Reps grill NDDC boss over N 90.4bn extra-budgetary expenditure, 150 abandoned projects [Sun]

The House of Representatives Committee on Public Accounts, yesterday,  grilled the acting Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC),  Prof. Pondei Kemerbrandikumo, over N90.4 billion extra-budgetary expenditure by the commission between 2009 to 2011.

The committee, which  is investigating audit queries, issued to Ministries,  Departments and Agencies (MDAs) by the Office of the Auditor General of the Federation ( AuGF)  also grilled Kemerbrandikumo over 150  NDDC abandoned projects in the Niger Delta, after payment has been made to the contractors.

The committee said the extra-budgetary expenditure was a violation of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), and would not be allowed to go unpunished.

The lawmakers also directed the NDDC  to furnish the committee with  the details of affected  contractors,  so that they can be summoned to explain their roles in abandoned projects.

The AuGF in his query had noted that the NDDC paid N23.215 billion to contractors between 2008 to 2012 for  a total of 150 projects,  which have now been stalled.

“Analysis of the NDDC contracts profile reveals that there are a total number of 150 stalled projects scattered all over the region as recorded by the project management department. The sum of N23.215 has so far be paid to the contractors of these projects,” the audit query stated.

It added that there was  also N5billion excess payment for 77 of the projects, while there was no effort by the commission to recover  the money.

The committee had last  weekend, grilled the NDDC boss over the payment of N70.495 billion  by the NDDC to contractors as mobilization fees to 1,773 contractors, who allegedly failed  to mobilise  to site,  between 2008 and 2012 ,

Shortly,  before the commencement of yesterday’s hearing,  the NDDC Executive Director in charge of projects, Cairo Ojougboh, had stated that he needed  to put on record that  the audit query had nothing to do with the Interim Management Committee (IMC)  of the commission.

Ojougboh noted  that the IMC does not know anything in relation to the issues that necessitated the audit query.

However,  the committee chairman,  Wole Oke,  said since  the the IMC has taken over both the assets and liability of the interventionist agency,  it behoves on the acting managing director to defend the query.

In his response,  the NDDC boss admitted that there was actually cases of extra-budgetary expenditure by the commission in the years under review. Regardless,  he explained that the extra-budgetary expenditure arose because of late  passage of the agency’s budgets in the years under review.

Kemerbrandikumo, while  responding to the query on the 150 abandoned projects, said the NDDC is making efforts to recover the funds from the various contractors through the banks that raised Advanced Project Guarantees (APG)  for them.

Regardless,  the lawmakers said documents indicate that there are no current efforts by the NDDC the money from the contractors, as some  of them letters to banks  were written in 2015.

Consequently,  the committee directed the NDDC to furnish it with the details of all banks that gave APG to the contractors,  details of the projects, as well as details of all the past Executive Directors of the commission in the period under review.

 

Security seals Magu’s offices [Sun]

  • Withdraws bullet-proof official SUVs

Suspended acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu, was again, grilled by members of the inter-agency presidential panel, over alleged abuse of office and fraud, yesterday.

At the resumed probe, top staff of the commission and directors appeared before the panel where more revelations were made.

As part of the ongoing investigation, it was gathered that two bulletproof official vehicles belonging to the suspended chairman have been recovered. One was recovered in Abuja and the other in Maiduguri, Borno State. The two vehicles have been parked at the commission’s headquarters in Abuja.

Confirming the seizure, the same source told Daily Sun that the bulletproof vehicle was previously parked at the Force headquarters, but was later moved to the commission’s headquarters today.

Daily Sun gathered that Magu was also grilled by the panel over funds for foreign trainings for three years. Although the trainings did not take place , it was gathered that the panel raised query about the budget for the programmes.

It was learnt the commission , in the last three years, expended  N700 million annually , being the  budgetary allocation, specially earmarked for foreign training of operatives and staff. However, it was gathered that no staff was ever sent abroad for any training and the cumulative N2.1 billion budgeted for in three years could not be accounted for. Directors and other officials were also grilled. It was further gathered that operatives from the Force Criminal Investigation Division (FCID) have sealed up Magu’s office located on the tenth floor of the new EFCC office located along Airport Road, Jabi. His office in Wuse II has also been sealed up by operatives from FCID. His personal staff were prevented from accessing their offices or the floor housing the offices in the two buildings.

