The Minister of State, Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu on Friday said there was nothing on ground to justify the over $40 billion that has accrued to the Niger Delta region in the past 12 years through various intervention agencies.
The minister, who spoke at a meeting held at PTI Conference Centre in Warri, Delta State involving prominent leaders from the coastal states, including representatives of the various ethnic groups, Isoko, Ijaw, Urhobo, Itsekiri, Ibiobio and others, said the $40 billion came mainly from oil companies, Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, 13% derivation and other intervention funds.
He declared in the presence of monarchs, youth leaders, politicians and Secretary of MEND: “I’ve been to the creeks myself and discovered that there was no meaningful development of the riverine communities as expected by the federal government despite the huge amount disbursed to the region.”
Stating that the state of infrastructure is disappointing despite the huge effort to alleviate the infrastructural defect in the region. He called for an audit of money expended in the region so far to know what exactly went wrong to avoid repeating the same mistakes.
“I think we need an audit because it will not be wise to have agitation of this kind in circle after each agitation will come back again to demand for the same thing when intervention funds had made no impact on the lives of the ordinary people.
The minister also used the forum to assure leaders of the zone that President Muhammadu Buhari was not thinking of using the military to resolve the crisis in the region.
Instead, he maintained that the President was desirous of using dialogue to find a lasting solution to the problem.
The meeting yesterday was convened by Ijaw National leader, Chief Edwin Clark in reaction to last Thursday visit to the minister by Ijaw Monarchs.
The minister urged the leaders to prevail on their youths to allow peace to reign in the region noting that no meaningful development can take place in an atmosphere of violence.
He told the Niger Delta leaders that the federal government was committed to the development of the region promising to come out soon with short and long term plans in that direction.
Clark had told the minister that he should no longer entertain any group or groups that visited him under the guise of the Niger Delta struggle without asking them whether they had the permission of their leaders.
He said the Ijaw Monarchs that visited the minister caused great embarrassment for him as other ethnic groups thought the struggle was that of Ijaws.
Earlier, the Secretary of MEND, Timipa Jenkins Okponipene told the meeting that his group had accepted Clark’s leadership of the proposed team that will dialogue with the federal government.
He however said MEND would nominate three persons while Chief Clark’s team will nominate another three with slots for other ethnic groups.
Meanwhile, Kachikwu disclosed that Niger Delta Avengers (NDA), Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) and all other militant groups have agreed to dialogue with the federal government, to resolve the crisis in the region.
He stated that he has the full confidence of the president on this matter and had briefed him regularly the progress he was making on how he was able to win the confidence of the millitants who had resisted all entreaties for peace.
He said it took a lot of work behind the scene with the help of people like Timi Alaibe who made contacts that had finally resulted to the ceasefire that we have now. It was a delicate balancing act that still requires a lot of work to consolidate, we are not there yet, but we will get there,” he added.
Boko Haram Kills Rice Farmers in Borno State, Northeast Nigeria
Rice farmers were killed on Saturday morning in the Northeast Nigeria by suspected Islamist militants, Boko Haram, according to a Reuters Report.
The report also noted that 30 of the people killed were beheaded while over a dozen others were still missing.
However, resident of the Zambarmari Village where the attacks took place said a total of 70 people were feared dead.
Another resident and Amnesty International were quoted as saying at least 10 women were among those missing.
In another statement by Edward Kallon, the United Nations’ humanitarian coordinator in Nigeria, it was armed men on motorcycles that led the brutal attack on civilians harvesting their fields.
“Armed men on motorcycles led a brutal attack on civilian men and women who were harvesting their fields,” Edward Kallon stated.
“At least 110 civilians were ruthlessly killed and many others were wounded in this attack,” he added, noting that several women are believed to have been kidnapped.
“The incident is the most violent direct attack against innocent civilians this year. I call for the perpetrators of this heinous and senseless act to be brought to justice,” Kallon said.
On Sunday, Governor Babaganan Umara Zulum of Borno State, who was at the burial told journalists that at least 70 farmers were killed on Saturday.
The Governor, therefore, called on the Federal Government to recruit more Civilian Joint Task Force members, Soldiers and civil defence fighters to protect farmers in the region.
