Court Orders Temporary Forfeiture Of Funds Recovered In Ikoyi

Court Orders Temporary Forfeiture Of Funds Recovered In IkoyiA Federal High Court in Lagos has ordered the temporary forfeiture of the funds recovered by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) from an apartment in the Ikoyi area of Lagos State.

In his ruling on Thursday, Justice Muslim Hassan ordered that the 43 million dollars, 23 million Naira and 27,000 pounds be temporarily forfeited to the Federal Government of Nigeria.

The judge gave till May 5, 2017 for any interested party in the funds to show cause why the money should not be permanently forfeited to the Federal Government.

The funds were recovered on Wednesday, following a whistle-blower’s confidential alert received by the Lagos Office of the anti-graft agency regarding some suspicious movement of bags in and out of the apartment.

The discovery came days after the EFCC announced the recovery of 547,730 euros; 21,090 dollars and 5,648,500 Naira from a Bureau de Change operator in Balogun Market, Lagos.

SERAP Threatens To Sue FG Over Alleged Non-payment Of Judges

SERAPThe Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, (SERAP) has sent an open letter to Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari, asking him to instruct authorities to immediately pay judges outstanding salaries and allowances.

In the letter dated 18 January, 2017 and signed by SERAP’s executive director Adetokunbo Mumuni, the organisation cited deliberations at the Senate on Tuesday where one of the Senators called the attention of the upper chamber to what he called a disturbing signal that the non-payment of the judges poses.

SERAP said: “The Senate of Nigeria has disclosed that federal judges have not been paid their salaries and allowances for four months. SERAP is seriously concerned that failing to pay regularly and punctually the salaries and allowances of judges amounts to an implicit interference, and would seem to make judges dependent on the will of other branches of government, especially the executive, for the payment of their salaries”.

The organisation said that, “should all outstanding salaries and allowances of judges and judicial workers not immediately paid, SERAP will explore all legal avenues nationally and internationally to compel your government to uphold the cardinal principle of judicial independence by ensuring a policy of regular and punctual payment of salaries and allowances of judges and judicial workers”.

The letter further read: “SERAP notes that the independence of the judiciary has always been considered one of the important elements of the Nigerian constitutional system. This cardinal constitutional and international guarantee cannot be made to yield to any alleged economic necessity.

“SERAP believes that it is a contradiction to fight judicial corruption and yet not regularly and punctually pay judges and judicial workers their salaries and allowances. If we may ask, what is the point of granting the judiciary independence on the one hand if it is taken away with the other, for example, by failing and/or refusing to regularly and punctually pay their salaries and allowances? SERAP argues that that which is prohibited from being done directly may not be accomplished by indirection. The law abhors evasions and subterfuges.

“It is important for our judiciary to remain perfectly independent, and beyond the suspicion of any outside influence. SERAP believes that the effect of the non-payment of salaries and allowances of judges is to reduce the purchasing power of judges, diminish the benefits to which they are entitled under the 1999 Constitution (as amended), and ultimately weaken the judiciary, which is the last hope of the common man.

“It is double jeopardy for our judges whose salaries and allowances are not regularly and punctually paid, as these judges may not, by reason of their calling, be able to personally challenge the matter in court. And the possibility of resolving the matter in a judicial proceeding may be limited since several judges have an interest in the matter, and may not therefore with propriety undertake to hear and decide it”.

National Embarrassment

The group further pointed out that it would be a national embarrassment if Nigerian judges were compelled to decide their fate, since the judges like every citizen have a right to an effective remedy and they will be perfectly entitled to approach the court for reliefs if the government did not urgently find satisfactory solutions to the problem.

“For a government that has repeatedly expressed commitment to fight official corruption, it is absolutely important to work proactively to maintain the principle of the separation of powers as a basis for liberty and justice, especially given the fact that the judiciary is the most vulnerable of the three branches of government.

“It will be extremely difficult to attract good and competent men and women to the bench, and to make them independent when the salaries and allowances of judges are not regularly and punctually paid.”