A source said operatives stormed the Commission and sealed off the office without offering any explanation to staff who watched in shock.

“They came today (yesterday) and sealed off the office. They stopped personal and EFCC staff working on that floor from accessing their offices. Some had to go home, while others just lurked around.”

Meanwhile, Pastor Emmanuel Omale of an Abuja based church has refuted media claims that he laundered money for Magu abroad.

In a letter addressed to the manaagent of the News Agency of Nigeria by his lawyers, the pastor demanded a retraction of the story and an apology within seven days.

He said if the story is not retracted and an apology offered, a N1 billion libel suit will be filed against the agency.

I’m traumatised –Malami

Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, has threatened to go to court over series of allegations against him.

In a statement by his media aide, Umar Gwandu, Malami said the publications have subjected him to “considerable distress, psychological trauma, anxiety and greatly injured his character and reputation”.

The AGF said his person is suffering “what appears like a coordinated attack.”

He insisted that the publications were untrue, fabrication and figment of the imagination.”

Malami noted that he has been receiving telephone calls and visits “from well-meaning Nigerians, his friends, well-wishers and associates from all over the world.”

The minister said the publications against him were contrary to Nigerian Criminal and Penal Laws and a gross violation of his right.

“A senior lawyer has already been briefed to deal with the matter as may be appropriate, in the event of failure to retract the publication in question and offer the requested apology within seven days”, the statement said.

 Arrest him now, lawyer tells Buhari

However, a human rights lawyer, Kabir Akingbolu, has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to order the immediate arrest of Malami for “illegally” approving the auctioning of sea vessels holding crude oil and diesel seized by the Federal Government.

Malami was reported to have given approval to Omoh-Jay Nigeria Ltd, an oil firm, to auction the crude oil and diesel in four sea vessels despite the firm being tried for allegedly stealing about 12,000 metric tonnes of crude oil in 2009. But Malami said he committed no illegality in approving the auction. He said by virtue of Section 36 (5) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Omoh-Jay Nigeria Ltd which is a duly registered company can participate in the auction bidding process since it is yet to be found guilty for the allegations for which it is standing trial.

In a statement yesterday, Akingbolu said since the AGF has admitted that he personally authorised the sale of confiscated properties without the authorisation of the EFCC, he has “committed an offence under section 32 (1) of the EFCC Act” and is “liable on conviction to imprisonment for a term of five years without the option of a fine.”

He said the AGF acted beyond his powers when he independently gave approval for auctioning without the authorisation of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

He said section 31 (4) of the EFCC Act gives powers to the AGF to only make rules for the disposal of seized assets to ensure that the power of sale is not abused by the EFCC.

“To further expose the anomalies and administrative recklessness of Malami, may I invite him on a short excursion into section 31 (2) and (4) of the Economic Financial Crimes Commission (Establishment) Act, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004, which is the enabling Act, under which he purportedly acted.

“It is submitted that the AGF does not have such power either under section 174 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria or under the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (Establishment) Act, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004.

“For the purpose of elucidation and contrary to the highly misguided position of the AGF, section 31 (2) of the EFCC Act states that upon receipt of a final order pursuant to this section, the secretary to the commission shall take steps to dispose of the property concerned by sale or otherwise and where the property is sold, the proceeds thereof shall be paid into the consolidated revenue fund of the federation.”

“In order to ensure that the power of sale of confiscated properties is not abused by the EFCC, the AGF is authorised by section 31 (4) of the EFCC Act to ‘make rules or regulations for the disposal or sale of any property or assets forfeited pursuant to this Act.’

 

Fire guts World Trade Centre in FCT [Sun]

A fire outbreak on Monday gutted part of the high rise building of the World Trade Centre, located in the Federal Capital Territory.

Mr Ibukun Adeogun, General Manager, Operations, at the centre confirmed the outbreak in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja.

According to him, the fire-outbreak, which he described as ‘minor’ has already been put out, adding that there was no cause for alarm, as there were no significant damages recorded.

”In a building like this, you fight the fire from inside; you can see the trucks are not doing anything.

“The little incident happened on the pent house of the building,” he said.

