A total of N2.5 trillion is expected from domestic sources and N2.5trillion from foreign sources. Also, N1.1 trillion will be from bilateral loans and N90 billion from privatisation proceeds.
According to the minister, a number of domestic tax reforms are also expected.
President Muhammadu Buhari had earlier on December 31, 2021, signed into law 17.126 Trillion Appropriation Bill for the year 2022 at the Council Chambers, the State House, Abuja with the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Shamsuna Ahmed in attendance.
The President announced that as the 2023 Budget is going to be a transition budget, work will start in earnest to ensure early submission of the 2023-2025 Medium-Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper as well as the 2023 Appropriation Bill to the National Assembly.
He directed Heads of Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs) to cooperate with the Ministry of Finance, Budget, and National Planning, more specifically with the Budget Office of the Federation, to realise the objective.
He, however, said he was displeased with some changes as well as major additions and reductions made by the National Assembly in critical projects ‘without justification’.
While noting that he was arrested, the lawmaker criticised security agencies for not doing a proper investigation before subjecting him to public ridicule.
“If there is evidence that somebody is funding Boko Haram, there is clear evidence after doing your investigation, why don’t you tell Nigerians? Why don’t you prosecute them?” he questioned.
“Just because they were tracking my phone and they said a spokesman of Boko Haram called me, they went and arrested me. They didn’t even ask me, they didn’t do any intelligence work. The Senate President called me and said the SSS wants you to report that they have some questions.”
According to the lawmaker, he reported at the DSS office thinking he would be afforded the opportunity of availing them the useful information that will help in the terrorism war.
He recalled that the then DSS spokesperson, Marilyn Ogar, briefed journalists where he was accused of sponsoring terrorism.
The senator also called on the government to rebuild the north-east that has been ravaged by the insurgency for over a decade.
As part of the rebuilding efforts, Ndume asked the authorities to resettle the victims of terrorism, reconstruct the areas they destroyed, process and profile insurgents that voluntarily surrender to the military authorities.
Away from the insurgency, he also reacted to President Muhammadu Buhari’s refusal to assent to the Electoral Act Amendment Bill.
He said the President’s decision came as a shock to the National Assembly despite the efforts put in by the lawmakers in drafting the bill.
“What are drones for Christ’s sake? By now, these things should be everywhere. I wonder what is really holding us back from taking some of these steps. Today we have fantastic drones in the market that will carry out surveillance capabilities,” he said.
“All you need do is to sit at an operations room, give out the command, pressing the buttons and the drones will be busy doing all the jobs, sending in results and so on. By now we should be engaging drones.”
The retired army officer also called for more welfare packages for servicemen, saying lucrative salaries would boost the morale of the armed forces.
In addition, he wants the government to consider the plights of officers who put in much effort serving the country only to be abandoned upon retirement.
According to him, the current administration has not done much to enhance manpower in the nation’s security architecture.
“Why are we still delaying whatever we need to do concerning the enhancement of manpower within the security sector looking at the armed forces and even the police?
“I have not yet seen a reasonable level of urgency being exerted by this government to see that we enhance on manpower. Manpower has become a major problem with us in the military, likewise the police,” he added.
The Federal Government has reinstated Emirates’ winter flight schedule to Nigeria following the offering of daily slots to Air Peace at the Dubai Airports, DXB.
This is contained in a letter to the Emirates Country Manager, Nigeria signed by the Director-General, NCAA, Capt. Musa Nuhu dated 21st December 2021.
The letter read, “Following further consultation with various stakeholders and the letter from the Dubai CAA with reference number DCAA/ASA/N-3/016 dated 17th December 2021 offering Air peace airlines daily slots at Dubai airports, I wish to inform you the reinstatement of the Ministerial approval of Emirates Airlines winter schedule”.
“This approval is predicated on compliance with Dubai travel protocols as released by the Dubai airports on Friday 26th November as it affects passengers.”
