SERAP Urges Osinbajo To Warn Trump Against Harassment Of Nigerians

Alleged Corruption: SERAP Writes Buhari Over SGF's CaseThe Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), has urged the Acting President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, to “tell the U.S President, Donald Trump, in no uncertain terms that Nigeria would not tolerate any harassment and unfair treatment of her citizens with valid multiple-entry U.S visas at U.S airports.”

This was revealed in a statement released on Tuesday and signed by its Executive Director, Adetokunbo Mumuni.

It follows a disclosure by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Foreign Affairs, Abike Dabiri-Erewa, that in the last few weeks, the office has received a few cases of Nigerians with valid multiple-entry U.S visas being denied entry and sent back to Nigeria.

According to Mrs Dabiri -Erewa, such affected persons were sent back immediately on the next available flight and their visas were cancelled.

SERAP further said: “The Nigerian government must stand up to Trump and defend Nigerians’ internationally recognised right to freedom of movement just as the Iraqi Prime Minister, Haider Al-Abadi did for his own citizens.

“The Iraqi leader ensured that his country was taken off the obnoxious executive order list. Osinbajo must now show the leadership needed to defend the country’s citizens who are facing unfair treatment in the hands of U.S immigration officers.

“The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) guarantees liberty of movement, and provides in article 13 that, “everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state.

“2. Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country. The declaration also guarantees the right of everyone including Nigerians to a social and international order in which the rights and freedoms set forth in the declaration can be fully realized.”

“SERAP notes that Eleanor Roosevelt, late wife of American President, Franklin D. Roosevelt, chaired the UDHR drafting committee.

“On the basis of the UDHR, persons are entitled to move from one place to another and to establish themselves in a place of their choice. The enjoyment of this right must not be made dependent on any particular purpose or reason for the person wanting to move or to stay in a place. Any restrictions must be in conformity with international standards.

“The Nigerian authorities must ensure that Nigerians’ liberty of movement is protected from interference by the trump government.

“The authorities should carefully study the revised executive order and take proactive measures to prevent any harassment and unfair treatment of Nigerians in the hands of U.S immigration officers.”

Kwara Govt. Warns Civil Servants Against Corruption

Kwara Govt. Warns Civil Servants Against CorruptionThe Kwara state government says it has put in place measures to ensure that corruption does not thrive in the administration especially among civil servants.

The State Governor, Abdulfatah Ahmed, disclosed this at a seminar organised by the Passion for Peace Initiatives in partnership with the Kwara State Government Independent Corrupt Practices to enlighten civil servants about the dangers inherent in being corrupt.

Governor Ahmed, who was represented by the state’s Head of Service, Zarah Omar, explained that the distribution of projects, appointments and other dividends of democratic governance among the people of the state had been based on equity and merit, while the state civil service had become more efficient in service delivery

The measures put in place to ensure this include the establishment of Kwara State Internal Revenue Service (KWIRS) to block all leakages in the revenue collection system and increase the state’s internally generated revenue.

He also highlighted merit-based recruitment and promotion procedures to ensure the integrity of the state civil service.

According to him, the present administration regularly provides the public with information on FAAC allocation receipts and holds town hall meetings to get feedback from the public on government policies and decisions in order to ensure transparency and accountability in governance.

Governor Ahmed enjoined all political office holders and public servants to fight corruption by working for the common good of all.

He also advised the civil servants to shun absenteeism, lateness to work and other unethical conducts, describing such acts as corruption in the civil service.

In his remarks, an entrepreneur, Tunji Oyedepo, emphasized adherence to the rule of law as panacea to curbing corruption in the country.

He also advocated the return of parliamentary system of government in order to reduce the cost of running government under the present presidential system of government.

Earlier, the Executive Director, Passion for Peace Initiatives, Mr Olalekan George, explained that the seminar was organised for civil servants whom he described as engine of the government.

He urged them to be morally upright in the interest of the state.

Governor Ahmed commended Passion for Peace Initiative for organizing the event and urged the organization to sustain the initiative by creating year round programmes to promote peace in the state.

Economic Diversification: 5,000 Farmers Undergo Training On Wheat Cultivation

Economic Diversification: 5,000 Farmers Undergo Training On Wheat CultivationAbout 5,000 farmers in Kaduna State are set to undergo training on wheat cultivation, as part of efforts by the government to diversify the economy through agriculture.

Declaring the training workshop open, the state Governor, Nasir El-Rufai, said the programme was aimed at creating employment for the people as well as reducing poverty and youth restiveness in the state.

The governor, who noted that the north had the capacity to feed the entire nation through massive agriculture, however, lamented that such God-given potentials were underutilised due to overdependence on crude oil revenue and white collar jobs.

