Reps Call For Investigation Into Alleged Illegal Payments By Foreign Affairs Ministry

A file photo of lawmakers during plenary at the House of Representatives Chamber in Abuja on September 27, 2019.

 

The House of Representatives on Wednesday called for an investigation into the alleged payment of allowances to officials of the ministry of foreign affairs, despite their recall from various foreign missions.

The resolution of the House followed a motion of urgent public importance raised by the Minority Leader of the House, Ndudi Elumelu.

According to the lawmaker, the alleged culprits are the staff of the Human Resources Department of the ministry.

READ ALSO: LG Elections In Nigeria Are Nothing But Organised Crime – Igini

“It has been alleged that these officials one year into their recall to the headquarters are still receiving full entitlements such as accommodation allowance, house allowance, transport allowance, medical and utility bills aided by the staff of the Human Resources Department of the ministry who collect sums of money from these erring officials and internationally frustrate efforts of posted colleagues to replace those posted back to headquarters by refusing to process the needed documentation that will enable them to resume duties at the various foreign missions,” he said.

Reacting to Elemumelu’s motion, the Speaker of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila, directed the Committee on Foreign Affairs to investigate the allegations.

He thereafter ordered the committee to report back to the House in the next four weeks.

Meanwhile, the House also called for improved security around the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, following recent attacks.

Turkey Dismisses France Allegations Of Naval Aggression

Turkish deminers search and clear landmines in the Salah al-Din area, south of the Libyan capital Tripoli, on June 15, 2020. – Human Rights Watch earlier this month accused pro-Haftar forces of laying Russian and Soviet-era landmines as they withdrew from Tripoli’s southern districts. A team of Turkish deminers arrived in Tripoli last week to bring their expertise, under a broader military cooperation agreement signed late last year between Tripoli and Ankara. (Photo by Mahmud TURKIA / AFP)

 

Turkey on Thursday dismissed as “groundless” allegations by France that Turkish frigates had been “extremely aggressive” towards a French navy vessel participating in a NATO mission in the Mediterranean.

“It is clear the allegations are groundless and deliberate,” said a senior Turkish military official who did not wish to be named, after the French defence ministry on Wednesday denounced the frigates’ action as “unacceptable by an ally”.

France said its sailors were trying to check a cargo ship on suspicion it was taking arms to Libya — forbidden under a UN embargo.

Turkish frigates carried out radar targeting three times, suggesting a missile strike was imminent, the unnamed French defence ministry official said.

But the Turkish military official said the French vessel conducted a “high-speed and dangerous manoeuvre… that was in violation of safety rules at sea and NATO procedures”.

The Turkish ship only “observed the vessel with the camera integrated into the fire-control radar”, the official said, as a safety measure.

“There was no communication relay from the French ship to our ship during the incident.”

READ ALSO: EU Hopes US Pullout Of Digital Tax Talks Not ‘Definitive’

French Defence Minister Florence Parly brought the matter up during a videoconference with her NATO counterparts on Wednesday, her office said.

Relations between France and Turkey have become strained in recent months over Ankara’s backing of the UN-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli.

Since security and maritime deals were signed late last year, Turkey has stepped up its support of the GNA with drones, military advisors and sending Syrian fighters.

This support has helped turn the tide in the conflict after military strongman Khalifa Haftar launched an offensive in April 2019 to capture Tripoli from the GNA.

A French presidential official on Sunday lambasted Turkey’s “aggressive” intervention in the Libya conflict, and accused Ankara of violating a UN arms embargo.

Although France publicly denies the claim, Paris has long been suspected of favouring Haftar, who has the backing of Egypt, Russia and the United Arab Emirates.

AFP

Indian Ministry Website Crashes In Repatriation ‘Panic’

Stranded migrant workers sit in a waiting hall before registering with police officials for a movement pass to be able to return to their hometowns after the government eased a nationwide lockdown imposed as a preventive measure against the COVID-19 coronavirus, on the outskirts of Hyderabad on May 5, 2020. NOAH SEELAM / AFP.

