#EndSARS: Reps Summon IGP Over Police Brutality, Extra-Judicial Killings

 

The House of Representatives has issued a seven-day ultimatum to the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Adamu Mohammed to appear before its joint committee on justice, human rights, police affairs.

IGP Mohammed is to appear before the committee over allegations bothering on police brutality and extra-judicial killings.

Addressing a news conference in Abuja, the chairman of the joint committee on justice, human rights, police affairs, Representative Ugonna Ozurigbo explained that the police chief is expected to appear next week Thursday, October 22nd, 2020.

READ ALSO: IGP Warns Police Officers Against Use Of Force On Peaceful Protesters

A file photo of lawmakers during plenary at the House of Representatives chamber in Abuja .

Representative Ozurigbo urged victims of the defunct Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) to furnish the committee with information that would enable it to carry out this all-important task.

The committee plans to conduct public hearings in the six geopolitical zones of the country, to hear the accounts of families of deceased victims and those that are unlawfully detained by the operatives of the defunct police unit.

Protesters have been demonstrating for over a week, demanding an end to police brutality and extrajudicial killings. However, the protests have intensified despite the disbanding of SARS by the police.

A rather ‘hurried’ constituting of a new unit which is to take over the duties of SARS seems to have further infuriated the protesters, making the demonstrations across major cities of the country more intense.

Reps In Shouting Match Over Water Resources Bill

 

Members of the House of Representatives on Tuesday clashed over the controversial National Water Resources Bill and the debate turned into a shouting match.

Some members of the House, mostly from the southern part of the country and the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, raised various legal and procedural issues on the bill.

The clash began when the member representing Makurdi-Guma Federal Constituency in Benue, Ben Mzondu moved a motion questioning the procedure followed in the passage of the national water bill.

READ ALSO: P&ID Case: UK Court Orders Release Of $200m Deposit To Nigeria

“This same Water Bill was stated as National Water Resource Bill 2020 but it was not treated as such. A bill that emanated in 2020 should have gone through first reading, second reading and third reading before passage, it was not treated as such,” Mzondu told the House.

There later emerged dissenting voices following Mzondu’s observation and this did not go down well with some of the members.

However, the Chairman of the House Committee on Water Resources, Mr Sada Soli drew the ire of his colleagues, when he insisted that the members complaining about the bill were in the chambers when it was passed by the committee.

Soli argued that the bill had passed through the normal processes, stating that it did not breach any part of the constitution.

“This bill followed the normal procedures as enshrined in the orders of this House.

“My brother, Abonta, was sitting for nearly one hour when this bill was considered and passed on this floor. He was here.

“So, when a member is saying that this House has no right to entertain it because of certain provisions of the constitution, it is not true. We must not misinform members on this bill,” Soli stressed.

The situation became tense when Soli said “I can remember that clean copies (of the bill) were distributed on this floor.”

Many lawmakers interrupted Soli and shouted “No!” “No!” repeatedly.

He then stressed further that, “Attempt to short change the rules, Mr Speaker, we will challenge that decision.”

This infuriated some members who continued shouting “No!” “No!”

The situation was later brought under control by the Speaker of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila.

He then asked the Chairman of the House on Rules and Business to withdraw the bill and re-gazette it before presenting it before the House for consideration.

Monday Mass Protest: Gbajabiamila Meets With NLC

 

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr Femi Gbajabiamila has met with the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC). 

The meeting which held at the National Assembly Complex in Abuja is an attempt to mediate and broker an amicable solution to the impasse between Organised Labour and the Federal Government over the increase in electricity tariff and the removal of petrol subsidy.

In a bid to drive home the message of its displeasure at the recent tariff hikes, the NLC is threatening to organise a nationwide strike on Monday, however, the Speaker is appealing to Labour not to go on a strike.

 

READ ALSO: NLC Insists On Monday Protest Despite Court Order

Mr Gbajabiamila a short brief before the meeting proper argued that Labour cannot go on a strike in good conscience as the consequences will be dire on Nigerians who will feel the hardship caused by the industrial action.

He said the House of Representatives shares the same thoughts and philosophy with the NLC as regards the plight of workers and the House of Reps championed the cause of free electricity and had advised that the hike in tariff be put in effect from 2021.

Nevertheless, the Speaker said he worries about the consequences of the strike and what will be achieved at the end.

