The Nigerian Army has confirmed the death of a large number of Boko Haram terrorists after an encounter with the insurgents between Maiduguri and Damboa towns on Borno State on Friday.
The military however noted that “a mopping operation will determine the number of terrorists who died in the encounter with troops on patrol”.
The clash followed the troops’ move to stop the terrorists who were in the process of attacking the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) Engineers who were working to restore power to parts of Borno State.
“A large number of the terrorists died in the process while their IED laden Hilux vehicle was destroyed”, the army said in statement published on their website.
The troops also captured a Hilux vehicle earlier stolen by the terrorists from the Borno State Ministry of Education which they have repainted and mounted with an Ant-Aircraft Gun.
Other weapons recovered by troops include Rocket Propelled Grenades and rifles, but “two soldiers died in the encounter”.
Meanwhile, Military Engineer Troops, who have been clearing terrorists IEDs and effecting repairs on bridges, repelled an attack while working on a bridge around Husara, killing several terrorists in the encounter.
A total of 4 General Purpose Machine Guns, 3 rifles and 2 Rocket Propelled Grenade Launcher were captured from the terrorists during the encounter. One soldier however died while 3 others were wounded in the encounter.
The army further maintained that “troops are conducting land patrol of towns including Mubi, Uba, Garkida, Muva and others in Adamawa State as the advance by coordinated air and land operations continues in areas where the counter terrorists campaign is ongoing to clear terrorists operating in the state.
A legal practitioner, Mr John Oloyede, on Wednesday said corrupt practices in the Nigerian judicial system should no longer surprise Nigerians as it is part and parcel of that arm of government.
“It is no longer a surprise; it is part and parcel of our existence in the judicial arm of government and one can only hope that the situation will get better”, he said on Channels Television Sunrise Daily, adding that “that is where some of us make our daily living”.
He noted that there was a report jointly signed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) and the United Nations office on Drugs and Crimes that fingered the judiciary of collecting “big money bribes” compared to other government agencies and parastatals that collect bribes frequently.
He also pointed out that these corrupt practices predates the tenure of the present Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Maryam Aloma Mukhtar, who had noted that corruption is rampant among judiciary employees including secretaries, court registrars, process clerks and bailiffs nationwide.
“The Chief Justice of Nigeria only came into office in 2012 and that was the preface of her coming into office”, adding that she told the Senate during her screening that “she is going to do the major work of wiping corruption as long as she is there”.
He argued that though there are corrupt officials amongst the judges, clerks and bailiffs, “about 90 per cent of them are actually clean. It just that the few ones that are bad tarnish the image of the very good ones who are more; they are the silent majority”.
He also alleged that those engaged in the “big money corruption” as reported by the NBS, EFCC and UN Office for Drugs and Crimes are the “secretaries and registrars” adding that “the average amount that is demanded is about $87 as compared to Customs, Police, Water Corporation and NEPA, where the average amount demanded is something like $80.
“So you are not talking about hundreds of millions. The aggregate of it is so tiny because the money is demanded by the support staff”, he added.
He further noted that the few corrupt judges “could either be complicit or innocent; a judge is so powerful that he can write a ruling and turn a night to day” maintaining that “it is only by appreciating the full extent of their powers that some of these corrupt judges will fully appreciate how much they are affecting the economic life of Nigerians.
“There are high level corrupt practices going on and there are low level corrupt practices going on within the judiciary and known to everybody” warning that “it is not about the judges alone”, he maintained.
The legal practitioner further noted that since CJN assumed office, the disciplinary committee and the NJC have done well in checking the excesses of judges.
“The last time something was ever done, ironically, was under Abacha’s regime. Some judges were sacked based on the Justice Kayode Esho’s report” adding that “as soon as the Chief Justice of Nigeria came on board, two judges were dismissed, one was given a stern warning, one voluntarily retired and became a traditional ruler, instead of facing the onslaught of investigation.
“That was because the Chief Justice of Nigeria showed them that it is not going to be business as usual”, he said.
He commended the efforts of Justice Mukhtar in ridding the judiciary of corrupt officials and practices and hoped that the next person to assume office will continue from where she stopped.
Meanwhile, another legal practitioner, Mr Ikechukwu Ikeji, noted that there is not “outstanding” reform that has been carried out by the CJN since she is assumed office especially with regards to the criminal justice system, insisting that it only touches the system.
“For example, we saw a judge who decided to go for a slap on the wrist in giving a judgment on pension scam, that the CJN ensured was brought to book.
“It touches on the criminal justice system how judges are expected to apply criminal justice laws in cases before them”, he said adding that “we saw how the judge mishandled the case (pension scam case) and used the least punishment to conclude the case and we saw how the CJN also stepped in to suspend him and some other such cases.
