Senate Approves Buhari’s $6.1bn Foreign Loan Request

File photo of Senate President Ahmed Lawan with the gavel

 

The Senate has approved the Federal Government’s request for a $6.1 billion (N2.343 trillion) loan request.

The Senate gave the approval on Wednesday after it considered a report from its Committee on Local and Foreign Debt which it earlier directed to work on the loan request.

Presenting the report on the floor during plenary, the Chairman of the committee, Senator Clifford Ordia said the request is not new as it was approved in the borrowing plan when the National Assembly passed the 2021 budget noting that it would be used to fund the budget deficit.

READ ALSO: Senate Passes N895.842bn Supplementary Budget

President Muhammadu Buhari had earlier in May asked the National Assembly to approve the loan request, saying it would be raised from multilateral and bilateral tenders as well as the international capital market.

The Committee recommended that the Senate approves Buhari’s request for the issuance of $3,000,000,000 but not more than $6,183,081,643.40 Eurobond in the International Capital Market.

The External Borrowing of N2,343,387,942,848, according to the panel, should be for the financing of part of the deficit authorised in the 2021 Appropriation Act.

The Committee also recommended that the Senate should approve that the amount authorised may be raised from multiple sources such as the International Capital Market and any other Multilateral or Bilateral sources as may be available.

National Security Summit: Lawan, Gbajabiamila Identify Challenges, Seek Solutions

Senate President Ahmed Lawan and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila at the National Security Summit held on Wednesday, March 26, 2021. Photo Credit:@HouseNGR

 

The National Security Summit commenced on Wednesday with leaders of the National Assembly seeking urgent solutions to insecurity confronting the nation.

Speaking at the summit which was held at the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Abuja, Senate President Ahmed Lawan said the procurement processes by security agencies must be reviewed by the National Assembly.

Senator Lawan said the security architecture of the country must be reviewed, for better results.

The lawmaker noted that there is no better investment than investing in security right now, maintaining that the non-functioning local government system and traditional system, are major challenges for the country.

 

 

While the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, in his address, admitted that insecurity threatens the foundation of the country, he said previous and current approaches have been unable to fix it.

He fears that Nigeria is a nation under attack but believes that we will pull through.

“I assure all Nigerians that the House of Representatives remains committed to doing our part to enhance the government’s efforts at securing our country/protecting the lives and investments of Nigerians and all those who believe in our country,” Gbajabiamila who represents Surulere I Constituency of Lagos State, said.

READ ALSO: Nigeria Expecting 12 Fighter Planes From US – CBN Governor

President Muhammadu Buhari was represented at the event by the Secretary-General of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha.

The SGF believes Nigeria will overcome the security challenges and urged Nigerians to commit to a common endeavor in the national interest.

The Ooni of Ife, Adeyeye Ogunwusi who was one of the monarchs at the event, noted that the country cannot continue to do the same thing repeatedly and expect a different result.

 

According to him, youths are neglected, hungry and angry and that is why they are actively involved in crime and contributing negatively to the insecurity in the country.

The Chief of Defence Staff in his address promised that the Armed Forces would take every measure necessary to restore peace to Nigeria and will defend the constitutional order at all times.

SERAP Writes Lawan, Gbajabiamila, Seeks Probe Of Missing N4.1bn NASS Funds

SERAP Threatens To Sue UI, AAUA Over Increased Fees
A logo of the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP).

 

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has written to the Senate President Ahmed Lawan and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila to probe a missing 4.1 billion naira budgeted for the National Assembly.

The agency asked both government officials to “use their good offices to urgently probe and refer to appropriate anti-corruption agencies fresh allegations that N4.1 billion of public money budgeted for the National Assembly is missing, misappropriated, diverted or stolen, as documented in the 2016 audited report by the Office of the Auditor-General of the Federation.”

SERAP said: “These allegations are not part of the disclosure by the Auditor-General in other audited reports that N4.4 billion of National Assembly money is missing, misappropriated, diverted or stolen.”

