COVID-19: Eight days after, Presidency fails to send Madagascar’s drug to NAFDAC [Punch]

  • Drug still in SGF’s office, testing may be delayed till June –Sources
  • Lagos enlists 600 patients for chloroquine clinical trial, discharges 45
  • We’ll assist big companies, SMEs to prevent job loss –Sanwo-Olu
  • Gombe searches for 10 fleeing contacts, cases rise by 265, total now 7,526

Over a week after receiving the Madagascan native formulation for the treatment of COVID-19, the Presidency has yet to send the samples to the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control for testing, Sunday PUNCH can confirm.

A top source told one of our correspondents that the drug, which was delivered to the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), by his Guinea Bissau counterpart, Umarro Embalo, nine days ago had remained in the possession of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha.

The source, who wished to remain anonymous, said with the manner in which things “are being done, the drug would not be available for testing till June given the Islamic holiday which extends from Sunday to Tuesday.”

He said, “We were told that the drug, which was delivered in five cartons, was delivered to the SGF who was supposed to deliver the sample to the Federal Ministry of Health and then NAFDAC for testing.

“However, as of today, May 23, 2020, the sample has not been sent to NAFDAC for testing. I even doubt if the ministry has received it. And work resumes on Wednesday.”

The source lamented the slow pace of work by the Federal Government regarding its response to COVID-19.

He noted that this was the same manner in which some drugs sent to Nigeria by the West African Health Organisation were delayed by over a month due to bureaucratic processes.

He added, “In March, WAHO (West African Health Organisation) distributed 30,500 diagnostic test kits; 10,000 Personal Protective Equipment and 740,000 Chloroquine and Azithromycin tablets to be shared by all ECOWAS states, including Nigeria.

“The drugs were to be certified by NAFDAC before use. However, NAFDAC only received the drugs a month after they had arrived. These delays were caused by government bureaucracy.”

The source lamented that it might be June before the Madagascan drug could be deployed for scientific analysis, adding that herbal drugs would need a longer testing period than orthodox medicine.

He said NAFDAC would check for animal toxicity, microbial content and others in the drug which might take about 10 days.

“It could take about 10 days for NAFDAC to test and certify the drugs. So, the Madagascan medicine ought to have been sent on time in anticipation of the testing time but that has not been done,” he said.

The SGF had, at the daily COVID-19 briefing last Tuesday, said he had received the consignment and it would be sent to the ministry of health.

Mustapha had said, “As God would have it, the President of Guinea Bissau decided to visit our President last Saturday and when he was coming, he came with our consignment of five cartons and those five cartons were delivered to me yesterday in the evening, sealed, without a bottle out of it.

“I am going to engage the minister of health who has the responsibility of validation, through his institutions that are chartered by law to do that. The President was upfront with that even when he took delivery of it from the President of Guinea Bissau.

“He said it quite clearly of what we are going to do with the consignment would be guided by science, under the processes of validation. We’ll now know where to go.”

However, a top source at the ministry of health told Sunday PUNCH that the cartons were still at the SGF’s office.

The source said there seemed to be a communication gap between the minister and the SGF.

“The SGF informed the minister to pick up the drugs but it seems the minister was also expecting the SGF to send the drugs to the ministry. It was a simple communication problem,” he said.

Following the arrival of the Madagascan herbal cure for COVID-19 in Nigeria, NAFDAC  promised to fast-track the laboratory examination of the drug named Covid Organics.

The agency, which regulates and controls the manufacture, importation, exportation, distribution, advertisement, sale and use of food, drugs, cosmetics, medical devices, packaged water, chemicals and detergents, noted that the product would be subjected to the normal procedure but that the process would be hastened.

In an interview with Sunday PUNCH two weeks ago, NAFDAC Director-General, Prof Mojisola Adeyeye, noted that the agency would prioritise the laboratory examination of the product once it received it from the authorities.

She had said, “When the drug arrives, it will go to the Minister of Health who will in turn hand it over to NAFDAC through the PTF. It is after that we would start our laboratory examination. It will be subjected to the normal procedure.

“We would expedite action on this because everyone is anxiously waiting for the result. We would speed it up but it will still have to go through the normal laboratory analysis and medical evaluation.

“Unlike the orthodox medicine, with the herbal medicine, it is given linctus status, it is not given full registration and that means it has a life span of two years, unlike normal drug that has a life span of five years. So, this is what will be applicable to the Madagascar drug. We would ensure that the claims being made are true.”

Asked how long it could take for the laboratory examination to be concluded, she said the normal procedure was three months, adding that given the situation at hand, the process would be prioritised without compromising the efficiency of the process.

She said, “The normal mandatory procedure is three months, but under this emergency, we would give it a top priority to come out with urgent results. In the process of the evaluation, if NAFDAC needs to get in touch with the manufacturers, we will. It all depends on the analysis in the lab.

“This kind of drug does not go through a clinical trial at this stage; it is only when it wants to go through registration that it will be subjected to clinical trial. We are only going to determine its safety and efficacy now.”

There were 265 new cases on Saturday, pushing the total number of cases to 7,526. 167 persons were discharged while no new death was recorded.

It’s unfortunate people think we’re using COVID-19 to make money –FG

The Minister of State for Health, Olorunnimbe Mamora, has described as unfortunate insinuations by some people that the coronavirus disease does not exist and government is only using it to make money.

He said such views could make a mockery of the efforts and sacrifices of people giving their best to treat infected persons and contain the raging virus.

Mamora spoke on Friday during a webinar by Emmanuel Chapel, titled, ‘State of health: Epidemic outbreaks, COVID-19 talk series’ hosted by the Founder and CEO, Health Markets Africa, Fola Laoye.

Other participants were the Director-General, NCDC, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu; Executive Director, National Primary Health Care Development Agency, Dr Faisal Shuaib; and the CEO, First Cardiology Consultants, Prof Kofo Ogunyankin.

The programme was monitored by one of our correspondents.

Mamora said, “COVID-19 has been described in terms of management as all of government and all of society, so everybody has to get involved and people must appreciate that as individuals, they have the primary responsibility for their health. That is the basic thing.

“People should know that what you do to yourself would help in a long way in protecting others around you. So, we have to continue to engage in advocacy and education. These are critical issues.

“As we speak now, there are people out there who are still living in denial, saying there is nothing like COVID-19 and it’s something to make money. But we still have to do what we have to do and it is quite unfortunate, because you have people putting their lives at stake, yet some people out there don’t believe and they decide to have a different thinking.”

He said it was also regrettable that people were not adhering to the advisories issued by the NCDC.

“It’s important for people to take responsibility for their own health and for the good of all of us. This is very important and we cannot be tired of putting these things out,” he added.

…why we insisted returning Nigerians must be quarantined

Asked by the host why the Federal Government insisted that returning Nigerians must be quarantined instead of testing them in the countries they left to ascertain their status, Mamora said the PTF considered the option but could not proceed for obvious reasons.

He said, “A lot of people were not even having it easy to get tested in those countries and besides, we heard on note that the cost of these tests in some of these countries is quite expensive and some Nigerians would find it inconvenient to pay.

“Besides, if that option was adopted, it is possible for someone to test negative today and test positive the following day, and it depends on the test done, which may not show confirmation on that first day. This means it could be when they return to the country that the virus would be detected. Those were some of the reasons.”

COVID-19, an opportunity to strengthen health sector –NPHCDA

Also, Shuaib said the pandemic presented Nigeria the opportunity to strengthen the health sector.

He added, “This too shall come to pass and I believe we will get over this; we just need to pull in the same direction and I’m sure we will be successful. But this is really a unique opportunity in our lifetime to strengthen the health system.”

Ihekweazu noted that there was no end in sight to the “new reality”. He said, “I hope some things, like our attitude to infections prevention and control and our attitude to handwashing, will change forever.”

Lagos to assist big companies, SMEs to prevent job loss, says Sanwo-Olu

In light of the disruptions and hardship caused by the coronavirus in the business environment, Lagos State Governor, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, hinted that the state would help big companies operating in the state to prevent job loss.