“Refusing to pay the salaries and allowances of judges may well be construed as having for its purpose an attack upon the independence of the judiciary, as judges are less independent if they have to beg for their salaries and allowances to be paid.

“It is essential to the preservation of the rights of every individual, his/her life, liberty, property, and character, that there be an impartial interpretation of the laws, and administration of justice. But the right of every citizen to be tried by judges as free, impartial, and independent as the lot of humanity will admit cannot be enjoyed as long as judges’ salaries and allowances are not regularly and punctually paid.”

“An independent judge is a proper and necessary guardian of human rights, and should never be subservient to those on whom they are dependent for their salaries, and their bread. The independence of the judiciary cannot be sacrificed because of an economic depression. And the provisions of the constitution cannot be disregarded on the same ground, and as such, regular and punctual payment of judges’ salaries and allowances ought to be your government’s top priority,” SERAP emphasised.

it then urged the president to use his good offices and leadership position to instruct the appropriate authorities to release budgetary allocations to ensure the immediate payment of all outstanding salaries and allowances of judges and judicial workers.

it also wants Buhari to publicly commit and guarantee regular and timely payment of salaries and allowances of judges and judicial workers.

FG Presents Sports Equipment To 51 Primary Schools

FG Presents Sports Equipment To 51 Primary SchoolsThe Federal Government of Nigeria has presented sports equipment to about 51 public primary schools in Ogun state, southwest Nigeria.

This according to the government, is to develop talents at the grassroots in nine core areas of sporting activities such as athletics, badminton, football, volleyball for national and international sporting engagements.

At a ceremony held at the MKO Stadium in Abeokuta, the state capital, the representative of the Secretary to the Government of the federation, Amina Mohammed, reiterated the commitment of the federal government towards diversification of the economy through national and international sporting activities

“Let me state at this juncture that it is not by coincidence that this event is taking place at the early stage of the life of this administration.

“Even though the trust fund was established 11 years ago, today’s ceremony affirms the avowed commitment of this administration to change the life of every Nigerian positively in a manner that matters to them.

“Consistent with the economic blueprint of diversifying the economic base, the renewed focus on the lottery industry is a testimony that government is determined to harness needed resources wherever they may be found in order to continue to develop our economic potentials and apply them to the generality of Nigerians”.

Revenue Generation

Further, Mohammed added that “already, government has identified sports as a major revenue earner and capable of significantly contributing to our gross earnings outside of oil.

“Over the last three decades, we have imported a high number of youths with sports talents especially football, where they are excelling in major European leagues and even in Asia.

“It is with this realization that the policy on good causes is channeled to encourage more youth participation in sports”.

Local Manufacturing

“In the same vein, and in order to broaden the scope of participation and eliminate obstacles regarding access to certain sporting activities, especially the games considered as elitist, government is now encouraging the local manufacture of sports equipment and products.

“To this end, I am pleased to acknowledge the production of international quality football by the Research Institute for Chemical Technology, Zaria in Kaduna state,” she said.

The Ogun state Deputy Governor, Mrs Yetunde Onanuga, who represented the governor commended the federal government for the gesture, while promising that the sporting equipment would be judiciously used to boost sporting activities among the pupils across the state.

“The gesture by the presidency will further boost recreational activities in our schools and also develop sporting potentials in our youths at large.

“This administration of the Ibikunle Amosun will continue to encourage our children to participate in sporting activities right from their younger ages.

“Let me assure you at this juncture that our pupils and youths will make maximum use of the sporting equipment.

Mrs Onanuga then stressed that the government of Ogun state looks forward to more collaboration with the federal government.

Anambra State Asks FG To Address Its Erosion Disaster

erosionAnambra State government has asked the Federal Government of Nigeria to profile the state as an erosion disaster zone and subsequently declare a state of emergency on the state with respect to the challenge.

Governor Willie Obiano made the renewed call at a meeting with a delegation from the House of Representatives Committee on Erosion and Habitat led by the Chairman, Honorable Obinna Chidoka, at the Governor’s Lodge in Amawbia.