The production of wheat in the country is said to be about 300,000 metric tonnes a year, a sharp contrast to the 4.2 million metric tonnes required to keep their factories in operation.

According to the Executive Director, Lake Chad Research Institute, Dr Oluwasina Olabanji, who was represented at the occasion by a senior official from the institute, Dr Dominic Anogie, the average grain yield for wheat in the country is above 2.0 tonnes per hectare, although research has shown that this can be easily tripled if proper varieties and crop management is adopted.

Governor El-Rufai, while calling on the youths to embrace agriculture, said his administration would provide the trainees access to land and other incentives.

He added that the state had the capacity to excel in agriculture even as he announced that plans were underway to get seeds for 50,000 hectres in 2017 for wheat farming.

Some of the trainees and stakeholders were of the opinion that with more farmers going into wheat production, it would reduce the amount being spent on importation of the product annually.

They also identified their major challenges in the state as farm inputs, improved seedlings and access to finance and market, which they want the government to address at the end of the training.

The poor production level of wheat in Nigeria has put the cost of importation of the crop at a staggering 635 billion Naira i.e about $4 billion annually.

The state government believes that by providing over 50,000 hectres of land for its cultivation, it would go a long way in reducing the importation of wheat into Nigeria and also improve the economy.

FCT Chief Judge Calls For Accurate Reportage Of Court Proceedings

judiciaryThe Chief Justice of the Federal Capital Territory, Justice Ishaq Bello has asked journalists to report the exact proceedings that occur in the court with facts.

Addressing journalists at a round table on Reporting Court Proceedings by the media in Abuja, he stressed on the need for journalist to check with the court to ensure that whatever they report is what happened in court.

He gave the assurance that the judiciary will work together with journalists to ensure that their stories contribute to the growth of the judiciary and the nation at large.

Also speaking at the event, Executive Director, Centre for Social Justice, Mr Eze Onyekpere, advocated for the automation of the court in the country such that information are available in real time.

The automation, according to him, will remove incidents of misinterpretation of facts and also make information readily available to journalists for better reporting of the judiciary.

World Bank To Disclose More Information On Spending Of Abacha Loot

World BankThe Socio-Economic Rights And Accountability Project (SERAP), says the World Bank might soon release more information on the spending of some of the monies stolen by late General Sani Abacha.

This is sequel to an appeal by SERAP to the World Bank’s archives unit for public access.

SERAP asked the World Bank to account for the spending of 50 million dollars of Abacha’s loot, which was received before 2005 and kept in a special account.

It also asked for evidence and location of schools which benefited from the Universal Basic Education programme as well as evidence and location of the 13 road projects completed with the recovered money.

The World Bank, in October 2015 acknowledged the receipt of SERAP’s letter and said that it needed more time to compile and furnish the group with information on the spending of the recovered loot.

SERAP explained at the time that such information would not only enable the Nigerian masses to know the status of the recovered loot but it would also equip civil society organisations to engage the government on greater transparency and accountability.

SERAP had in September 2015 also urged the government of President Muhammadu Buhari to “thoroughly investigate the role and involvement of the World Bank in the repatriation, management and spending of repatriated Abacha loot”.

In a report, the group also recommended that the government should probe other similar funds, with a view to ensuring full transparency and accountability in the transactions.

Op-Ed: SERAP? Shut up!

serap

I am often amazed at the proclivity of some idle persons for claims that are not only exaggerated but also completely baseless. These ambitious individuals are usually used by paymasters to spin all sorts of specious tales whilst hiding behind the mask of non-governmental organisation, civil society or pressure group of various nomenclatures. Their ostensible motivation is public interest, but their real goal is to get back at perceived enemies of their sponsors and, perhaps, gain some popularity for themselves in the process. One group that appears to have mastered this art is so-called Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP).

An examination of the group’s activities, compared to its stated objectives, shows that SERAP is little more than a terribly misguided set of noisemakers. While the group is touted as a non-profit organisation established “to promote transparency and accountability in the public and private sectors through human rights”, recent developments have shown that the organisation is nothing but a bunch of attention-seeking opportunists.

In fact, one doubts if it is really an organisation and not a “one-man battalion” with the unseemly prominence of one Adetokunbo Mumuni who is believed to be the body’s Executive Director.

Anyone who has been following this SERAP’s press releases and “media noise” would easily understand what I am talking about. The latest in the series of uncouth debates generated by the group is its false alarm about the recovered Abacha loot. In a statement made available to the public on November 29, 2015, SERAP alleged mismanagement of the recovered funds and called on President Muhammadu Buhari to probe ex-minister of finance, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. How do you call for the probe of someone who facilitated the recovery of the loot and ensured its judicious disbursement?