“So why I may not say there is a direct intervention in the criminal justice system in terms of institutionalising or procedural changes is because actions against judges that misbehave touches on the effects eventually”, he said on Sunrise Daily.
He warned that due to the lack of a proper institution, the reforms put in place by Justice Mukhtar may not last the test of time, noting that “if you tabulate the problems and you put indices against the problems in the judiciary, you will realise that most of them do not actually touch on personalities; they touch on the weak structure and loop holes.
“For example, the mode of appointment, funding, composition of the NJC, social relationships” insisting that some of these things do not have direct personal implications, they have structural issues that when taken care of, who ever comes in there will have no option than to toe the line”.
He further noted that Nigeria’s judiciary system is taking the principle of fair hearing to a “ridiculous extent” and opined that it is “necessary to look at some of those principles that highlight right to fair hearing and see how we can tweak them to achieve our purposes” adding that stay of proceedings has over the years shown to be a negative instrument to delay justice.
The Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Maryam Aloma Mukhtar, lamented yesterday there are real cases of massive corruption in the judiciary which have impugned its integrity.
While speaking at the opening of a national workshop organised by the National Judicial Institute (NJI), Mukhtar noted corruption is rampant among judiciary employees including secretaries, court registrars, process clerks and bailiffs nationwide.
She also noted that the conduct of these employees was in increasing breach of the Code of Court for judiciary staff.
Mukhtar warned that any act of misconduct and breach of the code would be punished decisively to arrest the eroding public confidence in the judicial process.
The Kano Electricity Distribution Company (KEDCO), says it is looking into the possibility of out-sourcing some of disengaged Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) workers to further enhance productivity.
The Managing Director of KEDCO, Mr Jamilu Gwamna, said over four hundred workers inherited from the old PHCN were sacked due to lack of efficiency during a four day separation and retirement workshop organized for the disengaged staff.
Gwamna said that the training was aimed at assisting the participants with skills that would make them self-employed.
“This training does not mean the end of our relationship with them, because those found worthy will be re-engaged to work in our company.
“The essence of this workshop is also to ensure that they do not feel as if they were just thrown away, but it is to encourage them in building their future,’’ he said.
Gwamna added that the idea of the workshop is to empower the retirees with knowledge of economic management and entrepreneurship development .
Gwamna, who noted that retirees are expected to establish themselves with the benefits they receive from the federal government, explained that the training is to also prepare their minds on the fact that their services may be needed in the near future.
HE also disclosed that all the disengaged staff had been paid their entitlements by the government.
Retirees at the workshop expressed optimism that the workshop will prepare their minds on good and useful investment with their hard earned money.
Meanwhile, the Kano Electricity Distribution Company says it has already employed fresh graduates to fill the vacuum left by the retirees and promised an improved productivity in the commercial city of Kano.
The President has visited Warri in Delta State to join in the celebration of the 26th Jubilee Festival of the Word of Life Bible Church and the birthday of the President of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Ayo Oritsejafor.
President Goodluck Jonathan during his address assured Nigerians that the country is on the right path to development in spite of its present challenges, adding that there are evidences of the improvements.
President Jonathan said the Transformation Agenda is on course and urged Nigerians to continue to support his policies and programmes for the betterment of the country.
He said Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has seen a leap by about seven percent, adding that the growth has been confirmed by several international rating agencies.
The President and Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor however disagreed on compensation for victims of Boko Haram attacks in the North.
While the CAN President asked the Federal Government to immediately set up a compensation committee for victims, President Jonathan insisted that his administration would not pay compensation but would only assist victims of the Islamic sect’s onslaughts.
On efforts to restore sanity in that part of the country, President Jonathan said the State of Emergency declared in some states of the North has recorded significant progress.
He assured Nigerians that the Federal Government would continue to do its best to flush out the insurgents and restore sanity and commended the military for being proactive in the war against terrorism.
President Jonathan also assured Nigerians that the country would witness stable electricity supply with the recent privatisation of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) and its subsidiaries.
The service was attended by Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan, his counterparts from Cross River and Plateau states, Liyel Imoke and Jonah Jang respectively as well as representatives of Bayelsa and Benue governors, traditional rulers and other eminent Nigerians.
The Federal Government on Wednesday said investors will soon take over for Kaduna Distribution Company and Afam Power Plant after the financial bids for the companies was concluded.
The announcement for the winners of the 11 distribution companies unbundled from the defunct Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) is expected in a few days.
The Director General of the Bureau for Public Enterprise, Mr. Benjamin Dikki says new owners should be ready to take over by September this year.
Six companies have placed bid for the Kaduna Distribution Company while two for the Afam Power Plant.
The federal government is in the process of breaking up the defunct Power Holding Company of Nigeria into 17 private generation and distribution companies and selling them for about $2.5 billion as part of efforts to increase electricity output over the next seven years.