 

The Indian civil aviation ministry’s website crashed on Wednesday as panicked citizens abroad rushed to register for a mass repatriation of almost 15,000 nationals from 12 countries on planes and naval ships.

India banned all incoming international flights in late March as it imposed one of the world’s strictest virus lockdowns, leaving hundreds of thousands of workers and students stranded abroad.

Two ships were steaming towards the Maldives to evacuate some 1,000 Indian citizens from Friday while another was headed for the Gulf, according to the navy and the defence ministry.

The first of 64 flights over the next week were due to leave the United Arab Emirates — home to more than three million Indians — and Qatar on Thursday bound for the southern state of Kerala.

In total 26 flights will bring Indians home from the Gulf region, while others will operate from Southeast Asia, Britain and the United States, including in San Francisco and Washington.

Indian media quoted civil aviation minister Hardeep Puri as saying that 200,000 Indians abroad had registered for repatriation and that the final number could be twice that.

His ministry blamed the crashing of its website on “unprecedented traffic” and urged people to check the website of Air India, which is operating the flights, for details.

Kerala is the biggest source of Indians in the Gulf.

OV Mustafa, the director of Norka Roots, a government welfare body for non-resident Keralites, told AFP that the people were “desperate” and in a “panic”.

READ ALSO: India Embarks On ‘Massive’ COVID-19 Repatriation

“There are about 200,000 people who have registered to go to Kerala from the UAE alone,” he said.

“People are worried about the lack of clarity on the testing procedure. Especially pregnant women. They’re absolutely worried that people, even if they are asymptomatic, might be carriers. It’s a real fear.”

AFP

2017 Budget: Dalung Solicits Additional 23bn Naira For Ministry

Solomon Dalung, 2017 Budget, MinistryThe Minister of Youth and Sports, Mr Solomon Dalung, has appealed to the National Assembly to include about 23 billion Naira to the ministry’s 2017 budget.

He explained that the addition is for the shortfall of over 100,000 prospective corps members participating in the national youth service scheme in 2017.

Mr Dalung made the appeal during a budget defence session before the House Committee on Youth Development on Thursday in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital.

He revealed that some funds in 2016 were not appropriated, adding that it had a negative effect on the accomplishments of some major government programmes geared towards youth development.

The minister further sought for the support of the committee for extra funding for the ministry.

The Chairman of the House Committee, Adekola Segun, noted that the plea is one the committee identifies with.

In another development, the Auditor-General of the Federation, Anthony Ayine, appeared before the House Committee on Public Accounts to defend their 2017 budget proposal.

Mr Ayine stressed the need to fund the agency adequately in order to discharge its mandate of improving accountability in the 500 Ministries, Departments and Agencies of government.

He explained that while the office needs over 4.6 billion Naira for the year, only about 2.7 billion Naira has been allocated for the agency.

After much defence, the lawmakers agreed that the agency needed more funds.

The Deputy Chairman of the committee, Ibrahim Baba, pledged that the lawmakers would ensure that the agency was put on a first line charge.

Senate Insists Ministries Must Abide By Law On Purchase Of Made In Nigeria Goods

bukola-saraki-displays-made-in-nigeria-bagThe Senate in Nigeria says it will come down hard on any Ministry, Department or Agencies (MDAs) of the government which violates the Public Procurement Law.

The law which compels the MDAs to give preference to locally produced goods in Nigeria.

Senate President Bukola Saraki gave the warning on Friday at a meeting with members of Leather and Allied Products Manufacturers Association of Abia State.

He decried huge revenue of the nation that goes into buying foreign goods.

More than two trillion Naira is spent annually on purchasing goods, he said.

The Senate President further assured the manufacturers that the National Assembly would ensure that a large chunk of the funds go into the pocket of Nigerian manufacturers.

He also urged Senate Committee Chairmen to ensure in the course of their oversight duties, that MDAs comply with the provision of the law on patronage of local manufacturers.

Senator Saraki further asked military and para-military agencies to emulate the Army by procuring items like boots and other needs locally.

