Senate Committee Assures NDDC of Support, Collaboration

A file photo of NDDC office in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital.

 

The Chairman, Senate Committee on Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Peter Nwaoboshi, has assured the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) of the support and collaboration of his committee in the development of the Niger Delta region.

Speaking on Wednesday during the oversight visit of the Senate Committee at the NDDC headquarters in Port Harcourt, Senator Nwaboshi stated that the Commission’s strategy of engagement and collaboration was important for progress in the Niger Delta region.

“The Interim Administrator has been so nice in terms of reaching out, communicating, and discussing. He opened discussions with us,” he said.

“He apologised for whatever happened in the past and he told us that he is ready to work for the people of the Niger Delta region. We are happy that he accepted that there is a need for cooperation and collaboration for Niger Delta to move forward.”

The Senate Committee Chairman assured that they would continue to collaborate with the Interim Administrator and the NDDC for as long as Effiong Akwa remained as the Chief Executive Officer of the Commission.

“We don’t have any problem with anybody. Let’s be clear on that. This committee has no problem with anybody. But if in the course of our oversight function, we step on toes, it is because it is our duty. What happened in the past happened in the course of our oversight function.

“No commission is perfect because you cannot satisfy everybody. You started well by bringing peace and giving people the opportunity to discuss. I assure you that we have an open mind to collaborate and cooperate in the interest of the Niger Delta region.

“The Interim Administrator appeared before us and we told him that to whom much is given, much is expected. We are here to represent the Senate and our function is to make sure that the interest of the people of the Niger Delta region is protected,” he added.

Nwaoboshi expressed delight over the completion of the NDDC permanent headquarters, noting that the Committee had appropriated ₦16 billion for the completion of the headquarters building.

Nwaoboshi said that the Senate was still investigating the issues connected with the NDDC COVID-19 palliative funds, adding: “We are aware that the NDDC Interim Administrator was not part of the NDDC leadership team at the time.”

He noted that Akwa was appointed as the acting Executive Director, Finance and Administration of the Commission in August 2020, a month after the National Assembly probed the matter, stating that he was not a party to any of the transactions on the palliatives

Welcoming members of the Senate Committee, to the NDDC permanent headquarters, the NDDC Interim Administrator, Akwa, thanked them for the oversight visit.

The NDDC boss commended the Senate Committee on Niger Delta Affairs for their unflinching support for the NDDC noting that the support was critical for the development and progress of the Niger Delta region.

“For about a year we had misunderstanding with some members of the National Assembly. The members are noble men and they had to bend backwards to bury the hatchet in the interest of the region.

“When I went to the joint session of the Senate and the House of Representatives to defend the 2020 budget, they cooperated with us. I assured them that we will insist on doing the right thing at the NDDC,” he said.

Senate Defends Confirmation Of New EFCC Boss, Says He Was Never Arrested For Corruption

 

The Senate has defended its decision to confirm the new Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Abdulrasheed Bawa.

Bawa’s confirmation on Wednesday comes shortly after he appeared before the upper chamber for his screening.

The confirmation comes amidst allegations and controversial report that the new EFCC chairman had previously been arrested for engaging in corrupt activities

But speaking on Channels Television’s Politics Today, hours after Bawa’s confirmation, the Chairman Senate Committee on Anti-Corruption and Financial Crimes, Suleiman Kwari said the new EFCC boss was never arrested for corruption charges.

“There were wild allegations that could not be proven. If anything at all, the young man was not queried, he was not arrested and I think he came vehemently and defended that within the floor of the Senate,” he said.

“There wasn’t much to investigate, what was suggested to have been an offence on his part was not in anywhere within the cycles of government.”

When asked if his committee did a background check before confirming the appointment of the new EFCC boss, the lawmaker insisted that the allegations levelled against Bawa were wild allegations.

While noting that Bawa debunked all the allegations, Senator Kwari said his performance before the floor of the Senate was satisfactory, thus necessitating his confirmation.

On the capacity of the Bawa to lead effectively head the anti-graft agency, the senator said he is confident that the new EFCC chairman would deliver.

“All investigators of EFCC have gotten police background. Their first trainers on recruitment happen to be police.

“Everything that has been done in EFCC happens to be teleguided by the police. What Mr. President has done is just to look within,” he added.

Abdulrasheed Bawa Promises To Represent Youths As EFCC Boss

Abdulrasheed Bawa being quizzed by the Senate as part of proceedings for his confirmation as EFCC boss.