After the presentation of grounds rules, confirmation of submitted bids and eventual opening of the bids, Northwest Power Limited ranked highest for the Kaduna Distribution Company while Taleveras Group put in a bid of $260 million for the Afam Power Plant.
The result of the preferred bidders is expected in a few days.
The conclusion of negotiations with the preferred bidders is expected to lead to the handover of The Power Holding Company Of Nigeria (PHCN) successor Generation Companies (GENCOS) and Successor Distribution Companies (DISCOS) by the federal government.
Not less than 20 communities in the capital of Oyo state, Ibadan, have been plunged into darkness following a 3-hour rainstorm that destroyed several Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) installations in the city, living some persons dead and many others injured and homeless.
The rainstorm which started around 11pm Sunday night and lasted about 3hours , caused monumental damage to homes, schools, markets, places of worship, and other business premises.
Several power lines installed by PHCN were also destroyed leaving about 20 communities without power in the ancient city.
The Assistant General Manager Public Affairs Ibadan Distribution Company, Mr. Jide Oyenuga, confirmed that areas like Apata , Mokola, Felele have been plunged into darkness as a result of the rainstorm and disclosed that inventory is still being taken for other affected areas within the city.
Some of the other areas affected include Felele, Eyin Grammar, Sanyo, Bashorun , Apata, Mokola, Ring Road, Olomi, Idi Ayunre, Molete, Oke Ado etc.
Residents who spoke to Channels Television explained that the whirlwind which preceded the rain started suddenly and lasted only 20 minutes before the rains came in torrents.
At one of the affected local government areas, the transition chairman of Oluyole local government, Honourable Ayodeji Abass Alesinloye sued for calm among residents and called on the federal and state governments to assist the displaced.
Though the magnitude of the storm is yet to determined, it has been described by many as the fiercest yet, as it hauled almost everything within its trajectory for 20 minutes and ushered in rain that poured for 3 hours unabated.
The Oyo state capital has in the last two years recorded massive flooding that has destroyed property and displaced a number of people.
The New Minister of Power, Professor Chinedu Nebo has declared zero tolerance for sabotuers of the power sector reform.
The minister has stated that government will not hesitate to deal with anyone who plans to destabilize the smooth transition in the power sector in line with the on-going privatisation of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN).
He gave the warning at a technical session of the presidential task force on power in Abuja which had government officials and industry experts in attendance.
Here, the work of the task force will be x-rayed and assessed by the experts.
Professor Nebo expressed his belief that decades of neglect is responsible for the rot in the power sector and stated that it will soon be a thing of the past.
However, analysts worry that it may take a lot more than words of caution to stop sabotage in the sector starting with the uncertainties trailing the management contract of the Transmission Company of Nigeria by Canadian firm Manitoba Hydro.
Critics and analysts have commented that the TCN /Manitoba issue seems to have become a game of to be or not to be which the Federal Government insists will be sorted in the nearest future.
Professor Nebo has also pointed out that any official in the power distribution companies found to be sabotaging the revenue collection targets of the market will be made to face the full wrath of the law as government will not tolerate complacency and ineptitude of these companies.
The Federal Government Tuesday denied reports of a significant drop in the country’s power supply.
The Presidential Taskforce on Power (PTFP) stated that the country’s power system only experienced a partial system disturbance, although, it did not disclose the nature of disturbance.
According to a statement from the media adviser to the chairman of PTFP, Mr. Ikeogu Oke, in Abuja, the government admitted that there was a system disturbance which occurred on September 7, 2012 but that it was only temporary and was quickly taken care of to forestall further damage.
He added that the country retained a peak generation of 4,077MW on the same day.
Oke equally stated that there is no vacuum of capable leadership in the Ministry of Power or its complementary PTFP.
Meanwhile, the government has restated its commitment to the successful implementation of the power sector reforms towards achieving improved electricity supply in the country.
Speaking in Lagos Tuesday at the inauguration of the Ikeja Forum for Electricity Consumers, the Minister of State for Power, Mr.Darius Ishaku, stated that the main agenda of the power reform was to provide adequate, reliable and affordable power supply to Nigerians.
He noted that the success recorded so far in power generation was beyond the contribution of any individual and assured that the Federal Government would build on the improvement recorded in electricity supply.
According to him, electricity supply across the country hovers around 4,300megawatts.
On the £2million pension fund of the workers of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN), discovered to have been lodged in Barclays Bank for about 21 years, the minister said the discovery would boost the ongoing negotiation between the workers and the Federal Government.
The minister stated that the Ikeja Forum would help to curb litigations in the power sector and advised consumers to make use of the forum before resorting to other more complicated and more expensive mechanisms of conflict resolutions.