He added that the state was also considering giving grants to some Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises in the state given the impact of COVID-19 on their activities.

Speaking as a panellist at a webinar hosted by FSDH Merchant Bank on Friday, the governor noted that the government was already compiling the data of the MSMEs to see how they could be assisted.

The webinar, titled, ‘A global pandemic: local realities and peculiarities – a view from the frontlines’, was anchored by the Chairman, FSDH Holding Company, Mr Hakeem Belo-Osagie, and the bank’s Managing Director, Mrs Hamda Ambah.

The governor said, “Lagos State has a lot of MSMEs and we realise that the sector has been extensively affected. Some of them employ three to five persons each and a lot of them need some sort of support. Part of the things we are planning to do under the Register-to-Open is to see how we can come in.

“We are compiling data and we are trying to see what kind of support we can give them. We have asked the ones currently with the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (portal) not to pay the interest on their (credit) facilities with the state government. We have suspended the payment of interest.

“We want to see if we can do some grant for some of them over the next two to three months so that we can cushion the effect it has on their business. That is on one part.

“The other part is that we are asking the big companies the requirements they want from the state government, to ensure that they do not retrench their staff members. That, for us, is also important.

“They are mainly affected given that they have had to slow down their production lines. We want to ensure that they are not retrenching or shutting down their facilities. So, they have given us a list of the kind of things they want us to do for them and such things would affect our Internally Generated Revenue but we are willing to bend backwards for them and see how we can collaborate.”

Speaking on the gradual opening of the economy, Sanwo-Olu said construction industry and heavy manufacturing companies with huge staff strength would be the first areas that would need to open up.

He added that the hospitality industry, aviation industry and public transportation had been sending bills to seek government’s support and that they would follow in the second line of intervention.

…says Ebola prepared Lagos for future outbreaks

The governor also said the state was better able to handle COVID-19 given the experience it had with Ebola six years ago.

He added, “That was also epic in Lagos and it gave Lagos some understanding about how serious infectious disease could be managed. We have an Infectious Disease Hospital in Yaba and even after the Ebola case, we had some international grants and over the last two to three years, we have built what we call a biosecurity lab level four, which can match any of its kind in the world.”

Gombe  searches for 10 fleeing contacts

The Chairman of the Gombe State Task force on COVID-19, Prof Idris Mohammed,  has said the state is searching for 10 fleeing suspected cases.

However, he said they had traced one to Ogun, one to Nasarawa,  one to Borno, two to Kano, and five to Adamawa states.

Mohammed said this during the daily briefing on activities of COVID-19 in the state.

He said 10 per cent of the  1,440 results received were positive, adding that the state had  144 cases.

He said, “There are still 10 at large, whom we are trying hard to get. We are taking every possible measure to trace these people to bring them into isolation to prevent community spread of COVID-19 in Gombe.

“We have an outstanding of 262 results  to come. Out of the total 1,440 received,  10 per cent emerged  positive,  which is 144 positive cases.  There are 49 active cases in the state,  with about 92 recoveries from the virus,  and three deaths. The total number of positive cases in isolation is 20 – three at the State Specialist Hospital and 17 at  Kwadon Infectious Diseases Hospital.

“In addition, we have a total of 219 persons at Amada quarantine centre out of which 211 are Almajirai and eight  are travellers stopped in transit and isolated.”

Mohammed added that 31 of the 211 Almajirai tested negative and had been handed over to their parents.

Edo tests 1,367 residents, extends search to 542 communities

Meanwhile, the Edo State Government said it tested 1,367 residents in the state for COVID-19 and revved up Active Case Search activities in over 542 rural and urban communities across the state, adding that it was contact-tracing over 933 persons.

Speaking with journalists, the state Commissioner for Health, Dr Patrick Okundia, said the Governor Godwin Obaseki administration had ramped up measures to contain the COVID-19 pandemic in the state.

“The Edo State Government has continued to step up measures to contain the coronavirus pandemic, as we are committed to protecting our people,” Okundia said.

Lagos enlists 600 for  chloroquine clinical trial

Meanwhile, the Lagos State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr Gbenga Omotoso, on Saturday disclosed that the state had enlisted 600 patients for the planned chloroquine clinical trial.

The state discharged 45 more patients on Saturday.

Omotoso said an independent board, which would be inaugurated, would monitor the process and give necessary advice to the state government on the progress of the trial.

Omotoso said, “In summary, we will be looking at about 600 patients. The trial will go on till we recruit the required number. There will be an independent Data and Safety Board. The board can advise that study be discontinued if the statistical evidence of the usefulness of a drug is overwhelming and in which case it becomes unethical to with old it from other groups.”

 

Reps strip PSC powers to recruit constables, protect CPs from govs [Punch]

The House of Representatives has stripped the Police Service Commission recruitment and training powers and domiciled them with the Nigeria Police Force in a bill amending the Nigeria Police Act, which passed the third reading.

Governors have also been relieved their powers to issue order to commissioners of police in their respective states, while the Nigeria Police Council is now to meet twice in a year and during emergencies.

The PSC and the NPF had had a legal battle over who should recruit the 10,000 special constables approved by the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.) to strengthen the police due to rising spate of banditry, kidnappings, armed robbery and armed herdsmen attacks across the country.

The House had on Tuesday considered and adopted the report by the Committee on Police Affairs on the ‘Bill for an Act to Repeal the Police Act, Cap. P19, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004, and Enact Nigeria Police Act, 2020.’

The amendment bill is to “provide for the framework for the Police Force and ensure cooperation and partnership between the police and communities in maintaining peace and protecting lives and properties.”

The Minority Leader, Ndudi Elumelu, had during consideration of the clauses of the bill by the Committee of the Whole, noted that both the proposal and the recommendation by the committee stripped the PSC powers to recruit constables “as against the provision in the Constitution.”

The Deputy Speaker, Ahmed Wase, who presided over the process, had however said there was “a general advice on this particular matter.”

The committee had in the explanatory note on the clause, said, “The provision on constables’ recruitment is in the principal Act and now modified to meet standard and best practice.”

The House, in Section 21, titled ‘Recruitment, Appointment and Service,’ transferred the power to recruit constables from the PSC to the IG, who will chair a Nigeria Police Recruitment Committee to be created under the new law.

The section partly read, “(1) The responsibility for the recruitment of recruit constables into the Nigeria Police Force and recruit cadets into the Nigeria Police Academy shall be the duty of the Inspector-General of Police.

“(3) The Police Recruitment Committee is responsible for the recruitment of recruit constables into the Nigeria Police Force.”

The PRC would be made up of the IG as chairman, all serving DIGs, Force secretary; commandants of Staff College, Jos, and Police Academy Wudil, Kano;  a representative of the police colleges; and the officer-in-charge of the Legal Section of the Nigeria Police Force.

The section further stipulates that, “The recruitment of recruit constables into the Nigeria Police Force shall be of national spread across each state of the federation.

“The members of the Police Recruitment Committee shall have power to delegate officers, not below the rank of Chief Superintendent of Police, to represent them at any meeting or recruitment exercise.

“The decision of the Police Recruitment Committee is final on any matter concerning the recruitment of recruit constables into the Nigeria Police Force.”

The amendment bill also gives the powers of training and retraining of cops to the IG under Section 22.

On arrest, investigation and arraignment, detention and prosecution of suspects, the House, as recommended by the committee, resolved that the police should comply with the provisions of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015.

The House committee said, “Considering the extensive powers usually exercised by the Police, this is not clearly laid out or regulated in the Police Act or proposed bill. Furthermore, the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015 contains extensive police powers. It is recommended that these be replicated in this bill for the purpose of coherence and consistency.

“The subject matter should also be arranged in sequence for ease of reference i.e. from investigation, arrest, search, to warrants.”

The House also deleted the provision in Section 6 of the bill, which empowers a governor to direct the commissioner of police in a state.

“It is recommended that Subsection 3 of the bill, which says that a state commissioner shall be subject to the directions of the state governor, be deleted,” the committee said.

