JOHESU, others give FG ultimatum over unpaid promotion arrears

The Joint Health Sector Unions, JOHESU and Assembly of Health Care Professionals, AHPA, of the Federal Neuro Psychiatric Hospital, FNPH, Branch, Calabar, Cross River State, have given the Federal Government an ultimatum to pay the promotion arrears of their members from 2014 till date.

They gave the ultimatum which will expire on December 31, in a communiqué at the end of their joint congress held yesterday in Calabar.

Briefing newsmen after the meeting, Mr. Ken Bassey, Secretary of JOHESU/Chairman, Senior Staff Association, FNHP, Calabar, said that the attention of the office of the Accountant General of the Federation had been drawn to the unpaid promotion arrears of its member from 2014 till date.

The unions also called on the Federal Government to immediately and unconditionally pay their members to enable them celebrate this festive period with their kiths and kin.

His words: “Many workers are indebted, many have even mortgaged their salaries because they borrow money upfront to pay their children’s school fees, house rent and other utilities and this is why we are giving the Federal Government till December 31, to pay our arrears from 2014 till date.”

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Olubadan Review: Court delivers judgment Jan. 19

An Oyo State High Court sitting in Ibadan on Wednesday said judgment in the case instituted by the Osi Olubadan of Ibadan land, Rashidi Ladoja, against the Oyo State Governor Abiola Ajimobi and others would be delivered on January 19, 2018.

In the suit numbered M/317/2017, Ladoja is praying the court to restrain the Justice Boade Commission set up by the governor to review the Olubadan Chieftaincy Declaration of 1959 from sitting, accepting any memorandum or in any way taking any step in furtherance of its assignment, pending the determination of a motion on notice in respect of the subject.

The Otun Olubadan, High Chief Lekan Balogun, was a co-claimant in the case but later withdrew from it and became a crowned monarch according to the recommendation of the commission.

Ladoja is also praying the court to set aside the report of the commission on the review of the chieftaincy declaration.

After listening to the submission of Ladoja’s counsel, Michael Lana, that of Ajimobi, Mallam Yusuf Alli (SAN), and Justice Boade’s counsel, Seun Abimbola, who is the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice in Oyo State, the presiding judge, Justice Olajumoke Aiki, picked the date for judgment.

Ahiara Mbaise Saga: Bishop replies CBCN

CATHOLIC Bishop of Kafanchan, Most Rev. Joseph Danlami Bagobiri yesterday responded to the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria, CBCN, which directed him to apologize for recommending dialogue with Ahiara Mbaise priests and laity over the five year crisis that has rocked the Ahiara Mbaise Diocese over appointment of Bishop Peter Okpalaeke to succeed late Bishop Victor Chikwe.

The CBCN in a letter dated December 5, 2017 and signed by the president, Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama and his deputy, Most Rev. Augustine Akubeze faulted Bishop Bagobori’s letter, describing it as ill-timed and capable of aggravating the Ahiara Mbaise crisis and therefore urged the Bishop to immediately “issue another statement through the public media withdrawing in its entirety the earlier statement and apologise to the Pontiff as well as CBCN, Bishop Peter Okpalaeke and the people of Ahiara for the damage your statement is already doing.”

In another letter yesterday and personally signed by him, the Kafanchan Bishop said he had consulted with the Apostolic Nuncio and Papal Legate to Nigeria, Most Rev. Antonio Guido Filippazzi with whom he had fruitful discussion over the matter, apologising only for certain aspects of his letter which may have offended the Holy Father.

Bishop Bagobiri insisted that the only viable solution to the protracted Ahiara Mbaise saga is to open a channel of discussion with the indigenes of the place rather than imposing a leader on them.

“We should change strategy from one that demands un-questionable obedience from a people who feel short-changed in the process of appointing their Chief Shepherd, to that of constructive engagement. This appeal I make to the CBCN, I will be able to make same before any ecclesial authority on earth without any trepidation, for those who know me,” the Kafanchan bishop appealed.

The Bishop’s latest letter to the CBCN leadership reads: “Following my public statement on the occasion of the Silver Jubilee Anniversary of the priestly ordination of one of our priests on Friday 1/12/17, The Apostolic Nuncio and Papal Legate to Nigeria, Most Rev. Antonio Guido Filippazzi invited me to the Nunciature on Tuesday 5/12/17.

