- EFCC Chair: Court Flooded With 17 Suits Over Magu
No fewer than 17 suits on the propriety or otherwise of Mr. Ibrahim Magu remaining as the Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission have been filed before various divisions of the Federal High Court.
Lawyers, who appeared before Justice Gabriel Kolawole of the Federal High Court in Abuja when one of the cases came up on Tuesday, said a related case was filed in the Yola Division of the court in Adamawa State, while another case on the same subject is before the Kano Division of the FHC.
Thr Majority of the cases were said to be pending before various judges of the Abuja Division of the court.
It was learnt that some of the 17 cases were in support of Magu, while the rest sought Magu’s removal from office on the grounds that he had been rejected by the Senate.
Meanwhile, when one of the pro-Magu suits came up before Justice Kolawole on Tuesday, two lawyers, representing two different law firms, presented separate letters of engagement to them to represent the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, and the Senate.
While Mr. S. O. Alhassan presented a letter, which engaged his law firm in June, Mr. Peter Abang presented a letter briefing his law firm in August.
The judge directed the two lawyers to sort out the conflicting briefs they got from the Senate before the next hearing date for the particular suit.
The particular suit was instituted by a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr. Jibrin Okutepa, who was represented on Tuesday by Mr. Ocholi Okutepa.
President Muhammadu Buhari, the AGF, the National Assembly, the Senate and Saraki are the respondents to the suit.
But before the case was adjourned on Tuesday, Mr. Musa Abdul, who represented the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN), sued as the second defendant, told the judge that the AGF had written to the former Chief Judge of the court, Justice Ibrahim Auta, seeking the consolidation of the cases.
He explained that the AGF’s office was aware of 10 cases in respect of Magu’s chairmanship of the EFCC and was therefore necessary to have the cases heard by one judge in order to avoid a situation where judges of the FHC would give conflicting decisions on the same subject matter.
Abdul stated that the former Chief Judge had also replied the AGF’s letter.
But one of the two lawyers, seeking to represent the Senate and Saraki in the case, Abang, said he was aware of 17 cases.
“There are, in fact, 17 cases on this subject matter. In fact, I will be appearing before Justice A. R. Mohammed in another case concerning the subject matter immediately I leave this court.
“We also have a similar suit in the Kano Division of the court,” he added.
He said his law firm had also formally requested the Chief Judge to consolidate the cases.
The other counsel, Alhassan, also intimated the judge about the case pending before the Yola Division.
After listening to the parties, Justice Kolawole directed them to bring to the attention of the Acting Chief Judge of the FHC, Justice Abdu Kafarati, efforts that had been made to get the cases heard by one judge.
He agreed that there was the need for the cases, including those filed in Kano and Yola, to be consolidated to avert “conflicting decisions” by the Federal High Court on the same subject matter.
He adjourned for about four weeks to await the directive of the Acting Chief Judge.
Justice Kolawole also noted that Alhassan and Abang, who were both seeking to represent the Senate and Saraki, “cannot be heard as currently constituted.”
The judge urged the two lawyers to “put heads together” and sort out their representation for the Senate and Saraki before the next hearing date.
The judge adjourned until November 1.
A lawyer, Mr. Oluwatosin Ojaomo, had earlier filed a suit seeking a declaratory order deeming that the Senate had confirmed Magu as the substantive Chairman of the EFCC.
In his originating summons, with suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/59/17, the plaintiff asked Justice John Tsoho to hold that the Senate lacked the statutory powers to reject the appointment of Magu having been validly nominated by President Muhammadu Buhari in consonance with the EFCC (Establishment) Act, 2004.
The suit joined Saraki and the AGF.
In the 17-paragraph affidavit of urgency deposed to by the plaintiff, he wanted the court to hold that Magu’s appointment by Buhari was based on his sterling performance at the EFCC.
He added that Magu had courageously fought corruption in Nigeria according to his mandates and had successfully “recovered humongous sums of money” from the looters of the Nigerian treasury.
The plaintiff noted that Saraki and his wife were part of the persons currently being investigated by Magu.