 

The new chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Abdulrasheed Bawa says his performance will pave new paths to governance for young Nigerians.

Speaking before the Senate, Bawa said, “I am going to give the young people a very good representation in the governance of this country so that more young people will be given more responsibility in this country.” 

Bawa who was confirmed after being screened by the legislators on Wednesday said it is the dream of every patriotic Nigerian to see the nation growing to a greater height, adding that he will love to contribute his quota in seeing that the country soars.

READ ALSO: Senate Confirms Abdulrasheed Bawa As New EFCC Boss

Earlier while introducing himself and his goal for the antigraft agency, Bawa stated that he would love to help the nation recover all stolen assets for the betterment of Nigerians.

The new EFCC boss said he will work with strategic partners around the world to see that Nigeria benefits from the repatriation of assets stolen from her coffers.

According to Mr. Bawa, the EFCC will achieve its independent objective by sharing information with its partners.

Bawa stated that the constitution will guide his actions, adding that at the end of his tenure, the EFCC will be a better place than he met it because his training by the FBI and the National Crime Agency of the United States and the United Kingdom respectively will come in handy. 

Responding to questions regarding what he will do differently from his predecessors, Mr. Bawa said he will reposition the commission by ensuring that it strengthens its standard operating procedures and improve on them.

He also stressed that there will be more transparency and accountability.

While acknowledges that the EFFC has issues with the management of assets, the nominated EFCC boss said if confirmed, he will embark on the digitization of the offices for proper record keeping.

We Must Repatriate All Stolen Assets For Benefit Of Nigerians – Abdulrasheed Bawa

A file photo of the new EFCC boss, Abdulrasheed Bawa.

 

The newly nominated boss of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Abdulrasheed Bawa has said the nation must recover all stolen assets for the betterment of Nigerians. 

Mr. Bawa who stated this while appearing before the Senate on Wednesday said he will work with strategic partners around the world to see that Nigeria benefits from the repatriation of assets stolen from her coffers.

According to Mr. Bawa, the EFCC will achieve its independent objective by sharing information with its partners.

During his screening by the lawmakers, Bawa stated that the constitution will guide his actions should he be confirmed as EFCC Chairman.

READ ALSO: Senate Screens Abdulrasheed Bawa As EFCC Boss

He promised that at the end of his tenure, the EFCC will be a better place than he met it, noting that his training by the FBI and the National Crime Agency of the United States and the United Kingdom respectively will come in handy. 

Responding to questions regarding what he will do differently from his predecessors, Mr. Bawa said he will reposition the commission by ensuring that it strengthens its standard operating procedures and improve on them.

He also stated that there will be more transparency and accountability.

While acknowledges that the EFFC has issues with the management of assets, the nominated EFCC boss said if confirmed, he will embark on the digitization of the offices for proper record keeping.

Senate Screens Abdulrasheed Bawa As EFCC Boss

A photo combination of the Senate and the new EFCC boss, Abdulrasheed Bawa.

 

The Senate is currently screening the nominee for the office of the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Abdulrasheed Bawa.

Mr. Bawa was accompanied into the Senate Chambers by his family members and political associates.

The forty-year-old nominee has worked with the anti-graft agency for 16 years and is a Certified fraud examiner and anti-money laundering expert.

Mr. Bawa told the Senate that the constitution of the country will guide his actions should he be confirmed as EFCC Chairman and promised to leave the EFCC in a better place than he met it at the end of his tenure.

According to him, “We need to repatriate all our stolen assets for the benefit of Nigerians”.

Abdulrasheed Bawa graduated from the Usmanu Danfodio University, Sokoto, with a Bachelor of Science degree in Economics (Second Class Upper) in 2001.

Bawa, who joined the EFCC as an Assistant Detective Superintendent (ADS) in 2004, also holds a Master’s degree in International Affairs and Diplomacy which he obtained from the same university in 2012.

READ ALSO: Buhari Asks Senate To Confirm 40-Year-Old Abdulrasheed Bawa As EFCC Boss

He was part of the pioneer EFCC Cadet Officers, course one, 2005.

He rose through the ranks to become a Deputy Chief Detective Superindent (DCDS), a position he has been holding since 2016 up till the time of his nomination as the anti-graft agency’s substantive chairman.

He has vast investigation experience and has been part of the prosecution of advance fee fraud, official corruption, bank fraud, money laundering, and other economic and financial crimes related offences.

