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N516bn Paris Refund: Labour Teams up With EFCC, ICPC on Probe

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  • N516bn Paris Refund: Labour Teams up With EFCC, ICPC on Probe

The Nigeria Labour Congress and the Trade Union Congress have written to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission to probe the states, which defaulted in the first tranche of the N516bn Paris Club loan refund.

The TUC President, Bobboi Kaigama, and the NLC General Secretary, Peter Ozo-Eson, confirmed on Thursday, adding that the partnership between Labour and the anti-graft agencies would equally be important in the utilisation of the second tranche of the refund.

The labour centres had alleged that some state governments failed to use part of the money they got from the loan refund to pay salaries or to offset arrears of pension deductions.

The federal and state governments had, in December 2016, agreed that states should use 50 per cent of the refund to settle salary and pension arrears when the fund was released.

But the NLC President, Mr. Ayuba Wabba, had, in an interview on June 4, said more than 26 states benefited from the first tranche of the Paris Club refund, but lamented that about 10 states were still owing workers and pensioners.

“Many of the states have been diverting the bailout meant to pay outstanding salaries and pension to other things; and this is why we are in the present situation,” he had stated.

The Federal Ministry of Finance had, on Friday, published the allocation of the first tranche of N516.38bn reimbursement to the states.

From the statement by the finance ministry, the top five states are Rivers, N34.92bn; Delta, N27.6bn; Akwa Ibom, N25.98bn; Bayelsa, N24.89bn and Kano, N21.7bn.

These five are followed by Lagos, N16.74bn; Katsina, N16.4bn; Kaduna, N15.44bn; Borno, N14.68bn; Jigawa, N14.2bn; Imo, N14.01bn; Niger, N14.42bn; Bauchi, N13.75bn; Sokoto, N12.88bn; and Osun, N12.62bn.

Others are Cross River, N12.15bn; Anambra, N12.24bn; Edo, N12.18bn; Kebbi, N11.95bn; Kogi, N11.05bn; Abia, N11.43bn; Ogun, N11.47bn; and Plateau, N11.28bn.

Similarly, Yobe got N10.82bn; Zamfara, N10.88bn; Ebonyi, N9.01bn; Ekiti, N9.54bn; Enugu, N10.7bn; Gombe, N8.95bn; Nasarawa, N9.1bn; Oyo, N13.31bn; and Kwara, N10.24bn.

Others are Adamawa, N10.25bn; Benue, N13.7bn; Ondo, N14.01bn; Taraba, N9.32bn, and the Federal Capital Territory, N1.36bn.

The Director of Information in the finance ministry, Salisu Dambatta, who signed the statement, had said, “The funds were released to the state governments as part of the wider efforts to stimulate the economy and were specifically designed to support states in meeting salary and other obligations, thereby alleviating the challenges faced by workers.”

The TUC President, Kaigama, told our correspondent on Wednesday that the union had involved the EFCC and the ICPC to probe states which defaulted in using the disbursements to pay workers.

He said, “We have asked the ICPC and the EFCC to probe those states; we already called for their probe. The call we made to the EFCC and ICPC is not only for the first tranche, but subsequent tranches.

“The anti-graft agencies and the TUC have been interacting well on the probe.

“We are working with the Federal Government which directed that the fund be used first for the payment of arrears and pensions before the states do anything else. So if the states do anything else, it would be contrary to the directive.

“We have been liaising with the anti-corruption agencies to make sure that they follow these disbursements. We also ask our TUC state levels to monitor the disbursements.”

The NLC Secretary, Ozo-Eson, said, “We have involved the anti-corruption agencies. From the first bailout, we partnered the ICPC to monitor the funds and we expect this to continue. Our directive to the NLC state councils is to also monitor the funds and ensure that the payment of arrears of salaries and pensions take priority.”

It was learnt from an NLC source that some states, however, still had yet to clear about five months’ salaries owed their workers.

The Head of Media of the EFCC, Mr. Wilson Uwujaren, on Sunday, said he was not aware of the petitions from the labour unions to the agency as his office was not in charge of receiving petitions.