Last week, the Federal Government reduced emirates airlines entry into Nigeria to once a week through Abuja airport and suspended from the Lagos following the refusal of the Dubai CAA and the Dubai Airports to grant Air Peace 3 slots it requested out of the 21 frequencies as agreed in the Bi-lateral Air Services Agreement, BASA signed by both countries.
This development prompted Emirates airlines to suspend its operation in Nigeria.
A three-man panel of the Court of Appeal, Lagos Division, on Wednesday, December 15, 2021, dismissed the application filed by one Francis Momoh and affirmed the final forfeiture of properties worth N1.8bn recovered from a former Executive Director, Projects, Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) Tuoyo Omatsuli, to the Federal Government.
Justice Chuka Obiozor of the Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos, had, on Monday, December 10, 2018, ordered the final forfeiture of the properties which include Block 117, Plot 4, Lekki Peninsula Scheme, TPAO 992, Ikate Ancient City, Eti-Osa L.G.A, Lagos, measuring 1804.089Sqm and Plots 1-18, Block 43, TPAO 992, Ikate Ancient City, Lekki Peninsula, Eti-Osa, Lagos, measuring 10,000Sqm.
Others are Plot 1b, Northern Business District, Lekki Peninsula Scheme 1, measuring 1000Sqm and Plot 1; Block 25, Lekki Peninsula Residential Scheme 1, Eti-Osa L.G.A, measuring 2989.10Sqm, to the Federal Government.
Dissatisfied with the Order, Momoh had approached the appellate court seeking to set aside the order of the court.
But in a judgment read by Justice Daniel Kalio, the appellate court held that Momoh did not place any material before the court “to enable it to disturb the findings of the lower court”.
The appellate court also held that Momoh’s appeal lacked merit and was accordingly dismissed.
“The judgment of the lower court is affirmed,” it further held.
Counsel to the EFCC, Ekene Iheanacho, while moving ex parte application for the interim forfeiture of the properties had referred to paragraph four of the affidavit, detailing how a contractor with the NDDC, Starline Consultancy Services Limited, was paid the sum of N10, 218, 019, 060.59) (Ten Billion, Two Hundred and Eighteen Million, Nineteen Thousand and Sixty Naira) as consultancy fee for levies collected from oil-producing companies in the Niger Delta region.
It was further stated that out of the money paid to Starline, a sum of N3, 645, 000. 00 (Three Billion, Six Hundred, and Forty-Five Thousand Naira) was paid as a kickback to Omatsuli through a company named Building Associates Limited.
“Some of the funds were used by Building Associates to buy properties in the name of a company, Don Parker Properties Limited, where Omatsuli had majority shareholding,” Iheanacho had further told the court.
Iheanacho had also told the court that Momoh, whom he described as the majority shareholder in Building Associates Limited, was introduced as a shareholder in Don Parker Properties Limited so as to disguise the nature of the crime.
After hearing the submissions, Justice Obiozor, had granted all the reliefs sought by the applicant and ordered the interim forfeiture of the properties to the Federal Government.
The Judge had further directed the Commission to publish the Order in any national newspaper within 14 days, notifying the respondents or anyone interested in the properties to appear before the court and show cause why the properties should not be forfeited to the Federal Government of Nigeria.
The applicant, in compliance with the court’s order, had published the interim forfeiture order in The Nation Newspaper of May 26, 2018. However, the respondents had, on October 1, 2018, opposed the application, claiming ownership of the properties.
Delivering his judgment, Justice Obiozor, had held that the properties were acquired through proceeds from kickbacks received by Building Associate Limited operated by Momoh on behalf of Tuoyo; and ruled that the properties be finally forfeited to the Federal Government.
The Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has perpetually restrained the Federal Government through the Minister of Interior from further contracting marriages under the Marriage Act, 2004 within four Local Government Councils Areas in four states.
Justice Daniel Osaigor granted the order as requested by four plaintiffs who filed the suit.