Section 10(2) of the old Police Act reads, “…the commissioner of police of a state shall comply with the directions of the governor of the state with respect to the maintaining and securing of public safety and public order within the state, or cause them to be complied with: provided that before carrying out any such direction, the commissioner may request that the matter should be referred to the President for his directions.”

The IG will also be empowered to recall officers from retirement whenever the need arises, while those recalled could be in service for another four years.

The House particularly introduced a new Section 12(3) under the ‘Powers, Duties and Functions of the Inspector-General of Police,’ which prescribes that, “Subject to the approval of the Inspector-General of Police, a retired police officer may be re-engaged for service for a period of two years and upon further application may be retained or re-engaged for another term of two years.”

The House also amended Section 5, which establishes the Nigeria Police Council and prescribes its membership, roles and functions. Members of the council include the President (as chairman), governors, chairman of the PSC, and the IG.

While the functions of the council include “organisation and administration of the Nigeria Police Force and all other matters relating thereto – not being matters relating to the use and operational control of the Force, or the appointment, disciplinary control and dismissal of members of the Force,” the lawmakers deleted 5(2)(b) which added “the general supervision of the Nigeria Police Force.”

According to the House, the clause was deleted “because it conflicts with functions of the Police Service Commission”

The House, however, stated that the NPC is “the highest policymaking body in matters relating to the Police Force.”

The House especially inserted a new 5(4) that prescribes that the council should sit “at least twice in a year and may hold emergency meetings when necessary.”

According to the committee, the new subsection was inserted “to provide for regular meetings of the Nigeria Police Council.”

Amending the duty of police to enforce certain constitutional provisions, the House inserted the new section, which reads, “(1) The Police Force is responsible for promoting and protecting the fundamental rights of persons in police custody as guaranteed by the Constitution.

The House also amended Section 4, containing the general duties of the police. The old Subsection 1(a) reads, “The Police shall be employed to perform the following duties: (a) protect the rights and freedom of every person in Nigeria as provided in the Constitution, the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, and any other law.”

The new version now reads, “The police force shall prevent and detect crimes, and protect the rights and freedom of every person in Nigeria as provided in the Constitution, the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Right, and any other law.”

In a move to prevent clashes between the police and other security agencies, the House changed Section 4(d) from “enforce all laws and regulations with which they are directly charged” to “enforce all laws and regulations without prejudice to the enabling Acts of other security agencies.”

On remuneration of cops as contained in Section 20, the House resolved that men of the Nigeria Police should not earn less than their counterparts in other security agencies. They are, however, barred from debts.

The section reads, “(1) The police officer shall not be paid salary below what is payable to officers in other security agencies.

“(2) A police officer shall not get himself involved in indebtedness of any kind while still in service, and where he does, he shall be disciplined and the debt or liability shall be recovered from his remuneration if the creditor can prove the indebtedness by withholding from the police officer’s remuneration an amount not exceeding one-third of his monthly remuneration until the amount of the debt or liability is made good.”

 

Ebonyi pastor forced to drink gutter water for criticising council chair: Doctors say I may become paralysed [Punch]

Pastor Okochi Obeni of God’s Descendants Assembly, Amasiri, Afikpo North Local Government Area, Ebonyi State, was recently tortured, brutalised and forced by his tormentors to drink water from the gutter, for allegedly criticising the council chairman, Ogbonnaya Oko Enyim. The cleric, who is currently hospitalised at Alex Ekwueme Federal University Teaching Hospital, Abakaliki, shares his experience with EDWARD NNACHI

What kind of relationship do you have with the Chairman of Afikpo North Local Government Area, Ogbonnaya Oko Enyim?

I’m a social media activist. Both of us are from Amasiri community so he is the chairman of my local government area. As a social critic, I criticise bad governance and people in power not doing well. The same way I criticise people in positions of authority not doing well is the way I criticise the chairman. The perceived negative relationship I have with him started when he was asked to build a kilometre of road like his counterparts in other local government areas of the state.

The governor told them to construct a kilometre of road anywhere in their councils. He was unable to do that. It took him quite some time to take action as regard the road construction. So, I wrote about it. I criticised it. So, when he was seeking re-election, I wrote again that any local government chairperson who could not build a kilometre of road in their council was not worthy of being re-elected. It was from that point that I started having problem with him.

He started hurting me, using different means. He reported me to the Anti-Kidnapping Squad of the Nigeria Police, saying I was attacking him on social media. I went there and my statement exonerated me. I told them I did not have any personal issue against him and that I was only trying to hold him accountable as a public office holder.

Did you ever suspect that your posts and comments on Facebook could put you in harm’s way?

As a social media activist, I’m not afraid of what people would do to me, since I’m not lying against them. For sure, those in government who are not doing well will in one way or the other try to make people keep mute or accept their ill-governance style. I was not afraid because I was expecting it. But I didn’t know it would be come in a barbaric manner like what I experienced.

But one thing is sure, there is no way they can stop the media in this state. The media is the fourth arm of the government. Other arms of government have their critical roles to play in society. Just like that, the media have a critical role to play to ensure the survival of the society.  So, if they don’t want to be criticised or hate criticisms so much, they should stay away from public offices. I knew and had preempted that what the chairman and his agents did to me on Thursday, May 14, 2020, would come some day. But one thing I know is that injustice to one, is injustice to all.

Can you narrate how you were tortured?

I was expecting to be treated badly by these people, but I did not envisage it would take that form. That day, I was called by one Amadi Julius Nyerere, who is a nominee of the chairman and a Technical Assistant to Ebonyi State Governor, David Umahi. He called and said the Essa age grade chairman wanted to see me. I thought the plan was to reconcile me with the council chairman, so I went there. On reaching there, I discovered that all the aides of the council chairman, Isi Oru age grade members, and Essa age grade chairman (who is related to the council boss), and his executives, were all there. It dawned on me that there was a plan already on the ground that was being followed using all means available since their plan to use policemen in Ebonyi State Security Neighbourhood Watch had failed.

So, they resorted to attacks. I never experienced the kind of ugly treatment they gave me. They tied my hands behind my back and up till this very moment, I can’t make use of my hands. I can’t hold any object; you can see how I’m struggling to hold my phones. They forced me to drink gutter water and did all sorts of things to me. They put my body through all manner of inhuman treatments, aside from flogging me 36 times.

I want people to know that public service should not be a do-or-die affair. If you know are not competent to be in a position of authority and can’t tolerate criticisms, please stay off and let people who understand what governance entails take up positions of authority. Also, allow the media to do their work.

You were seen in the video apologising in your native dialect and asking for forgiveness; why were you apologising if you knew you were right?

As I said earlier, my hands were tied behind my back. Those people made to stay on my knees for over two and a half hours inside a gutter. So, to be honest with you, my strength was failing me and I needed freedom. I lost consciousness twice. All I needed was freedom. I noticed blood was not flowing through my veins anymore. Whatever anyone told me to say at the point to regain my freedom, I would say. If you watched that video, you would hear where in my dialect, I was begging them to loosen the knot in the rope used to tie both my hands together.

They said they would ask me some questions and if I answered them correctly, they would free me. I said I would answer their questions. It was a terrible experience. And so, whatever I said in that video, I said under duress. Whatever apology or pleas I made in that video were for the sake of my freedom. I knew they weren’t going to be binding on me and I never meant them. I’m a human rights activist and I must continue to make those in positions of authority to be accountable to the people and be transparent in their dealings with the people.

They are paid with public funds; therefore, the public and the press must be able to hold them to account. Therefore, whatever I said was said under duress.

How is your condition now?

At first, I thought it was going to be a minor thing after the doctors here treated the wounds I had. However, after the treatment, I discovered I could not make use of my hands. I also realised I could not make use of my buttocks because I hardly sit properly and easily now. Just as I was rejoicing that I was going home to meet my family, a doctor examined me and discovered that most of my veins and nerves had been damaged because of the long hours that my hands were tied and I was beaten.