He will be taking over from Mohammed Umar, who has been in an acting capacity since July 2020 after the suspension of Ibrahim Magu over allegations of gross misconduct.

President Muhammadu Buhari on February 16, asked the Senate to confirm Mr. Abdulrasheed Bawa as substantive Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

In a letter to the President of the Senate, Ahmad Ibrahim Lawan, the President said he was acting in accordance with Paragraph 2(3) of Part1, CAP E1 of EFCC Act 2004.

The statement added that 40-year-old Bawa is “a trained EFCC investigator with vast experience in the investigation and prosecution of Advance Fee Fraud cases, official corruption, bank fraud, money laundering, and other economic crimes.”

He is said to have undergone several specialised training in different parts of the world and was one of the pioneer EFCC Cadet Officers in 2005.

Senate Confirms Nomination Of Ex-Service Chiefs As Ambassadors

A file photo of the immediate past service chiefs ahead of a Security Council meeting with the President at the Presidential Villa in Abuja.

 

The Senate on Tuesday confirmed the nomination of the immediate past service chiefs as non-career ambassadors, despite criticisms in some quarters.

They are former Chief of Defence Staff, General Abayomi Olonisakin; the former Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai; and the former Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ibas.

Others are former Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, and the former Chief of Defence Intelligence, Air Vice Marshal Mohammed Usman.

The Senate Minority Leader Enyinaya Abaribe, however, questioned the nomination and confirmation of the ex-service chiefs when the Senate had on three different occasions called for their sack.

Senator Abaribe also questioned why the petitions against the former service chiefs were dismissed without explanations.

But Senate President Ahmad Lawan dismissed Senator Abaribe’s concerns, ruling that the nomination of the former service chiefs cannot be nullified simply because the upper chamber had called for their sack, noting that this is totally a different assignment.

The Senate President promptly stopped any further debate on the matter.

In his concluding statement, Senator Lawan added that the former service chiefs have served the country to the best of their abilities.

READ ALSO: Buhari Nominates Olonisakin, Other Ex-Service Chiefs As Ambassadors

He urged the Executive to utilise their experiences as much as possible and they should be posted to countries where they will be useful.

President Muhammadu Buhari had earlier on February 4, nominated the immediate past service chiefs of the nation as ambassadors.

The former service chiefs were appointed as non-career ambassadors-designate a week after their replacement with new officers.

They were said to have tendered their resignation from their positions amid heightened calls that they should be sacked due to the disturbing rate of insecurity in the country.

 

Senate Screening Of Ex-Service Chiefs 

On February 18, the former service chiefs were screened by the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs.

Members of the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs before the commencement of the screening of immediate former Service Chiefs at the National Assembly on Thursday, February 18, 2021.

 

The committee which was led by Senator Mohammed Bulkachuwa held a closed-session before the service chiefs were ushered into the room for the commencement of the screening.

The former Chief of Defence Staff, General Abayomi Olonisakin was the first to be screened. He spoke on insecurity in the country and warned that the next warfare and crisis in the country will be in the forests.

The former service chiefs sit before the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs for the screening.

 

He explained that research which he conducted on forests three years ago shows that Nigeria has over 1,000 forest reserves and there is an urgent need to man and protect the forests which have become hideouts for criminals.

The Former Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai during his screening also spoke concerning the security crisis in the country.

He lamented that the terrorists have permeated the society and won the communities to their side.

Offer Amnesty To Repentant Bandits, Zamfara Senators Ask FG

Lawmakers during plenary at the Senate chamber in Abuja February 12, 2020. Photo: [email protected]

 

Zamfara State lawmakers in the National Assembly on Wednesday asked the Federal Government to offer amnesty to the repentant bandits in the North West.

Briefing journalists in the National Assembly, spokesperson for the group, Senator Sa’abi Yau said the government should offer amnesty to the repentant bandits because they are convinced that these repentant bandits should be encouraged to contribute positively to society.

He said their conviction comes on the heels of a similar success recorded in the Niger Delta when late President Umaru Yaradua granted amnesty to repentant militants.

Banditry has been on the increase in the northern states lately, with the latest happening in Niger State.

In the early hours of today, gunmen stormed Government Science College Kagara in Rafi Local Government Area of the state, killing one student ad abducting several others.

Channels Television gathered that the bandits wore a military uniform and entered the school premises which has about 1000 students, overpowered the security guard, before whisking away the students and staff.

Similarly, less than three months ago, scores of students were abducted from the Government Secondary School, Kankara in Katsina State. They were, however, released by their kidnappers after some days.