The delegation is in the state, as a major location to visit in their tour of the Southeast states on inspection of Ecological Funds Office Projects and Erosion Sites in the various states.

Addressing reporters after an extensive closed door, Governor Obiano decried the effect of the 962 active erosion sites on Anambra, pointing out that if nothing was done in the next 10 years, Anambra State Will have lost half of its size.

“The attendant calamities will be too much to handle,” the Governor stressed.

He emphasised that the state had been making efforts to handle the menace, but also lamented that “it is beyond the state capacity at the moment”.

The governor, however, expressed hope that the visit of the House Committee would add impetus to the intervention so desired on the challenge.

Responding, the Honourable Chidoka, corroborated the fears of Governor Obiano on the massive loss of land to erosion based on their findings in several locations visited.

He, however, assured the Governor that the committee, at the end of the tour, would make recommendations that would make the Federal Government act with a sense of urgency in addressing the gully erosion ravaging not only in Anambra but other Southeast states.

Nigerian Government Urged To Embrace Disaster Risk Insurance

Risk Insurance, Nigerian Government, national disasterThe African Risk Capacity, a specialized agency of the African Union is asking the Federal Government of Nigeria to take advantage of the regional insurance scheme to reduce the burden of a national disaster risks financing.

African Heads of States and Ministers of Finance in 2012 called for the establishment of a specialized agency that will provide disaster risk insurance coverage for member states.

Four years after its establishment in July 2012, the agency is urging the Nigerian Government to take advantage of its provision to lighten the burden of disaster risk financing.

Although Nigeria had become signatory to this initiative since four years, it has been unable to benefit from the coverage it provides.

The Director, Risk and Rehabilitation at the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Kayode Fagbemi, explained the reasons why the government has not benefited from the scheme.

He highlighted the country’s failure to fulfill its financial obligations as a major factor.

Both the Director of Policy and Technical Services for the African Risk Capacity, Ehosuehi Iyahen and a representative of the Ministry of Finance emphasized the need for Nigeria to actively take advantage of the scheme.

Nigeria has had a fair share of natural and man-made disasters since 2012, with huge financial burden resting on the shoulders of the government and the individuals affected.

The disaster financing experts argued that such burden can be lightened if the government take advantage of the regional insurance scheme that the African Risk Capacity provides.

Since inception, the African Risk Capacity has provided 26.3 million Dollars as disaster risk insurance coverage to Senegal, Niger and Mauritania.

University Of Ibadan Explores Solar Power Energy

Solar power in University of IbadanThe University of Ibadan (U.I.) may soon get off the national power grid and move on to solar energy, as the institution’s 10 megawatts solar power plant comes on stream.

Located within an extension campus of the institution in Oyo State, south-west Nigeria, the initiative, which is a Nigerian-German energy partnership project, is expected to supply energy to the university and its environs.

It will also serve as a research hub for engineers and also last for at least 25 years.

Save Huge Expenditure

The clean energy initiative, located in Ajibode community, has been in the works for over two years between the Federal Government of Nigeria and the Republic of Germany.

Senior officials from both countries were at the location on Friday to witness the launch of the 10 megawatts solar power plant for the University of Ibadan.

The Vice Chancellor of the University, Professor Abel Olayinka, is optimistic that the project will impact greatly on the curriculum of the engineering students and also save huge expenditure on diesel generators.

On the other hand, the Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole, who initiated the programme when he was the Vice Chancellor of the institution, hopes the initiative will be replicated in other teaching hospitals.

The solar power plant, which would be completely assembled in six months, will be a solution to the poor power supply in the institution and its environ when completed.

Nigerian Govt. To Create Two-year National Action Plan

Criminal CasesThe Federal Government of Nigeria has announced plans to create a two-year national action plan aimed at promoting good governance and transparency in the management of public funds across all sectors.

At a media roundtable on Open Government Partnership in Abuja on Friday, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, says the Federal Government is committed to joining the global initiative known as the Open Government Partnership.