He said the health challenges could become permanent if I didn’t treat them quickly. He said it could lead to paralysis. They further advised that I should be moved to the physiotherapy centre of the hospital and that’s where I am currently. I have been receiving treatment here but I still can’t hold any object. I can’t easily close my hands or open them. I still feel so much pain all over my body, but it is better than how I felt on the day of the incident.

My worst fear is that these current health challenges might lead to permanent paralysis in the future. I’m begging people to pray for me to recover quickly.

What do you want as justice?

The people who tortured me should all be arrested. I’m still surprised and worried that Ogbonnaya Oko Enyim has not been arrested. It doesn’t give me joy that somebody would commit such a heinous crime and be walking freely on the streets of Nigeria. I’m still begging the police to do something about it. I heard that the Nigeria Police Force Public Relations Officer in Abuja, Mr Frank Mba, said some arrests had been made; I am not yet satisfied. Ogbonnaya Oko Enyim, Okpara Akpu Mbe, Oko Olughu, Amicable, and others should have been in police custody by now.

They instigated the attack; they were the ones videoing me and telling the Isi Oru people what to do to me. So, I’m begging the security agencies to come my rescue by bringing these people to justice. It is not all about me; it is about other practitioners and journalists whose lives are very much in danger in the state. Let them do justice to this matter and when they do, I will be glad and will be able to beat my chest and say Nigeria is a safe place for the media.

Would you still have the courage to be critical of the local government chairman and other political leaders in the state who you think are not doing well?

Well, this is the first time I was threatened. The chairman once took me to the state Criminal Investigation Department for criticising his style of governance. But that didn’t bother me. He once sent members of the Ebonyi State Security and Neighbourhood Watch to my family; they came and threatened my wife, which I also ensured was published to draw attention of the public to the situation and that the lives of my wife and kid were at stake, but that also didn’t stop me. So using the Isi Oru and other traditional means illegally to frustrate me cannot also stop the fighting spirit in me.

I only want to see good governance, not bad governance in our land. Those in authority should be accountable to the people; that’s what I have been saying and that’s why the local government chairman is angry with me and everyone that criticises him. Those at the grass roots should feel the impact of governance. This is the crux of my agitation; this is why I have been involved in active social media activism. They can’t stop me. When I recover, I will still investigate and write to condemn evil and all violations against human rights in Amasiri, Afikpo North Local Government Area in Ebonyi State.

What’s your greatest regret amid all these?

My regret is that the elite in Amasiri are keeping quiet over this issue. They think it is about me alone. It is about the general interest of Amasiri land. I read that the local government chairman called some journalists (The PUNCH not included), community people, government officials and others to his house and told them that torturing me was in line with our tradition.

Amasiri community is where the only Senior Advocate of Nigeria in the entire Ebonyi State hails from and you are telling the world that barbarism or inhuman treatment is part of our culture. It baffles me. I’m lost. But I thank God that the custodian of our culture and tradition, (Ezeogo) Patrick Aja (The current Isakaogu of Ndukwe Kingdom), has debunked the media report because barbarism and inhuman treatment are not part of our culture. I had expected all educated Amasiri men and women to stand up and condemn this barbaric action. My only regret is that people are not saying anything about a development that can jeopardise the future their children. I don’t regret holding government to be accountable to the masses.

What was your criticism of the local government chairman about?

Well, I’m not criticising the council chairman, I’m only criticising his style of governance, I mean, his bad leadership tendencies. I do not hate him. I don’t hate him as a person. All I’m against is the way he runs the affairs of the council. You should take governance to the people who own it. But we can’t find this kind of thing happening here.

Good enough, he is the first chairman of Afikpo North Local Government Area to have come from Amasiri land. The roads in Amasiri are dilapidated. We don’t have good drinking water, and he is from here. If we don’t hold him accountable, the ugly trend may not change anytime soon. It was because I engaged him on social media that he started the one kilometre road in the first place and he has not been able to complete it after over one year. And when I write about it, he will come and attack me again. But when we hold leaders accountable, they will know that journalists are watching them and do what is expected of them.

 

Govs kick as Buhari okays financial autonomy for assemblies, judiciary [Nation]

 

  • May challenge order in court
  • Why President took action, by aide
  • Executive Order hailed by SANs
  • Speakers: Buhari’s decision best Sallah gift

 

President Muhammadu Buhari may have pulled a fast one on state governors with Friday’s signing of  Executive Order No. 10 of 2020 which grants financial autonomy to  State legislature and the judiciary.

Many governors were left shocked by the president’s action coming so soon after the financial autonomy granted local governments by this same administration.

The aggrieved governors see the signing of the Executive Order as a breach of ongoing talks between them  and the Presidency on how to go about the autonomy.

Some of them are not ruling out litigation on the matter.

But senior lawyers hailed the president for signing the Executive Order, while Presidential Adviser, Ita Enang, explained that the order was to give effect to the provisions of the Constitution.

The Presidency had, through the late Chief of Staff, Mallam Abba Kyari, engaged the governors on the autonomy models for the next constitution review.

The negotiation had not been concluded before Kyari died.

The governors also claimed that the alleged “hasty” issuance of the order will derail the collaboration between the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) and the Conference of Speakers of the State Houses  of Assembly.

The two groups had established a committee to work out modalities for autonomy just before the Covid-19 crisis

It was learnt that some of the governors may go to court to contest the constitutionality and legality of the Executive Order.

Others may use pressure groups to sue Buhari for a proxy legal battle.

Sources said some of the governors, especially those in the opposition, felt Buhari is using Executive Order to subvert the constitution with a view to caging them.

Their views on the new Executive Order are:

*It constitutes a breach of the understanding with the Presidency;

*It is illegal because only amendment to the 1999 Constitution can guarantee such autonomy;

*Executive Order does not have legislation force; and

*It is an encroachment of the laws on the disbursement of the funds in the Federation Account

A PDP governor told The Nation last night that they were ” shocked by the decision of the President to issue this Executive Order, which is more of a decree of the military era than a constitutional process.’

“The order cannot stand, we will go to court to challenge it,” he said

“Our party is not opposed to autonomy for the legislature and the judiciary but it must be a constitution review Process.

“But we have a growing pattern of sliding into dictatorship with Executive Orders. We won’t allow the subversion of the 1999 Constitution.”

Another governor said: “The order was least expected, it is an abuse and a violation of the ongoing talks between the Presidency and the governors. We have been working out the type of autonomy models to adopt. And the late Chief of Staff, Mallam Abba Kyari, represented the President at our sessions.

“We are also collaborating with the Conference of Speakers on how to go about the autonomy.  I think the Presidency should have waited for all these consultations to end.”

A governor from the North-East said: “A true autonomy for the legislature and the judiciary cannot be by fiat. The National Assembly has constituted a Constitution Review Committee; the Presidency ought not to be preemptive.

“It appears dialogue is now too late; we will surely go to court because the President has no power to personally legislate on autonomy for these two arms of government.”

Another source said: “the governors, who are still battling with the effect of the financial autonomy granted local governments by this same administration had hoped to stop the financial autonomy of the legislature in particular.

“This is to ensure their continued control on the lawmakers.”

The governors had been opposed to the autonomy bill which was passed by the 8th National Assembly and signed by the president.

The law had remained unimplemented but the Conference of Speakers of State Legislatures in Nigeria, worked hard with the support of the leadership of the National Assembly and the Justice Ministry, to pull the latest surprise.

The  Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mallam Abubakar Malami (SAN), said in a statement that: “A Presidential Implementation Committee was constituted to fashion out strategies and modalities for the implementation of financial autonomy for the State Legislature and State Judiciary in compliance with section 121(3) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as Amended); taking into consideration all other applicable laws, instruments, conventions and regulations, which provides for financial autonomy at the state tier of government.

“The implementation of financial autonomy of the State Legislature and State Judiciary will strengthen the institutions at the state tier of government and make them more independent and accountable in line with the tenets of democracy as enshrined by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as Amended).

