Thursday, 26 February 2015

Jonathan sits on NNPC audit report but approves sharing of recovered $1.48 billion

Petroleum Minister, Diezani  Alison-MaduekeDespite dilly-dallying on whether or not to make public the full report of the forensic audit on the operations of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, President Goodluck Jonathan has approved the disbursement of the $1.48 billion (about N249 billion) recovered from the national oil company.
The return of the money by the NNPC is one of the major recommendations of the audit conducted by global firm, PriceWaterHouseCoopers. The full audit report is yet to be made public despite protests by Nigerians including civil society groups and opposition parties.
However, on Tuesday, officials stated that Mr. Jonathan had asked that the money, once returned by the state oil firm, be shared among the tiers of government.
The confirmation of the President’s approval came from both the Minister of State for Finance, Bashir Yuguda, and the Chairman of the Commissioners’ of Finance Forum, Timothy Odaah, who spoke at the end of the February meeting of the Federation Accounts Allocation Committee in Abuja.
According to the Minister, based on the President’s approval, he has since opened discussions with the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke, and the Group Managing Director of NNPC, Joseph Dawha, on the modalities for sharing the money among the three tiers of government.
“We are working on the modalities and time-frame within which the money should be paid back to the Federation Account,” the minister said. “The President has addressed the issue. What we are waiting for now is to get the money from NNPC and distribute according to the three tiers of government.”
On the publication of the full report, the minister stated that “The report would be made public to Nigerians very soon. The Minister of Petroleum Resources has said that, and I am telling you also as the Minister of State for Finance that the report would be made public very soon.”
The Petroleum Minister, Diezani Alison-Madueke had told the Financial Times of London, that government would not publish the report ahead of election, to avoid a “rabid opposition” finding “all sorts of minute detail (in the full report) to create concern”.
Based on Mr. Yuguda’s “very soon” and Mrs. Alison-Madueke’s seeming fear of a “rabid opposition,” the government appears to have concluded to release the report only after the general elections on March 28 and April 11.
The audit was conducted after the immediate past Central Bank Governor, Lamido Sanusi, alleged that as much as $20 billion may have been missing in the national oil company’s accounts.
According to Mr. Odaah, who is also Ebonyi State Commissioner for Finance, the President approved the payment of the money into the Federation Account for immediate distribution during the next FAAC meeting to be held in March.
He said the state finance commissioners were worried when the issue was not captured in the report presented by the Accountant General of the Federation for Tuesday’s February meeting, particularly the clarification by the Central Bank of Nigeria on the exchange rate to be adopted in disbursing the money.
On other issues discussed during the meeting, Mr. Odaah said the attention of the president was drawn to the poor performances of the electricity distribution companies across the country.
He said the state commissioners were concerned that despite government’s effort to improve the level of electricity supply in the country, the performance of the power distribution companies were nothing to write home about.
“The Federal Government is making great effort to ensure that the electricity distribution is better, but, what we are seeing as commissioners of finance in our respective states, is different. We have to speak up against anything that would negatively impact the effort to energise our economies.
“Power supply is very important and therefore the president’s attention should be called to note that the EDCs have to be directed to do more to help the states,” he said.

