Buhari to TI: Focus on facts, not fiction

President Muhammadu Buhari, has said while he welcomes constructive criticisms from the anti-corruption watchdog, Transparency International (TI), the organisation has a responsibility to reflect the larger picture of the concrete and verifiable achievements of his administration since it came into office in May 2015.

In statement by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, he wondered the criteria or facts used by the anti-corruption watchdog to arrive at what he described as “very misleading and unfair conclusions in its assessment of the Federal government’s efforts in this anti-corruption crusade.”

The statement noted that political will is the first major component of fighting corruption in any country and President Buhari has made a huge difference by demonstrating not only the political will but also the extraordinary courage to go after high profile looters, including former military service chiefs and judges.

The statement reads: “It was once unthinkable to touch or prosecute the “big men” for corruption in Nigeria, but President Buhari has ended impunity for corruption.

“Today, the Buhari administration has made accountability the bedrock of governance and corruption is no longer fashionable because it attracts consequences.

“Blocking leakages for corruption through the rigid enforcement of the Treasury Single Account (TSA) had made life tougher for corrupt officials. He regretted that the corruption watchdog did not acknowledge these efforts.

“Figures published by the EFCC, the anti-corruption agency, reveal that N738.9 billion was recovered in just two years of the Buhari administration and this impressive and unprecedented record is worthy of mention and acknowledgement by anybody genuinely looking at the larger picture of the country’s progress in the war against corruption.

“During the 7th session of the Conference of State Parties to the United Nations Convention Against Corruption in Vienna, Austria, the Chairman of the Agency Ibrahim Magu noted that the figure represents $2.9 billion dollars.

“Besides these impressive recoveries of looted funds, the EFCC has recorded more than 140 successful prosecutions.

“The Federal Government has also signed international agreements to recover the proceeds of corruption and to block the laundering of stolen assets abroad by public officials.

“Anybody who knows where Nigeria was coming from would not believe that corruption is worse under the Buhari administration.

“We wonder where they got their facts from. At a time, they are alleging increase in the incidence of corruption under this government; the whole of Africa is applauding by choosing President Buhari as the continental champion to lead the fight against it. Nothing can be more eloquent than this.

“In the end, this whole episode may turn out to be just a political distraction, given the strong views some of TI’s patrons have expressed against the Buhari administration.

This notwithstanding, facts are facts, and those facts won’t cease to be facts, even if you don’t care to pay attention to them.”

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How to end herdsmen/farmers crisis – Akeredolu

Ondo State governor, Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN), has canvassed the adoption of ranching, as one of the best solutions to the protracted herders-farmers crisis across the country.

The governor, who spoke during activities marking the first anniversary of his administration in Akure, said, it would be difficult to find a lasting solution to the crisis unless grazing areas or ranches were established in all states of the federation.

“My own position is that except that we don’t want to say the truth, there is no way we won’t have grazing areas or ranches in all the states of the federation if we want genuine peace,” he declared.

While expressing his displeasure with nomadism, Akeredolu decried the present situation in the country where cattle are being moved from one location to another in search of what to eat.

According to him, “my own idea is that if we have ranches in all the states, even the herdsmen by the time you enlighten them and interact with them properly, they will like the idea, everybody don’t want to be permanently nomadic, they also want a settled life too. We must discourage nomadism’’.

Appealing to Nigerians not to allow the herders-farmers crisis to cause division in the country, the governor insisted that ranching still remains the best option.

Speaking on the state of roads across the state, Akerdolu said his administration had intervened in many villages and communities by rehabilitating bad roads, while construction of new ones are also going on.

“There are roads that we met that are bad and we intervened immediately; we don’t need any flag-off ceremony for such intervention. When people are suffering because their roads are bad, we move in immediately, it is not a flag-off ceremony that is needed. I ordered our people in the Ministry of Works to get the contractors to move in to do the work.

He further revealed that the state government had earmarked for execution some projects tagged legacy projects and these include the overhead bridge at Benin-Ore road and the road from Araromi in Ondo State to Lekki in Lagos State.