Also speaking, Emmanuel Etuk, the Extra Low Voltage (ELV), Operations Manager, said it was the first time such incident would be recorded at the Centre adding that everyone was calm at the moment as the fire had been put out.

”When incidences like this occur you allow the experts do their jobs, after, investigations are carried out, then they can advise.

“For now, we are good,” he said.

Giving an eyewitness account on the outbreak, Oladiji Moshood, said that just as he was about alighting from a vehicle at the centre, early in the morning, he saw people running around in panic as they saw smoke emitting from the roof top.

“I sought to know what was going on and they said they were calling the fire service already, pointing to the spot.

“In fact, I am not happy with what I saw this morning, as no one seems to know what must have started the fire,” he added

Mrs Sandra Huan, Public Relations Officer (PRO), Federal Fire Sevice (FFS), said that the cause of the fire which gutted the World Trade Centre building on Monday in Abuja was still under investigation.

Huan in an interview with NAN said that the circumstances surrounding the fire outbreak still remained unclear.

 

School reopening confusion: Ministry lists guidelines, omits resumption date [Punch]

  • FG says COVID-19 won’t go soon, rules out financial help for private schools
  • South-West states hold virtual meeting today, take stand on pupils’ resumption

There was confusion on Monday over reopening of schools in the country as the  Federal Government issued guidelines, but failed to mention the resumption date for the schools.

The guidelines for the reopening of schools were contained in  a document titled, ‘Guidelines for schools and learning facilities reopening after COVID-19 pandemic closures: Taking responsibility for safe schools and quality learning.’

It was signed by the Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu, and Minister of State for Education, Mr  Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba.

The Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 had, at its press briefing on June 29,  said the Federal Government had approved the resumption of graduating pupils in Primary 6, Junior Secondary School 3 and Senior Secondary School 3.

It said the resumption would enable the pupils to prepare for their final examinations. The task force said the West African Examinations Council had fixed the West African Senior School Certificate Examination for between August 3 and September 5.

At the June 29 press briefing, the PTF National Coordinator, Dr Sani Aliyu, said, “Pupils  in graduating classes – only graduating classes; Primary 6, JSS 3 and SSS3 – will be allowed to resume in preparation for examinations.”

But on Wednesday, the  Federal Executive Council, at its meeting made a U-turn when it put the planned resumption of graduating classes on hold on the grounds that it was not safe to reopen schools because of COVID-19.

It said pupils of the Federal Government-owned unity schools would not participate in WASSCE.

Despite putting the resumption on hold, the Federal Ministry of Education on Monday issued guidelines for the reopening of the schools.

According to the guidelines, the safe distancing measures require that in schools and other learning facilities, learners should be supported to stay two metres apart.

The document states that where the two-metre rule could not be reasonably applied, other risk mitigation strategies could be adopted.

It states, “In these circumstances, risk assessments must be undertaken with the best interests of the learners, teachers, and other education personnel in mind. The scenarios require organising learners and children into small groups with consistent membership and compliance to the risk mitigation strategies. The membership of these groups should not change unless the NCDC public health guidelines suggest otherwise.”

The government said with the release of the document, it would conduct a rapid assessment of funding requirements for upgrading infrastructure such as classrooms, furniture and water to meet prescribed safe school reopening requirements.

Speaking on the guidelines, Adamu said, “Given that COVID – 19 may be with us for a while, the guidelines also highlight the urgent need to maintain and improve upon distance-learning programmes. Our aim is to identify and strengthen programmes that will guarantee the recovery of learning gaps resulting from the pandemic.

But at the PTF press conference on Monday, Nwajiuba insisted that there was no policy somersault on the planned reopening of schools.

Nwajiuba said, “Mallam Adamu Adamu is consistently in tune with what we have said in the PTF. No schools are reopened, we didn’t reopen any school.

“He (Adamu Adamu) was only giving what he has received which was the timetable as published by WAEC and advised that this period, from now till when the (WASCCE) examination will take place sometime in August, anybody who wanted to use the schools would have to follow the guidelines.

“He said however that he is not in charge of private schools and schools under the concurrent list and power have therefore been devolved to sub-nationals who can take a decision on their state-owned schools, whether they can participate in the WAEC examinations or not.

At the press briefing, the PTF   said the Federal Government had asked all government officials to suspend what it called all unnecessary travels for meetings, saying they should continue with virtual meetings.

