Oshiomhole Sacks Permanent Secretary, Seals off Benin Museum

The Edo State Governor, Adams Oshiomhole has approved the immediate retirement of the Permanent Secretary in the state Ministry of Environment and Public Utilities, H. A. Ikhelowa for dereliction of duty.

The Governor also ordered the immediate sealing of the Museum in the state capital and arrest of the Manager over illegal operation and non-maintenance of the ground.

The Governor’s approval for the retirement of the Permanent Secretary is contained in a letter signed by the Secretary to the State Government, Julius Ihonvbere.

The letter dated 4 January 2013 also approved the immediate suspension of Nicholas Osemwengie, Acting General Manager, Edo State Waste Management Board and the Director-in-charge of Street Lights in the Edo State Ministry of Environment and Public Utilities, Ejemai Martins.

According to the letter, their cases have been referred to the Edo State Civil Service Commission for further action.

The governor’s took these actions after an inspection of some projects in Benin City, the state capital on Friday where he saw heaps of refuse in parts of the city and people displaying wares on the walkways and roads.

During his inspection of the Museum ground, Mr Oshiomhole expressed dissatisfaction with the heaps of refuse left by fun-seekers at the place.

He said the manager of the Museum sublet the place for business without the government’s authority.

He also ordered the arrest of a woman found cooking on sensitive equipment connected to the water fountain at the Museum.

During his inspection of the Oba Market road, Mr Oshiomhole ordered the instant seizure of wares displayed on the walkways and the road by traders and directed the immediate evacuation of dirt which littered the road.

Pete Edochie Is Not Dead

The President of the Actors Guild of Nigeria, Ibinabo Fiberesima, on Saturday debunked an online report claiming that veteran actor, Pete Edochie, had died after falling off a cliff in Austria.
In a facebook message reply to Channels Television’s enquiry, Ms Fiberesima said: “Actors Guild of Nigeria, AGN, can authoritatively confirm that Pete Edochie is alive, hale and healthy. Please disregard the rumour about his death.”

A website, Global Associated News, claimed that Mr Edochie died while filming a movie in Kitzbühel, Austria early Saturday.

“Preliminary reports from Austrian Police officials indicate that the actor fell more than 50 feet to his death in a remote area of the Hahnenkamm Mountains while on-set during the filming of a movie.

“Specific details are not yet available. The accident occurred at approximately 4:30 a.m. (UTC/GMT +12).

“Additional details and information will be forthcoming,” the report said.

The false report created a buzz on social media as commentators sought to find out the truth.

EFCC wants N21 billion to fight corruption in 2013

The Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Larmode on Monday said the commission is not able to meet the aspirations of Nigerians in carrying out its mandate of fighting corruption due to limited budgetary allocation.

Mr Lamorde was speaking during the budget proposal defence by the Commission before the House of Representatives’ committee on drugs, narcotics and financial crimes.

Mr Lamorde, presented a budget proposal of N21, 028,488,772.90 for 2013, before the National Assembly.

He gave the breakdown of the proposed budget as follows: Capital Expenditure: N11,412,803,582.50; Personnel Cost : N6,514,525,127,00; and Overhead Cost: N3,101,160,063.40.

Mr Lamorde said the EFCC proposal of N21.02 billion as against the N9.3 billion approved by the Budget Office of the Federation leaves a gap of N11.3 billion which could impact adversely on the operation of the agency.

He said: “for 2013, the EFCC requested for N6.51 Billion for personnel cost, and only N5.8 was appropriated by the Budget Office, leaving a short fall of N710 Million. Due to this short fall, the Commission would not be able to meet its personnel cost fully in 2013.”

Also speaking during the commission’s budget proposal defence, the Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Drugs, Narcotics and Financial Crimes, Jagaba Adams Jagaba decried the poor funding of the EFCC by the executive arm of government.

He said “It is even more saddening when funds have been appropriated for the agency in the budget of the federation by the National Assembly and the funds are not released.” He said.

The lawmaker further said: “we are not happy because if truly we want EFCC to work, EFCC must be funded properly. We cannot expect the EFCC to work with nothing. For instance, during the 2012 budget consideration, we discovered that nothing was proposed under Legal Services; the Committee then appropriated N200 million for legal services, but the executive said no to that. We are calling on those saddled with the release of budgeted funds to release the balance of your money under the 2012 budget.”