NUPENG threatens fresh strike

• Asks FG to ‘think outside box’ to end fuel scarcity

Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) has told the Federal Government to “think outside the box,’’ to end persistent fuel scarcity in Nigeria, just as the union threatened to embark on another strike if any of its members is sacked in the oil sector.

The President of the union, Mr Igwe Achese, told labour correspondents in Lagos on Friday that government must make a paradigm shift to resolve the energy crisis, which has plagued Nigeria for decades.

Nigeria is Africa’s top crude oil producer but a combination of factors has thrown up complex problems, including scarcity of gasoline that has left the population at the receiving end. “Government should realise that NNPC alone cannot be able to sustain petroleum supply in the country,’’ Achese stated.

He warned that NUPENG would shut down the ‎oil sector if petroleum marketers went ahead to sack their workers, referring to a threat by another oil sector union to offload up to 10,000 workers.

The labour chief, who spoke to reporters after a meeting of NUPENG Elders Stakeholders, warned that that the union would respond to any threat to its members. He said that NUPENG would be at the receiving end of the problem if the grievances of oil marketers were not promptly addressed.

“The problem will not only affect workers but tanker drivers, hence if it happens,‎ we will react to protect our members. We have always said that for fuel crisis to end in the country, our refineries must return to full steam. If we are importing that should only be a stop gap.”

The unionist restated that the option of modular refineries should be given special thought, pointing out that government should ensure that those given licences commenced operations immediately.

On Feb. 20, the Depot and Petroleum Products Marketers Association of Nigeria (DAPPMAN) gave the Federal Government a 14-day ultimatum to pay N650 billion owed its members.

The Executive Secretary of DAPPMAN, Mr Olufemi Adewole, warned that failure to meet the deadline would force members to shut down depots being used currently by the NNPC.

Kogi High Court sentences gang-leader to death for killing man over land

A Kogi State High Court sitting in Lokoja has sentenced the leader of a six-man gang, Mohammed Audu, to death by hanging for stabbing a man, Husseini Isa, to death during a land dispute.

The trial judge and Chief Judge of the state, Justice Nasir Ajanah, handed down the sentence on Friday in Lokoja upon conviction of the accused in a case of culpable homicide preferred against him.

“The sentence of the court upon you, Mohammed Sani Audu, is that you should be hanged by the neck until you are certified dead or by lethal injection,” Justice Ajanah said.

Earlier in his judgement, the judge said the prosecution had proved its case beyond reasonable doubt and therefore, convicted the accused accordingly.

Audu of Kaduna Junction in Adavi Local Government Area of Kogi was charged with culpable homicide punishable by death contrary to Section 221(a) of the Penal Code.

The convict, according to the prosecution, had led a six-man gang to a land, which was in dispute between the families of the deceased and one of his gang members, Momoh-Jimoh Abaniki.

The deceased was said to have challenged the presence of the accused and his gang on the land and objected to its demarcation for the purpose of selling it.

The court said Hussein returned home to tell his brother, Ozovehe Isa, and other family members what happened on the farm.

Thereafter, the accused went to the deceased’s house to challenge him.

Altercations ensued and he was said to have stabbed the deceased and also hacked him in the head with a machete while other members of the gang kicked the deceased, resulting in his death the following day at the hospital.

The prosecution raised three issues in making its case: whether the death of a human being had occurred; whether such death was caused by the accused and whether the act was done with the intention of causing death.

All these issues were resolved in favour of the prosecution after the court considered the evidences presented.

The accused had told the court, “The five other members (of the gang) and I attacked Osivave and his brother, Hussein, over a land matter between them and one of my gang members, Momoh-Jimoh Abanika (AKA Mopol Team Leader).

“I did not collect money from anybody before I matcheted and killed Hussein Isa and he is the first person I have ever killed. I promise not to involve myself in any criminal act again.”

NCC board meets on 9mobile sale

The Board of Commissioners of the Nigerian Communications Commission has met on the ongoing process to sell 9mobile formerly known as Etisalat to new investors.