In reply to the Speaker’s comments, the NLC President, Comrade Ayuba Wabba argued that the increase in electricity tariff and removal of petrol subsidy is bringing hardship on Nigerians and the union is asking the FG to reverse these policy decisions.

According to Mr Wabba, it is in a bid to get the government to change its recent hike policy that the protest on Monday has been scheduled.

After the first deliberations, the Speaker and NLC representatives went into a closed-door meeting, where the Labour has insisted that it will continue with its planned strike unless the govt makes a u-turn before 12 midnight today.

We Need To Impose ‘Deep Cuts’ In Cost Of Governance, Says Gbajabiamila

 

 

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Honourable Femi Gbajabiamila says Nigeria needs to impose “deep cuts” in the cost of governance in the country.

Gbajabiamila said this on Thursday at the beginning of the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and Fiscal Strategy Paper (FSP) revenue considerations with revenue-generating agencies.

It was organized by the House of Representatives Committee on Finance.

According to him, with the country facing a fiscal crisis coupled with the COVID-19 pandemic, there is a need to reduce the cost of governance to free up revenue for infrastructure development.

READ ALSO: We Cannot Afford To Let Our Economy Slide, PTF Tells Business Owners

“We have a responsibility to act with urgent determination to build the infrastructure of opportunity that is required to lift millions of our fellow citizens out of poverty,” the lawmaker said.

“We recognise that we cannot accomplish these objectives using loans and outside financing alone.

“Therefore, we need to impose deep cuts in the cost of governance and improve internal revenue generation and collection so that we can free up resources that can then be deployed to fund policy initiatives that will enhance the lives of our people.”

 

A file photo of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila.

 

While restating that revenue-generating agencies have a role to place in helping the country increase its revenue base, he lamented that there is a “consistent failure to adhere to the revenue remittance agreements to which many of these agencies have committed.”

The Speaker added: “We have credible reports that these desperately needed funds have in many cases, been diverted to finance unnecessary trivialities. At the same time, the Government is left scrambling for alternative sources to fund priority projects.”

He said as a critical part of the government, the legislature is backed by law to ensure the country’s resources are used judiciously for the betterment of the masses.

 

Reps To Petition Buhari Over Agencies Refusal To Honour Committee Invitations

Killings: Reps Give Buhari 48 Hours To Address Nigerians

 

The House of Representatives is set to petition President Muhammadu Buhari over the refusal of some agencies of government to appear before its Committee on Public Account to answer questions over financial irregularities traced to them or clarify some records provided by other agencies.

The House Committee on Public Account is particularly not happy with the refusal of the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emiefele, Group Managing Director of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Managing Director of the Nigeria Port Authority, Haha Hadiza Bala Usman and the Bureau for Public Enterprises to appear before it over sales of federal government landed property across the country.

The agencies, alongside the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), and the Petroleum Equalisation Fund failed to appear before the Committee on Public Account over the sales of some government property.

Chairman of the House Committee on Public Account, Rep. Wole Oke told the Clerk of the Committee to forward a petition to the President through the office of the Secretary to the Federation and the Chief of Staff to the President informing him of the refusal of the heads of the agency to honour the invitation of the Parliament.

READ ALSO: Insurgency: NLC Asks FG To Implement Life Insurance For Aid Workers

He said the President should compel the agencies to honour the invitation of the House within seven days.

However, at its hearing on Wednesday, the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) and the Nigeria Electricity Liabilities Management Company denied selling any government property or being in possession of any proceeds from the sale.

Managing Director of Transmission Company of Nigeria, Engr S.A. Abdulazeez said told the Committee that “TCN was not involved in the sales of federal government landed property.

When the Power Holding Company was privatized, all assets and liabilities were handed over to the Nigerian Electricity Liability Management Company (NELMCO and so, we have no presentation to make”.

Responding to, Director General of NELMCO, Adebayo Fagbemi said not all PHCN assets were transferred to the agency, adding that some of the property handed over to him were already sold before they were handed over to them.

He said that the gazette authorising the transfer also transferred some of the assets to other agencies including the Nigeria Electricity Management Service Agency and National Power Training Institute of Nigeria and the Nigeria Bulk Electricity Trading Company (NBET).

He disclosed that their schedules were transferred to the agency by the gazette, adding that some of the property listed in the schedules were already sold by the Presidential Implementation Committee, the Federal Capital Territory Authority, and the FIRS before they were handed over to the agency merely on paper.