In the letter dated 15 May 2021 and signed by SERAP deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare, the organisation said: “As part of its legislative and oversight functions, the National Assembly has a key role to play in the fight against corruption in the country. But little can be achieved by the legislative body in the anti-corruption fight if the leadership and members do not first confront the spectre of alleged corruption and mismanagement within their ranks.”

File photo of the Speaker of the House of Representatives Femi Gbajabiamila and President of the Senate Dr. Ahmad Lawan

 

SERAP is also urging Dr. Lawan and Mr. Gbajabiamila: “to identify the lawmakers and staff members suspected to be involved, and hand them over to appropriate anti-corruption agencies to face prosecution, if there is sufficient admissible evidence, and to ensure full recovery of any missing public funds.”

The letter, read in part: “Ensuring the effective investigation of these fresh allegations, and full recovery of any missing public funds would strengthen the country’s accountability framework, and show that the National Assembly can discharge its constitutional responsibility of amplifying the voices of Nigerians. It will also show that the body is acting in the best interest of the people.”

“SERAP is concerned that allegations of corruption continue to undermine economic development, violate social justice, and destroy trust in economic, social, and political institutions. Nigerians bear the heavy economic and social costs of corruption. The National Assembly, therefore, has a responsibility to curb it.”

“According to the Auditor-General Report for 2016, N4,144,706,602.68 of National Assembly money is missing, diverted or stolen. The National Assembly paid some contractors N417,312,538.79 without any documents. The Auditor-General wants the Clerk to the National Assembly to ‘recover the amount in question from the contractors.’”

“The National Assembly reportedly spent N625,000,000.00 through its Constitution Review Committee between March and June 2016 but without any document. The Auditor-General wants the Clerk to the National Assembly to ‘recover the amount from the Committee and furnish evidence of recovery for verification.’”

“The National Assembly also reportedly spent N66,713,355.08 as ‘personnel cost’ but ‘the payees in the Cashbook did not correspond with those in the Bank Statement’. The Auditor-General wants ‘the irregular expenditure recovered from the officer who approved the payments.’”

“The National Assembly also reportedly paid N116,162,522.60 to some contractors between April and June 2016 without any document. The National Assembly deducted N56,985,568.55 from various contract payments in respect of Withholding Tax and Value Added Tax but without any evidence of remittance.”

“The National Assembly also reportedly paid N126,264,320.00 as cash advances to 11 staff members between March and December 2016 to procure goods and services but failed to remit the money.”

“The Senate reportedly paid N747,286,680.00 as personal advances to staff members between February and December 2016 for various procurements and services but failed to retire the money. The Senate also deducted N118,625,057.48 as Withholding and Value Added Taxes but failed to show any evidence of remittance to the Federal Inland Revenue Service.”

“The Senate also spent N109,007,179.73 from the Capital Expenditure vote but without any document.”

“The House of Representatives reportedly deducted N821,564,296.48 from staff salaries but failed to remit the money to tax authorities. The House also paid N254,059,513.70 as advances to staff members to procure goods and services between January and December 2016 but failed to retire the money.”

“The National Institute for Legislative Studies reportedly spent N375,867,000.00 to buy 11 motor vehicles in April 2016. But the Institute also paid the same contractor N36,610,000.00 in September 2016 under the same contract without approval.”

“The Institute also reportedly paid N10,927,768.80 to 7 members of staff who were redeployed from the National Assembly to provide specialized services but without details about the staff paid, and without any justification.”

“The National Assembly Service Commission reportedly approved N109,995,400.00 to train some officers in Dubai, United Arab Emirates but spent N127,629,600.00 as Estacode Allowances to participants, and fees for two consultants engaged for the training. The Commission also spent N9,975,000.00 as course fees for 34 officers but it also paid a consultant N4,987,500.00 for the same course fees.”

“The Legislative Aides Section earned N12,274,587.77 as interests on Bank accounts in a commercial bank between January and December 2016 but failed to remit the money to the Consolidated Revenue Fund.”