Why investigation into Ekiti-rigging tape is stalemated – Jonathan

PRESIDENT Goodluck JonathanThe inability of Sagir Koli, the army Captain who leaked the Ekiti-rigging audiotape, to come forward and authenticate the tape, is the reason investigation into the matter cannot proceed, President Goodluck Jonathan has said.
Mr. Jonathan told Thisday newspaper that he inquired from the head of the Department of State Security, DSS, if the agency was investigating the matter, but was told that investigation could not proceed because Mr. Koli, who went underground after he was tipped off about the order from the army hierarchy to arrest him, has not come forward to validate the audio recording.
After Mr. Koli escaped, his 15-year-old brother, Ahmadu Koli, a pupil of Army Children School, who was staying with him, was arrested, tortured at a military facility in Ibadan Oyo, and detained for about five months.
“In fact, when this story came up, I asked the DG Department of State Security Service if they had investigated the matter, and he told me that they had some investigations, and then called for the person who claimed he recorded it and that he disappeared and nobody can reach him,” Mr. Jonathan said.
“There was no formal petition before them, but because of the general interest, they wanted to have him interviewed to know where this was coming from. If someone comes up with a spurious allegation that has no substance and the person disappears, of course, what do you want me to do? Definitely, anytime we get him, he’ll have to substantiate his allegations. There is a lot of false stories being circulated and it is very sad,” he added.
The President did not explain why Mr. Koli needed to validate the recording before investigations could be launched into the scandal.
He also did not say whether security agencies must always wait for petitions before investigating weighty issues such as the Ekiti rigging scandal.
Mr. Jonathan admitted that he has not even listened to the tape. He however tried to save face by saying he originally dismissed it as a fabrication, despite admissions from key actors the meeting actually held, because the person who recorded it did so to achieve a particular purpose and could have manipulated the discussion.
“I have not watched the video (it is an audio recording, not video). I said that it was a fabrication because, you see, people now, especially with the social media; we could be here and discuss issues and somebody will hack some of our voices and create a story that never happened,” he said.
“Therefore I am not saying that a meeting in question was held or not held, but the issue of conspiring to rig, I said it was a fabrication,” he said.

Boko Haram: Nigeria’s Army chief visits Baga, says elections may hold in recovered territory

Lt. General Kenneth MinmahNigeria’s Chief of Army Staff, Kenneth Minima, said on Wednesday that elections could be held in territories recovered from the Boko Haram insurgents.
Mr. Minima, a Lieutenant General, said successes recorded by the troops in dislodging the insurgents from some territories may enable the displaced persons to return back to their homes before the general elections which are scheduled to hold on March 28 and April 11.
Hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced, most of them within Nigeria, since the insurgency began in 2009. The electoral commission, INEC, had earlier said it could only hold elections in safe areas including legally recognised camps for displaced persons.
On Wednesday, the Army chief said he was impressed with the feat achieved by the soldiers and pledged that more Nigerian territory still being controlled by the insurgents will be retaken.
Mr. Minima arrived the Air Force base of the 79th Composite Group of the Nigerian Air Force, Maiduguri, at about noon via a military aircraft alongside other top officers. He was immediately conveyed in a military chopper to Kukawa Local Government.
Only a government television crew was embedded on the flight trip to Baga as the army could not provide transport helicopters for journalists to the recaptured border town.
At the border town, Mr. Minima reportedly addressed the troops on ground where he informed them that President Goodluck Jonathan and Nigerians were proud of them.
Promotion for victorious soldiers
Upon his return back to Maiduguri two hours later, the army chief told journalists that his visit was to boost soldiers’ morale.
“My visit there is on confidence building and to inform the troops that the entire Nigerians are singing their praises for their courage and urge them to keep up the tempo,” he said.
“They have made Nigerians proud. From today it is never again for insurgents to take hold of any of our territory. I told them that today it is going to be victory all the way because the war is almost ended.
“From here we move to retake Gwoza, Marte, and Madagali. With this, there is going to be no more Boko Haram; the slogan is ‘never again’ and even the President shares in this slogan.
“In the army’s usual a way of commending soldiers’ courage and patriotism, I have announced to them that every soldier that participated in the Baga operation, whether dead or alive, has been promoted to the next rank,” the army chief added.
The soldiers were said to be full praises and jubilation as officers conducted Mr. Minima and his team round parts of the town, recently recovered from the insurgents. He also inspected some of the weapons and vehicles recovered from the insurgents.
Mr. Minima said he is very confident that within the six weeks frame given to flush out Boko Haram, it is possible for all the displaced residents to return home and even cast their votes.
“It is achievable to end the Boko Haram activities very soon because we are still within the six weeks framework,” he said.
“But we should not see the six weeks as a must-accomplish time; this is war and we will try and do whatever possible to liberate more areas so that displaced citizens can go and resettle and possibly vote during the elections”.
INEC had postponed the elections, initially scheduled for February 14 and 28, based on the military’s stance that it could not guarantee security and would need six weeks for an onslaught on the insurgents.
The move was criticised by many Nigerians including some opposition parties who questioned why the onslaught was delayed until the time of the elections.