He stated that the development implied that Magu would never get fair hearing before a Senate presided over by Saraki.
Also, two groups, Save Nigeria Group and Kingdom Human Rights Foundation International, on July 7, withdrew their suit filed in December 2016, seeking orders compelling Buhari to declare the chairmanship position of the EFCC vacant.
The plaintiffs had, also in the same suit, urged the court to compel Buhari to sack the suspended Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr. Babachir Lawal.
But upon an oral application by the plaintiffs’ lawyer, Mr. Kindgdom Okere, on Friday, seeking the withdrawal of the suit, Justice Tsoho struck out the case.
Speaking with our correspondent after the July 7 proceedings, Okere had told our correspondent that the boards of the plaintiffs had reviewed the activities of Magu as acting Chairman of the EFCC and had decided to support him.
FG Puts Nine-year Presidential Jet Up For Sale
The Federal Government has put up for sale a jet in the presidential fleet, Hawker 4000 aircraft with registration number, 5N-FGX/: RC 066.
The business-size jet which entered into service in December 2011, has capacity for nine passengers and three crew members.
Findings indicate that only 73 Hawker 4000 aircraft were manufactured by Hawker Beechcraft between 2001 and 2013 and they were sold for $22.91m each as of 2012.
The FG in a published advert on Wednesday disclosed that the aircraft with a range of 3,190-nautical mile had flown for 1,768 hours.
It said the aircraft could be inspected at the Presidential Air Fleet’s hangar located at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.
Interested buyers were requested to submit their closed bid to the Chairman, Committee for Sale of Aircraft, Office of the National Security Adviser, care of Special Services Office, Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation.
In an advertisement published in some national dailies on Wednesday, prospective buyers were directed to submit a refundable bank draft for $50,000 to the committee with the bid.
It also said that all the bids should be quoted in dollars.
The notice read, “Please note that all bids must be submitted within one week of this publication.
“Background check is required as a pre-qualification for the bid. Prospective bidders who want to inspect the aircraft will be granted access within one week from this advertisement.”
The Presidency had similarly in 2016 put up for sale two presidential aircraft, a Falcon 7X executive jet and Hawker 4000, in line with the directive of the president, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), that aircraft in the Presidential Air Fleet should be reduced to cut down on waste.
The government also said some aircraft in the fleet would be handed over to the Nigeria Air Force for its operations. It could not be confirmed if this had been done.
According to the Presidency, the PAF has 10 aircraft and they include Boeing Business Jet (Boeing 737-800 or Air Force One), one Gulfstream 550, one Gulfstream V (Gulfstream 500), two Falcons 7X, one Hawker Sidley 4000, two AgustaWestland AW 139 helicopters and two AgustaWestland AW 101 helicopters.
Reports said each of the two Falcon 7X jets were purchased in 2010 for $51.1m, while the Gulfstream 550 costs $53.3m.
The Senior Special Assistant, (Media and Publicity) to the President, Garba Shehu, had yet to respond to inquiries on the number of presidential aircraft sold so far, as of the time of filing this report.
Coronavirus – Angola: Confronting the COVID-19 Pandemic and the Oil Price Shock
The COVID-19 pandemic and the shock from the falling price of oil have put severe pressure on Angola since the country’s second review under the Extended Fund Facility (EFF) in December 2019.
Only months after the conclusion of the second review in December 2019, the COVID-19 pandemic reached Angola, ushering in economic and health crises. The decline in oil prices further strained the economy, which is heavily reliant on oil exports. The economic downturn and social distancing to contain the spread of the virus have been damaging, especially given the large informal sector.
A swift response to the crisis
The Angolan authorities adopted timely measures to tackle the challenges arising from the COVID-19 shock. Measures to protect public health included quarantine, social distancing, closing of borders with limited exceptions, closures of schools, restaurants, and public events, and limited transportation. The government recently approved a prudent supplementary budget for 2020 using a conservative oil reference price. It has also introduced a comprehensive set of fiscal and monetary measures to support economic activities.