“We would be grateful if you would indicate the measures being taken to address the allegations and to implement the proposed recommendations, within 14 days of the receipt and/or publication of this letter.”

“If we have not heard from you by then as to the steps being taken in this direction, SERAP shall take all appropriate legal actions to compel the leadership of the National Assembly to implement these recommendations in the public interest, and to promote transparency and accountability in the National Assembly.”

“The National Assembly can only effectively perform its anti-corruption role if it can demonstrate exemplary leadership to probe the allegations of corruption and mismanagement involving the legislative body.”

“SERAP notes that the Auditor-General in 2015, 2017, and 2018 reports documented that N4.4 billion of public money budgeted for the National Assembly is missing, misappropriated, diverted or stolen.”

“Addressing the allegations would improve public confidence and trust in the ability of the National Assembly to exercise its constitutional and oversight responsibilities, and to adhere to the highest standards of integrity.”

The letter was copied to Mr. Abukabar Malami, SAN, Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice; Professor Bolaji Owasanoye, Chairman Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC); Mr. Abdulrasheed Bawa, Chairman, Economic, and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC); and chairmen of the Public Accounts Committees of the National Assembly.

Stranded Nigerian Students In Southern Caribbean Will Be Brought Back Home – Lawan

A file photo of the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, during plenary at the upper chamber of the National Assembly in Abuja.

 

 

President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan has assured Nigerian students currently stranded in the Southern Caribbean nation hit by volcanic explosions that the National Assembly will intervene to ensure that they are safely brought back home.

Lawan gave the assurance in response to a request for Intervention by the Consul General of the Island Nation of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Dr. Levi Odoe who paid him a courtesy call at the National Assembly, Abuja on Wednesday.

“Let me commiserate with you on the volcanic eruptions that took place in the Island.

“St. Vincent and the Grenadines is a country that is very friendly with our country Nigeria over a long time. We have many bilateral and multilateral interactions and we appreciate your cooperation, support and partnership over time with our country.

“It is rather sad that you had volcanic eruptions that have caused serious damage in the Island.

“I’m also saddened by the loss of lives and of course the situation of the Nigerian medical students who are now trapped in the Island.

“When we sit here at the National Assembly, we represent every Nigerian wherever that Nigerian is. Therefore, it is our responsibility and obligation to take all the necessary measures to ensure that the Nigerian students who are trapped are brought back safely to Nigeria until the situation is remedied.

“It is also the attitude of our country to come in support of countries and our friends. So when we have issues like this that require emphathy and support of our country, we will look into it definitely with a view to finding some kind of support for the Island,” Lawan said.

Earlier, the Consul General of the Island Nation of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Dr Levi Odoe said the purpose of the visit was to seek Nigeria’s assistance for the Island and the intervention of the Senate President with respect to about 230 Nigerian medical students currently stranded in the Island.

“They(stranded Nigerian students) have been calling me requesting to see what can be done and I thought to myself, that the best thing to do will be to request an audience with His Excellency, the Senate President.

“So we are here to request any assistance at all that can be given to the Island and to Nigerians that are stranded there,” Dr Odoe said.

Lawan Swears In Senator Frank Ibezim To Replace Late Uwajumogu

A file photo of the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, during plenary at the upper chamber of the National Assembly in Abuja.

 

The Senate President, Ahmed Lawan, has sworn in Frank Ibezim as the Senator representing Imo North Senatorial District.

Senator Frank Ibezim will be replacing the late Benjamin Uwajumogu who died in December 2019.

In February 2020 during the valedictory speeches, the late Senator was described as an icon who had an active and impactful political life.

“Late Senator Benjamin Chukwumeka Uwajumogu was a distinguished colleague who excelled in every facet of his senatorial duties, whether to his constituency or in his committees’ duties, as well as his usually articulate contributions to Senate debates,” Senator Abdullahi said.