He said those assets already sold should have been expunged from the list of assets handed over to them, adding that the agencies that took charge and sold the property should be in a better position to explain where the money realised from the sale was kept.

He said NELMCO only recently got approval from the Bureau of Public Enterprises to begin the sale of about 52 government property, adding that the process of selling those property is currently being carried out.

Asked whether the property were sold before being handed over to them, he said: “the transfers were done officially in 2013 by the BPE and by 2013, some of them were already sold and the proceeds were never transferred to us”.

The Secretary to the Presidential Implementation Committee on the Sales of Federal Government landed property, Kola Adeyemi, however, confirmed that the property were sold and the proceeds deposited in a special account at the CBN created for that purpose.

He said the Committee never had access to the proceeds as the transaction was carried out in line with Presidential directives.

Reps Ask Buhari To Reinstate NSITF Mgt

A file photo of lawmakers during plenary at the House of Representatives chamber in Abuja.

 

Lawmakers in the House of Reps want President Muhammadu Buhari to reinstate the suspended management of the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF).

The House made the resolution when it adopted the report of its committee which investigated what they describe as the arbitrary breach of presidential directives by the minister of labour and employment, Senator Chris Ngige.

READ ALSO: Reps To Institute Legal Suit Against Minister Of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio

The committee had asked the House to declare that the procedure leading to the suspension of officials of the NSITF by the minister is in breach of the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund act.

Also at plenary, the House mandated its committee on police affairs to investigate the circumstances surrounding the invasion of the home of the former acting managing director of the NDDC, Joi Nunieh.

The Deputy Majority Whip, Nkeiruka Onyejeocha, who raised the motion queried the motive behind the invasion.

She claimed the action was done to prevent her from giving her testimony before the House Committee on the NDDC.

Armed security operatives surrounded the home of Joy Nunieh, in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital at about 4 a.m on July 16, 2020, in an attempt to break into her apartment for hours without success.

Ms. Nunieh reached out to the Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike who swiftly responded to her distress call and came with his aides to challenge and stop the attempted arrest.

Wike eventually asked the operatives to leave the former NDDC MD’s premise, an order which was grudgingly complied with.

Afterward, the governor asked Ms. Nunieh to get into a vehicle in which she was transported back to the State House where she is currently taking refuge.

Narrating her ordeal to newsmen, the ex-NDDC boss thanked the governor for his intervention, saying Wike is a man of his word.

According to Ms. Nunnieh, the security operatives stormed her residence at about 4 a.m that day with the intent to whisk her away but she refused because they did not have a warrant.

Terrified, she then reached out to Governor Wike but was not able to get through the first time because his number was switched off.

“I tried to reach him but the phones were switched off, so I called some people and they said these people might not be real policemen.

“They said they (security operatives) came to take me away, I said for what? Do they have a warrant for arrest? They said no warrant of arrest, so I left it.

“About 6 a.m they broke the gate and later Senator Magnus Abe now called me that he had reached the Commissioner of Police who said he didn’t know anything about it (the arrest).

“So the CP called, I sent him my address, they told me the CP was downstairs but the CP was not downstairs, it was the Deputy Commissioner who was around; so I opened the door, they wanted to grab me, I now pushed back the door and locked it.

“I got through to my governor, they tried to break the back door, its a security door so they kept hitting for over one hour and they couldn’t get access.

“So my governor came, asked them for their warrant of arrest and why they did not invite me to the police, that I will come, instead of going to take a woman as a criminal.

“So, the governor took me in his car and here I am refuging in the Government House.

“I want to thank his excellency for keeping to his word that nothing should happen to the daughter of Rivers State,” Ms. Nunieh narrated.

Akpabio Insists Two Chairmen Of NDDC Committee Know Lawmakers Who Received Contracts

The Minister of Niger Delta appeared before a House of Representatives committee on July 20, 2020.
The Minister of Niger Delta appeared before a House of Representatives committee on July 20, 2020.

 

The Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Sen. Godswill Akpabio, on Thursday, insisted that the two chairmen of the committee probing the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), know the lawmakers who received most of the contracts given out by the commission. 

This claim was embedded in a letter written by Akpabio, sent to the Green Chambers, and read on the floor by the Speaker, Mr. Femi Gbajabiamila.