Abuja Independence Day Bombing: Convict to appeal life sentence

Edmund Ebiware
Edmund Ebiware, convicted for foreknowledge of the October 1, 2010 Abuja bomb blast that killed 12 people, has been given a nod to appeal his sentence.
He got the go ahead on Monday, his lawyers from Festus Keyamo Chambers, told PREMIUM TIMES.
Mr. Ebiware was sentenced to life in prison in 2013 after an Abuja court found him guilty of a three-count charge including having foreknowledge of plans to carry out the bombing without alerting the authorities.
Former leader of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, Henry Okah, was convicted for the bombing in a South African court in March 2013. Mr. Okah got a 24 years jail term.
The court said it was convinced Mr. Ebiware was an accessory to Mr. Okah in carrying out the bombing.
“Anyone who is aware of an act of terrorism but fails to report same to the President, a Governor, Security agent or a Peace Officer in order to prevent the commission of the crime, is liable to a life imprisonment,” Justice Gabriel Kolawole said in his judgement.
The convict is currently serving his life sentence under solitary confinement in Kuje Prison. But his wife, Ify, who is raising their two kids said she’s confident she would upturn the judgement at the appeal court.
“My husband is totally innocent,” she said. “I know him more than anyone. Even the kids can attest that he is the best dad in the world.”
She argued that committing her husband to life in prison over accusations that he had prior knowledge of the bombing was unjust.
“He was sentenced without a single evidence. When the court asked for evidence, they said it was a national security matter that could not be tendered before the court,” she said.
Mrs. Ebiwere is confident she would prove at the appeal that her husband never met Mr. Okah. She admitted her husband had contacted Mr. Okah once, but at the instance of Diezani Alison-Madueke, Nigeria’s Petroleum Minister and president of OPEC.
She said Mrs. Madueke had begged her husband to help establish communication links between Mr. Okah and herself in furtherance of the Niger Delta Amnesty program.
“Even Henry (Okah) regarded my husband as a spy,” she said, quoting a Henry Okah interview with Sahara Reporters. “My husband never spoke to Henry (Okah) until the Petroleum Minister contacted him to link her with Henry Okah.”
She said her husband is a political prisoner, arguing that his troubles began after he accepted to work for President Goodluck Jonathan’s opponent – Ibrahim Babangida – in the 2011 presidential primary elections of the People’s Democratic Party.
She said Raphael Damfebo, a witness who admitted he heard Henry was going to carry out a bomb blast and relayed the information to the convict, had admitted he was threatened with his freedom into making the testimony.
“If my husband is serving life jail term because he heard from the witness, how come the witness who heard from the source is a freeman today?” she asked. “The same witness admitted he told Boyloaf and Timipre Sylva, why are those ones not in jail too?”
Before his arrest on October 3, 2010, Mr. Ebiware led the Niger Delta Renaissance Network and published articles supporting the power zoning arrangement in PDP which could have stopped President Jonathan from succeeding late Umaru Yar’Adua.

Monday, 23 June 2014

Nigeria’s Police Affairs Minister Accused Of Killing Former Minister of Justice, Bola Ige, Says He Regrets Not Beating A Former Governor To Death-The Nation