It would be recalled that the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Drugs, Narcotics, Financial Crimes and Anti-Corruption, Victor Lar had last month advocated proper funding of the EFCC if the war against corruption and economic crimes in Nigeria is to be taken seriously.

Mr Lar had said that there exists a want of harmony between the verbal pronouncements of the government and the financing of the fight against economic and financial crimes.

While advocating for proper funding of the Commission, the senator said more needs to be done with regards to building capacity of staff of the EFCC. “It is not in doubt that the expectation of the Nigerians on the direction, speed, scope, effectiveness in the fight against corruption rests with the economic and financial crimes commission”, he declared.

Military demands apology from Reuters over video clip

The Nigerian Defence Headquarters (DHQ) on Wednesday demanded an unreserved apology from Reuters International over the video clip it circulating alleging that soldiers with the military Joint Task Force killed unarmed civilians in Maiduguri.

It described the claims as not only spurious and malicious, but also aimed at discrediting the image of the Nigerian Armed Forces.
The army said the apology must be given the same level of publicity given the ‘malicious report.’

Colonel Mohammed Yerima, Director of Defence Information, addressed a joint media briefing that had in attendance Director of Army Public Relations, Brigadier-General Bola Koleoso, and Director of Airforce Public Relations, Air Commodore Yusuf Anas.

He said: “The attention of the DHQ has been drawn to a video clip released by Reuters International, alleging that a soldier filmed his colleagues while they were summarily executing civilians in Maiduguri, Borno State.

“In spite of the fact that Reuters has already withdrawn the malicious report, citing lack of authenticity, the DHQ wishes to protest in very strong terms this pattern of reportage by a section of the Nigerian media in which the time honoured practice of getting both sides of the story are jettisoned on the alter of sensationalism.

“For the avoidance of doubt, we wish to inform the media that after viewing the video clip and conducting search from our achieves, we want to state that the video clip is not new.

“It was shown on Al Jazeera network on February 4, 2010, alleging Nigerian army soldiers killing civilians in Jos.

“As a result of the Al Jazeera network report, Directorate of Army Public Relations had cause to make a press release debunking the allegation which appeared in some Nigerian daily newspapers between February 4 and 8, 2010.

“The general public was reassured that the Nigerian soldiers were not the ones being depicted in the video clips.

“Contrary to Reuters report and video clip, the Nigerian Army does not use the type of vehicle shown on internal security operations and especially not in JTF operations.

“Also, the vegetation in the video clip is not vegetation obtainable in Maiduguri or in any arid region in Nigeria.”

“The Nigerian Army on internal security operations does not use belts over their camouflage uniforms. In fact, it is only the Guards Brigade based in Abuja that uses their belt over camouflage uniforms in the army.”

Nigerian Bar admits 3, 897 new lawyers

A total of 3,897 candidates were on Tuesday called to the Nigerian Bar, after meeting requirements of the Nigerian Law School.

The Director General of the Nigerian Law School, Tahir Mamman, disclosed this known in Abuja at the presentation of successful candidates of the 2011/2012 session for call to the bar.

He said a total of nine candidates made First Class Honours, 195 made Second Class (Upper Division), 900 made Second Class (Lower Division), while 2,793 Candidates graduated with Pass.

He expressed optimism that the qualification obtained in the Bar programme would enable them to build their career.

“It is our hope that the education and qualification obtained in the programme have provided you with the requisite foundation to a more fulfilling life in all the sectors of the nation’s economy.

“The design and delivery of your current training under the new curriculum is meant to equip you with the toolkit that will enable you create a job for yourself and others.

“It is meant to make you look out for a wider horizon rather than limit you to the narrow confines of a traditional legal practitioner,’’ he said.

He restated the commitment of the school to uphold and enforce the values of honesty, integrity and good conduct.

The Chairman of the Body of Benchers, Idowu Sofola, called on the new Barristers to join the struggle for the eradication of corruption from the judiciary and the society at large.

He enjoined them to act fairly and with good conscience, adding that “this is a noble profession and only the nobles should be called to the Nigerian Bar.’’