Mr Akpabio also said he never referred to members of the 9th assembly as beneficiaries of the NDDC contracts.

The minister further stated that in the 2019 budget there are 19 old contracts amounting to 9 billion naira which the House of Reps chairman on NDDC insisted that the IMC must pay.

Senator Akpabio, however, stressed that he will not make the documents public.

READ ALSO: NDDC Spent 1.3trn Between 2015 and 2019 – Senate Report

After having the letter read on the floor of the House, the letter was handed to the committee on ethics and privileges for further examination.

Akpabio’s letter came few minutes after the House of Representatives resolved to institute a legal suit against the minister, following the expiration of a 48-hour ultimatum.

On Tuesday, the House issued an ultimatum to the minister to publish the names of lawmakers whom he claimed had received contracts from the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).

The clerk has been directed to issue a criminal complaint of perjury and civil defamation suit against Mr. Akpabio.

Meanwhile, the Senate ad-hoc committee investigating financial recklessness in the NDDC has concluded its investigation and has presented its report before the Senate.

In the report read by the committee chairman Senator Olubunmi Adetunmbi, he said the NDDC spent 1.3 trillion Naira between 2015 and May 31st, 2019.

Many of these expenses he said contravened the law and were extra-budgetary.

He said the committee observed process errors and infractions, as well as substantial payments, were made to staff in the form of unjustifiable allowances.

The investigation further revealed that the NDDC paid 4.9 billion Naira to staff for numerous allowances including COVID-19 relief, tour duty allowances, overseas travel, and international scholarships.

Curiously, the payment for overseas travel and scholarship was during the lockdown and cessation of flights abroad.

The committee also observed that the ministry of Niger delta is culpable if negligent supervision of the NDDC.

It further observed that the performance of the interim management committee IMC is a major issue as the record of the IMC has not shown any record of prudence and it should be dissolved.

Reps Endorse Ngozi Okonjo Iweala’s Candidacy As DG Of World Trade Organisation

A file photo of former Nigerian finance minister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala
A file photo of former Nigerian finance minister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

 

The House of Representatives has endorsed the candidacy of Ngozi Okonjo Iweala as the Director-General of the World Trade Organisation, describing her as very qualified.

The resolution to support her followed a motion of urgent public importance raised by the minority leader, Ndudi Elumelu at plenary on Tuesday.

The lawmakers also urged President Buhari to rally other African leaders in support of her candidacy.

Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar also endorsed the former Finance Minister on Saturday, saying her “experience and the enormous related works she has done confirms without equivocation that her leadership shall be a blessing to the WTO and the world”.

Read Also: Atiku Endorses Okonjo-Iweala For WTO Job

In a video posted on her Twitter handle on July 9, Okonjo-Iweala described the WTO as an organization that has become more important than ever.

According to her, with the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the world needs to come together using trade to build a better society.

 

She said COVID-19 has changed the face of the world economy and thus the WTO needs to work with its members to pull through the difficult times.

President Muhammadu Buhari had nominated Okonjo-Iweala for the WTO DG role with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) later backing her nomination.

Other candidates also vying for the position inlcude South Korean Trade Minister Yoo Myung-hee; Kenya’s former foreign minister Amina Mohamed; Mexico’s former WTO deputy Director-General Jesus Seade Kuri; Egyptian former diplomat Hamid Mamdouh; and former Moldovan foreign minister Tudor Ulianovsch.

The successful candidate for the job will replace Mr Azevêdo who said he will step down on August 31.

Reps Give Chief Of Naval Staff 7-Day Ultimatum To Appear Before Public Account Committee

A file photo of lawmakers during plenary at the House of Representatives chamber in Abuja .

 

The House of Representatives Committee on Public Account has given a 7-day ultimatum to the Chief of Naval Staff,  Ibok Ekwe Ibas, to appear before the Committee.

Lawmakers in the Committee expressed their displeasure that the Chief of Naval Staff failed to honour their earlier invitation, and instead sent the Nigerian Navy’s Assistant Director of Budget, whom the lawmakers consider to be too low ranked to address the Parliament.

They asked the Chief Of Naval Staff to ensure that he honours the invitation within seven days.

Vice Admiral Ibok Ibas is expected to respond to a query from the Auditor General of the Federation regarding certain activities within the Nigerian Navy.