 

Insecurity: Declare State Of Emergency, Senate Tells Buhari

Lawmakers during plenary at the Senate chamber in Abuja February 12, 2020. Photo: [email protected]

 

The Senate on Wednesday asked President Muhammadu Buhari to declare a state of emergency on insecurity in the country.

The resolution follows a motion by Senator Sani Musa on the abduction of students from the Government Science College Kagara Niger state.

Senator Bima Enagi from Niger State in his contribution, accused the President of incompetence as the security situation is worsening in the country.

He argued that the constitution should be amended to give governors more powers as they are the security officers in their states because the Federal government is incompetent in handling security.

READ ALSO: Kagara Abduction: Niger Governor Orders Immediate Closure Of Boarding Schools

Gunmen at about 2:00 am on Wednesday attacked the school and shot sporadically, with one student feared killed and several others abducted.

Some teachers and their family members residing within the college staff quarters were also said to have been abducted by the gunmen.

A government source who pleaded anonymity disclosed this to Channels Television via telephone conversation in the early hours of Wednesday.

The operations started from the staff quarters and ended in the students’ hostels and in the process, other students were also wounded by gunshots.

The gunmen gathered some staff and students at a place for hours before moving them out of the school premises to an unknown destination.

They wore a military uniform and entered the school premises which has about 1000 students, overpowered the security guard, before whisking away the students and staff.

A staff by the name Batagi was among those who kidnapped, others still with the bandits are Mall. Lawal, Ali, Hannatu, and her husband, Dodo, Mohammed Abubakar(Akawu), among others.

The number of persons abducted and those injured is unclear as of the time of filing the report. A headcount is being conducted at the school to ascertain the actual number of missing students.

Channels Television also learnt that the security agencies were able to detect the nature of the area, and have started tracing the attackers’ movement while the Nigerian Air Force (NAF),  aircraft have been seen hovering in the air to track the location of the students.

 

Cryptocurrency: Senate Invites CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele

 

The Senate has invited the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele to brief its committees on the opportunities and threats of cryptocurrency on the nation’s economy.

The decision of the Senate to invite the CBN governor is sequel to a motion by a Federal Lawmaker Senator Istifanus Gyang during plenary on Thursday, on the CBN’s directive to stop financial institutions from transactions in cryptocurrencies and matters arising from them.

In their contributions; Federal lawmakers called for caution pointing out that while cryptocurrency has its negative sides and it has become the fastest-growing form of transaction all over the world.

They argued that technology has changed the way business is conducted in Nigeria and the country cannot run away from cryptocurrency. What has required some of them to say, is regulation.

The CBN had on February 5, 2021, ordered all banks to close accounts of anyone who transacts in cryptocurrency.

The order was contained in a circular to banks and other financial institutions, signed on Friday by the Director of Banking Supervision, Bello Hassan, and it is expected to take effect immediately.

READ ALSO: Use Of Cryptocurrency Illegal In Nigeria, Says CBN

According to the CBN, dealing in cryptocurrency or facilitating payments for cryptocurrency exchanges is prohibited.

“The Central Bank of Nigeria circular of January 12, 2017, ref FPR/DIR/GEN/CIR/06/010 which cautioned Deposit Money Banks (DMBs), Non-Bank Financial Institutions (NBFIs), other Financial Institutions and members of the public on the risk associated with transactions in cryptocurrency refers,” the statement said.

“Further to earlier regulatory directions on the subject, the bank hereby wishes to remind regulated institutions dealing in cryptocurrencies or facilitating payments for cryptocurrency exchanges is prohibited.

“Accordingly, all DMB’s NBFI’s or OFI’s are directed to identify persons and/or entities transacting in or operating cryptocurrency exchanges within their systems and ensure that such accounts are closed immediately.

“Please, note that breaches of this directive will attract severe regulatory sanctions. This letter is with immediate effect”.

The CBN further noted that the use of cryptocurrencies in Nigeria contravenes existing laws.

The apex bank warned Deposit Money Banks (DMBs) to desist from transacting cryptocurrencies and dealing with entities who do the same.

According to the CBN, cryptocurrencies are “issued by unknown and unregulated entities” and are increasingly being used to conduct ” many illegal activities including money laundering, terrorism financing, purchase of small arms and light weapons, and tax evasion.”

The CBN Governor is to appear before the committees on banking, ICT, Cybercrime, and Capital market.