With electioneering reaching its peak in  Edo and Ondo states where governorship elections would hold, the government also cautioned politicians to be circumspect in their gatherings.

The PTF Chairman, Boss Mustapha,  who is also the Secretary to the Government of the Federation,  urged corporate organisations not to misconstrue the resumption of flights but also encourage virtual meetings.

He said, “The PTF wishes to reiterate the following: ‘all government offices shall continue to hold virtual meetings in their offices especially where participants exceed four persons and suspend all unnecessary travels for meetings.

“For corporate organisations, board members, etc, the reopening of the domestic flights should not be misconstrued. The PTF strongly encourages virtual meetings as well.

“We still urge places of worship to cautiously follow the guidelines on public gatherings; and we urge members of the political class to exercise utmost circumspection in their gathering for whatever reasons.”

On testing deficit, the SGF said the task force has resolved to establish one sample collection centre per local government area.

The Director-General of the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control,  Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, on his part said new evidence suggested that COVID-19 might be transmitted through air.

He explained that hitherto the virus was believed to only be transmittable through droplets which emanate from the nose and the mouth and fall to the ground.

Ihekweazu, however, stated that studies of new infections showed that the disease might also be airborne.

The NCDC boss said, “Over the past few weeks, increasing evidence has emerged that in addition to droplet infections, we cannot rule out that airborne transmission is also possible as a mode of transmission of Covid-19.”

Ihekweazu said with this new revelation, the wearing of face masks and the need to maintain social distancing had become imperative.

The NCDC boss also stated that one of the challenges undermining the agency’s efforts was the high number of unnecessary calls being received by the emergency centres.

He said last week alone 26 per cent of the calls its emergency centres received were ‘hoax’ calls.

FG rules out financial help for private school owners

Meanwhile, the minister of state for education ruled out the possibility of the Federal Government assisting private school owners financially to survive the pandemic.

He said he had however advised them to take advantage of the Central Bank of Nigeria’s window which had  been provided by the Federal Government to support Small and Medium Scale Enterprises for salary augmentation provisions and loans.

While answering a question, the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, told frontline healthcare workers involved in the fight against COVID-19 to write a petition to him, if they had yet to be paid their allowances.

S’West states meet on school resumption

As the Federal Government released the guidelines, the South-West states will on Tuesday (today) hold a virtual meeting to decide on the resumption of final year students sitting for WASSCE.

The Special Adviser to Governor on Public Communications, Remmy Hazzan, told one of our correspondents on Monday that the outcome of the meeting of the commissioners for education in the South-West would determine the next step to be taken by the state government.

He said, “I am aware that tomorrow, all the commissioners for education in the South-West are holding a meeting  and the outcome of that meeting will help the governors to further take it to another level and also meet to now have a common position.”

Also, the Ondo State Commissioner for Education, Mr Femi Agagu, said he was aware of the meeting, adding that the state would be represented at the meeting.

The Ekiti State Commissioner for Education, Mr Foluso Daramola, on his part,  said at the meeting, the state would make its situation known.

The state had earlier announced that the final year pupils should resume on July 20 before the Federal Government rescinded its decision on resumption of schools.

But the Lagos State Commissioner for Education, Mrs Folasade Adefisayo said that the government would make known its decision this week.

When one of our correspondents spoke to her on the telephone, she said, “you will know our decision within the week.”

All schools in the country have been closed since March 2020 following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Federal Government’s decision to suspend resumption of schools has generated a lot of controversies. While 19 northern states supported it, the  Yoruba apex socio-political group, Afenifere, threatened to sue the Federal Government over the decision to withdraw Nigerian pupils from the WASSCE.

 

NFIU submits report on Magu’s forex transactions to panel [Punch]

The suspended acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Ibrahim Magu, on Monday appeared before the Justice Ayo Salami-led presidential panel for the second week running.

Magu has been appearing before the panel sitting inside the old Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa, Abuja, since last Monday when he was arrested.

He has since then been in police custody from where he is being moved to the venue of the sitting daily.

As of the time of filing this report, the suspended EFCC boss was still at the venue of the sitting.

Meanwhile, the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit has presented its investigative report on Magu to the panel.

It was gathered that the NFIU provided a comprehensive report on Magu’s alleged activities, including details of his relationships with some Bureau de change operators to the panel.