The plaintiffs are Eti-Osa Local Government Council Area, Lagos State; Egor Local Government Council Area, Edo State; Owerri Municipal Local Government Council Area, Imo State and Port Harcourt City Local Government Council Area, Rivers State.
They listed three defendants in the suit namely: the Minister of Interior; the Attorney-General of the Federation and the Minister of Justice; and a firm, Anchor Dataware Solutions Limited (a party joined by order of the court on April 9, 2019).
Our judiciary correspondent, Shola Soyele obtained a certified true copy of the 15-page judgment dated the 8th of December.
The documents show that the four plaintiffs who dragged the defendants to the court raised a single issue for the court to determine.
They submitted that by virtue of a 2004 judgment of the same Federal High Court delivered by Justice Oyindamola Olomojobi, particularly Section 7.1(5) and paragraph 1(i) of the 4th Schedule of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended), and Section 30 (1) of the Marriage Act that “registration of marriages is the exclusive reserve of the Registrar of the Marriage District (Local Government Councils in Nigeria) and in the instant case, the plaintiff”.
They also contended that the Minister of Interior can only grant licenses (and cannot celebrate or contract marriages) which the registrar or a recognized minister of some religious denomination can act on to contract marriage between the specific persons named in the license.
The defendants, however, opposed these submissions and instead argued among other things that “no law either under the constitution or the Marriage Act gives exclusive authority to the Registrar to contract and celebrate marriages in Nigeria.”
Relying on Section 27 of the Marriage Act, they further argued that parties have the option of where to celebrate and contract their marriage and marriages contracted in any licensed place is valid according to the provisions of Section 6 of the Marriage Act.
They, therefore, urged the court to dismiss the plaintiffs’ suit for being an abuse of court process and forum shopping as the issues had already been earlier decided by the courts, per the judgment of Justice Olomojobi and Justice Chuka Obiozor.
After considering all these issues, Justice Osaigor granted an order of perpetual injunction restraining the Minister of Interior from further contracting marriages under the Marriage Act within the plaintiffs local governments but exempted marriages conducted in the marriage registries of Ikoyi, Lagos and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.
Justice Osiagor, however, refused to direct the Minister of Interior to return all marriage certificates issued within the respective Plaintiffs’ Local Government Councils since June 8, 2004, as demanded by the plaintiffs.
The judge also refused to order the Minister of Interior to return all the fees/money paid by couples’ since June 8, 2004 to the Plaintiffs’ Marriage Registries for re-issuance.
Regarding the plaintiffs’ prayer for an order sealing all Federal Marriage Registries in their local governments, the judge granted the prayer in part.
He granted the prayer to the extent that there shall be no Federal Marriage Registry in the Marriage Districts (Local Government Councils) save Ikoyi and Abuja Federal Marriage Registry which predate the 1999 Constitution.
The order, the court held, is without prejudice to the Minister of Interior’s ‘exclusive powers’ to issue license to places of public worship to celebrate marriages all over the Federation.
The court’s orders on the plaintiffs’ seven prayers are as follows:
“Reliefs 1 granted as follows: AN ORDER of Perpetual Injunction restraining the 1st Defendant himself and/or either by his privies, agents or delegates from further contracting marriages under the Marriage Act, Cap. M6 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria (LFN), 2004 within the Plaintiffs’ Local Government Councils Area. Except marriages conducted in the Marriage Registries of Ikoyi Lagos and Federal Capital Territory Abuja.
“Reliefs 2 granted as follows: AN ORDER of Perpetual Injunction restraining the 1st Defendant himself and/or either by his privies, agents or delegates from further celebrating marriages under the Marriage Act, Cap. M6 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria (LFN). 2004 within the Plaintiffs Local Government Councils Area. Except marriages conducted in the Marriage Registries of Ikoyi Lagos and Federal Capital Territory Abuja.