Alluding to records purportedly obtained from the World Bank, Mumuni in SERAP says it is “closely studying and scrutinising with a view Dr-Ngozi-Okonjo-Iweala-2to discovering whether the documents contain details that Nigerians would like to see and whether the information correspond to the facts on the ground.” In the same breath, however, he calls for the probe of the former minister of finance. Isn’t it instructive that the ramshackle of a group has proceeded to pass judgement while acknowledging that it had not done due diligence to conclude its scrutiny and investigations?

Contrary to SERAP’s claims that the disbursement of the fund was not monitored, the World Bank indeed monitored how the money was spent, together with a group of Nigerian and Swiss NGOs. Beyond monitoring, they issued a report which is well documented at the World Bank. The gist of the entire process has been in the public domain for about a decade. Apparently, the bank has furnished SERAP with the relevant documents in this regard, and the latter is attempting to twist the information to defame Dr Okonjo-Iweala and sully her reputation.

The World Bank specifically stated in one of its reports that the monitoring and analysis of repatriated fund utilisation was undertaken both at the macro level and at the micro level. While the macro level involved analysis of general budget expenditure trends, the micro level deployed a field survey of randomly selected projects funded under the program. In its December 2006 report, a 58-page document [http://siteresources.worldbank.org/INTNIGERIA/Resources/Abacha_Funds_Monitoring_1221.pdf], the World Bank clearly affirms that in spite of expected difficulties recorded in the joint monitoring exercise – being the first of its kind – the process was largely successful. It earned a seal of approval from the government and civil society, both of whom acknowledged that they have found the exercise valuable.

Now, where was SERAP when these reports were published and jointly attested to by international observers, government representatives, and reputable Civil Society Organisations? The monitoring exercise involved bodies like the Nigeria Society of Engineers, Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria, Action Aid International, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre, among others. It is laughable that an organisation which claimed to have been in existence since 2004 has only just woken up in 2015 to raise issues where none exists. How daft and desperate can people be? Well, the good news is that SERAP and its sponsors are about to be revealed for who they really are. So Nigerians will not be deceived anymore by their antics.

It will be recalled that this same Mumuni in SERAP was used to call for the revocation of Okonjo-Iweala’s appointment on the board of GAVI, owned by Bill and Melinda Gates, for spurious claims that the former minister favoured GAVI while in office. The silliness of SERAP is made glaring when one considers that the money in question was not Nigeria’s money in the first place. It was GAVI’s donation to Nigeria for the immunisation of Nigerian children, for which GAVI later discovered inappropriate use of $2.2million of the funds and therefore called for a refund of that amount. An official release of GAVI’s finding was published on its site several months ago to set the record straight on this transaction [http://www.gavi.org/Library/News/Statements/2015/Reimbursement-of-misused-amounts-identified-in-Gavi-Cash-Programme-Audit-in-Nigeria/].

Little wonder that despite the sponsored hullabaloo made by SERAP and its media cronies, GAVI did not even accord their noise a glancing attention.

I think it’s high time Mumuni, his hurting sponsors and SERAP shut up or go get another prey. That Okonjo-Iweala woman is too smart and too formidable a target for their puerile and uncoordinated stratagem. And the Nigerian people are a better informed audience than Mumu gives them credit for.

 

Issachar Odion is a Political Scientist writing from Port Harcourt.

Abacha Loot: World Bank Wants More Time To Compile Information  

world bankThe World Bank says it needs additional time to provide comprehensive information on the spending of recovered funds looted by the late Nigerian Head of State, Sani Abacha.

The World Bank told the human rights group seeking information on the loot, which is about seven billion dollars, that for now it is compiling information on the spending.

According to the World Bank “In response to your request, we would like to inform you that we are still considering your request and we will need additional time because the money involved is too huge for us to handle.”

The World Bank said that although it takes just 20 working days to respond to such requests, under special cases it could take much longer time.

The loot stolen by the former military ruler from 1993 to 1998 is estimated to be worth 11.3 billion dollars.

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, SERAP, had written to the World Bank demanding information on the spending of the loot recovered from the late military dictator, General Sani Abacha.

The World Bank acknowledged the request and asked for more time to be able to supply comprehensive information on how the recovered Abacha loot was spent.

World Bank Wants More Time To Compile Abacha Loot 

World BankThe World Bank has said that it needs more time to compile and furnish the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, SERAP, with information on the spending of the loot recovered from the late military dictator, General Sani Abacha.

SERAP says such information would not only enable the Nigerian masses to know the status of the recovered loot but it would also equip civil society organisations to engage the government on greater transparency and accountability.

A statement issued by SERAP’s Executive Director, Mr Adetokunbo Mumuni, said that it has received a letter from the World Bank, acknowledging its request and asking for more time to be able to supply comprehensive information on how the recovered Abacha loot was spent.