One of our correspondents learnt that the NFIU kept report of all concluded investigations on its servers or cloud storage system where the chances of tampering or theft were low.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, an official said, “Almost 100 per cent of our reports and information are on our servers; you cannot find any concluded reports on computers, they are on our servers or cloud storage system.”

The official dismissed reports that the attack on the agency’s annex office at Wuse, Abuja, might be related to the Magu’s case.

He said the ongoing internal investigation would reveal the culprits behind the burglary.

The source stated, “Apart from the so-called Magu investigation, we have bigger and sensitive investigations based on our mandate, so you cannot conclude that the burglary has to do with Magu, but as far as NFIU is concerned, all the information the panel required had been provided.”

The PUNCH gathered that policemen and private security guards protecting the facility had been taken into custody for questioning.

Meanwhile, Magu’s lawyer, Tosin Ojaomo, has disclosed that the bail application for his client was receiving attention from the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu.

Providing an update on efforts to secure the release of the embattled commissioner of police on Monday, the lawyer said, “I’m hoping that he will be released this night (Monday).

Ojaomo disclosed plans to drag the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami (SAN) to court for “illegally” selling forfeited vessels and crude oil, insisting that he had no authority to do so.

Our correspondent had reported how Malami granted two approvals to a firm facing criminal prosecution, Omoh-Jay Ltd., to dispose of five vessels, crude oil and diesel forfeited to the Federal Government, but the AGF defended his action, claiming he had the power to sell the forfeited property.

Ojaomo said he would file charges against the AGF for his illegal action, insisting that he had no immunity against prosecution.

General overseer denies buying N573 Dubai property  for Magu

In a related development, the General Overseer of Divine Hand of God Prophetic Ministries International, Abuja, Prophet Emmanuel Omale, has denied allegations that he bought a property in Dubai worth N573m on behalf of Magu.

Omale said this in a pre-litigation letter addressed to the News Agency of Nigeria on Monday.

In the letter which was signed by his lawyer, Chief Gordy Uche (SAN), the cleric said he indeed met Magu in Dubai earlier in the year but it was not for the purpose of purchasing a property.

He said the suspended EFCC boss had travelled to Dubai for medical reasons and he only prayed with him.

The letter reads in part, “Our client only visited Mr Ibrahim Magu in a hospital in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, sometime in March 2020.

“That our client never laundered any funds whatsoever for Mr Ibrahim Magu or for anybody whatsoever. Our client does not own any foreign bank account anywhere in the world.

“That there are no funds whatsoever traceable from Mr Ibrahim Magu to our client’s bank accounts whatsoever neither has our client received any funds whatsoever from Mr. Ibrahim Magu.

“That our client does not own any property in Dubai. His name was never used to purchase any property whatsoever in Dubai, United Arab Emirates or anywhere else in any part of the world, neither has he purchased any property nor properties for Mr Ibrahim Magu in any part of the world whatsoever.”

He asked the Federal Government-owned news agency to retract the publication which had severely injured his “reputation, character and calling.”

The cleric asked NAN to restrain itself from further defamation of his character or a libel suit of N1bn would be instituted against the agency.

NAN had on Saturday posted that Magu was accused of buying a property in Dubai through Omale.

 

As President I didn’t pursue personal interest – Obasanjo [Punch]

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has said everything he did while in office was in the best interest of the country rather than for his personal gains.

He also said those who claimed that he did nothing for the South-West or the Yoruba were wrong.

The ex-President said he remained worried that despite Nigeria’s enormous potential for greatness, steps were not being taken to translate that potential into reality.

Obasanjo said these in an interview with The Point Newspaper, published in the tabloid’s Monday edition.

Obasanjo said, “People who worked with me, it doesn’t matter where they come from, they remember what we did together. There is no question of favouritism, there is no question of, yes, this is my kith and kin. There is no question of this is my personal interest. I never say that we didn’t make mistake or we are perfect, but whatever mistake we made was a genuine mistake. It wasn’t a mistake we made as a result of selfishness.”