“Reliefs 3 granted as follows: AN ORDER of Perpetual Injunction restraining the 1st Defendant himself and/or either by his privies, agents or delegates from further granting or issuing certificates of marriage under the Marriage Act, Cap. M6 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria (LFN), 2004 within the Plaintiffs’ Local Government Councils Area. Except marriages conducted in the Marriage Registries of Ikoyi Lagos and Federal Capital Territory Abuja.
“Relief 4 granted as follows: AN ORDER of Perpetual Injunction restraining the 1st Defendant himself and/or either by his privies, agents or delegates from further registering marriages contracted and/or celebrated under the Marriage Act, Cap. M6 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria (LFN), 2004 within the Plaintiffs’ Local Government Councils Area. Except marriages conducted in the Marriage Registries of Ikoyi Lagos and Federal Capital Territory Abuja.
“Reliefs 5 & 6 refused
“Relief 7 granted to the extent that there shall be no Federal Marriage Registry in the Marriage Districts (Local Government Councils) save Ikoyi and Abuja Federal Marriage Registry predating the 1999 Constitution without prejudice to 1st Defendants exclusive powers to issue license to places of public worship to celebrate marriages all over the Federation.”
The Federal Government has indicated plans to ban flights from the United Kingdom, Canada, Saudi Arabia, and Argentina, following their decisions to include Nigeria on the red list.
Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, who disclosed this in a leaked audio, revealed that the ban on the four countries would be announced on Monday or Tuesday by the Presidential Steering Committee on COVID-19.
“The sovereignty of 200 million people is too important for us to toy with,” the minister said in the audio which recently went viral. “On behalf of the 200 million Nigerians, I have taken the decision that they also are given one slot.
“There is nothing grandstanding, it is just the way things are in civil aviation. With all sense of modesty, I have been in the industry for 37 years now. Because we stood our ground, which is why for those eight months they came back and obeyed what Nigeria had agreed with them ab initio.”
“There is a case of Saudi Arabia who put Nigeria on the banned list, so also Canada. There was a meeting in which I participated from the COVID-19 Task Force.
“We have given our input as aviation that it is not acceptable by us and we recommend that those countries – Canada, UK, Saudi Arabia, and Argentina be also put on the red list just like they did similarly to us.
“If they don’t allow our citizens to go into their country, who are they coming as allies to pick out of our country? I am very sure in the next three days, between now and Tuesday all those countries will be put on the red list from the PSC,” he added.
Authorities had repeatedly condemned the action of the countries over the confirmation of some omicron COVID-19 variant cases in Nigeria, describing it as discriminatory.
In the leaked audio, Sirika explained why the Federal Government reduced Emirates Airlines’ daily flights into Nigeria to one per week.
He went on to stress that countries that have placed Nigeria on the red list would receive a similar fate from the government.
According to the Aviation Minister, once the Presidential Steering Committee on COVID-19 put the countries on the red list, their airlines would be banned from operating within Nigeria.
The Federal Government has had some form of conflict with some countries since the outbreak of COVID-19.
Nigeria on Friday started the administration of COVID-19 booster shots, days after the Federal Government approved the decision.
“Following the detection of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 in Nigeria, the Federal Government reviewed the country’s vaccination programme and resolved to introduce the booster dose using the Pfizer Bio-N-Tech vaccine across the country,” the Executive Director of the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency, Faisal Shuaib, said during the flag-off of vaccination for Internally Displaced People (IDP) camps. “This will take effect as from tomorrow, Friday the 10th of December 2021.”
At the event held in Abuja on Thursday, the NPHCDA boss also explained the eligibility criteria for the booster jabs.
“Eligibility for the booster dose includes being 18 years and above, fully vaccinated with either two doses of AstraZeneca, Moderna or Pfizer Bio-N-Tech or a single dose of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine,” he noted.
“The time interval before the booster dose is at least six months for these vaccines, except the Johnson and Johnson which is at least two months.
“This is another opportunity to be further protected. I, therefore, urge all those who have taken the right decision to be fully vaccinated, to walk into the nearest vaccination site for their booster dose as from tomorrow (Friday).”