“I wish to express my deep gratitude and appreciation to him for the patience and painstaking manner he took to review my intervention and the observations he made on some of my submissions and their insinuations. Of particular interest was my submission on the non-consultation with the local Church of Ahiara on the appointment of Bishop Okpalaeke.

ILO urges collaborative efforts to develop social protection system

INTERNATIONAL Labour Organisation, ILO, has called for collaborative efforts to urgently develop Social Protection System in Africa.

Mrs Cynthia Samuel-Olonjuwon, ILO Assistant Director General and Regional Director for Africa, made the call in Abuja at the launch of “World Social Protection Report (2017-2019).”

According to her, Social Protection System needs concerted efforts to advance ILO work with countries in Africa.

She noted that “in spite of significant progress in the extension of social protection coverage in Africa, only 17. 8 per cent of the population receives at least one form of social protection. There are glaring findings that the right to health is not yet a reality in many parts of the world.

“This is especially so in rural areas where 56 per cent of the population lacks health coverage, compared with 22 per cent in urban areas. Also, there is stark reality that Africa still has huge deficit, as an estimated 10 million health workers are needed to achieve universal health coverage and ensure human security.

The shortfall of seven million skilled health workers in rural areas, as well as high deficits in per capita health spending adds to these rural inequalities.”

She noted that access to health care remains one of the most pressing challenges for social protection in Africa.

The ILO Regional Director said there were about 1.3 billion children globally that were not covered by the social protection system in Africa and in Asia.

She stressed the need for urgent extension of social protection schemes to children and families in the two continents.

Samuel-Olonjuwon said it was evident that much still needs to be done in Africa to improve access to social protection and ILO was committed to working with governments to design and implement effective systems.

Labour demands review of Power Sector privatization process

FOUR years after privatization of the Power sector, every passing day, Nigeria seems farther away from the promise of privatization, as not only has private monopoly replaced public monopoly of power general and distribution, it is arguable if power supply during pre-privatisation era was not better than post-privatisation.

This has prompted several groups and concerned to either call for total reversal of the privatization process, or its review.

Organised Labour in the Power sector which before the privatization, warned Nigerians against the consequences, has demanded for the review of the entire Power Sector privatization process done by the immediate past leaders of this country.

On the aegis of the National Union of Electricity Employees, NUEE, Labour, at its National Executive Council, NEC, meeting in Lagos, insisted that such X-ray would reveal the various hidden clauses directly responsible for the abysmal failure of the reform and the poor working conditions, poor electricity supply and the terrible welfare packages for workers in the Sector.

A communiqué issued at the end of the NEC meeting said among others, that NEC-in-Session decries the continuous and unexplainable involvement of Government in the financing/funding of projects and the day-to-day running of DISCOS, GENCOS while the welfare of the various staff has never been given any attention. The NEC-in-session condemns and resolves that such should be discouraged in its the entirety. The NEC-in-Session frowns seriously at the recent pronouncement by Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, on the proposed tariff increase in electricity in the face of poor service delivery by most DISCOS.

Particularly, the NEC-in-Session opines that a highly placed and duly elected government official like Vice President Osinbajo should not be the mouth-piece of DISCOS, especially as the entire power sector privatization is nothing but a scam and a sham because of its apparent failure.

“The obvious lack of monitoring of DISCOS and GENCOS activities and operations since 2013 was totally condemned by the NEC-in-Session. This, the NEC-in-Session opines is responsible for the high handedness of the management(s) of some of the DISCOS/GENCOS particularly their refusal to allow Union activities and the promotion of other anti-labour tendencies by the companies.

The NEC-in-Session vows to strive to ensure harmonious working environment for improved productivity and other better welfare packages for her members in particular and workers in general. The NEC-in-Session calls on the Federal Government to carry out the review of the entire Power Sector privatization process that was concocted by the immediate past leaders of this country. The NEC-in-Session resolves that such an X-ray will reveal the various hidden clauses that are directly responsible for the abysmal failure of the reform and the poor working conditions, poor electricity supply and the terrible welfare packages for workers in the sector.”