“I am not aware. You know my office does not receive petitions,” the commission’s spokesman stated.

The anti-graft agency had, however, in February, confirmed that it was investigating some governors as well as the accounts of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum in connection with the N516bn Paris Club loan refund to the states.

Some petitions had alleged that some of the state governors, using some consultants and proxies, diverted about N19bn from the refund to the NGF’s account.

Is the CEO/Founder of Investors King Limited. A proven foreign exchange research analyst and a published author on Yahoo Finance, Businessinsider, Nasdaq, Entrepreneur.com, Investorplace, and many more. He has over two decades of experience in global financial markets.

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FG Declares June 12 Public Holiday for Democracy Day Celebration

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The Federal Government has declared Wednesday, June 12, a public holiday in commemoration of this year’s Democracy Day celebration.

The announcement was made in a statement signed by Aishetu Ndayako, the permanent secretary of the Ministry of Interior, on behalf of Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, the Minister of Interior.

The statement urged Nigerians to reflect on the struggles and sacrifices of the nation’s founding fathers and to ensure that Nigeria remains a united, secure, peaceful, and indivisible entity.

“As we mark another Democracy Day in the history of our dear country, let us all reflect on the efforts of our founding fathers and ensure that Nigeria remains a united, secured, peaceful, and indivisible entity,” the statement read.

A Historic Shift

The designation of June 12 as Democracy Day dates back to June 7, 2018, when former President Muhammadu Buhari announced that the day would henceforth be celebrated as Democracy Day.

Prior to this declaration, Democracy Day was observed on May 29, the date marking the inauguration of the Fourth Republic in 1999.

President Buhari’s decision was rooted in the historical significance of June 12, 1993, the day of what is widely regarded as Nigeria’s freest and fairest presidential election.

Despite the election’s annulment by the then-military government, Buhari emphasized that the democratic credentials of the process should be honored.

Honoring a Legacy

To further commemorate the significance of June 12, Buhari posthumously awarded Chief Moshood Abiola, the presumed winner of the annulled 1993 election, with the nation’s highest honor, Grand Commander of the Federal Republic (GCFR).

The statement from the Ministry of Interior also highlighted President Bola Tinubu’s commitment to implementing positive reforms aimed at reviving Nigeria’s economy and enhancing national security.

A Call for Unity

The Minister of Interior, Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, called on all citizens and friends of Nigeria to appreciate the progress that has been made in the country’s democratic journey and to look forward to a brighter future.

“As we celebrate Democracy Day, we must appreciate the progress that has been made and remain hopeful for a better future for Nigeria’s democracy,” the minister said.

This year’s Democracy Day comes at a crucial time as Nigeria continues to navigate economic challenges and security concerns. The public holiday on June 12 provides an opportunity for Nigerians to reflect on the importance of democracy and the ongoing efforts to strengthen the nation’s democratic institutions.

As the nation prepares to observe the public holiday, there is a sense of anticipation and hope that the values of democracy will continue to guide Nigeria towards a prosperous and harmonious future.

The government’s declaration serves as a reminder of the enduring legacy of June 12 and the importance of upholding democratic principles.

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Guilty on All 34 Counts: Trump Convicted in Hush Money Case

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In a historic and unprecedented legal decision, former President Donald Trump was found guilty on all 34 counts in his “hush money” trial, making him the first former U.S. president to be convicted of a crime.

The verdict was delivered by a jury of 12 New Yorkers on Wednesday, concluding a six-week trial in Manhattan.

The charges against Trump centered around falsifying business records to cover up a $130,000 payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels before the 2016 presidential election.

The jury found Trump guilty on all counts, concluding that he authorized a scheme to falsify checks and related documents to keep the alleged affair from becoming public knowledge.

Prosecutors from the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office presented evidence showing that the conspiracy to cover up the payment began during Trump’s 2016 campaign and continued into his first year in the White House.

They argued that Trump, along with his associates, created false records to mislead voters and conceal the payment.

Trump, who has consistently denied having any sexual encounter with Daniels, responded angrily to the verdict. Speaking to reporters outside the courtroom, he called the trial “a disgrace” and accused the judge of bias.