“The President signed the Executive Order number 10 into law  based on the power vested in him as the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria under Section 5 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as Amended), which extends to the execution and maintenance of the Constitution, laws made by the National Assembly (including but not limited to Section 121(3) of the 1999 Constitution (as Amended), which guarantee financial autonomy of the State Legislature and State Judiciary.

“The Order Provides that the Accountant-General of the Federation shall by this Order and such any other Orders, Regulations or Guidelines as may be issued by the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, authorize the deduction from source in the course of Federation Accounts Allocation from the money allocated to any State of the Federation that fails to release allocation meant for the State Legislature and State Judiciary in line with the financial autonomy guaranteed by Section 121(3) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as Amended)”.

“Based on the Executive Order at the commencement of this Order for implementation of financial autonomy for State Legislature and State Judiciary in line with section 121(3) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as Amended), all States of the Federation shall include the allocations of the two Arms of Government in their Appropriation Laws.

“Article 6 (1) provides that “notwithstanding the provisions of this Executive Order, in the first three years of its implementation, there shall be special extraordinary capital allocations for the Judiciary to undertake capital development of State Judiciary Complexes, High Court Complexes, Sharia Court of Appeal, Customary Court of Appeal and Court Complexes of other Courts befitting the status of a Court.”

Why Buhari signed executive order for autonomy of state legislature, judiciary

President Buhari’s Senior Special Assistant on Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Ita Enang, said on Saturday that the executive order is to give effect to the provisions of the Constitution.

Enang, who was Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters (Senate), told The Nation by phone that Executive Order 10 outlines the procedure and process for the implementation of the Constitutional provisions  for the autonomy of state legislature and judiciary which was passed by the 8th National Assembly and signed into law by  Buhari.

Enang said the signing of the Executive Order was even more necessary now in managing the independence of each arm of Government at this time of Coronavirus pandemic.

He said: “what will happen is that the money of the Judiciary in the state budget and the money of the legislature in the state budget will now, each month, as it  returns from the Federation Accounts Allocation Committee meeting, in addition to the internally generated revenue pro rata will be released by the Accountant General of the State to the legislature through the Clerk of the House who is the accounting officer of the State House of Assembly and the Chief Registrar of each State Legislature who is the accounting officer of the Judiciary.

“The essence of this (Executive Order) is to make sure that the problem we used to have in the past, despite the amendment of the Constitution, is resolved such that the Executive does not starve the Judiciary or the Legislature of funds because the legislature is an arm of government, the Judiciary is an arm of government, the executive is an arm of government and it is these three arms of government that make the government.

“The executive is the executive arm of government. The Governor heads the executive arm of government at the state level and he is the chief security officer of the state.

“He has an overbearing influence. But in terms of each of them being accountable and managing its own affairs, the Constitution provides that each of them should have its own independence in terms of funding.

“In summary, it is the same position that we have at the Federal level now where when there is Federation Accounts Allocation and the money of the Federal Government is given, the Accountant General of the Federation will release the money that is meant for the Judiciary to the Judiciary through the National Judicial Council.

“The National Judicial Council through its Secretary will now make the money available to the Head of the Supreme Court, the money of the Court of Appeal to the Chief Registrar of the Court of Appeal, the one for the National Industrial Court goes to the Chief Registrar of the National Industrial Court to be administered at the instance and direction of the President of the National Industrial Court.

“The money meant for the Federal High Court goes to the Chief Registrar of the Federal High Court for the administration of all the Federal High Courts in the entire country.

“The one of the Customary Court of Appeal and the Sharia Court of Appeal goes to the respective courts.

“Therefore, it is the same model which the Committee recommended and the President has signed it as an executive order.

“It is important to emphasize that the President is not making a new law. He is simply laying out the modality for the implementing the Constitution which the State Houses of Assembly and their Governors has agreed and it was passed.

“He is laying out the procedure, the process and the ground norms for the implementation. So it is not a new law.

“The Executive Order is laying out the procedure for the implementation. It also allows each state to make their own budgets to comply with it.”

He added: “By Monday or Tuesday, the Committee will come up with the details. It was a Committee that was set up by Mr. President with the Attorney-General as the Chairman and with myself as the Secretary and the Chief Judge of Kogi State and the Chief Judge of Bayelsa State as members representing the state Judiciary. “

Buhari in December 2018 set up a Presidential implementation committee on autonomy of state legislature and state judiciary.

The committee was charged with the responsibility of driving  the actualisation of the autonomy granted to the legislature and judiciary at the state level in the Constitution.

The Committee was chaired by Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, with Senator Ita Enang as Secretary.

Other members of the Committee included the Chief Judge of Kogi State, Nasir Ajanah and his Bayelsa State counterpart, Kate Abiri as representatives of state judiciary, the Grand Khadi of Gombe State Sharia Court of Appeal, Khadi Abdullahi Maikano and the Acting President of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Customary Court of Appeal, Abbazih Musa Sadeeq.

Also represented on the committee were Speakers of State Houses of Assembly, the President of the Nigeria Bar Association, Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) and the Parliamentary Staff Association of Nigeria (PASAN).

Buhari, while inaugurating the Presidential Implementation Committee on Autonomy of the State Legislature and State Judiciary at the State House, Abuja, said the panel was expected to ensure that the independence of the judiciary and legislature is maintained.

Buhari had, in his speech, during the inauguration said: “We are committed to strengthening our democracy by ensuring separation of powers among the three arms of Nigerian Government, even at the State levels.

“Furthermore, we have identified the need to sustain our constitutionally guaranteed Federal system of government by building capabilities not only at the Federal level but at all the Federating Units.

“This Committee has therefore been set-up, as a major reform of this administration, to ensure that the autonomy granted to the legislature and judiciary at the State levels is maintained, pursuant to Section 161 of the 4th Alteration to the 1999 Constitution (As Amended).

Conference of Speakers: Buhari’s executive order is best Sallah gift

The Conference of Speakers of State Legislatures in the country on Saturday described the approval of financial autonomy granted the legislative arm by President Muhammadu Buhari as the best Sallah gift from him.

The Chairman of the Conference of Speakers, Mr. Mudashiru Obasa, said this in a statement that the body was excited by action of the President.

He said: “No doubt, this order will further make state legislatures independent of the executive arm of their various governments.

“It would also boost healthy competitions among state legislatures in pursuit of advancements and developments.

“This is the best gift the President, His Excellency, Muhammadu Buhari, has given the legislative arms of state governments at this Sallah. And coming at the end of the Ramadan, it means God truly answered the prayers of the member state legislatures through the President.”

Obasa, who is a member of the implementation committee on the financial autonomy, set up by the President, commended members of the implementation committee for putting in their best and meeting their mandate.

He urged the various state beneficiaries of the Executive Order by President Buhari to see it as a further push to unite the country and play roles for its growth, peace and progress.

Agbakoba, Falana, other SANs back Buhari

Senior lawyers on Saturday commended President Buhari for signing Executive Order 10.

Those who spoke to The Nation are a former President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Dr. Olisa Agbakoba, Femi Falana, Chief Felix  Fahbohungbe, Abiodun Owonikoko and Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, all Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANs).

According to Agbakoba, the new Executive Order 10 will ensure a balanced federation with distribution of powers.

“I support the decision of the president on the grant of financial independence to the judiciary and it accords with the notion of separation of powers.

“More importantly, it implements the decision in Olisa Agbakoba Vs the Attorney-General where the court decided that judicial funding is beyond the scope of powers of the executive.

“We have all called for a balanced federation with distribution of powers. So, perhaps we are beginning to see that process unfold”, Agbakoba said

For Falana the Order will go a long way in consolidating democracy and strengthening  the independence of the judiciary and legislature at the state level.

Section 121 of the 1999 Constitution, according to him, has already granted financial autonomy to the judiciary but government refused to comply with the injunction.

“President Buhari had to make the Executive Order mandating the Accountant- General of the Federation to deduct the fund for the budget of the judiciary and pay it into the account nominated by the head of each court.

“The fund for the legislature will also be deducted in like manner and pay to the house through the Speaker,” the activist-lawyer said

He recalled that two judgments of the Federal High Court which upheld the Judiciary’s power to control and manage its own budget were ignored by the executive.