The details of the meeting were sketchy as of the time of going to press but the Director, Public Affairs, NCC, Mr. Tony Ojobo, confirmed the meeting in a statement made available in Abuja on Friday.

Ojobo said the board of the regulatory agency gave assurance that it would do everything possible to ensure that a credible investor with the requisite technical capability and pedigree takes over at 9mobile.

He stated, “Rising from its board meeting held in Abuja, the board affirmed its determination to avoid the recurrence of any missteps that may have led to the current situation.

“The board also made it clear that pursuant to the powers conferred on the commission by the provisions of the Nigerian Communications Act, 2003 and other instruments in that regard, the commission will ensure that all relevant statutory and regulatory processes are duly complied with in the process leading up to the emergence of new owners for the company.

“The board therefore assured all stakeholders that the commission will apply all necessary diligence to see the ongoing sale process through to its logical conclusion in a manner that protects the overall national interest and the seamless operation of the national telecommunications network.”

Abu-Dhabi-based Emerging Market Telecommunications Services had vacated its position as core investor in Etisalat following the bid by a consortium of banks to take over the operations of the firm as a result of a loan deal that could not be properly serviced.

This led to an intervention by the financial services regulator, the Central Bank of Nigeria, and the telecommunications services regulator, the NCC, to stop the takeover bid and to set up an interim board for the company pending the emergence of a new core investor.

The powers of the regulatory agencies have, however, been challenged in a case instituted in a court by a creditor of the telecommunications company.

Bloomberg had reported that the Executive Vice Chairman, NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta, said the commission ran financial checks on MTN Nigeria, Airtel Nigeria and Globacom Limited and had identified some areas of concerns that needed to be addressed.

The CBN will also conduct a financial check on the winner of the 9mobile auction and the NCC will be focused on the buyer’s ability to provide a quality service, Danbatta said.

Wole Soyinka, John Momoh, Jason Njoku, others for SMW Lagos 2018

The Social Media Week Lagos 2018 themed ‘Closer’ slated for the 26th to the 2nd March 2018 is set to showcase the wealth of Africa’s vast heritage at the Landmark Event Center, Victoria Island, Lagos. The event promises to be a time of insightful conversations, reflections and laudable impact as it aims at teaching brands how they can grow their businesses in Africa and the world over.

The event will have an array of interactive sessions with Africa’s top names in Tech, Decor’, Food, Music and Film Production. Headlining this year’s opening summit are top veterans in various industries; Nigeria’s Noble Laureate Wole Soyinka, veteran broadcaster and founder of Channels TV – John Momoh, awarding actress and movie producer, Rita Dominic amongst others.

The opening event tagged ‘Future of Media’ will converge Africa’s most inspiring broadcasters, journalists, content creators and bloggers to share best practices and discuss what’s next on the continents media landscape. The day will open with a conversation with Channels Television’s Chairman John Momoh.

Court grants Ekiti monarch bail

An Ekiti State High Court on Friday granted bail to the Olukere of Ikere-Ekiti, Oba Ganiyu Obasoyin, who is standing trial for alleged murder.

Ruling on the bail application filed by his counsel, Morakinyo Ogele, Justice Abiodun Adesodun admitted the monarch to N5m bail and two sureties in like sum.

The two sureties, he said, must swear affidavits and produce tax clearance certificates showing evidence of tax payment for three years.

He further held that one of the sureties must deposit with the court title document of land within the jurisdiction of the court.

Ogele described the ruling as symbolic and historic.

“Symbolic in the sense that it is in favour of justice and historic in the sense that it will enter into the judicial history of Ekiti. We believe that will be done eventually in this case,” he said.

The judge said he had studied the affidavit filed by the defense and the counter-affidavit filed by the prosecution.

He noted that the grant or refusal of bail was predicated on some factors, like the nature and strength of evidence, the severity of the punishment upon conviction, the probability that the accused would not present himself for trial and the likelihood of interfering in the case.