These committees are to report back to the Senate in two weeks.

Senate Resumes From Recess, Holds First Plenary In 2021

A file photo of lawmakers in the Senate.

 

The Senate has resumed and held a plenary session for the first time in 2021.

Address lawmakers on Tuesday, the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan read the letter from President Muhamadu Buhari seeking the confirmation of the service chiefs.

He also read the letter from President Buhari seeking the confirmation of the immediate past service chiefs as non-career ambassadorial nominees.

READ ALSO: Senate To Partner Executive In Improving Nigeria’s Oil And Gas, Says Lawmaker

Thereafter, the Senate adjourned plenary to honour a member of the House of Representatives, Ossy Prestige who died recently.

Senate To Partner Executive In Improving Nigeria’s Oil And Gas, Says Lawmaker

The Chairman, Senate Committee on Oil and Gas (Upstream), Senator Bassey Akpan, speaks during the launch of the NNPC Upstream Cost Optimisation programme in Abuja on February 9, 2021.

 

The Chairman, Senate Committee on Oil and Gas (Upstream), Senator Bassey Akpan, has said the National Assembly will work closely with the Executive to improve Nigeria’s Oil and Gas industry.

He disclosed this on Tuesday during the launch of the NNPC Upstream Cost Optimisation programme in Abuja, the nation’s capital.

“I want to assure you that we will work with all of you, as well as the Executive to ensure that we leave this oil and gas far better than we met it,” he said.

“We will do everything utmost possible to ensure that we pass a bill, not just a law but a law that will be globally competitive and easy to implement and a law that will significantly drive the much desired investment into our oil and gas industry.”

Speaking on the much-awaited Petroleum Industry Bill, the lawmaker reiterated the commitment of the Ninth Assembly to pass the bill before 2021 ends.

READ ALSO: FG To Begin Oil Production In Northeast, Says Petroleum Minister

He said the parliament, headed by Senate President Ahmad Lawan, is committed to ensuring that the set target was achieved.

According to him, the essence of the lawmakers taking the PIB is to replace all the obsolete laws guiding the sector.

Senator Akpan also called on all stakeholders to harmonise to effectively secure the oil and gas in order to preserve the nation’s assets.

“I want to assure this gathering that this 9th Assembly headed by Senator Ahmad Lawan will pass this PIB before the end of 2021.

“We have set this timeline for ourselves because like they say, what gets measure gets done and we have provided clearly defined timelines to enable us meet this set target,” he added.

Senate To Debate Farmers/Herders Crisis On Tuesday

A file photo of lawmakers in the Senate.

 

The Senate will on Tuesday debate the clashes between farmers and herders clashes in several parts of the country.

Leader of the Senate, Yahaya Abdullahi disclosed this on Monday while addressing journalists at his office in Abuja, the nation’s capital.

Abdullahi said his deputy, Senator Ajayi Boroffice, who represents Ondo North in the National Assembly, will come up with a motion on the issue.

While noting that local political leaders should be encouraged to find a lasting solution, Abdullahi said the Federal Government has a role to play in resolving the crisis.

“With some kind of ethnic colouration of the herders/farmers clashes, urgent attention are required at various levels of government to prevent them from further escalation,” he said.

“These are kind of crises that must be addressed promptly and squarely in preventing ethnic entrepreneurs from hijacking the whole situation and putting the country in danger.

“There are existential issues that have set communities that have hitherto lived together peacefully, against each other either for political advantage or political matters.

“I think these are issues that should be resolved at the local level either through dialogue anchored on the spirit of give and take.”

The lawmaker said the Senate is worried by the security threats in the country, including armed banditry and Boko Haram insurgency.

He warned that if the issue remains unabated, there can’t be development where there is no peace.

On Senate confirmation of the ex-service chiefs as ambassadors, Abdullahi said the Senate would mandate its Committee on Foreign Affairs to deliberate on the issue.

“Communications for the confirmation would be read hopefully by the Senate president tomorrow and whatever happen we will pass it on to the committee on foreign affairs and then the committee on foreign affairs will now do its deliberation.

“I am not one under this situation to pre-empt whatever the committee is going to decide because the committee is made up of several responsible and experienced senators who have also been ambassadors themselves so they will know exactly what are required for people to be appointed as ambassadors to represent the country in whatever country.

“As leader of the Senate this will be brought to the floor of the Senate. The committee will do its work and after that they will bring the report to the Senate. I am sure all the questions will not escape the committee,” he added.