“Hence the Constitution was amended in 2017 to put the budget of the judiciary on first line charge. The amendment also sought to grant financial independence to the legislature in all the states of the federation. The amendment was equally treated with contempt.

Fagbohungbe noted that President Buhari acted in line with the 1999 Constitution as regards separation of powers and cautioned against abuse by the states.

His words: “I support and commend him for that. I would be happy if he can do more for legislature and judiciary in the states.

“I however urged the state legislature to work in line with the provisions of the constitution and not to abuse the new powers granted them by the President under the new Executive Order 10”, he advised.

Owonikoko noted that the 4th Alteration Act 2019 has already amended the constitution to the same effect, so the President’s move may not be of much legal significance.

“While such an executive order demonstrates Federal Government’s will to facilitate implementation of the new constitutional provisions, it’s hard to see its legal value.

“If however a state government persists in undermining financial autonomy of its state judiciary and legislature as guaranteed by the altered constitutional provisions,  the  executive order provides clarification and added support to challenge such act of infraction which violates constitutional supremacy stipulation in section 1 (3) of the a constitution,” Owonikoko said.

According to him, to that extent,”the executive order is commendable as a further enhancer of judicial autonomy .

“Nevertheless, it does not dispense with having to approach the appropriate court to interpret and declare the limit of state executive usurpation of power of the purse directly vested in the other arms of government.”

He also noted that it is the responsibility of a state government, not the presidency, “to implement first line charge on State revenue” and that term is not limited to federal allocation. It includes Internally Generated Revenue by the state which does not accrue through FAAC.”

Adegboruwa praised the President’s courage and selflessness in signing the order, because “most cases in the courts are to check the excesses of the executive arm, being the organ of government responsible for the implementation of policies.”

Noting that the executive order enforces the 4th Alteration of the Constitution, he advised the President to stand firm on its enforcement.

Adegboruwa said:” It is not enough to grant financial autonomy to the judiciary but also to ensure compliance with the rule of law through full and complete obedience to all orders and decisions of the courts.”

He urged the President to grant total autonomy to the judiciary by signing another executive order to all parastatals, agencies and departments of government to implement section 287 of the 1999 Constitution by complying with all orders, judgments and decisions of the courts.

“In addition, the statutory power placed upon the Attorneys-General to grant approval for the enforcement of monetary judgments involving government revenue is one of the greatest encroachments upon the powers of the judiciary, whereby a member of the executive is still required to approve or refuse the enforcement of a final decision of any court, even after full trial. The President should uproot this anomaly urgently.”

 

How gunmen chased NIDCOM staff out of allocated office -Dabiri-Erewa [Nation]

THE Chairman of the Nigeria Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM), Abike Dabiri –Erewa, on Saturday alleged that gun-wielding security agents chased staff of the agency out of an office duly allocated to it at National Communication Commission (NCC) annex building, Abuja by the federal government.

She claimed that the security personnel were instigated by Communication and Digital Economy Minister, Isa Pantami.

Dabiri-Erewa made the allegation on television while speaking on the challenges confronting the agency on the occasion of its first year anniversary.

She said: “As we speak, we don’t have office accommodation. Where we were allocated at NCC annex building, we were chased out by security operatives with gun within two days that we moved in on the orders of Hon. Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Pantami.’

She added: “I was away on official assignment with Mr. President in Addis Ababa when it happened and all my staff members were thrown into the street with all our gadgets, laptops, cameras and working tools trapped in there.

“I have a written petition to complain on this dehumanising treatment by an agency of government against another agency of government.

“Funny enough, the floor is still there unutilised till date. We hope after the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown, we shall retrieve all our property locked in by the Hon. Minister.”

“Despite all these challenges of paucity of funds and office accommodation, the commission has been waxing stronger in fulfilling its mandates.”

The ministry however said it was still preparing its response to the allegation when The Nation reached out to its official last night.

 

How Rivers officials withdrew N118b in cash – EFCC [Nation]

  • One allegedly made 129 withdrawals worth N70b in three years •State declines release of three top officers for interrogation, citing court order

THE Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is requesting, for its interrogation, the release of three officials of the Rivers State Government, who are implicated in the alleged illegal withdrawal of N118billion public funds.

Their action is said to be a contravention of the Money Laundering Act.

The cash was allegedly withdrawn by the Director of Finance, Government House, Fubara Siminalayei, Tonye Uranta, and Harisonba Princewill over the counter in suspicious manner.

One of the officials allegedly withdrew over N70billion in cash, about 129 times over a period of three years.

The Rivers State Government is alleged to be shielding them from reporting to the EFCC for interrogation.

The state government cites a perpetual injunction obtained in 2007 barring the EFCC from probing its accounts.

It was gathered that the cash withdrawals were made between 2015 and 2018 with Siminalayei alone allegedly collecting over N70billion over the counter about 35 times in 2016 and 94 times in 2017.

The same suspect allegedly withdrew N16.297billion from the bank in cash in 2015.

Some of the withdrawals from the counter include the following cash payments by Siminalayei: N750m((9/1/16); N830m(11/4/16);  N930m(11/7/16); N980m(10/11/16); N850m(7/11/2016); N980m(10/11/16); N550m(11/11/16); N700m (13/1/17); N680m(7/3/2017); N630m (12/5/17); N800m (2/1/2018);N500m(15/5/17); N750m(18/1/18); N760m(22/1/18);  and N925m(3/2/2018) among others.

Suspicious withdrawals linked to Uranta are: N522m on May 9, 2016; N1.3b (9/6.16); N500m (20/9/16); and N600m (22/9/16).

About N150million cash withdrawal was traced to Princewill on May 31, 2017.

A source said all the withdrawals were beyond the threshold set for cash transactions in the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011.

The source said the huge cash payments were made from the Government House account and the Federation Account Allocation remittances account domiciled in Zenith Bank.

Investigation revealed that Fubara Siminalayei was the Director of Finance in Government House when all these transactions took place.

The EFCC had requested for the accounts of the state government and profiled all those involved.

A top official of the EFCC, who spoke with our correspondent, said: “We went to the houses of these three officials to serve them invitation letters but they refused to collect it. The security guards in their personal residences said they were under instructions not to collect any letter from EFCC.

“Our team has been searching for them but we are yet to locate them.”

Asked why the officers have not reported for interrogation, the source added: “The state government has been referring to the March 23, 2007 ruling by Justice Ibrahim Nyaure Buba who granted all declarative and injunctive reliefs sought by the State Government.

“Rivers State claimed that the court order was explicit that the EFCC cannot probe the accounts of Rivers State Government and its officials. The state has remained adamant in its decision not to release the three suspects. It also claimed that it has filed a suit in court against the EFCC over the ongoing investigation.

“So far, our investigation continues. But we have interacted with some officials of Zenith Bank. We are probing whether or not the bank made Suspicious Transaction Report in line with Money Laundering   (Prohibition) Act 2011.

The Act reads in part: “Special surveillance on certain transactions.

“6. (1) Where a transaction –

(a)     involves a frequency which is unjustifiable or unreasonable;

(b) is surrounded by conditions of unusual or unjustified complexity;

(c) appears to have no economic justification or lawful objective; or

(d)  in the opinion of the Financial Institution or Designated Non-Financial Institution, involves terrorist financing or is inconsistent with the known transaction pattern of the account or business relationship, that transaction shall be deemed to be suspicious and the Financial Institution involved in such transaction shall seek information from the customer as to the origin and destination of the fund, the aim of the transaction and the identity of the beneficiary.

(2)     A Financial Institution or Designated Non-Financial Institution shall within 7 days after the transaction referred to in subsection (1) of this section –

(a)     draw up a written report containing all relevant information on the matters mentioned in subsection (1) of this section together with the identity of the principal and where applicable, of the beneficiary or beneficiaries;

(b)   take appropriate action to prevent the laundering of the proceeds of a crime or an illegal act; and

(c)     send a copy of the report and action taken to the Commission.