He added that people are facing desperate choices.
“In one side, they stay at home they may be killed by hunger and starvation, on the other, they go out to their farmlands and risk getting killed by the insurgents,” he said.
In The Fight Against Corruption, No Individual is Bigger Than The State – Buhari
In response to the suspended acting EFCC Chairman, Ibrahim Magu, President Muhammed Buhari, lamented that the anti-corruption war becomes endangered “when persons entrusted with the responsibility of that magnitude become suspects themselves.”
Buhari, whose vision is to put an end to corruption in Nigeria, believed that every aspect of the nation’s life is enshrined in corruption and it’s of major concern when leaders of institutions saddled with the mandate to fight the menace are found in the waves of the corruption they claimed to be fighting.
This act is a great abomination not only because it strikes at the root but it also trivialises and undermines the anti-corruption crusade itself, the President explained.
He further said that in a bid to put an end to this great abomination, he had set up Ayo Salami Panel to unravel the mystery behind the mystique of Magu’s alleged involvement in corruption that his administration is fighting.
Buhari said that his administration is ready and willing to go all out in the fight against corruption, and no one is too big nor above the law to become a victim of anti-graft’s sledgehammer.
The president said, “However, the stark reality of widespread corruption becomes poignant when allegations of corruption touch on the leadership of an institution set up by law to coordinate and enforce all economic and financial crimes.
“It is an abomination that strikes at the root and undermines the government’s anti-corruption programme.
“It was in response to the serious allegations against the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission that I set up a panel headed by the Honourable Justice Isa Ayo Salami, retired President of the Court of Appeal, via an Instrument dated 3rd July 2020 pursuant to the Tribunals of Inquiry Act (Cap T21, LFN, 2004).
“We recognise that there are more grounds to cover in the war against corruption, and we are prepared to go out to possess those lands by cutting off any stream that nourishes the seed of corruption and supports its growth.
“Let it be known that in the fight against corruption, no one is too big to tackle, as no individual is bigger than the Nigerian State!”
In Search For The New EFCC Chairman, Justice Ayo Salami Panel Advises Buhari to Look Outside The Police Force
Justice Ayo Salami’s panel advised President Muhammadu Buhari to look outside the Nigerian Police Force for the new Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
A credible source confirmed that President Muhammadu Buhari may have decided to follow the panel recommendation to avoid a similar fate to that of Magu, the former chairman.
The source also confirmed that the panel recommendation was a result of sleaze allegations against suspended acting Chairman, Ibrahim Magu. Also, that search team would be constituted in the next few days to slim down the possibilities of finding the right candidate to bring into reality the President’s vision of a corrupt-free anti-graft agency.
The source further confirmed that “the sleaze and abuse of office allegations against Magu, a commissioner of police, were overwhelming,” and that he may be put on trial.
As advised by the panel, the new EFCC chairman should be in interim position for two years.
It was suggested that the recommendation from the Justice Ayo Salami panel might have pinned Magu, according to Femi Adesina, the presidential spokesman, he advised president Buhari to consider looking into other law enforcement or security agencies, as well as considering important and diligent staff of EFCC in his plans to appoint the next EFCC chairman, as s provided in the EFCC Establishment Act of 2004.
Following the Justice Ayo Salami panel recommendation, Salami said “Your Excellency, permit me to say that four successive chairmen of the EFCC from inception have been drawn from the police. Therefore, in appointing a new chairman of EFCC, consideration should be given to candidates from other law enforcement or security agencies and qualified core staff of EFCC as provided in the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (Establishment Act 2004).
“It is also important to point out that at the moment, 970 policemen (114 drivers, 641 mobile policemen and 215 operations), are on secondment in the EFCC.
“Therefore, an exit plan for the disengagement of the police and other personnel within two years from now should be considered. This will address the issue of non-promotion of core staff for over nine years.
“Your Excellency, our thinking here is that whoever you are appointing other than a core EFCC staff, should be in transitional capacity of two years during which period, the arrangement would be made for the appointment of any of the core staff who has been commended by National Crime Agency, UK and other international law enforcement for their professionalism”.
Justice Ayo Salami appreciated the president for giving members of the panel an avenue to serve the country.
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