Minister for Police Affairs, Jelili Adesiyan
By The Nation Newspaper
Minister of Police Affairs Alhaji Jelili Adesiyan has expressed regret for not flogging the first civilian governor of Osun State, Senator Isiaka Adetunji Adeleke, during the People’s Democratic Party’s (PDP) stakeholders meeting with the officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Osogbo.
Adeleke alleged that the Osun State PDP governorship candidate, Senator Christopher Iyiola Omisore, Adesiyan and a retired Customs officer, Mr. Sogo Agboola, beat him at a function a day before the state PDP governorship primaries, in which he planned to run.
Adesiyan, who spoke with reporters at the PDP state secretariat, Gbongan Road, Osogbo aat the weekend, denied beating Adeleke.
He however said he regretted that he did not flog Adeleke like a baby.
According to him, he refrained from beating Adeleke even when he provoked him because he was once his governor and more so because of his own position as a member of the Federal Executive Council (FEC).
He vowed to fight Adeleke anytime they meet.
He said: “My regret was that I did not beat him as he claimed I did. If I had not been a minister, I would have flogged him like a baby. You know that he could not withstand one blow. You know Adeleke is sick; maybe he would have died that day.
“It was Sogo Agboola that gave Adeleke a dirty slap when he tried to caution him from being violent and he gave Sogo an elbow jerk, which Sogo quickly returned with a dirty resounding slap.
“I thought he was tough but he ran away immediately. He is lying if he says Omisore and I beat him. One upper or lower cut would have landed him in the hospital. You know me. Let me tell you, Adeleke is a liar. After running to his people in the APC, they perfected the story for him. You know they are very good at propaganda. Ta lo nje ode aperin ni waju ode apeyan (who is an elephant hunter in the presence of a hunter who kills human being)? I will one day leave office as a Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and anytime I leave office, I will fight  Adeleke.”
Adesiyan swore by the Quran that he never attacked  Adeleke.
He recalled the incident: “At about 1.00 a.m when I noticed that I was hungry because I had not eaten, I told Omisore and others at the meeting that I wanted to eat and we went to the pool side bar of the hotel to eat. As I was eating the fried plantain they served me, I noticed that some boys that looked like thugs were coming to our direction and all of a sudden, the light in the hotel went off.
“I was not afraid because nobody can terrorize me in my state though I felt there could be problem. The police did their jobs. They arrested the boys and collected their cell phones. Later, Adeleke, who was absent at the meeting on the ground that he was outside the state, came in and moved to me. He pointed to me and started shouting at me. He said he made me the Director-General. I thought he got carried away because he was able to free his boys after telling those who arrested them that he was a former governor and that they are his boys.
“If I had ordered the arrest of the boys, the police dared not release them without informing me. Adeleke was so furious that Sogo wanted to caution him by holding him back, but he gave Sogo an elbow and which he returned with a dirty slap and Adeleke ran away with his thugs.”

Adesiyan also said that nobody can insult Omisore in his presence, saying: “I would rather die there.”

Soldiers Insist On Searching Speaker Tambuwal’s Official Car In Kaduna

Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal
By Citizen Reporter
Soldiers yesterday in Kaduna  briefly detained the Speaker of the House of Representatives,  Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, insisting his official car must be searched before he could be allowed into an international conference where he was due to deliver a speech.
Angered by the conduct of the soldiers, the Speaker came out of the car and trekked into the venue.
The incident occurred at Hotel 17, venue of an  International conference on security and development challenges of pastoralism in West and central Africa organized by the office of the National Security Adviser.
The Speaker,  who arrived the venue of the gathering at exactly 9.16 am for the 10.00 am opening ceremony, had his convoy stopped by soldiers who insisted they must search his official car before he could be allowed into the venue.
Despite much entreaties by security details attached to the Speaker,the soldiers refused, claiming they have “orders from above” to search the Speaker.
Incidentally, other VIPs, especially Governors,  who attended the conference were allowed access into the hotel without hindrance
The Speaker is the number four citizen in Nigeria’s official hierarchy after the President, Vice-President and the Senate President.
When contacted for his reaction, Tambuwal's spokesman,  Malam Imam Imam, decried the conduct of the soldiers, saying their attitude undermines the institution of the legislature.
"It is not about the person of the Speaker, but the office he is occupying. What we expect is for the security agents to show respect for the office of the Number 4 citizen of the country, " he said.

The soldiers did not search the speakers car after he walked into the venue.