Reacting to the claim that he neglected the Yoruba while in office, Obasanjo said, “Some Yoruba have come to me and said you didn’t do enough for the Yoruba. I said, ‘Yes, did I do for Nigeria?’ They said, ‘You did?’ I asked, is Yoruba not part of Nigeria? If I did as I could for Nigeria and Yoruba are part of Nigeria, then I have done for the Yoruba as well as I have done for Igbo, Hausa and so on. I think that must guide us.

“The point you must bear in mind is that this country can be a great country. We have everything to make this country great. And that is what always worries me. When you see what we can do, how to do it, and we are not doing it. That is really unfortunate.

“Can we get there? I believe we can.  All we need is one generation of consistency in leadership, we will be there.  That is what we need. We need one generation of right leadership consistently.”

Obasanjo advised the current leadership of the country to be inquisitive about what is going on around them, instead of shutting their doors.

 

Magu’s office searched by detectives [The Nation]

  • Panel grills more officials

Some detectives yesterday combed the office of Ibrahim Magu, the suspended acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) as part of the ongoing investigation by the Justice Ayo Salami Investigative panel.

It was learnt that a vital computer was retrieved by the investigators.

Also, more EFCC officials, including the acting Director of the Assets Forfeiture and Recovery Management Unit were grilled by the panel.

Also quizzed were some of Magu’s aides.

It was also learnt that the committee sought clarifications on 332 assets recovered by the EFCC.

Some of the aides had their phones screened and profiled.

They were all allowed to go home last night.

But Magu, who was present during the siting, which lasted about 12 hours, did not make any appearance before the committee, it was learnt.

Detectives were at the The EFCC headquarters to search Magu’s office based on intelligence, it was also learnt.

A source said: “The detectives frisked the office and went away with the main desktop computer suspected to have some information.

“Two key aides of Magu were later asked to appear before the panel for some clarifications. They were there till about 9.30pm.

“Apart from Magu’s direct aides, the EFCC’s acting Director, Directorate of Asset Forfeiture and Recovery Management, Mr. Aliyu Yusuf, interacted with the Salami panel.

“I think Aliyu Yusuf’s summons was in respect of the 332 assets recovered from suspects by the commission. The panel is demanding comprehensive details on the assets which have attracted public interest.

“The committee was very strict in sitting behind closed doors by ensuring that only those needed were allowed to meet with the team.”

 

Banks to debit debtors’ accounts directly [The Nation]

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has released guidelines on Global Standing Instruction (GSI) that would enable banks to debit account of loan defaulters without recourse to the account holders.

The CBN released the guidelines in Abuja on Monday.

According to the guidelines, the GSI will “serve as a last resort by a Creditor bank, without recourse to the Borrower, to recover past due obligations.

The GSI will specifically target Principal and Accrued Interest only while “excluding any Penal Charges from a defaulting Borrower through a direct set-off from deposits/investments held in the Borrower’s qualifying bank accounts with participating financial institutions.”

The objectives of GSI, the CBN said, include facilitating an improved credit repayment culture; reducing Non-Performing Loans (NPLs) in the banking industry; and watch-listing consistent loan defaulters.

The types of accounts that qualify for GSI are Individual Savings Accounts; Individual Current Accounts; Individual Domiciliary Accounts; Investment/Deposit Accounts (Naira and Foreign Currency); and Electronic Wallets.

Henceforth, bank debtors are expected to execute a GSI mandate in hard copy or digital form; ensure that the terms and conditions of the mandate are clearly understood before execution; and ensure that all qualifying accounts are linked to his/her BVN.

According to the CBN: “In the event that a borrower’s qualifying account is not linked to his/her BVN, such BVN shall be Watch-Listed.”

The Creditor Bank, on its part, will ensure that borrowers are properly educated about the GSI mandate and its implications; and enshrine same in their loan application process.

Also, the banks are expected to “review and validate the GSI mandate instrument prior to loan disbursement.”

The banks are to indemnify Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System Plc (NIBSS) and other Participating Financial Institutions (PFI) from all liabilities that may arise from inappropriate use of the GSI infrastructure.

They are to also “retain copies of physical or digital version of the executed GSI mandate and to provide same when required. The banks are to ensure that the GSI Trigger Amount is only for outstanding Principal Amount and Accrued Interest (excluding ANY Penal Charges).”

