- House: Obasanjo is Grandfather of Corruption in Nigeria
The House of Representatives has responded to accusations of corruption levelled against the National Assembly by former President Olusegun Obasanjo, describing him as the grandfather of corruption who introduced corruption into Nigeria in the Fourth Republic.
The House said the former president introduced corruption into the National Assembly after the return of democracy in 1999, by bribing the legislators of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) and Alliance for Democracy (AD) to vote against the majority candidate of the PDP, Dr. Chuba Okadigbo, and electing Senator Evan Enwerem as the Senate President.
The spokesman of the House, Hon. Namdas Abdulrazak, briefing newsmen yesterday, also accused Obasanjo of attacking President Muhammadu Buhari because his cronies were not appointed into government by the president.
Obasanjo at a lecture on Wednesday had accused the legislature of corruption, budget padding and said it had threatened the life of a “whistle blower”.
Namdas however noted that Obasanjo’s grouse with the National Assembly stemmed from the foiling of his third term bid in 2007, after trying to corrupt the members with bribes of N50 million each.
“Have we forgotten that Chief Olusegun Obasanjo used his position as president to extort money from businessmen and contractors with his government to build his presidential library? The list of his corrupt acts while in office is endless.
“Unquestionably, he is the greatest corrupt person ever to hold office in Nigeria. He remains the grandfather of corruption in Nigeria and lacks the moral authority to discuss corruption or indeed abuse of office in Nigeria as he remains the most corrupt Nigerian on record,” Namdas said.
Continuing, the House asked: “Have we forgotten the sacks of money displayed on the floor of the House of Representatives, being bribe money paid by Chief Olusegun Obasanjo to some honourable members to impeach the speaker, Rt. Hon. Ghali N’abba?”
Namdas also addressed the issue of the budget padding allegation, insisting that there was no crime committed in the 2016 budget.
“It is most unfortunate that a former president of Chief Obasanjo’s stature would allow himself to be hoodwinked and procured by a renegade member of the House, who embarked on massive propaganda and lies just because he was removed from office,” he said.
The spokesman further accused the ex-president of always working to bring down governments, particularly when presidents refuse to listen to him.
“It is unfortunate that he has started his very familiar method of bringing down governments. He did it to Alhaji Shehu Shagari, he did it to General Buhari, he did same to General Babangida, he attempted to bring down General Abacha before he imprisoned him for treason; he made frantic efforts to derail the government of President Yar’Adua when he couldn’t use him.
“He supported President Goodluck Jonathan but when he refused to take dictation, he turned against him. He supported President Buhari, but since he has sensed that Nigeria is having economic difficulties under him, he has pounced to derail his government,” he said.
Part of the spokesman’s address read: “Our attention has been drawn to a statement credited to former President Olusegun Obasanjo at a lecture he delivered recently, wherein, in his characteristic manner accused everybody but himself of corruption.
“He ventured to accuse the National Assembly of budget padding, accused the House of criminal activities, of threatening the life of a ‘whistleblower’, lampooned constituency projects which he approved as president, and ventured to discuss the budget of the National Assembly which is highly underfunded?
“The House of Representatives would ordinarily not join issues with the former president as he has held an office that deserves respect and reverence. However, because of the material misstatement of facts, outright lies and falsehood, and mischievous innuendo introduced in his statement, we are left with no option but to correct him.
“We have repeatedly maintained that there was no ‘padding’ of the 2016 Appropriation Act, which is a legitimate document passed by the National Assembly, authenticated by the Clerk of the National Assembly as provided in the Acts Authentication Act and assented to by Mr. President.
“It is most unfortunate that a former president of Chief Obasanjo’s stature would allow himself to be hoodwinked and procured by a renegade member of the House, who embarked on massive propaganda and lies just because he was removed from office.
“For the avoidance of doubt, there is no crime that was committed by the National Assembly by exercising its constitutional function of appropriation. If Chief Obasanjo has an issue with the execution of the 2016 budget or indeed other Appropriation Acts, he should direct his anger elsewhere.
