The Federal Government has started investigating how the 2014 and 2015 budgetary allocations of the National Assembly were expended.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission had demanded details of the budgets totalling N300bn from the National Assembly clerk, Sani Omolori.
Besides, he was requested to produce details of the contracts awarded by the assembly.
It was learnt that some principal officers of the seventh and the current eighth National Assembly would be invited in the coming months for interrogation.
Investigations showed that although the commission had received a petition from a former Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Appropriation, Mr. Abdulmumin Jibrin, on the alleged padding of the 2016 budget, it is extending its investigations to 2014 and 2015 fiscal years.
Jibrin, in his petition, had alleged that the Speaker of the House, Mr. Yakubu Dogara and three other principal officers padded the 2016 budget.
A top official of the EFCC said that although Jibrin’s petition bothered on the 2016 budget, funds had not been released for the projects allegedly inserted in the budget.
The source stated that the commission was focusing on 2014 and 2015, when the National Assembly got N150bn annually as its allocations.
It was learnt that for the seventh National Assembly, principal officers including the then Senate President, Senator David Mark, and his Deputy, Ike Ekweremadu, would be invited by the commission.
For the eight National Assembly, besides Dogara, the current Senate President, Dr.Bukola Saraki; Ekweremadu and the Deputy Speaker, Sulaiman Lasun, will also be quizzed.
The official stated, “You know the National Assembly has never made its budget public. Besides Jibrin’s petitions, there are others that will make investigations into the 2014 and 2015 budgets inevitable.”
For example, a group, the Anti-Corruption Unit of the National Youth Council of Nigeria, in a petition to the EFCC, alleged that N418m contracts were awarded in 2014 to firms linked to Jibrin.
The contracts included the supply of beans and millets to Kano State awarded to Eleku Construction Limited.
When contacted, the EFCC spokesman, Wilson Uwujaren, confirmed that the commission had requested for 2014 and 2015 budgets from the National Assembly.
Attempts to get Jibrin’s reactions did not succeed on Friday as he could not be reached through his telephone. He also did not reply to a text message our correspondent sent to his mobile phone.
Dogara, on his part, had recently said that the police and the EFCC could not investigate the House on the alleged padding of the 2016 budget.
When contacted on Friday, both Saraki and Ekweremadu said they were not aware of any invitation from the EFCC or intention to invite them.
The Chief Press Secretary to the Senate President, Sanni Odogu, simply said, “Saraki is a law-abiding citizen.”
He referred one of our correspondents to the Special Adviser to the Senate President (Media and Publicity), Yusuf Olaniyonu.
Olaniyonu, when contacted on the phone, said he was at a function and requested that a text message be sent to make the enquiry.
In his reply to the text message sent to him, Olaniyonu said, “No such thing. The Senate is on recess. We do not have any inkling about any such probe or invitation. In any case, remember that he became Senate President on June 9, 2015. So, if they are talking of 2014 and 2015, I don’t think that (the probe) will concern him.”
But another senior aide to Saraki, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, noted that even when the Senate President was charged to two different courts, he had been law-abiding.
“When they dragged him to the Code of Conduct Tribunal, he has been attending the proceedings. When they dragged him to a Federal High Court (over alleged forgery of Senate Standing Rules along with some principal officers of the Senate), he has been going. If there is anything else, let us wait till that time comes,” the source said.
Also, the Special Adviser to the Deputy Senate President on Media, Uche Anichukwu, said, “We are not aware of any invitation or the intention to invite Senator Ekweremadu.”
Similarly, Mark’s media aide, Paul Mumeh, said he could not react to speculations.
“We can only react to what I know of. Have you seen the letter of invitation written by the EFCC? Who signed it? Who was it sent through? We can only react to facts,” he said.
However, the Deputy Chairman, Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs, Senator Shehu Sani, told one of our correspondents that the probe is the same as meddling in the affairs of the legislature by the executive.
He noted that the security and anti-graft agencies are arms of the executive. He asked why the agencies were not paying attention to the executive and the judiciary.