He further enjoined them to make `Rules of Professional Conduct their daily guide, so as to excel in their chosen career.

Lagos-Ibadan expressway: FG kicks out Bi-Courtney, award contracts to Berger, RCC

The Federal Government on Monday terminated the concession of the Lagos-Ibadan expressway granted to Bi-Courtney consortium on May 2009.

The termination of the concession contract follows the promise made by President Goodluck Jonathan during Sunday’s media chat where he promised to ‘fix the Lagos-Ibadan expressway’.

“As a responsible government, I don’t think we can allow Nigerians to continue to suffer. All of us in government, we feel pained that the country is held ransom because of a transaction that probably was not consummated properly because of some kind of issues. But we cannot continue like this, we will intervene on that road,” President Jonathan had said.

Announcing the end of the contract between Bi-Courtney and the government at a press conference in Abuja, the Minister of Works, Mike Onolememen said the termination of the concession is consequent on the serial breaches of the concession agreement by Bi-Courtney consortium and especially the failure of the company to reach financial close as provided for in the agreement.

The Minister said: “The Federal Government today terminated the concession of the Lagos-Ibadan expressway granted to Bi-Courtney Consortium on 8th May, 2009.

“The termination of the concession agreement by Bi-Courtney consortium and especially the failure of the company to reach financial close as provided for in the agreement.

“Due to the senseless carnages on this important expressway which is part of Arterial Route A1, the Federal Government has also decided to embark on the emergency reconstruction of the expressway.

“Consequently, the Federal ministry of Works has engaged the services of Julius Berger Plc and R.C.C Nigeria Limited to commence work immediately on the reconstruction of the expressway.

“While Julius Berger would handle handle section 1: from Lagos to Shagamu interchange, RCC Nigeria Limited will be responsible for section II: from Shagamu to Ibadan.

“The Federal Government wishes to assure that while it will continue to uphold the sanctity of contracts entered into by the Federal Government, it will not shy away from implementing provisions of the contract agreement dealing with non-performance on the part of the contracting party.”

On the legal implication of terminating the contract he said, “The legal implications of this termination have been carefully considered by both the Federal Ministry of Works and indeed the Federal Government. If you recall, we have been on this issue for quiet sometime now and we have meticulously followed the concession agreement, the provision of relevant clauses of the agreement.

“We have complied fully with the provisions of this agreement. We have had cause even in the past to write the concessioneer to detail the breaches which it had committed in this agreement in this particular transaction and we have also followed the minimum and maximum number of days the contractor was expected to remedy the situation but failing which the Federal Government had no alternative but to take this course of action”.

“In terms of percentage payment so far, this is a concessioned project. In other words it is different from the normal EPC contracts, so the FG in a sense did not make any direct payment to Bi-Courteny in this particular transaction. Bi-Courteny was supposed to raise, he would have been able to raise the fund from the private sector and apply it to the construction of this expressway and toll it for as many as 25 years, to recoup his investment and this has not happened, and that is why today the concession has been terminated.

“For your information, under this concession, the construction period is supposed to last for four years and the four years will come to a close in about six months’ time and right now there is nothing on ground to suggest that the company is capable.”

On whether it was a mistake to have given the concession to Bi-Courteny he said, “I would not want to say that it was a mistake, because though I was not in the office as at that time, perhaps at that time they had the most responsible bids, the details is best known to the then minister of works and his team that handled the project. But again it is not out of place to give Nigerian companies opportunities to handle projects of this nature. This is our country, whoever has the ability and the capacity to do projects of this nature we believe should be encouraged”.

On the percentage of work done on the road he said, “I will leave that for those who use the road. As far as we are concerned the terms of work has not been complied with”.

We need action from politicians not media chats – Lawyer

An Abuja based lawyer, Ismaeel Ahmed on Monday said what Nigerians need actions from politicians that would improve the living conditions in the country not media chats.

Speaking as a guest on Channels Television’s breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily, Mr Ahmed rated the performance of President Goodluck Jonathan in Sunday’s presidential media chat as ‘one of his best’.

“At least he didn’t say he didn’t give a damn about certain things,” Mr Ahmed said.

According to the legal practitioner, the answers President Jonathan provided to certain questions suggested that ‘he was running for office rather than running an office.’