(3) The provisions of subsections (1) and (2) of this section shall apply whether the transaction is completed or not.

(4) The Commission shall acknowledge receipt of any disclosure, report or information received under this section and may demand such additional information as it may deem necessary.

(5)(a)The acknowledgement of receipt shall be sent to the Financial Institution or Designated Non-Financial Institution within the time allowed for the transaction to be undertaken and it may be accompanied by a notice deferring the transaction for a period not exceeding 72 hours.

(b) Notwithstanding the provisions of paragraph (a) of this subsection, the Chairman of the Commission, the Governor of the Central Bank or their authorized representative shall place a Stop Order, not exceeding 72 hours, on any account or transaction if it is discovered in the course of their duties that such account or transaction is suspected to be involved in any crime.

(6)     If the acknowledgement of receipt is not accompanied by a stop notice, or where the stop notice has expired and the order specified in subsection (7) of this section to block the transaction has not reached the Financial Institution or Designated Non-Financial Institution, it may carry out the transaction.

(7)     Where it is not possible to ascertain the origin of the funds within the period of stoppage of the transaction, the Federal High Court may, at the request of the commission, or others persons of authority duly authorized in that behalf, order that the funds, accounts or securities referred to in the report be blocked.

(8) An order made by the Federal High Court under subsection (7) of this section shall be enforced forthwith.

“Limitation to make or accept cash payment.

1.No person or body corporate shall, except in a transaction through a financial institution, make or accept cash payment of a sum exceeding –

(a) N5,000,000.00 or its equivalent, in the case of an individual; or

(b) N10,000,000.00 or its equivalent in the case of a body corporate.

(1)  A transfer to or from a foreign country of funds or securities by a person or body corporate including a Money Service Business of a sum exceeding US$10,000 or its equivalent shall be reported to the Central Bank of Nigeria, Securities Exchange Commission or the Commission in writing within 7 days from the date of the transaction.

(2)     A report made under subsection (1) of this section shall indicate the nature and amount of the transfer, the names and addresses of the sender and the receiver of the funds or securities.”

 

Eid-el-Fitri: Buhari, Atiku, Lawan, Gbajabiamila, Obi, Fayemi, Ugwuanyi, others salute Muslims [Sun]

President Muhammadu Buhari has charged Muslims to keep their spirits up in spite of the COVID-19 pandemic, which he said has dampened celebration of the end of the Ramadan fasting period.

The President who gave the charge in his Sallah message to Muslims on the occasion of Eid-el-Fitr, also assured Nigerians that the lockdown measures currently in place to check the spread of the coronavirus, would not go on longer than necessary, noting that they would be reviewed from time to time to ease the increasing hardships on the people.

In a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, the President said: “For the first time in recent years, the COVID-19 pandemic has taken a heavy toll on the people’s spiritual, social and economic lives. This year’s fasting period was particularly challenging for Muslims because they had to forgo many important aspects of their daily worship, including the routine congregations for prayer and the recitation and interpretation of the Holy Qur’an as well as traveling for the lesser pilgrimage to Makkah.

“It is not easy to give up many of these important duties and activities, but it became imperative to do so in order to control or limit the spread of this deadly disease.”

He commended both Muslims and Christians for their cooperation in the enforcement of the social distancing guidelines, noting that he was aware of the inconveniences the tough measures had brought on the lives of Nigerians, including limiting religious activities and gatherings in large numbers.

President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, has urged Muslims to continue to pray for the country for God’s intervention against all the challenges that confront the nation even as he assured that the National Assembly would continue to provide appropriate legislative support towards proper and responsible governance of the country.

In a message to mark the Eid-el-Fitr, Lawan specially commended healthcare professionals and other essential services providers who have been on the front line of the fight against COVID-19 and assured them of full support the legislature.

Describing the 2020 Ramadan as one like no other, former Vice President and the Wazirin Adamawa, Atiku Abubakar, said that the Eid-il-fitr celebrations marking the end of the fasting should be equally be considered epochal as it was observed without the mandatory congressional prayers.

He, however, noted that the stricture and other measures necessitated by the need to curb the spread of the coronavirus could not have made the fasting less valid.

“The current situation of the COVID-19 pandemic is a test from Allah and, having fasted as we are enjoined as Muslims, let us continue to remember that it is part of our faith to protect all lives and to abide by regulations from those in authority, especially during a time of great uncertainty like this,” the former vice-president said.

Similarly, the Vice Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party and in the 2015 general election and former governor of Anambra State, Peter Obi, in his Sallah message admonished Muslims in the country to pray for God to re-engineer the country and position it for true greatness.”

“Let us use this solemn time to ask God to end the endless blood-letting in our land and help re-direct our leadership at all levels so they can put the country first in all they do,” the former governor said.

Ekiti State governor and Chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, while felicitating with Muslims, admonished them put the teachings of the Ramadan to good use in all undertakings and urged Muslims and adherents of other religions to live in love, peace and harmony with one another as brothers and sisters even as he urged Muslim faithful to celebrate with modesty in view of the ravaging coronavirus pandemic which has disrupted socio- economic and religious activities globally.

Enugu State Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi enjoined Muslims and all Nigerians, to remain resolute in their abiding faith in God, through prayers and sacrifice, as the nation battles COVID-19, stressing that the nation’s collective efforts to win the war against pandemic as well as lead to sustenance of the peace, unity and progress of the country.

Plateau State Governor and Chairman, Northern Governors Forum, Simon Bako Lalong, who has rejoiced with Muslims on the occasion of the Eid-el-Fitr marked under unusual conditions occasioned by COVID-19, noted that the challenges posed by the pandemic would remain with country for a long time and urged the people to adopt lifestyles that are commensurate with the teachings of the major faiths as both the governments and citizenry work together to assist one another to build a better society.

In the same vein, North Central Governor’s Forum (NCGF) has congratulated Muslim Ummah on the successful completion of the Ramadan fast, urging Muslims in the country to use lesson of the Ramadan to foster unity among Nigerians.

The Chairman of the Forum and Governor of Niger State, Alhaji Abubakar Sani Bello, in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Mary Noel Berje, expressed optimism that the current challenges being experienced following the outbreak of Coronavirus would soon become history.

He called on all traditional and religious leaders in the entire North Central region, especially those states that are under security threat of banditry, cattle rustling, kidnapping and other forms of criminality to be security conscious and report any strange or suspicious movement within their domain

Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu has urged the Muslim faithful in the state to continue on the path of spirituality and peaceful co-existence even as they advised that they celebrate the Eid-el-Fitr moderately.

“Such values as the reaffirmation of your duty to serve one another, helping the poor and the vulnerable in the society, offering gratitude, showing compassion and generosity among other good deeds that guide your faith,” the governor said in a Sallah message.

Kano State governor, Dr Abdullahi Umar Ganduje has reiterated the need for all Muslims attending prayer grounds across the state to obey all the COVID-19 protocols as outlined by health experts.

The governor, Friday, reminded them to observe social distancing, wear face masks and wash their hands with soap around the designed places for the Eid-el-Fitr prayer.

He disclosed in a statement that he was sending his commissioners, advisers, special assistants, heads of government agencies to different locations where Eid prayer would be held across all the 44 local governments to ensure compliance with the protocols.

Governor, State of Osun, Mr. Adegboyega Oyetola, has congratulated Muslims in the state and across the world on the successful completion  of the 1441 AH Ramadan fast and the celebration of Eid-el-fitri festival.

Oyetola in a statement signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Ismail Omipidan, prayed Almighty Allah to accept all the acts of worship and supplication of the Muslim faithful during the just-concluded holy month.

The governor said though Ramadan has ended, Muslims must continue to reflect on and sustain the lessons and virtues of the month and replicate the same in their daily lives, particularly in their conducts and dealings with others.

 

Shipping of Almajiri from North to South: Security experts warn southerners, urge them to be on alert [Sun]

Fresh security concern has been raised over the continued influx of Almijirai to the South from the Northern part of the country.