According to communiqué, the NEC-in-Session called on the Federal Government to play its role towards releasing the 10% Equity Share Holding for workers in the Electricity Sector, saying the NEC-in-Session calls on the Federal Government to release the Consumer Assistance Fund created in the Electricity Power Sector Reform Act, EPSR, 2005 to assist the poor masses pay the massive electricity bills before contemplating any further increase in tariff.

The NEC-in-Session frowns at the continuous funding of Private Companies in the Power Sector in form of grants, gas, loans etc by the Federal Government which contradicts its earlier stand that the private Sector has the financial capacity to manage the privatized entities.

13 suspected illegal Naira vendors nabbed, N2m recovered

Thirteen women allegedly selling the country’s currency were arrested by the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, and the Rivers State Police Command in a joint sting operation in Port Harcourt, the state capital.

It was disclosed that over N2 million was recovered from them by the Police in the operation carried out at Garrison, Rumuokoro, Waterlines and Eleme areas.

The CBN, in a drive to forestall illicit sale of the Naira notes, had partnered with the operatives of the state Police Command and Department of the State Services, DSS, to clamp down on illegal Naira vendors in the state.

The Command disclosed this yesterday, while briefing newsmen on the recent clamp down on individuals who engage in unlawful business on the country’s currency.

The Police Public Relations Officer of the Command, Mr. Nnamdi Omoni, who addressed the press on behalf of the Commissioner of Police, Ahmed Zaki, said the operation was in line with the CBN’s Act, Sections 20 and 21, which makes it an offence punishable by imprisonment for any person to falsify, hawk, sell or trade, make or counterfeit any bank note or coin, which is a legal tender in the country.

Omoni said: “In the operation, 13 suspects, all women, were arrested in different parts of Port Harcourt and are currently held in State CID, Port Harcourt, helping the Police in investigation. At the end, those found culpable will face justice.

“On the whole, a total of N2,937,430, consisting of various denominations, were recovered from the suspects. As already mentioned, investigation is on to ascertain the source of the new notes.”

Omoni, however, stated that the clamp down will be a continuous operation, warning that the act of spraying Naira notes at events, soiling and writing on them were serious offences against the legal tender.

Administrative hiccups stop EFCC from arraigning Justice Yinusa

Efforts by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, to arraign a Federal High Court Judge, Justice Mohammed Yunusa before the Lagos State High Court, due to administrative hiccups at the court.

The EFCC had filed five corruption charges against the judge which included allegation of engaging in constant private and confidential communications with a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr. Rickey Tarfa, who was handling three lawsuits marked FHC/L/CS/714/2015, FHC/L/CS/715/2015 and FHC/L/CS/716/2015 before him.

The anti-crime agency also accused the judge of collecting N1.5 m from the SAN for the purpose of giving favourable judgments to the SAN’s law firm.

Before yesterday scheduled arraignment, the Lagos State High Court had served hearing notices on the prosecution and the defence to appear before Justice Mojisola Dada, for the hearing of the case, however, on getting to the court, it was discovered that the case was not listed for hearing yesterday.

The Registrars informed the parties that the case file had been returned to the administrative judge and advised the parties to follow up at the main court’s registry.

Consequently, Justice Yunusa, who was in court left with his lawyer.

It was learned that the case had first been assigned to Justice Oluwatoyin Ipaye, of the same court before the case file was withdrawn and later transferred to Justice Dada.

In the charges, Justice Yunusa, who has been suspended by the National Judicial Council, NJC, was accused of attempting to pervert the course of justice, contrary to Section 97(3) of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, No. 11, 2011.

Expected to be arraigned with Justice Yunusa was one Esther Agbo, who works in the law firm of Rickey Tarfa & Co.

The EFCC claimed that Agbo on May 14, 2015 paid N1.5m into Justice Yunusa’s UBA account number 1005055617.

The judge was also accused of receiving financial benefits in the sum of N750, 000 from Mr. Joseph Nwobike between March and September 2015.

The EFCC claimed that the judge received the money so that he could give decisions in favour of the SAN in his cases. The offence is said to be contrary to Section 64(1)(a) of the Criminal Law of Lagos State No.11, 2011.