READ ALSO: ‘Misunderstanding’: Lebanese Ambassador Walks Out On Reps

(File: Chief of Naval Staff, Ibok Ekwe Ibas, at a meeting with the President in Abuja on May 14, 2020.)

Recently, the House of Representatives launched various investigations and probes, querying some sectors and agencies within the country.

Most recent probes include an investigation into the alleged illegal withdrawals from the dividends accounts of the Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG), as well as a probe of the power sector.

Some other investigations by the Reps include a probe into the financial budgetary provisions, approvals and multilateral donations on skills acquisition and related programmes of the Federal Government and its agencies, including the home-grown school feeding programme.

‘Misunderstanding’: Lebanese Ambassador Walks Out On Reps

 

The Lebanese Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr Houssam Diab, on Thursday, walked out on members of the Nigerian House of Representatives Committee on Diaspora Affairs, at a meeting which lawmakers now say was informal.  

Mr Diab was reportedly asked to appear before the committee to explain the alleged maltreatment of Nigerians in Lebanon.

The Ambassador is said to have walked out of the lawmakers because he was not expecting the level of media coverage given to what had been termed an informal meeting to strengthen ties between the two countries.

Reacting to the outcome of the meeting, the Minister of State Foreign Affairs,
Zubairu Dada stressed that it was an informal meeting and the Ambassador was nice enough to join in.

According to the minister’s communique, there is no law that says the Lebanese Ambassador had to attend the meeting, but he came because he has an interest in the joint relationship between Nigeria and Lebanon.

Mr Dada noted that there are a lot of Nigerians in Lebanon, and there are many Lebanese in Nigeria, so it was pertinent that the meeting held to further reiterate that the Lebanese community and the Nigerian community will always stand together to ensure that justice and respect for human lives is a priority.

He stressed that the relationship between the two nations will help bring an end to modern day slavery.

Throwing more light on the earlier misunderstanding, the minister said though the meeting was meant to be an informal one, the Ambassador was not aware that such a meeting needed to be documented.

“Because of the law of diplomacy, he wasn’t expecting to have media there and it was immediately resolved that it was going to be an executive session,” Mr Dada stated.

The minister apologized on behalf of the Ministry and the country.

Thursday’s incident follows a recent event involving one Temitope Arowolo, who is said to be undergoing trial for alleged attempted murder in Lebanon.

Mr Dada revealed that  Temitope will be home before the end of the week, adding that so many other Nigerians who want to come home from Lebanon will be availed the opportunity.

He said the ministry is also looking at the case of a Lebanese who is held in Illorin on charges of human trafficking.

The minister promised that collaborations will continue to ensure that Nigerians can go work in Lebanon legally, without being dehumanized.

He asked Nigerians to be vigilant and monitor what is going on around them, lest they fall prey to human traffickers.

Reps To Investigate $1bn Illegal NLNG Withdrawal

A file photo of lawmakers during plenary at the House of Representatives chamber in Abuja .

 

The House of Representatives has mandated its committee on public account to investigate alleged illegal withdrawals from the dividends accounts of the Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG).

The matter was raised as a matter of urgent national importance by the minority leader of the House, who alleged that the withdrawals were made by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).

Details later.

Reps Pass Revised 2020 Budget Of N10.8trn

A file photo of lawmakers during plenary at the House of Representatives chamber in Abuja .

 

The House of Representatives has passed the revised 2020 federal budget of N10.8 trillion from the initial N10.5 trillion submitted by the president.

The lawmakers also approved President Muhammadu Buhari’s request for $5.5 billion external loan.

Meanwhile, the Senate has hinted that it will on Thursday, consider the revised 2020 budget.

The red-chamber had on Tuesday deferred presentation of the report over a delay by the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, to provide details for the sum of N186 billion, an amount which is part of the N500 billion COVID-19 intervention fund.

Read Also: Senate To Consider 2020 Revised Budget On Thursday

Chairman of the Appropriations Committee, Senator Barau Jibrin, explained to his colleagues that the Finance Ministry was yet to comply with the request of the Committee by attaching necessary details for the amount to be captured as part of the 2020 budget amendment bill.

However, Lawan on Wednesday disclosed that the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning had complied with the request of the Appropriations Committee by providing the relevant details for the outstanding N186 billion.

The development, according to him, makes it expedient for the upper chamber to consider the revised 2020 budget on Thursday during plenary.