According to Abdullahi, the late senator was a think-tank for several birds of both private and public sectors, including the Nigeria Shippers’ Council.

After the lawmakers took turns to pay their last respect to Uwajumogu, the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, also eulogised his late colleague from Imo State.

“Senator Uwajumogu gave a very good account of himself as a human being. Calm, cool, calculated and purposeful.

“He joined us a little bit late in the Eighth Senate, and being the only Senator of APC extraction from the South East, he was close to everyone, especially in the APC caucus and the entire Senate,” Lawan said.

He added, “Every time there was a seeming crisis, he would preach ‘let us unite, let us work for Nigerians who have sent us here’. That was in the Eighth Senate.

SERAP Sues Lawan, Gbajabiamila Over ‘Missing N4.4bn NASS Funds’

SERAP Threatens To Sue UI, AAUA Over Increased Fees
A logo of the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP).

 

Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has filed a lawsuit against the Senate President, Dr Ahmad Lawan, and Speaker of House of Representatives, Mr Femi Gbajabiamila over “their failure to probe, and to refer to appropriate anti-corruption agencies allegations that N4.4bn of public money budgeted for the National Assembly is missing, misappropriated, diverted or stolen, as documented in three annual audited reports by the Office of the Auditor-General of the Federation.”

The suit followed the publication of annual audited reports for 2015, 2017, and 2018 in which the Auditor-General of the Federation raised “concerns about alleged diversion and misappropriation of public funds, sought the recovery of any missing funds, and asked that the evidence of recovery should be forwarded to his office.”

In the suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/366/2021 filed last Friday at the Federal High Court in Abuja, SERAP is seeking: “an order of mandamus directing and compelling Dr Lawan, Mr Gbajabiamila and the National Assembly to perform their constitutional oversight functions to ensure prompt and transparent investigation into the allegations that N4.4 billion budgeted for the National Assembly may be missing and unaccounted for.”

In the suit, SERAP is arguing that “By the combined reading of the provisions of the Nigerian Constitution of 1999 [as amended], the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and the UN Convention against Corruption, which Nigeria has ratified, the National Assembly has legal duties to combat corruption, and promote transparency and accountability in the management of public resources.”

READ ALSO: Attempt On Governor Ortom’s Life A Shock And Rude Awakening – NGF

PRESIDENT BUHARI MEET DR AHMAD LAWAN AND GBAJABIAMILA 6A&7B . President of the Senate Dr Ahmad Lawan and Speaker Rt Hon Femi Gbajabiamila speaking to the Press after meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa Abuja. PHOTO; SUNDAY AGHAEZE OCT 18 2020.

 

According to SERAP: “transparency and accountability in the management of public resources and wealth is essential for promoting development, people’s welfare and well-being, and their access to basic public services, as well as good governance and the rule of law.”

SERAP is also arguing that “The National Assembly has legal responsibility to ensure that the serious allegations of corruption and mismanagement documented by the Office of the Auditor-General of the Federation are promptly, independently, thoroughly, and transparently investigated, and to end the culture of impunity that is fuelling these allegations.”

According to SERAP: “The failure of the National Assembly to promptly and thoroughly investigate, and to refer to appropriate anti-corruption agencies the allegations documented in the annual audited reports for 2015, 2017 and 2018 is a fundamental breach of the oversight and public interest duties imposed on the legislative body by sections 4, 88 and 89 of the Nigerian Constitution.”

The suit filed on behalf of SERAP by its lawyers Kolawole Oluwadare and Ms Adelanke Aremo, read in part: “Granting this application would serve the interest of justice, reduce corruption and mismanagement, as well as end impunity of perpetrators, and advance the fundamental human rights of Nigerians.”

“This suit seeks to vindicate the rule of law, the public interest, and to promote transparency and accountability. Government agencies and institutions are responsible to a court of justice for the lawfulness of what they do, and of that the court is the only judge. The National Assembly has no legally justifiable reason to refuse to investigate the allegations documented by the Office of the Auditor-General of the Federation.”