“He claimed that the National Assembly budget is very high, when by all standards, the National Assembly is grossly underfunded and is hampered from effectively and legitimately carrying out its constitutionally assigned functions. The National Assembly budget funds a bureaucracy of about 5,000 civil servants. It has some other agencies under its purview such as the National Assembly Service Commission, with its own staff of about 500; even the Public Complaints Commission is now a parastatal of the National Assembly.
“The National Assembly budget also funds the National Institute for Legislative Studies, which is a legislative think-tank and highly rated academic institution that serves both national and state Houses of Assemblies and even international legislators.
“All these agencies also have their capital budgets including development of their headquarters, procurement of office equipment, procurement of regular items for running their offices
“The National Assembly maintain legislative aides of about 3,000 in number that aid the work of the Assembly; it also conducts regular public hearings involving the media and stakeholders and oversight activities, involving huge sums of money.
“The cost implication of running the National Assembly is high because of the nature of our presidential democracy. Then of course, there are 109 Senators and 360 members of the House of Representatives that require proper equipment to function effectively.
“They require adequate travel and transport support to carry out legislative functions. The National Assembly also has buildings and offices to build and maintain. National Assembly staff and members attend conferences, training and seminars to keep abreast of legislative developments worldwide. The activities are very encompassing and expensive.
“It is also unbecoming of a former president to quote figures of sums of money that are factually incorrect. No member of the House of Representatives receives N10 million every month. The salaries and allowances of members of the House are as determined by the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC).
“Of course further sums of money are spent such as running costs, that is, the cost of running the office of a member. If a minister, chief executive or director in a ministry travels on official duties, for instance, do you include the cost of his ticket and accommodation as part of his salary or allowances?
“Does the cost of stationery and maintenance of equipment like computers used in their offices form part of their salaries and allowances? These are some of the costs that must be taken care of by the National Assembly and the media calls these costs ‘jumbo pay’.
“For goodness sake, the National Assembly is an arm of government, not just an ordinary agency of government. The budgets of many agencies in the executive branch are indeed higher than the current budget of the National Assembly that is an arm of government.
Examples abound: CBN, NNPC, NCC, etc. Allowances paid to even junior staff of some of these government agencies cannot be compared to what members of National Assembly enjoy.
“The way Chief Obasanjo talks gives the impression that he is a lifetime opposition leader who has never held any office. What did he do about the issues he raised in his eight years as president?
“This is a man with unlimited access to President Buhari. Or is it because he has not appointed all his cronies as requested? We may never know. His stock in trade is blackmail, subversion and treachery… We wish him well.”
In the same vein, the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) yesterday reacted to the former president’s criticism of lawyers and judges in the judiciary for corrupt practices, saying that the presence of a few bad eggs in the legal profession should not lead to a blanket condemnation of the entire members of the profession.
The NBA said it was aware that the profession currently parades some unscrupulous members and that everything was being done to flush them out and bring them to justice.
The NBA’s reaction was made on the sidelines of the National Executive Council meeting of the association in Minna, the Niger State capital.
The President of the NBA, Mr. Abubakar Balarabe Mahmood (SAN), said: “The allegations of corruption against the bar and the bench should not undermine the significant contributions of the judiciary and the legal profession to nation building. A few bad eggs should not lead to the total condemnation of the profession.
“NBA will always co-operate with the federal government to flush out bad eggs but this should be done in accordance with due process and the rule of law.”
While conceding that there are problems in the judiciary and the legal profession that need to be addressed, the NBA president said the association was working round the clock to address these problems.
“NBA is making effort to ensure the integrity of the profession and for the judiciary to be restored and improved upon.
“The allegations against members are under investigation, if the allegations are established, NBA will come out with disciplinary measures against those concerned.”
Mahmood called on the public to continue to respect the legal profession, which he maintained had played a vital role in the nation’s political and economic trajectory.