The Open Government Partnership is a multi-stakeholder initiative focused on improving government transparency, accountability and responsiveness to citizens through technology and innovation.

The administration of Muhammadu Buhari has reiterated its commitment to stifling corruption in the nation, which the President said would kill Nigeria if not killed.

After coming into office, President Buhari ordered that all government revenue should be credited to a Treasury Single Account to enable government keep track of its revenue.

As part of the efforts to further plug leakages, President Buhari nearly one year ago, approved the establishment of an Efficiency Unit (E-UNIT) in the Federal Ministry of Finance to ensure effective management of Nigeria’s economy and reduce cost of governance.

The principal objective of the Efficiency Unit is to ensure that all government expenditure is necessary and represents the best possible value for money.

At the time of establishment of the unit, the oil-rich nation’s recurrent expenditure completely dwarfs capital expenditure by a ratio of 84/16.

This includes non-wage related overhead expenditure such as travel costs, entertainment, events, printing, IT consumables and stationeries among others.

As at September 2015, the entire capital expenditure was just 194 billion Naira while overhead expenditure was 272 billion Naira.

Nigeria’s economy is in recession and transparency in the management of public funds would help the government ensure that funds are properly utilised.

Nigeria, UK Sign Agreement On Stolen Assets

Robert-Goodwill-and-Abubakar-MalamiThe government of the United Kingdom has reaffirmed its commitment to recovering and returning stolen assets to Nigeria.

It says returning the funds to Nigeria will send a clear message to all who may seek to harbour stolen assets overseas that there is ‘no safe haven’ in the United Kingdom.

The Minister of State for Immigration of the United Kingdom, Mr Robert Goodwill, briefed reporters in Abuja about the agreement shortly before signing a Memorandum of Understanding with the Federal Government of Nigeria.

Mr Goodwill announced that 40 jurisdictions, including British Overseas Territories, would share beneficial ownership information relating to companies, trusts and foundations in order to expose owners of stolen assets.

“Let me be clear that my government is fully committed to the return of all funds looted from the Nigerian state.  We will do this as soon as the necessary legal processes allow.

“As outlined in the summit, we will be taking steps to accelerate the procedures for identification and confiscation of illegally acquired assets.

“We are committed as is Nigeria to ensuring that beneficial ownership of assets is made available to relevant authorities so they know who the real owners are of assets held in the UK,” he said.

The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami, who signed the agreement on behalf of the Federal Government of Nigeria assured Nigerians that returned assets would not be misappropriated again.

Efforts of the current administration of Muhammadu Buhari to recover Nigeria’s assets stolen and taken to the UK were heightened at the anti-corruption summit held in London where the President made an emphatic call for the funds to be returned to the oil rich nation.

President Buhari told the summit that he was more interested in repatriating Nigeria’s stolen assets than any apology from British Prime Minister, David Cameron, following sour remarks ahead of the Anti-Corruption Summit.

Chibok Girls’ Parents Demand Swap With Detained Terrorists

Bring Back Our Girls on Chibok GirlsParents of the missing Chibok girls are asking the Federal Government of Nigeria to swap their daughters with Boko Haram suspects in the custody of the security agencies.

Some of the parents on Thursday joined the members of the Bring Back Our Girls (BBOG) campaign group for yet another match at the end of the 72 hours ultimatum they gave the government.

The campaigners were, however, stopped by the police from gaining access into the Presidential Villa.

Persuasive Action

They promised to return after 72 hours unless they see what they called persuasive action on the part of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.

The terrorist group had on August 14 released a video of the girls held captive, with a demand for prisoner swap.

After the video was released, the BBOG campaigners heightened calls for more efforts on the part of the government and military to rescue the girls.

In reaction to the released video, the Minister of Information, Mr Lai Mohammed, assured the parents of the girls that the government would continue to make efforts to rescue the girls abducted over two years ago.

Over two hundred girls were taken from their school’s dormitory by Boko Haram terrorists while they were preparing for their final secondary school examination.