“Obedience to the rule of law by all citizens but more particularly those who publicly took oath of office to protect and preserve the Constitution is a desideratum to good governance and respect for the rule of law. In a democratic society, this is meant to be a norm.”

It would be recalled that SERAP had in a letter dated 30 January 2021 requested Dr Lawan and Mr Gbajabiamila to “use their good offices to urgently probe and refer to appropriate anti-corruption agencies allegations that N4.4 billion of public money budgeted for the National Assembly may have been misappropriated, diverted or stolen.”

The letter, read in part: “The Auditor-General noted in his 2015 report that the National Assembly account was spent N8,800,000.00 as unauthorised overdraft, contrary to Financial Regulations 710. The National Assembly also reportedly spent N115,947,016.00 without any documents. Another N158,193,066.00 spent as cash advances to 17 staff between January and June 2015 is yet to be retired.”

“The Senate reportedly spent N186,866,183.42 to organise Senate Retreat and Pre-Valedictory Session for the 7th Senate, although the money was meant to pay vehicle loan. The Senate also reportedly spent N15,964,193.63 as bank charges between July and December, 2015, contrary to Financial Regulations 734.”

“The House of Representatives also reportedly spent N624,377,503.30 to buy 48 Utility Vehicles. However, 14 vehicles were not supplied. The House also failed to make the 34 vehicles supplied available for verification. Similarly, the House spent N499,666,666.00 as cash advances to staff to carry out various assignments but has failed to retire the money.”

“The House of Representatives also reportedly paid N70,560,000.00 as overtime and ‘special’ allowances to officials who are not legislative aides between November and December 2015 without any authority.”

“The National Assembly Service Commission reportedly failed to remit N30,130,794.10 deducted from the salaries of the Executive Chairman and the Commissioners as car loan.”

“The National Assembly Budget and Research Office reportedly spent N66,303,411.70 as out-of-pocket expenses without any documents. The National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies paid N246,256,060.51 by cheques, despite the prohibition of payments by cheque by the Federal Government, except in extreme cases, and contrary to Financial Regulation 631.”

“According to the Auditor-General Report for 2017, the House of Representatives reportedly spent ₦95,212,250.00 without due process and without any documents. The National Assembly Management Account also reveals that N673,081,242.14 was spent between April and October 2017 without any documents. The Auditor-General reported that the funds may have been misappropriated.”

“The Senate Account also reportedly shows that ₦1,364,816,397.95 was spent on store items without any documents to show for the spending. The Auditor-General stated that his office was denied access to the store and to the Senate’s records.”

“The National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies also reportedly failed to remit ₦2,181,696.50 from contract of goods and services. The Institute also paid ₦67,296,478.00 without any payment vouchers.”

No date has been fixed for the hearing of the suit.

Lawan Receives COVID-19 Vaccine, Calls On Nigerians To Partake

Lawan Receives COVID-19 Vaccine

 

 

Senate President, Ahmad Lawan has taken the first jab of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine.

The vaccine was administered to him in his office by his personal physician, Dr. Muhammad Usman and witnessed by some Distinguished Senators led by the Senate Leader, Senator Yahaya Abdullahi.

The vaccination card was presented to the Senate President by the Chairman, Senate Committee on Health(Secondary and Tertiary), Senator Ibrahim Oloriegbe.

Speaking shortly after he received the first jab of the vaccine, the Senate President called on Nigerians to make themselves available for the vaccination.

“The COVID-19 pandemic is real. We are still facing that challenge and therefore I urge all Nigerians especially those within the range specified by the health authorities and those at the frontline that we make ourselves available.

“Even though this is a voluntary thing but it is advisable that as many Nigerians as possible should take the vaccine.

“We need to go on more sensitisation and advocacy. We need to make this vaccine available in all areas, different crannies of this country. Let it not be limited to areas that are accessible only. We have areas that are not very much accessible in the riverine areas in the Niger Delta, in the northernmost part of the country, the desertified areas.