According to him, while the country’s vaccination drive has faced several bottlenecks including “large-scale misinformation,” Nigeria has recorded some successes.
“Today, Thursday, December 9th, 2021, 7,361,810 Nigerians have received the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and this represents 6.6% of the eligible population,” Faisal said.
“3,846,762 eligible Nigerians have received their second doses and are fully vaccinated against the virus representing 3.4% of the eligible population.”
Earlier on Thursday, the US said it donated 2.5 million Pfizer vaccine doses to Nigeria, a move expected to further boost the pandemic fight in the country.
The vaccine doses arrived in Abuja this week and were received by the National Primary Health Care Development Agency and taken to cold storage in preparation for distribution, the US Embassy in Nigeria said in a statement.
“Over the next several weeks,” it added, “the vaccines will be available at major markets, shopping malls, event centres, motor parks, airports, places of employment, and religious institutions as part of Nigeria’s mass vaccination campaign.”
The presidency has asked the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) to desist from putting out its “divisive, irresponsible, and bare-faced publicity stunts”.
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu made the call on Wednesday in a statement titled, ‘SERAP should stop the publicity stunt and render own accountability.’
The piece, according to Mr Shehu, was aimed at addressing the repeated ridiculous claims from SERAP “that it is bringing legal action against the Government and/or President of Nigeria”.
Deepening his argument, the spokesman argued that “very little is known about SERAP, or who funds them – despite their claims of being an organisation that champions transparency and accountability”.
According to him, “to date, SERAP has announced on repeated occasions – each time via a well-funded media campaign – that it is suing the government or President over a range of issues from alleged human rights abuses to alleged corruption. To date, SERAP has not taken their retinue of legal actions to a logical conclusion. They don’t follow through.
“Yet these headline-grabbing publicity stunts, however baseless, succeed in painting an inaccurate picture of life and governance in Nigeria and – more seriously – in sowing division amongst the Nigerian people during a time of heightened global economic volatility and hardship”.
Mr Shehu further said that Nigeria is comfortable that its record as Africa’s leading democracy and largest economy speaks for itself.
“Nigeria is amongst the top five countries in Africa for quality of life, and our ranking in the Human Development Index has steadily risen for a decade,” he declared, adding that: “This success is testament to the rights, rule of law and strong, independent institutions enjoyed by all Nigerian citizens and others who live there. Indeed, it is a fact that independent, non-governmental organisations can thrive there – especially those that seek accountability from government.
“Put simply, here lies SERAP’s paradox: in a country without human rights, no rule of law, limited freedom of expression, and weak democratic institutions the cases and cacophony that SERAP causes – even the organization itself – simply would not be permitted.
“It is, unfortunately, the case that our progressive, modern, and liberal legal system is open to manipulation by cynical actors who seek nothing but to sow division amongst Nigerians and secure publicity for themselves. With the global pandemic exacerbating poverty across the continent, those who have always sought to divide Nigerians along cultural, racial and political lines for political or financial gain are more dangerous than before”.
The president’s special media aide challenged SERAP to follow through on its latest spurious legal claim in a Nigerian court of law.
He urged the organisation to challenge the government publicly, legally and transparently, adding that while they do so, they should reveal in full view of the nation who they are, and who is funding them.
Former Director-General of the Lagos State Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Muda Yusuf, has backed the removal of fuel subsidy, saying the move is necessary for the nation’s economy to stand.
Last week, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, had announced that the government would remove fuel subsidy and replace it with a monthly N5,000 transport stipend to about 40 million poor Nigerians.
Speaking during an interview on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily, Yusuf condemned a situation, whereby the Federal Government spends N3 trillion annually on fuel subsidies.
“For this economy to continue to stand, this is something that has to happen. Look at the macro-economic effects, look at the effect on our reserves, look at the effect on our foreign exchange and more importantly, look at the effect on investments,” he said.