According to SERAP, the said letter dated October 15, 2015, was signed by Ann May of the World Bank Access to Information Team.

The group had on September 21, 2015 sent an ‘Access to Information’ request to the President of the World Bank, Jim Yong Kim, asking him to release documents detailing the projects to which the loot recovered from Abacha was applied, as well as the implementation status of such projects.

Consumer Protection Council Investigates High Cost Of Electricity

Electricity-meterThe Consumer Protection Council (CPC) in Nigeria has launched an investigation into the high cost of electricity by distribution companies, with a view to putting an end to high tariffs.

At a meeting held in Abuja on Friday between the officials of distribution companies and the CPC, the Director General of the Council, Mrs Dupe Atoki, said there had been an increase in complaints by electricity consumers in the last few months bordering on indiscriminate increase in electricity bills, non-supply of meters and mass disconnections.

Mrs Atoki said the CPC would not hesitate to sanction distribution companies found guilty of the allegations brought against them.

The meeting had been called to look at ways of ensuring that no electricity consumer in Nigeria was short-changed.

Complaints by electricity consumers have been on the rise in the last few months and some of the issues raised, which were discussed at the meeting, are the refusal of distribution companies to install pre-paid meters in consumers’ homes, high and estimated charges.

The Executive Director, Regulatory and Stakeholders, Abuja DISCO, Abimbola Odubiyi and the Head of Customer Service, Port Harcourt Distribution Company, Godwin Oruwiroro, gave reasons for the delay in the distribution of prepaid meters.

Recently, at a public hearing on power, the Chairman of the Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission, Dr Sam Amadi, expressed displeasure with the non-installation of prepaid meters in consumers’ homes among other issues bothering on service delivery.

FG Appoints Obi Calistus As DG Of NIMASA

NIMASAA legal practitioner, Mr Obi Calistus, is now in-charge as Acting Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety, NIMASA.

He succeeds Mr Patrick Akpobolokemi.

Mr Akpobolokemi was recently sacked by the Federal Government.

Mr Obi, before his elevation, was the Executive Director, Maritime Labour and Cabotage Service in the agency.

He brings two decades of experience in the public sector, law practice and the maritime industry.

Edo Communities Appeal For Dredging Of River Niger

Aganegbode-floodingCommunities hit by flood two years ago in Edo State have called on the State government and the Federal Government to take urgent measures that will prevent a repeat of the disaster they went through.

The call is coming days after a warning of possible flooding by the Nigerian Meteorological Agency.

The communities, Anegbete and Agenebode, appealed for the completion of the dredging of the River Niger and as well the construction of a permanent camp promised them by the government.

Anegbete is completely inundated by water apparently by the release of water held at the dam.

Residents of Agenebode near Anegbete and the other affected communities had raised alarm over the pouring of silt and huge sand dunes in what is supposed to be the middle of the River Niger at Agenebode.

The Executive Director, State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA), Mrs Maimuna Momodu, explained that the situation may have accounted for the severity of the flooding as the shallow river could not hold the volume of water released from the Dam.

The new flood alert has left residents of Anegbete community apprehensive, with some already growing weary of it.
They are expressing fears that they could also record low harvest this year just like they experienced last year.

However, they told Channels Television that the government had promised them a permanent camp at the upland but two years after only one structure had been built.

Their current predicament underscores the need for the relevant authorities to heed their appeals in order to forestall a repeat of the flooding.

Sanusi’s Suspension A Distraction From Finding Missing $20 Billion Oil Money – SERAP

Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has described the suspension of the Central Bank Governor, Lamido Sanusi as “a distraction and can only contribute to shifting the focus of the Government from the real issue, which is finding the missing $20 billion oil money.

SERAP, in a statement on Thursday by its Executive Director, Adetokunbo Mumuni, said that, “The Government should not politicise the fight against corruption. Our concern remains the urgent, thorough, transparent and effective investigation into allegations that $20 billion oil money is missing from the account of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).

“If it is true that the suspension is linked with Sanusi’s public disclosure of the missing funds, SERAP believes that this will be clearly wrong and contrary to the Government’s obligations under the UN Convention against Corruption to target a whistle-blower simply for putting the information in the public domain. No one should be victimized for contributing to the fight against corruption, which is the moral and legal responsibility of any serious, open and people oriented government.

“Unless the Government comes clean about what exactly has happened to the $20 billion missing oil money, the NNPC will remain unaccountable to Nigerians for its action. This will not be consistent with the attitude of a government establishment funded with tax payers’ money.

“The Government’s action in finding the missing money and punishing suspected perpetrators is critical if it is to enjoy the trust and confidence of Nigerians in the fight against corruption.”