Nigeria Immigration Service Reopens Portal With New Passport Application and Payment Process
The Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) has announced the reopening of its passport application and payment portal.
The assistant comptroller of immigration, Mr Amos Okpu announced in a statement in Abuja on Tuesday.
In the statement, Mr Muhammad Babandede, the Comptroller-General of the service, said the portal became effective for new applications from 12 midnight on Tuesday.
Babandede further said that the portal would allow eligible applicants to apply and make payments for the various categories of passports of their choice.
Mr Muhammad Babandede explained that with the reopening of the portal, a new passport application and payment regime had begun.
The statement in full:
“The Comptroller General of the Nigeria Immigration Service (CGI), Muhammad Babandede MFR, has announced the reopening of the Passport application and payment portal effective 8th June 2021 by 12 midnight to allow eligible Passport applicants to apply and make payments for the various categories of Passports of their choice.
The Passport portal was closed following the directives of the Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola on the 17th of May, 2021to afford the Service the opportunity to clear all backlogs of applications that have piled up across Issuing Centres in the past few months.
With the reopening of the portal, a new Passport application and payment regime have commenced. Under the new Passport regime;
Applications and payments for Passport services shall be made through the Service website www.immigration.gov.ng;
- applicants are expected to visit the portal to apply and upload their support documents for vetting and processing;
- a chat room facility to guide applicants through the application and payment process has been provided on the portal;
- upon successful applications, applicants shall make their online booking interview/enrollment appointment on any day, time and location they consider convenient;
- that the new timeline for Passport production and issuance after a successful enrollment at the selected Issuing Centre shall be six weeks for Fresh applications and three weeks for Re-issue (Renewal applications);
- that no applicant who is yet to make an online application and payment shall be allowed into any of the Passport Issuing Centres for Passport processing;
- applicants will be contacted through email and phone number they provided during application when their Passports are ready;
- a helpline with the number 08021819988 has been provided for feedback mechanism on any challenges.
The Comptroller General, Muhammad Babandede MFR wishes to use this medium to call on Nigerians and indeed Passport applicants to avoid patronizing touts as the entire process has been made seamless for effective and efficient service delivery. He warned Passport racketeers to desist from acts capable of undermining the reform efforts to avoid very strict sanctions.
Signed AMOS OKPU MNIPR
ASSISTANT COMPTROLLER OF IMMIGRATION
SERVICE PUBLIC RELATIONS OFFICER
For: COMPTROLLER GENERAL OF IMMIGRATION 8TH JUNE, 2021″
INEC To Publish The List Of New Polling Units Next Week
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has pledged to publish a comprehensive list of its new polling units across the nation next week.
The INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, disclosed this on Monday in Abuja.
Yakubu was speaking at the formal handing over of a new state of the art fire truck, deployed to the Commission’s headquarters in Abuja by the Federal Fire Service (FFS).
He said that details of the locations of its registration centers and the procedure for the commencement of online registration for resumption of nationwide Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) would be made available in the second week of May.
He expressed appreciation of the commission to the FFS and all security agencies for the demonstration of their support to protecting INEC facilities
He said that the support was coming on the eve of the resumption of the CVR nationwide in the next three weeks.
“We earlier assured Nigerians that we shall conclude work on the expansion of voter access to polling units and make the new polling units available to citizens ahead of the CVR exercise.
“I am glad to report that we have accomplished this task for the first time in 25 years.
“A comprehensive list of the new polling units will be published next week.
“Similarly, details of the locations of the registration centers and the procedure for the commencement of online registration will also be made available after a series of regular consultative meetings with stakeholders next week,” Yakubu said.
He said that as a member of the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES) FFS had been as concerned as other security agencies about the recent attacks on our offices across the country.
“This is particularly so because out of the 42 attacks on our facilities nationwide, 18 incidents resulted from arson and three more by a combination of arson and vandalisation.”
Yakubu recalled that concerned by those incidents, the commission convened an emergency meeting of ICCES last week of April, where the security agencies renewed their determination to collaborate more with the commission.
