsibility and if he doesn’t know that such things are happening then it’s a clear indication that we don’t have a leader because he has taken oath of office to rule the country as the Commander-In-Chief so if there are things in the country he must definitely be aware of it.

“Well, for us Nigeria must remain together, democracy has come to stay and any attempt to undermine it will not be accepted as we will rally round to kick against it and resist any intimidation and blackmail by anybody.”

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Politics

Court: Abaribe withdraws as IPOB leader, Nnamdi Kanu’s surety

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Senator Eyinnaya Abaribe has asked the Court of Appeal, Abuja, to discharge him from his earlier position as a surety to the self acclaimed leader of the indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu.

Senator Enyinaya Abaribe (PDP, Abia South)

Abaribe, in an application filed at the appellate Court, also asked the court to set aside the November 14, 2018, order of the Federal High Court in Abuja.

The Senator and two others, Emmanuel Shallom-Ben and Tochukwu Uchendu, had stood surety for the bail of now dissapperaed IBOP leader, Kanu in the sum of N100m each.

Kanu’s whereabouts has continued to be enmeshed in one controversy or the other since the military’s invasion of his ancestral home in September 2017.

He was said to have been killed in the attack but recent revelation seem to suggest that he is currently taking refuge in Isreal.

His disappearance however has jeopardised the position of his sureties, who are now confronted with the huge task of producing him in court to face his trial or forfeit the bail bond of N100m each, they signed for Kanu’s release.

Trial Judge, Justice Binta Nyako, in her November 14, 2018 ruling, had held that Abaribe and the two other sureties owed the court the duty of producing Kanu, whose absence since 2017 has halted his trial on charges of treasonable felony brought against him by the federal government.

But the senator, through his counsel, Chukwuma-Machukwu Ume (SAN), filed an amended notice of appeal and a brief of argument to challenge the Federal High Court’s decisions.

He cited Sections 55, 165(3), 167(3) and 488 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) to support his argument in the amended notice that a public officer such as a senator was legally exempted from standing surety for a suspect.

Ume blamed the Federal High Court for making a senator to be part of the sureties Kanu must present in April 2017. “The honourable trial court failed and or refused to take judicial notice” of the relevant provisions of the ACJA and the Nigerian constitution.

“Thus, the trial court had not done the needful under the law, otherwise, it would have found that by law, the appellant (a senator) is legally exempted from giving security for the good conduct or behaviour of a suspect”, he said.

According to Abaribe’s counsel, “It is trite law that where a valid Act or law clearly states something, it is not within the powers of the court to go contrary to it. “We can see therefore that the involvement of Senator Abaribe in the whole bail and surety quagmire was invalid from the beginning”.

The two-month ultimatum given to Abaribe is bound to lapse on January 14, but before then, the Senator and the other two sureties, Emmanuel Shallom-Ben and Tochukwu Uchendu, had filed separate appeals against the November 14, 2018 order.

Abaribe in his appeal canvassed that the Federal High Court on its own, made “an order of interim forfeiture without considering or evaluating” all the applications filed before it by the sureties.

He added that the trial court acted without jurisdiction when on its own, it made an interlocutory order that in substance rendered the core issue in the substantive matter a nullity.

DD

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