“How can we have a sector as important as the petroleum sector and we have a policy that is practically blocking investments into that sector because that is what this thing is doing.
“We cannot continue with a situation whereby we will be spending close to N3 trillion annually on subsidies and not just because of that, because of the investment, macro-economic implication,” he said.
“We are almost feeding the entire West African sub-region with our PMS. That is not sustainable unless we want to cripple the entire economy.”
He believes the current administration should channel the money being spent on subsidies to primary healthcare, basic education and rural roads.
While noting that the new government’s policy would not be easy on Nigerians, the former LCCI boss said the subsidy removal would have a lot of social implications.
One of these, he stated, includes inflationary implications, political costs for the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) among other challenges.
According to Yusuf, the government has engaged the masses by proposing a minimum of N5,000 per month to about 40 million vulnerable masses .
The Federal Government has lifted the suspension placed on Emirates Airline in Nigeria.
The Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika announced this during a briefing on Friday. He said the decision was reached after negotiations with the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Emirates Airlines’ home country.
He added that UAE has also removed all travel restrictions on Nigerians.
The FG had previously banned Emirates from flying into Nigeria over discriminatory policies on Nigerians as regards to COVID-19 protocols by the UAE. He however disclosed that the lifting of the ban was without conditions.
“Today we received communication from UAE removing some of the conditions of travel of which we had concerns about. Having done so, we feel we should lift the ban on the suspension of Emirates Airlines.
“From today (Friday), all the impediments on Emirates have been lifted and that the airline can now operate in Nigeria,” he said.
Sirika expressed his appreciation for the understanding shown by Nigerians despite the obvious hardships experienced because of the spat between the two countries.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyema who was also at the briefing where the announcement was made noted that the Nigerian Government recognises that the United Arab Emirates has a responsibility to protect the lives of her citizens thus whatever measures that they had taken was for the interest of her citizens.
He said the negotiation that led to the renewed relationship was a balanced one and that it was a win-win for both countries.
Nigeria-Dubai Diplomatic Row
There had been a diplomatic row between Nigeria and the United Arab Emirates, UAE, following disagreements between both countries.
Direct flights between both countries were suspended in March over issues relating to COVID-19 protocol.
The Federal Government of Nigeria earlier stopped the UAE national carrier, Emirates Airline from subjecting Nigerian travellers to additional rapid antigen test as against its stipulated negative PCR test at the Lagos and Abuja airports before departure.
Emirates airline then shut down flights to and from Nigeria owing to the disagreement between the airline and the aviation authorities on the propriety of subjecting passengers travelling from Nigeria to emergency COVID-19 protocols.
After an interface between the authorities of the Aviation Ministry and Emirates airline, flights resumed but Emirates airline continued to conduct tests for passengers before departure from Nigeria, a development the Federal Government frowned on and thus suspended the airline from flying to and from Nigeria.
The Federal Government has asked civil servants on Grade Level 12 and below to resume duties on Wednesday, December 1.
In a circular titled ‘Resumption of duties by Officers on GL 12 and below’ with reference number HCSF/3065/VOL.I/107, the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Dr. Folasade Yemi-Esan said the latest directive followed the advice of the Presidential Steering Committee on COVID-19.
As part of efforts to continue to checkmate the spread of coronavirus in the country, the government had on March 4 extended the work-from-home directive to the affected civil servants till the end of March.
Eights months after, the current administration directed civil servants to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination or present a negative COVID-19 PCR test result done within 72 hours.
“It will be recalled that as part of the measures to curb the spread of COVID-19 pandemic, officers on GL 12 and below were directed to work from home. Following the advice of the Presidential, Steering Committee on COVID-19, this category of officers are expected to resume duties on Wednesday, December 1, 2021,” the circular read.
“Furthermore, in line with the recommendation of the Committee on COVID-19, Mr. President has approved the vaccine mandate policy.
“All Federal Government employees would therefore be required to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination or present a negative COVID-19 PCR test result done within 72 hours.”