The Nigerian had bought boots from local manufacturers in Aba, a popular town in Abia state, known for manufacturing of clothing, shoes and other items.

Madagascar Names New Minister

madagascar
Hery Rajaonarimampianina says government is ready to alleviate poverty

Madagascar President, Hery Rajaonarimampianina, on Sunday announced the replacement of eight ministers, including a new finance minister, after dissolving the government earlier this month amid mounting public frustration over power and other issues.

Air force commander and businessman, Jean Ravelonarivo, was sworn in as the new premier.

There were innovations in the Ministries of health, culture, trade among others. While 22 other ministers maintained their jobs.

Maurice Gervais Rakotoarimanana, an accountant who has worked with the World Bank, would be the next Minister of Finance and budget.

The president said in a press conference that special attention would be given to building the energy sector saying, “This government is ready to fight. Ready to fight against poverty, ready to fight for the development of infrastructure, for education, for health”.

The mineral-rich island nation has been struggling to rebuild its economy which was crippled after a coup in 2009 that drove away donors and investors.

A peaceful election in 2013 has redeemed the nation a bit, but it is still struggling to impose stable government and economic. Challenges remain such as weaning the nation off fuel and electricity subsidies.

According to analysis by the International Monetary Fund released last week, Madagascar’s economy boosted about 3 percent in 2014, and could also increase by 5 percent this year if it can increase tax revenue and improve the business climate.

Madagascar is one of the world’s poorest countries, despite its reserves of nickel, cobalt, gold, uranium and other minerals.

Orubebe tells NGOs to criticise FG constructively

The Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Elder Godsday Orubebe, has called on Non-Governmental Organisations (NGO) existent in Nigeria to criticise the government constructively.

The minister was speaking after an NGO, Anti-Corruption Network, headed by a former member of the House of Representatives, Mr. Dino Melaye, accused his ministry of involvement in fictitious contracts totalling N29 billion between 2010 and 2011.

The projects as alleged by Melaye are Canalisation/River Training Centre in Foupolobulou Ndoro Creek; canalisation contract and the Land Reclamation/Shoreline protection project at Ogbobagbene in Burutu Local Government Area.

Mr. Melaye said the scam involved payments for “phantom projects”, over-budgeting and violation of Bureau of Public Procurement guidelines for the award of government contracts.

Kidnapped Spanish doctor gains freedom

After weeks of frantic search, Spanish doctor; José Manuel Machimbarrena Corcuera kidnapped in Nigeria’s South Eastern city of Enugu April 4th has been freed and in good health, according to the Spanish Foreign Ministry and Nigerian police.

Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo; Spain’s Foreign Minister said in Madrid that the man was believed to have been abducted and that his disappearance “has all the characteristics of a kidnapping for economic reasons.”

“Mister Corcuera was released on Friday,” a ministry spokesman said but did not divulge details of the circumstances that led to his freedom.

He said the man had been seized for ransom, but it is not clear if any ransom was paid, on the insistence of discretion from the doctor’s employers in the matter.

The 58-year-old doctor, works for a clinic belonging to a foundation financially supported by a Catholic institution called Opus Dei in Nigeria.

His kidnap, which sparked an outrage in his home country due to his work in missions, resulted in a 24-hour manhunt of his abductors until he was released, according to Enugu Police Spokesman Ebere Amaraizu.

The Spanish embassy worked hand in hand and tirelessly with Nigeria till he was confirmed alive and free so also were they in constant contact Dr. Jose’s family down in Madrid.

Kidnappings has been the order of the day in southern Nigeria for a while now  as ransom are being demanded before release of hostages mostly in the oil-producing region of the country; the Niger Delta and following payment of the requested ransom, they release the victims unharmed.

A recent event of kidnap which would have caused diplomatic rancour between Nigeria, Britain and Italy as Italian authorities pointed accusing fingers at Britain for non-dissemination of information was that of the kidnap of a Briton and an Italian by  Islamist group Boko Haram, which is concentrated mainly in northern Nigeria.

With a botched coded mission carried out after the hideout of the hostages were known, both hostages died in crossfire between government forces and the Islamist group.