“We need to reach out to the people. We should convince them. We should use the system that we have used before in getting our people vaccinated over the year. Our traditional rulers, our traditional institutions have played very significant roles in enlightenment. Our clergies. Our imams. This is something that we have to do because Nigeria is not an island. We are part of the global community.

“I believe that at the end of the day, we can only achieve the herd immunity that is desired if we are able to reach at least 70 to 75 percent of those that are supposed to be vaccinated in the country,” Lawan said.

The Senate President congratulated the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 for working so hard to ensure that the vaccine is available for Nigerians.

He however urged the PTF to get more of the vaccine and variety of it in addition to AstraZeneca.

Drug Barons Funding Terrorism In Nigeria, Says Senate President Lawan

 

Senate President, Ahmad Lawan says drug barons are funding terrorism and banditry across Nigeria. 

According to Senator Lawan, the proceeds of the illegal drug trade are used to purchase arms and ammunitions for terror groups like Boko Haram as well as bandits and kidnappers.

The Lawmaker stated this when Chairman of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, Brigadier-General Buba Marwa, paid a visit to his office on Thursday at the National Assembly in Abuja.

Lawan said drug traffickers have made Nigeria a major transit route, stressing that this has aided the increase of criminality around the nation.

READ ALSO: Bandits Abduct Scores In Fresh Zamfara Village Attack

A file photo of the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, during plenary at the upper chamber of the National Assembly in Abuja.

 

“The National Assembly members are almost on daily interaction with our constituents and we know the very debilitating impact of drug abuse in our various communities.

“You have rightly said almost every community in this country suffers from drug addiction. So, we are very mindful of what is happening.

“I believe that this agency needs restructuring. Now that you have taken over, we should go the whole haul to restructure the agency, not piecemeal touches, because we need to get it right.

“My personal opinion is that NDLEA should be in the league of EFCC, ICPC, and therefore, the kind of support that those two agencies I mentioned receive, you should receive something like that, in addition to many other things that you should be supported with.

“So, the National Assembly will definitely work with you, we will partner with you, and will ensure that we do our best to give you the kind of support that will enable you properly to discharge your mandate.

“Having said this, let me say that Nigeria as a country is in one way or the other a transit route for drugs.

“Drug peddlers pass their drugs through Nigeria – cannabis, heroin, and possibly even cocaine.

“We believe that this has to stop because the proceeds of such activities fund terrorism, they fund banditry, you wonder how the bandits have RPGs and these massive arms that they have.

“Definitely, these are some acquisition provided by some barons, not the bandits themselves.

“So, we need to ensure that this transit role that Nigerians plays is addressed properly. And here we have to approach this through multi-sectoral efforts – the Customs, Immigration Service, our Security Agencies, and in fact, the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, and our seaports.

“Of course, this is not going to be easy, but we have to be steadfast and we should do whatever is possible without the limited resources we have to make you better,” Lawan stated while addressing the NDLEA Chairman.

On his part, the new NDLEA boss lamented over the increase in drug addiction, especially amongst the youths.

According to him, the illegal drug trade jas played a great role in the rise of criminality in Nigeria.

He thanked the legislators in the Ninth Senate for displaying great interest and supporting the review of the NDLEA Act and hoped that with the cooperation of the legislature, the scourge of drug addiction and trading will be tackled effectively.

Lawan Mourns Military Plane Crash Victims, Asks Authorities To Reinforce Safety Measures

A file photo of the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan

 

 

The President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, has expressed his shock and sadness over the tragic news of the crash of a Nigerian military aircraft in Abuja on Sunday.

Lawan sends his condolences to the families of those killed in the accident and prays that Allah would comfort them in this time of grief.

He also commiserated with the Nigerian Air Force and charged the authorities to reinforce their safety measures against future occurrence.

Seven persons died after a military aircraft crashed a few yards off the runway at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport in Abuja.