Lagos State Governor Raji Fashola said he supported the intent of the Electric Power Sector Reform Act of 2005 but added that there were modifications he would have suggested.
He stated that the establishment of a customer forum was the most important provision of the Act.
Fashola noted that power supply was the gateway for the country’s journey from poverty to prosperity.
“The importance of power supply underscores our creation of the Lagos State Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources for the first time in the State’s 45-year history,” he said.
The Minister of Power, Prof. Barth Nnaji, today (Saturday) said electricity workers in the country cannot go on strike. He said embarking on a strike action will be unconstitutional and a violation of the laws of the land.
“They are not supposed to go on strike because electricity is an essential service and it is in the law as well and the Supreme Court has even ruled on it to further clarify that workers of the electricity sector are not supposed to go on strike”
Nnaji was speaking at Channels Television’s Weekend Breakfast show, Sunrise Saturday.
He accused electricity workers of placing their personal interest ahead of national interest.
The labour unions however say the federal government has been inconsiderate in its approach to issues raised by the workers of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria.
The Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) has announced the inauguration of strike committees in the 36 states of the federation in solidarity with the electricity workers.
The acting National President of the union, Mr. Promise Adewusi, told journalists at a news conference in Abuja that the outcome of the meeting with government officials on Wednesday next week will determine the cause of action by organized labour.
The union condemned in strong terms what it called “unruly utterances” by the Minister of Power, Professor Barth Nnaji while negotiations are on going.
They also condemned alleged “physical intimidation” of workers with the use of military, under a democratic government even after agreements were reached at the August 15th meeting between the union and government.
The labour movement is demanding an enabling environment for dialogue and withdrawal of military from Power Holding Company offices nationwide.
It demanded a power committee to sincerely address the legitimate concerns of the electricity workers failing which workers will decide on the next line of action to press home their demands.
The Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke has announced major milestones in the Gas Supply Emergency Plan which has helped power generation to reach an unprecedented 4.200MW.
This comes four months after the declaration of the project with a 12 month timeline to address the misalignment in the nation’s gas to power aspirations.
Allison-Madueke was speaking at a news conference in Abuja where she attributed the increase in power generation to the improvement in gas supply.
She listed the items completed in the critical pipeline segments to include a Permanent Gas Supply Pipeline from Itoki to Olorunshogo in Ogun state, the 56km by 24inch escravos-warri gas pipeline – doubling the pipeline capacity and enhancing gas evacuation from escravos as well as the 130km by 36inch Oben to Geregu pipeline.
She explained that the net impact of all these is the addition of 120million cubic feet of gas per day to the grid and the permanent elimination of the challenges of low gas pressure that has plagued the Olorunshogo PHCN and NIPP power plants.
The minister assured Nigerians to expect continued growth over the current all-time peak recorded by the power ministry between now and December.
Staff of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) have accused the federal government of forcing them to sign papers that would compel them to accept a severance pay they do not agree with.
According to the Nigerian Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE) the federal government’s package is for staff to receive only one year basic salary as severance but now, they are also being compelled to compulsorily give consent to deduction from their salaries to a Retirement Savings Account (RSA) imposed on them.
Zonal Coordinating Secretary of the union, Temple Iworima alleged that the Managing Director and Executive Director Finance and Administration, Pius Apuye following a meeting at the Ministry of Power ordered the Accounts Department to deduct 7.5 per cent from staff salary on Tuesday.
The Ministry of Power however swiftly reacted to the allegations in a statement by the Special Adviser on Media to the Minister of Power, Mr. Ogbuagu Anikwe.
The statement said “the management of the PHCN this morning began distributing letters to each PHCN staff member advising him or her on the retirement benefits, in view of the impending privatization of 17 out of the 18 PHCN successor companies. Each letter, personally signed by the Managing Director/Chief Executive, Engr. Hussein Labo, stipulates the pension and gratuity, among other benefits, of every employee”
The statement advised the workers to “study the contents of every form and look out for critical issues like possible computational errors and then return them not later than August 10, 2012, with appropriate remarks to the management.”
A look at the computations shows that some executives will earn as much as N38million each as retirement benefit on account of the generous offers which the government has made to the staff in recent months.
It further stated that “this considerably huge retirement figure stands in sharp contrast to the N2million which NUEE officials have been alleging will be the maximum amount of money any employee will receive on retirement.
This figure also shows quite clearly that employees will get about 400 per cent more than their counterparts in regular public service employment”.
Meanwhile the statement also clarifies that the entire severance benefit, calculated at N80billion, will come from the government treasury.
This is because the management did not comply with the Pension Reform Act which came into force on July 1, 2004, and which requires every worker to contribute 7.5% of the basic salary towards pension and the employer another 7.5% as individual contribution.