According to him, they pledged to assist the commission address the challenge beyond the routine protection of INEC assets and the security of its officials, voters, observers, the media, candidates and their agents during elections.
“On its part, the Federal Fire Service offered to deploy an additional state-of-the-art fire engine to the INEC headquarters to complement the two existing trucks.
“At the same time, it directed its state offices to take additional protective measures around other INEC facilities nationwide.
“Today’s inauguration of the new fire engine is another affirmation of the support to the commission from the FFS whose personnel, already deployed permanently to the commission
“The personnel will continue to operate and maintain the fire engines and other firefighting equipment installed by INEC,” Yakubu said.
Speaking earlier, the Controller-General (CG) of FFS, Alhaji Liman Ibrahim said the deployment of the firefighting truck was premised on recent fire attacks on INEC offices in different parts of the country.
Ibrahim, represented by the Assistant Controller-General of the service, Mr Samson Karebo, said the deployed truck would serve as fire cover for the premises of INEC headquarters and the entire Maitama vicinity of Abuja.
“The FFS is taking this step as a proactive measure to protect our critical infrastructure and help to protect our economy by forming synergy with all stakeholders in protecting our environments.
“Our center is focused on bringing firefighting operations to every part of the country as part of our statutory duties by having a presence in virtually every state in Nigeria
“The FFS will very soon be moving into all senatorial headquarters in the country. That is how we want to operate for now so that we can touch every corner of this country,” Ibrahim said.
He called for the cooperation of all for the service to better serve the nation by not molesting FFS staff in the line of duty.
In his remarks, the National Security Adviser (NSA) retired Maj.-Gen. Babagana Monguno, who is also Co-Chair of ICCES, described the deployment of the truck as a demonstration of President Muhammadu Buhari’s commitment to sustain Nigeria’s democracy and address insecurity.
Monguno said that the gesture also symbolised commitment to a clear affirmation of Buhari toward protecting institutions of government, toward securing their property, toward fighting acts of irresponsibility, vandalisation and outright criminality.
“The President is determined as much as he can within the confines of legality to suppress any kind of criminality and destruction of public property.
“This is something that he is determined to do regardless of whatever the challenges are.
“He will apply all the resources in his disposal in his capacity as the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces to ensure the wider Nigerian society is safe, stable and is allowed to carry out its legitimate undertaking, free from any act of insecurity,” he said
Monguno urged all other security agencies not to relent in ensuring that they continued to protect lives and property.
The Inspector-General of Police, Mr Usman Baba pledged commitment to security agencies to work with INEC and protect INEC’s facilities, citizens’ life and property.
Also at the occasion was the Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, represented by Director of Joint Services, Mr Peter Obodo; as well as the representative of Director-General, Directorate of State Services, Tony Adikweruka.
Recovered Assets: Ad-hoch Committee Gives Emefiele, Others 72 Hours Ultimatum
The House of Representatives ad-hoc committee, investigating recovered assets, has given the Central Bank Governor, Godwin Emefiele, and National Security Adviser, Babagana Monguno, 72 hours to appear before it.
The committee also issued same ultimatum to the Inspector General of Police, Usman Alkali, and the Director-General of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, Bashir Jamoh.
The summon was issued on Monday, after Mr Emefiele and the others failed to appear before the committee.
The government officials had sent representatives, but the committee chairman, Adejoro Adeogun (APC, Ondo), said they failed to forward letters to that effect.
He said allowing representatives without a proper letter of introduction would be akin to allowing “impersonators.”
“You are indirectly insulting the House of Representatives. You are undermining the House of Representatives,” an angry Mr Adeogun said.
Moving a motion to give the agencies 72hours to appear before the committee, Ibrahim Isiaka (APC, Ogun), said the agencies created by Acts of the parliament “should not be undermining the parliament”.
The motion was unanimously adopted by the committee.
Mr Isiaka suggested that the House should shut down its activities if the agencies fail to appear before them.
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