On relief to help vulnerable people:
• Tax exemptions of value-added tax (VAT) and customs duties on goods imported under humanitarian aid and donations.
• VAT tax credit for imported capital goods and raw materials for producing essential consumption goods.
• Interest-free, deferred payment option for social security contributions.
• Regulation of prices for a list of medical goods.
On government spending:
• Freeze of 30 percent of purchases on nonessential goods and services.
• Reduction in the number of ministries from 28 to 21.
• Suspension of selected, nonessential capital expenditures.
• Decrease in travel and real estate investments.
• Additional liquidity support to banks and a liquidity line to buy government securities from nonfinancial corporations.
• A credit-stimulus program.
• Temporary suspension for debt service payments.
• Requirement for banks to provide credit to importers of essential goods.
A proactive external debt management
The government needs to safeguard its ability to continue to service its debt on schedule, even under the current trying circumstances. The government has therefore availed itself of the G20 Debt Service Suspension Initiative. They have also secured selected debt reprofiling operations with some of their large creditors.
Financial support from the IMF
On September 16, 2020, the IMF’s Executive Board approved the third review under the EFF and additional financial support to Angola to help mitigate the impact of the crises. Accordingly, the IMF has provided $1 billion to Angola, bringing its total expected financial support to about $4.5 billion under the three-year program. The authorities are strengthening their public financial management to improve accountability for the funds received from the IMF and debt relief from creditors.
The path to recovery
It is important for Angola to continue to stabilize the economy, control inflation, keep the reform momentum, and safeguard financial stability. It is also crucial to persevere with structural reforms, such as privatization, improvement in governance in state-owned enterprises, and strengthened legal frameworks. These reforms will help improve the business environment and pave the way for foreign direct investment and growth-enhancing economic diversification.
Republic of Korea Contributes Rice and Cash to Assist Ugandans threatened by locusts
The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today welcomed 5,000 metric tons of rice and US$300,000 in cash from the Republic of Korea to provide much-needed relief assistance to 781,000 people including refugees and Ugandans threatened by locusts.
“WFP is extremely grateful for the continued generosity of the Republic of Korea since 2018 and its appreciation of the immense humanitarian needs in Uganda, which were suddenly made even more complicated by COVID-19,” said WFP Officer in Charge Ryan Anderson.
”This contribution of 5,000 metric tons of rice found us at a crossroads when we were considering whether to make deeper ration cuts for refugees because of a shortage of funding, even as we have evidence that they already face high food insecurity,” he added.
Combined with other contributions, the rice may allow WFP to maintain rations for 1.26 million refugees at the current 70 percent of a full ration for a while. Valued at US$4.3 million, it will also meet cereal needs of 614,000 refugees in seven settlements towards the end of the year.
The additional US$300,000 in cash will enable WFP to meet the relief needs of 167,000 people in the northeastern region of Karamoja, which is the most food-insecure region in the country and is threatened by a combination of malnutrition among its residents, locusts, floods and animal diseases.
“The Republic of Korea is committed to supporting vulnerable groups of people in Uganda, especially refugees fleeing conflict and nationals faced by chronic food shortages and malnutrition,” said Ambassador Ha Byung-Kyoo.
“We also are very pleased to continue making contributions of rice, which we have heard is appreciated by the refugees and contributes to much needed dietary diversity,” he added.
WFP was forced to reduce rations for refugees in April to 70 percent of a full ration because of funding shortages. The economic pressures that COVID-19 has brought on donor capitals has further complicated funding to feed refugees. WFP is putting in place safety measures in 13 refugee settlements to prevent the spread of COVID-19 during food and cash distributions.
The Republic of Korea has contributed rice to WFP in Uganda annually since 2018 in support of 1.43 million refugees – the highest number of refugees hosted by any country in Africa.
The US$300,000 contribution will also contribute to supporting WFP assistance in Karamoja. Even though families in the region were able to harvest some crops in August, despite repeated sightings of locusts between February and July, the very presence of the pests in the region threatens both agriculture and vegetation needed for animals. Relief food helps to cushion families as the government and UN partners work to control the impact of locusts.
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