Nollywood Actor, Peter Eneh Is Dead

Veteran actor, Peter Eneh is dead. He died on Thursday in Enugu State.

The actor who last month had one of his legs amputated by doctors at the Enugu State University Teaching Hospital, died in the same hospital.
Eneh’s death was confirmed by the Special Assistant to the Enugu state governor on Media, Afam Okereke, who is also an actor.

The veteran actor was said to have sustained an injury last year, and because he didn’t take proper care of it, it led to serious infection that became hard to treat. The injury was said to have degenerated to a sore and because Eneh was diabetic, it refused to heal.

He reportedly spent three months at the hospital before he was advised to get the leg amputated to reduce the risk of the infection spreading to other parts of his body.

The deceased actor featured in several films including Heavy Rain, Arrows, By His Grace, Ngozi: Abeg Marry Us, Naomi, The Suitors and Not Your Wealth.

Ribadu lied; Oronsaye attended committee meetings – Ogunkunle

A fellow of the Chartered Institute of Accountants, Ademola Ogunkunle on Thursday said, contrary to the allegations of the Chairman of the Petroleum Revenue Task force, Nuhu Ribadu that Steve Oronsaye never attended the panel’s meetings; that the former head of civil service attended four of eight meetings.

Speaking as a guest on Channels Television’s breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily, Mr Ogunkunle said he was privy to the minutes of the 26-man committee and that Mr Oronsaye’s name appeared on the attendance register of four of the panel’s meeting.

There was a faceoff between Mr Ribadu and Oronsaye during the presentation of the committee’s report to President Goodluck Jonathan with the former accusing the latter of not participating in the panel’s work.

Mr Oronsaye also disclaimed the report presented by Mr Ribadu insisting that the figures in the report were not verified.

Former lawmaker says Oronsaye not fit for public office

A former member of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Babatunde Ogala, who was also a discussant on Sunrise Daily said what Mr Oronsaye did on the day his committee presented its report to President Goodluck Jonathan was ‘a show of shame.’

He said the former Head of Service ‘has shown himself to be a man that is even not fit to hold any office in this country.”

The former lawmaker said it was irresponsible for Mr Oronsaye to have verbally disclaimed a report presented by a committee he was a part of, without presenting a minority report to the President.

“If you did not agree with the majority report, have yours ready,” he said.

Finance Minister is playing Anambra politics – Ifeanyi Uba

The Managing Director of Capital Oil and Gas, Ifeanyi Uba on Monday accused the Coordinating Minister of the Economy and Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala of using her position to engage in local politics.

Speaking as a guest on Channels Television’s programme, Sunrise Daily, Mr Uba said the Minister is also assuming the position of a god.

“She’s playing Anambra state politics with her job and reputation. She is assuming to be god; she’s not god,” he said.

Uba denies receiving help from Maduka; calls Cosharis group ‘pure water’ business

The Managing Director of Capital Oil and gas, Ifeanyi Uba on Monday denied claims by the Chief Executive Officer of Cosharis group, Cosmos Maduka that he offered him (Mr Uba) a lifeline when his business was in the brink of collapse.

“Is it by his pure water business that he’ll be able to come and help me,” Mr Uba, who was a guest on Channels Television’s breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily, asked.

Mr Uba said he believes politicians were influencing the Cosharis boss, whom he referred to as an uncle, to engage in the media war with him.

Mr Maduka had claimed that since Mr Uba and his company (Capital Oil and Gas) were labelled by most commercial banks in Nigeria as ‘unbankable’, he helped the oil merchant to obtain a loan of $180 million from Access Bank to finance the importation of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS).

The Cosharis boss also alleged that 10 letters of credit were opened and that of the 10 expected cargoes, only six were delivered.

Disputing Mr Maduka’s claims, Mr Ubah said “everything about that story is false.”

When asked if it was true that he is indebted to Access Bank to the tune of N21 billion, Mr Uba said ‘you can’t eat your cake and have it’.

He said the loan he obtained from the bank was what he used to import petrol of which his company is yet to receive subsidy payment. “The money is sitting in Access Bank,” he said.

“Access Bank is the consignee of all the vessels imported. Therefore, if they are accusing of fraud, then it is all of us together,” he added.