“This was a rigged trial by a conflicted judge who was corrupt,” Trump stated.

He vowed to continue fighting the verdict, saying, “The real verdict is going to be Nov. 5 by the people, and they know what happened here and everybody knows what happened here. We’ll fight to the end.”

The conviction comes at a critical time for Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee for president in the 2024 election. Despite the conviction, there is no constitutional barrier preventing him from running for office again.

Legal experts note that the Constitution’s requirements for presidential candidates—being at least 35 years old, a natural-born citizen, and a U.S. resident for 14 years—do not include any disqualification for being a convicted felon.

Judge Juan Merchan has scheduled Trump’s sentencing for July 11. The defense has until June 13 to submit any motions, with the prosecution required to respond by June 27.

Trump’s legal team indicated they would prefer a sentencing date in mid to late July.

Trump’s conviction adds to the already intense political climate as the nation prepares for the 2024 elections. The trial has drawn significant media attention and public scrutiny, reflecting deep divisions within American society.

The trial highlighted broader issues regarding campaign finance and the use of hush money in politics. It also raises questions about the integrity of presidential candidates and the lengths to which they might go to protect their public image.

As the legal and political ramifications of this verdict unfold, Trump’s conviction on all 34 counts marks a significant chapter in U.S. history.

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President Tinubu to Inaugurate Newly Paved Roads to Apapa, Tin Can Ports

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President Bola Tinubu is set to inaugurate the newly constructed paved roads leading to the Apapa and Tin Can Island ports in Lagos on Saturday.

This development is anticipated to bring significant relief to port users and operators who have endured years of hardship due to the previously dilapidated roads and severe traffic congestion in the area.

The commissioning of these roads marks a major milestone in the government’s efforts to improve infrastructure and boost economic activities around the nation’s busiest ports.

The newly paved roads are expected to enhance the flow of goods and services, reduce operational costs for businesses, and alleviate the chronic traffic bottlenecks that have plagued the Apapa and Tin Can Island areas.

President Tinubu, who is scheduled to arrive in Lagos on Saturday morning, will perform the inauguration as his first assignment of the day.

The ceremony signifies a commitment to addressing the infrastructural challenges that have long hindered the efficiency of Nigeria’s maritime sector.

Mohammed Koko, the Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), highlighted the importance of this project earlier this year.

He emphasized the NPA’s “zero tolerance for all forms of impediments to the free flow of traffic” and reiterated the agency’s dedication to improving port operations.

“Our zero tolerance for all forms of impediments to free flow of traffic is no fluke,” Koko said, noting that the rehabilitation efforts are aimed at consolidating gains achieved first in Apapa and now extending to Tin Can.

In January 2024, President Tinubu directed the Federal Ministry of Works to urgently and comprehensively repair the access roads to the Lagos Port Complex and Tin-Can Island Port Complex.

The Minister of Marine and Blue Economy, Adegboyega Oyetola, echoed the urgency of this directive, pointing out that the poor condition of the port access roads had significantly increased internal logistics costs for importers and exporters.

“The dilapidated port access roads increase the cost of internal logistics for importers and exporters,” Oyetola noted.

The improved road infrastructure is expected to curb the exodus of businesses from the Apapa and Tin Can Island areas, which had been driven away by the severe logistical challenges.

The restoration of these critical routes is also anticipated to enhance Nigeria’s competitiveness in international trade by facilitating smoother and more efficient port operations.

Following the inauguration of the port access roads, President Tinubu is also scheduled to flag off the Lagos to Calabar coastal road project at Victoria Island in Lagos.

Also, he will virtually inaugurate the newly rehabilitated 3rd Mainland Bridge, further underscoring his administration’s commitment to revitalizing Nigeria’s infrastructure.

The series of inaugurations and project launches underscore a broader strategy to enhance connectivity, reduce operational bottlenecks, and stimulate economic growth through improved infrastructure.

The completion of the Apapa and Tin Can Island port roads is a pivotal step in this direction, promising a new era of efficiency and productivity for Nigeria’s maritime sector.

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