Sani said, “The anti-corruption agencies are showing more interest in allegations against members of the National Assembly than against members of the executive and the judiciary. And the discriminatory responses of the anti-corruption agencies are an ill wind that will blow no one any good. It simply discredits the agencies as well as raise suspicions on their activities.
“The National Assembly is not immune to the law that is applicable to anybody in this country but the anti-corruption agencies must respect the independence of the legislature and seek an informed opinion whenever they are delving into issues that concern the legislature because they are still seen as part of the executive. They must know that any of their actions, naturally, will be interpreted as a calculated attempt to undermine the activities of the National Assembly.
The lawmaker, who is representing Kaduna-Central at the Senate, however, added that no legislature should “in any way take advantage of its esteemed position and the privileges of its esteemed position to commit crime with the expectation of immunity or impunity.”
Afenifere, CD back probe
Reacting to the moves to probe the National Assembly, the National Publicity Secretary of Afenifere, Yinka Odumakin, supported the investigation and took a swipe at the All Progressives Congress for saying that it would not punish any of its members involved in budget padding.
Odumakin said, “That is high wire politics. It is dawning on the owners of the game that if this is pursued to a logical conclusion and Dogara has to step down, there is possibility of power changing hands. So, it is practical to shave the anti-corruption stance so as not to upset the apple cart.”
Also, President of Campaign for Democracy, Bako Abdul Usman, backed the investigation of the National Assembly.
He said, “It’s unfortunate that the level of high-handedness, impunity, lack of respect for the judiciary by the APC within just one year in office, is quite alarming and negates its ideology of fighting corruption.
“A party that recorded victory based on the principles of change from corrupt practices, aids and abets illegality without sanctioning its erring members.
“Most of us will see the fight against corruption as a mere mirage or witch hunt of the opposition. If that should happen, then Mr. President’s body language of ‘I belong to everybody, I belong to nobody’ is not true for he really belongs to somebody and certainly he is for somebody and will never stop being for the powers that be in shielding corruption.”
Ibom MRO to Bring in Forex to Nigeria
Akwa Ibom State to open a cutting-edge smart terminal building at the Victor Attah International Airport
The governor of Akwa Ibom State, Governor Udom Emmanuel, has announced that the state is close to opening a cutting-edge smart terminal building at the Victor Attah International Airport and that this will generate foreign exchange for Nigeria.
This comes on the heels of praise from his Edo State counterpart, Gov. Godwin Obaseki, who attended the Tuesday reception in Uyo for two additional A320-200 Airbus aircraft that the state’s Ibom Air fleet had leased from a European company.
Speaking at the event, the governor of Akwa Ibom said that while there were already efforts underway to persuade the government to lease the MRO, the MRO is an investment because it was built with naira, despite its current depreciation, and will therefore generate income.
The Akwa Ibom governor said “Our terminal building is world-class in Africa, our MRO is world-class. If you find one today in the entire Gulf of Guinea, tell me I’ll disassemble this one and build another.
“Look at our MRO; what you see here can accommodate two 747 aircraft as well as eight CRJ aircraft, which we are flying for servicing at the same time.”
“This is the only MRO in this part of the world today, and these facilities are not built with local currency, but we are building this MRO with naira that has no value.”
“I invest in areas where we can see a return on our money. Right now without blinking an eye, I can make over $ 30 million with this MRO if we decide to sell but we are not selling, we will make a foreign exchange from this investment.
“Airbus is on us to come and lease our MRO for all their regional flights, but we are not selling.
“We are going to open up this place ( MRO facility) from January next year for commercial activities and we are going to earn in dollars.”
He thanked Ibom Air’s Board of Directors, Management, and Staff for making him proud, emphasising that “they have done very well.”
Gov. Obaseki, who spoke at the event, stated that Akwa Ibom has become the country’s flagship state for its efforts to invest in and make significant strides in the aviation sector.
Obaseki described Akwa Ibom as the country’s flagship state for its efforts to invest in and expand the aviation sector. “Ibom Air is always completely booked.” Let me thank you on behalf of Nigerians,’’ Obaseki said.