READ ALSO: Safety Of Airspace Remains A Priority, Buhari Mourns Plane Crash Victims

Confirming the incident on Sunday, the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) spokesman, Air Vice Marshal Ibikunle Daramola stated that the Beechcraft KingAir B350i aircraft crashed while returning to Abuja Airport after reporting engine failure enroute Minna.

Vice Marshal Daramola further stated that first responders were already at the scene, adding that all seven personnel on board died in the crash.

According to the NAF spokesman’s statement published on Twitter, the Chief of Air Staff (CAS), Air Vice Marshal Oladayo Amao has ordered an immediate investigation into the accident.

While urging the general public to remain calm and await the outcome of the investigation, the CAS, on behalf of all Nigerian Air Force personnel, commiserated with the families of the deceased.

Embrace The Spirit Of Unity, Senate President Tells APC Members

A file photo of the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, during plenary at the upper chamber of the National Assembly in Abuja.

 

President of the Senate, Senator Ahmed Ibrahim Lawan has asked supporters of the All Progressives Congress (APC) across the country to embrace the spirit of unity for the success of the party and good governance.

He made the call Saturday while addressing Party Supporters shortly after re-validating his membership registration under the auspices of the APC at Gashua the headquarters of Bade Local Government Council in Yobe state

Ahmed Lawan says democracy is all about participation and inclusiveness, hence the need for every Nigerian who has reached eighteen years to be given chance to register as a member of a party.

READ ALSO: Tinubu Backs APC Ex-Chairman Akande’s Criticism Of Party Leadership

Senator Ahmed Lawan explained that the APC has enough space to accommodate hundreds of millions of Nigerians who are willing to join the party.

According to him, membership registration should, therefore, be a continuous exercise so that people whose ages were not up to the required age today will have their own chance tomorrow.

The President of the Senate used the medium to commend Governor Mai Mala Buni and Caretaker Chairman of APC National Convention/Extraordinary Committee for reconciling aggrieved members of the party in the Country.

APC Will Miss Tony Momoh, Says Lawan

Late Tony Momoh

 

 

The President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, has mourned a former Minister of Information, Tony Momoh who died on Monday.

Lawan in a statement commiserated with the government and people of Edo State and the All Progressives Congress(APC), where he was a highly respected leader, on the loss.

“Prince Tony Momoh as a journalist made indelible contributions to the development of the noble profession in Nigeria.

READ ALSO: Buhari Mourns Loss Of Ally And Former Minister Tony Momoh

“As Minister of Information, Prince Momoh, through his ‘Letter to my countrymen’ series, professionally and effectively disseminated and managed public information in a manner that was unique to him.

“As chairman of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), he helped nurture the party to a very strong showing at the polls within months of its formation”.

Prince Momoh was also a key facilitator of the emergence of the APC in 2014.

“The APC will miss this principled political leader particularly in this period that the party is repositioning as a grassroots-based political party and for improved performance of its leadership of our great country,” Lawan says.

The Senate President prays for divine comfort for his loved ones and the fortitude to bear his loss.

Lawan also prays for sweet repose of his gentle soul.

SERAP Urges Lawan, Gbajabiamila To Probe Missing ₦4.4bn NASS Funds

L-R (Femi Gbajabiamila and Ahmed Lawan)

 

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged the Senate President Dr Ahmad Lawan, and Speaker of House of Representatives Mr Femi Gbajabiamila to urgently probe allegations that N4.4 billion of public money budgeted for the National Assembly is missing, misappropriated, diverted or stolen, as documented in three audited reports by the Office of the Auditor-General of the Federation.

In an open letter dated January 30 and signed by SERAP’s Deputy Director Kolawole Oluwadare, the organisation said: “By exercising strong and effective leadership in this matter, the National Assembly can show Nigerians that the legislative body is a proper and accountable watchdog that represents and protects the public interest, and is able to hold both itself and the government of President Muhammadu Buhari to account in the management of public resources.”