The renewed wave of apprehension followed the perceived desperation by some persons believed to be Almijirai who have been doing everything to circumvent the lockdown directive put in place to contain further spread of COVID-19 pandemic.

Some concerned security experts, who spoke to Sunday Sun, expressed the fear that Boko Haram insurgents could take advantage of the infraction to penetrate the South.

This is particularly bearing in mind the restiveness of the insurgents in the Chad Basin region where they have been routed, forcing them to look for safe haven.

At a recent briefing, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation and member of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, Boss Mustapha, disclosed President Muhammadu Buhari’s approval of the extension of the ban on interstate travels, as well as nationwide curfew from 8:00 p.m to 6:00 a.m for another period of two weeks.

In spite of the directive, the influx of suspicious people to the South has remained unabated. What sparked off the wave of the migration was the recent decision by the Northern Governors’ Forum to repatriate the Almajirai to their states of origin as part of their efforts to curb the spread of Coronavirus.

A renowned security expert, Dr Ekhomu Onuh, speaking with Sunday Sun, expressed worry that the nation might be sitting on a time bomb with the new dimension introduced into the Almajiri menace.

He said: “I am worried a lot about this issue of Almajiri. First of all, let’s look at the vehicle that was said to have been arrested with people who are being described as Almajrai. I don’t see those people as Almajirai because they (Almajirai) are generally much younger and they have a cut off age. The people I saw in the truck might just be passing themselves off as Almajirai. And that is where I have my own concern. It could be a way by which Boko Haram insurgents are metastasizing in the country. Boko Haram is already in the South. They are here already. At least, I handled a case here in Lagos recently. I know it for a fact, it is not an assumption.

“I see the issue of Almajiri as a time bomb that is going to explode on us because we are going about it the wrong way right now. Shekau was an Almajiri in Maiduguri where he met Muhammed Yusuf. Today, Shekau is the biggest enemy Nigeria has ever had. He and his group have claimed more than any insurgent group in Nigeria and it is a continuing threat.

“My research shows that we have a lot of people from across the border, Niger and Chad, who are now missing with our population and we are shipping them up and down. How do we determine where they are from since we don’t have the data on anybody? This is a major sociological bomb that is going to hit us. With time, they will bring us on our knees. It’s a major policy issue.”

While admitting the constitutional right of freedom of movement, he charged concerned authorities to bring Boko Haram insurgent to an end.

He argued: “These young (Almajirai) people are Nigerians. They have human rights which are enshrined in Section 4 of the constitution. Who is defending those human rights? Where did the governors get the authority to do internal deportation in Nigeria? Who gave those governors the power to deport people within their own country?

“Based on the constitutional guarantee, there is freedom of movement. So, it is up to the authorities to be in hot pursuit of real Boko Haram elements and see if they can bring them to justice.”

Also, Muhammed Tsav, son of Abubakar Tsav, a lawyer and security expert, sharing the same opinion, blamed the raging confusion on the decision of the Northern governors to take Almajirai back to their states of origin, claiming that the timing was inauspicious.

“The constitution allows any Nigerian to stay and live anywhere in the country. These Almajirai have been in existence a long time ago. Why didn’t they stop it at that time,” queried.

He further expressed the fear that the movement of suspicious persons to the South could aggravate the challenge of kidnapping and other forms of criminalities peculiar to the region.

“In the process of trying to move Almajirai back to their states of origin, there are people who are using it to evacuate Boko Haram. Now, Boko Haram insurgents are on the loose. If these Boko Harams are among those people, it is going to be a big security issue and it should be stopped.

“So long as you arrest a vehicle from the North going to the South with suspected Almajiri, they could be Boko Haram insurgents who have been trained and vast in the use of ammunition. In any case, what are they going to do in the South if not to go and commit crimes? In the first place, what is the source of their livelihood? With time, they will start robbing and kidnapping people.

“Agreed, the South already has kidnapping, but the way Boko Haram do their own is different. They will now go and introduce those tactics to the South. We have worse of kidnappers in the North. I have the experience of a client whose General Manager was kidnapped. The man had to pay almost N150 million to those people to secure the release of that expatriate.

“Now, we are talking about a health issue, COVID-19. If you are going to transport people to their homes, they must go with a secure vehicle. But you put everybody in a truck behind a trailer. In the process, those who do not have Coronavirus will be affected behind in that truck.  If at all they are Almajirai, chances are there that they would go and infect the people in the South with the virus,” he said.

He urged the authorities to create a platform whereby the police will join the military to stop the unapproved movement of persons.

“Governors too should stop repatriating Almajirai. If there is a need to repatriate them, they should escort them to their destination so that nobody drops on the way,” he suggested.

Similarly, another security expert, Mr Seyi Adetayo, while also lending his voice to the growing security concern, said: “The first question we need to ask ourselves is: which Magarata or Quranic school are these Almajirai coming from the North to the South want to attend when they get here? The system in the North is that they are in Arabic school, where they take lectures and then spend morning and afternoon wandering about town looking for what to eat.

“Now that they are moving here, it means they have a severed relationship with Islamic schools that have their record. It means that they are going to be more or less destitute in the South with no particular place in mind to stay. Because they don’t have any means of livelihood, it means we are going to witness an upsurge in the rate of crime. We are also going to see a lot of uncompleted building being occupied by these people with an attendant increase in COVID-19 fatality cases.  For those of them who will take to Okada riding as a means of survival, their penchant for disobeying rule will also manifest.

“There is also the likelihood of sympathizers of Boko Haram trying to leave the restive areas to the South where there is relative peace. The movement is becoming obvious now because they are mounting road blocks. This has been an ongoing thing. You need to see what is happening at Fagba and see how many trailers are bringing people from the North on a daily basis. The reality is just beginning to stir us in the face.”

Some stakeholders have blamed the security operatives for the flagrant disregard of the interstate lockdown and the rising security challenge in the South.

 

Biafra: Kanu spits fire, warns saboteurs [Sun]

…Threatens to expel members sabotaging struggle

Leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu, has warned saboteurs who are making frantic efforts to derail their struggle for a Biafra nation, saying that his group is not afraid of them.

Kanu in a press statement he made available through the group’s Media and Publicity Secretary, Emma Powerful said: “We don’t appeal or build bridges with saboteurs and traitors. To us, they are as irrelevant and inconsequential as Yoro e-rats on 3000 naira data stipend a week.”

He also warned that any member who sabotages the effort of the group would face total expulsion and punishment from the group.

His words: “Sabos strengthen us with their treachery. If you sabotage the sacred project of IPOB you will be kicked out of the family, you will be shredded and destroyed and sometimes worse things will happen to you if we catch you.

“There is no forgiveness, no pardon, no pity, no diplomacy, no bridge-building. Once you are out, you are an outcast forever. Form as many useless pro-Biafra groups as you like with help of DSS or Ohanaeze, gossip, as much as you like with your multiple fake accounts, you will never be allowed back in.

“We allow petty saboteurs to keep coming forward because it makes it easier for us to destroy them. The more dangerous ones are those in our midst pretending, but working for the enemy.

“Any IPOB appealing to online traitors to stop hating Kanu and IPOB is mentally weak. IPOB was forged in the heat of battle and purified in the furnace ceaseless confrontation for years. Bridge-building with traitors is for the confused and unfocussed.

“We are IPOB, we conquer and subdue our enemies with overwhelming evidence and incontrovertible proof. We drown them in the pool of truth.

“We love trouble, enmity and confrontation because we believe and know that enemies within and without are good for us the same way a good immune system can only be built by the body confronting viruses and bacteria on a regular basis. We are arrogant yes! Because IPOB is the best there is in the whole world. An unarmed group that broke a country with nothing, but the truth.

“If as a frontline activist you mistakenly think that our love and praise of your work for Biafra means we are gullible and can be divided, then we show you who we are. Any day you step out of line, you are toast, we would sink you because many have died, imprisoned and tortured for this Biafra.

“We are like the vulture, we have no friends, we have no enemies. We only love those that pursue Biafra in truth and honesty. Once you deviate, then its bye bye, no matter who you think you are.”

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