In his remarks, the Managing Director of Ibom Airlines., Mr Mfon Udom announced plans to begin regional flights in 2023.
Udom said the new addition to the fleet of Ibom Air would expand its carrying capacity and boost employment opportunities in the state by 40 per cent.
“With this new capacity coming on board, we are delighted to inform our passengers that we have increased our offerings, providing more frequencies for their convenience.
“The Uyo-Lagos and Uyo-Abuja routes now have three frequencies each every weekday, while our Lagos-Abuja passengers will have seven frequencies to choose from both ways, every weekday,’’ he said.
Lagos State Boosts Food Supply With Mass Sale of Rice and Cooking Oil
LAISA has commenced the massive sale of rice and soya bean vegetable oils ahead of the December festival
Lagos state government through the Lagos State Agricultural Inputs Supply Authority (LAISA) has commenced the massive sale of rice and soya bean vegetable oils ahead of the December festival.
The sale which is taking place at different locations in the state is already attracting massive buyers.
According to the General Manager of LAISA, Mr Bolaji Balogun, places where potential buyers can get the products include New Farm Service Oko-Oba Centre, and Gengeto Bus stop, Abeokuta Road, Lagos.
While speaking to the press, Balogun disclosed that available products include 50kg of rice and 1-3 litres of soya vegetable oil all sold at affordable prices.
The GM added that the food sale event was a response to the yearnings of Lagosians who demanded affordable rice and cooking oil for the yuletide festival.
He noted that several people came to LAISA stand for the request at the just concluded Lagos Trade Fair.
Investors King understands that the Lagos State Agricultural Inputs Supply Authority (LAISA) was established with the mandate to boost food supply in the state and also provide the necessary support such as farm tools to farmers.
” As a responsible agency of government, LAISA will continue to provide customers/farmers with high quality and healthy food supply at affordable prices as and when available. We also intend to continue to support and encourage farmers on the best farming practice as well,” Balogun noted.
Meanwhile, the Federal Government has replied to a statement credited to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that Nigeria will face food crisis in 2023.
The Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development opposed the position of the global financial institution stating that Nigerians should not panic nor worry about the projection.
The ministry added that several measures had been put in place to forestall any scarcity of food in Nigeria.
It added that the government had approved a five-year tax break as an incentive to encourage private investments in the agricultural sector and increased food production, processing and marketing.
U.S 2024 Elections: Donald Trump Declares For President
Former President of the United States, Donald Trump has once again showcased interest to seek the oval office after he failed re-election in 2020.
Former President of the United States, Donald Trump has once again showcased interest to seek the oval office after he failed re-election in 2020. Trump will be expected to tussle the Republic ticket with other potential nominees.
At his private beach on Tuesday night, Trump said “In order to make America great and glorious again, I am tonight announcing my candidacy for president of the United States”.
Trump’s ambition might however not be “Uhuru” as his party, the Republican failed to perform as expected in the midterm election. Although the Republican has been projected to win the majority seats in the house, the party, however, lost the senate including key states.
In addition, the former US president will likely face stiff opposition from his party as potential co-contestants include his former Vice President Mike Pence and the Governor of Florida Ron DeSantis, who won a resounding reelection victory on November 8.
Unfazed by the opposition and confident in his large following, Trump said “This is not a task for a politician or a conventional candidate. This is a task for a great movement.”
Investors King could recall that in 2020, Donald Trump lost to Joe Biden (Democrat).
After his exit from office, there have been a number of investigations into his conduct before, during and after his first term as president which could ultimately result in his disqualification.
He is also investigated for inciting violence which led to the drastic attack on the Capitol building on January 6, 2021.
Meanwhile, analysts and observers are divided on Trump’s potential comeback.
The mid-term election result shows that voters rejected candidates who backed Trump’s baseless claims of election fraud in 2020, and many of his high-profile picks for office struggled or lost out in the race.
It could be recalled that Donald Trump alleged manipulation in the 2020 presidential election which produced President Joe Biden. Trump claimed he was rigged out and tried to establish a conspiracy to back up his claim.
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