Less than 10 of the girls have been rescued since they were taken.

On August 22, a former military officer, Sunday Adoba, admitted that the military was aware of the location of the Chibok girls abducted by the Boko Haram terrorists two years ago.

“They are within the Gambalu Dam axis.

“In about late June or early July, we knew some of them were handed over to one Mala Yamari who is an Amir of the sect,” he told Channels Television while answering questions focused on military efforts to rescue the girls.

The Boko Haram group, who were formerly said to be residing within a location called “Camp Zero” of the Sambisa forest, have now purportedly relocated.

Buhari Restates Commitment To Ogoniland Clean-Up 

OgonilandThe Nigerian President has reiterated the commitment of his administration to the clean-up of Ogoniland in Rivers State.

President Muhammadu Buhari said this during the inauguration of the board of trustees and members of the governing council for the clean-up at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

The federal government recently launched the clean-up of Ogoniland with a promise to expedite action on it.

But criticisms have trailed the delay in kick-starting the project, weeks after the exercise was launched.

According to the United Nations Environment Programme, it will take between 25 to 30 years to restore the oil-polluted environment to a clean state.

President Buhari had made similar promise in January 2016 during a visit to the United Nations office in the Kenyan capital, where he urged the United Nations to give more support for his administration’s efforts to clean up the region.

“When I came into office on May 29, 2015, one of the first tasks I carried out was to authorise the implementation of the recommendations of the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) for the clean-up of Ogoniland.

“The devastation caused by oil spillage has destroyed many lives and livelihoods and is clearly one of the reasons why many people in that region lost faith in government and resorted to the many criminal activities we are seeing in the region today.

“The action our government took to implement UNEP’s recommendations has given the indigenes of the region hope that there are better days ahead.

“Let me, therefore, express appreciation on behalf of the government of Nigeria to UNEP and other development partners for their cooperation and support on this very delicate matter and also request for their continued support as we implement the recommendations and transform the fortunes of the region,” President Buhari said.


Fani-Kayode Meets Bail Conditions, Released

Fani-KayodeFormer Minister of Aviation, Mr Femi Fani-Kayode, has been released from EFCC custody after meeting his bail conditions.

Mr Fani-Kayode was released at about 6:30pm in Lagos on Friday after over two months.

The former Aviation Minister, shortly after his release told Channels Television, “I give thanks to God that I am free after 67 days in detention.

“This was the worst experience of my life but God was with me all the way. I suffered immeasurably but I count it all as joy.

“I am innocent of all charges and I look forward to defending myself vigorously in court. These charges are politically motivated and I have been severely punished for my political views and criticisms of the government.”

Mr Fani-Kayode was arrested by the anti-graft agency over alleged 1.5 billion Naira fraud and has been charged alongside a former Minister of Finance, Nenadi Usman; a firm, Joint Trust Dimensions Limited; and one Jimoh Yusuf.

The Federal High Court had granted bail in the sum of 250 million Naira each, to Mr Fani-Kayode, Nenadi Usman and Danjuma Yusuf who are being tried by the EFCC for allegedly stealing and laundering about 4.9 billion Naira.

Delivering his ruling on their bail application, the trial judge, Justice Sule Hassan, held that there was no evidence that the defendants would interfere with trial if granted bail.

The judge also held that denying the defendants  bail, especially as the courts’ vacation was near, and would span throughout the expiration of August, would not serve the interest of justice.

Justice Sule Hassan granted the defendants bail with two sureties each in like sum. The sureties must own landed properties within the court’s jurisdiction and must present to the court, evidence of tax clearance.

The defendants were also ordered to deposit their international passports in the custody of the court pending the determination of the case.

Owing to the courts’ annual vacation which commences on Monday July 11, 2016 Justice Hassan adjourned commencement of trial to October 19, 2016.

Fani-Kayode and Usman were the directors of Media and Finance respectively of the Peoples Democratic Party Campaign Organisation in the 2015 general election.