The agency believes that if the matter is not satisfactorily addressed, the allegations would undermine public confidence in the ability of the National Assembly to exercise its constitutional and oversight responsibilities to prevent and combat corruption, and to ensure the public interest, transparency and accountability in the management of public resources.

SERAP also expressed concerns that the allegations of corruption, mismanagement and misappropriation of public funds amount to fundamental breaches of the Nigerian Constitution of 1999 [as amended] and the country’s international obligations, including under the UN Convention against Corruption and the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption.

The letter, read in part: “Any failure to promptly, thoroughly and independently investigate these serious allegations, prosecute suspected perpetrators, and recover missing public funds and assets would undermine public trust in the ability of the leadership of the National Assembly to ensure probity, transparency and accountability in the management of public funds.”

“The Auditor-General noted in his 2015 report that the National Assembly account was spent N8,800,000.00 as unauthorised overdraft, contrary to Financial Regulations 710. The National Assembly also reportedly spent N115,947,016.00 without any documents. Another N158,193,066.00 spent as cash advances to 17 staff between January and June 2015 is yet to be retired.”

“The Senate reportedly spent N186,866,183.42 to organise Senate Retreat and Pre-Valedictory Session for the 7th Senate, although the money was meant to pay vehicle loan. The Senate also reportedly spent N15,964,193.63 as bank charges between July and December, 2015, contrary to Financial Regulations 734.”

“The House of Representatives also reportedly spent N624,377,503.30 to buy 48 Utility Vehicles. However, 14 vehicles were not supplied. The House also failed to make the 34 vehicles supplied available for verification. Similarly, the House spent N499,666,666.00 as cash advances to staff to carry out various assignments but has failed to retire the money.”

“The House of Representatives also reportedly paid N70,560,000.00 as overtime and ‘special’ allowances to officials who are not legislative aides between November and December 2015 without any authority.”

“The National Assembly Service Commission reportedly failed to remit N30,130,794.10 deducted from the salaries of the Executive Chairman and the Commissioners as car loan.”

“The National Assembly Budget and Research Office reportedly spent N66,303,411.70 as out-of-pocket expenses without any documents. The National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies paid N246,256,060.51 by cheques, despite the prohibition of payments by cheque by the Federal Government, except in extreme cases, and contrary to Financial Regulation 631.”

“According to the Auditor-General Report for 2017, the House of Representatives reportedly spent ₦95,212,250.00 without due process and without any documents. The National Assembly Management Account also reveals that N673,081,242.14 was spent between April and October 2017 without any documents. The Auditor-General reported that the funds may have been misappropriated.”

“The Senate Account also reportedly shows that ₦1,364,816,397.95 was spent on store items without any documents to show for the spending. The Auditor-General stated that his office was denied access to the store and to the Senate’s records.”

“The National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies also reportedly failed to remit ₦2,181,696.50 from contract of goods and services. The Institute also paid ₦67,296,478.00 without any payment vouchers.”

“We would be grateful if you would indicate the measures being taken to address the allegations and to implement the proposed recommendations, within 14 days of the receipt and/or publication of this letter. If we have not heard from you by then, SERAP shall take all appropriate legal actions to compel the leadership of the National Assembly to implement these recommendations in the public interest, and to promote transparency and accountability in the National Assembly.”

“The Auditor-General also noted in his 2018 report that the National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies failed to remit N577,634,638,20 due from contracts and supplies, even though the deductions were made. However, the Institute claimed that it was the National Assembly that was required to remit the money, as it is the body that maintains the account on behalf of the Institute.”

“Our requests are brought in the public interest, and in keeping with the requirements of the Nigerian Constitution 1999 [as amended], the country’s international obligations including under the UN Convention against Corruption and the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption. Nigeria has ratified both treaties.”

The letter is copied to Mr Abubakar Malami SAN, Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice; Professor Bolaji Owasanoye, Chairman Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC); and Mr Mohammed Abba, Acting Chairman, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).