The banks were ordered to comply with CBN’s Prudential Guidelines as it applies to classification of loans; and as a risk management tool, the MD/CEO of each PFI “shall routinely update the Board of Directors on the GSI process as it relates to frequency of use and amounts recovered or released.”

The guidelines note that PFI’s MD/CEO are not absolved of the overall responsibility over activities of the bank.

“Any loan for forbearance review must show evidence of GSI trigger otherwise full provisioning would be required (except where there are CBN permitted waivers),” the guidelines stated.

 

 

PTF: Airborne transmission of Coronavirus possible [The Nation]

             Govt cautions against mass gatherings

             Electronic sharing of test results to start

The Presidential Task Force (PTF) on Monday said a new evidence has showed that airborne transmission of COVID-19 is possible.

It urged citizens to absolutely wear a face mask and adhere to other non-pharmaceutical protocols, such as avoiding mass gatherings, practising social distancing and maintaining hand hygiene by washing of hands.

Speaking during the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 briefing in Abuja, the Director-General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, said: “Over the past few weeks, increasing evidence has emerged that in addition to droplet infection we cannot rule out that airborne transmission is also possible as a mode of COVID-19 spread.

“The World Health Organisation (WHO) has updated its guidelines on this, saying exactly the same thing – that we cannot rule out airborne transmission. Therefore, we have to act in a precautionary way assuming that this is also possible given the new evidence that is emerging.

“Understanding the mode of transmission of any new virus is very critical for defining response strategies. For COVID-19, from the very beginning, our understanding based on all the coronavirus that was spread, was primarily through droplets and excretions from the respiratory tract that can’t stay on in air, and they ultimately fall to the ground after a few minutes.

“However, as we have studied transmissions and clusters of these infections, we saw increasing evidence from clusters of infections where droplet transmission did not seem to be enough to explain the clusters that we are seeing.

“Diseases that are commonly understood to be spread by what we call airborne infection are things like measles, influenza, etc., that can be suspended in the air and transmitted over longer distances.

“The new research does not change our guidelines, but only strengthens them as they stand.”

Ihekweazu added, “This means that staying together in closed spaces and clusters such as in restaurants and in small rooms with very poor ventilation increases the risk of transmission. Indoor activities are riskier than outdoors activities, especially when there are many people in the room when we don’t adhere to distancing them and when we don’t wear masks.

“This means that we have to, with a louder voice of the things that we have been saying already; that we have to even strengthen further the avoidance of mass gatherings or gatherings of any nature in small spaces.

“Once you exceed the normal level of what is possible in a room, especially in a room with poor ventilation, then, there are already too many people in that room. So, we have to pay attention to ventilation, distancing, stay outside as preferred to inside, continue to wash our hands and absolutely wear a mask whenever we are outside our homes.”

The Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, added: “I emphasize again that conscientious wearing of masks is being confirmed in various studies, as the easiest, cheapest and most reliable way to check the rate of spread.

“Some countries have made it mandatory by law and imposed a fine for non-compliance. Regular washing of hands, avoiding crowds, social distancing and use of minimum of 65 per cent alcohol based sanitizers remain as relevant as at the beginning.”

The NCDC is set to begin the electronic transmission of COVID-19 results its director-general said at yesterday’s briefing.

People will no longer have to wait for longer periods to receive their results as they can easily use a code to electronically check for it. This cuts the bureaucracy in results transmission – from Federal Government to laboratories, and then to States Government.

The director-general said: “There is an online platform that is being set up at the moment to enable the electronic transmission of results come back to patients. We have been working very hard on that. This should be launched over the next few days and hopefully by the end of the weekend.

“You can go in yourself and check your results once you have been tested and you have a code that is given to you. This way you don’t rely on several steps between Federal, laboratories and States government in order to share those results.

“At the moment, if you need printed-out results, you can get it. Some people require printed-out results for different reasons and we will provide those results. We don’t do it at the moment and even in the future, it is unlikely that we will be sending out papers to people. But if you need it for whatever reason we will offer you a printout of your results.”

The NCDC boss also complained of the agency’s call centre has been receiving a lot of hoax and unnecessary calls, which perpetually clogged the line and makes it difficult for individuals with genuine complaints to get through.

“26 per cent of all our calls last week were hoax calls. One in four of all the calls coming to the NCDC connect centre were hoax calls; people were just calling for one reason or the other – to check whether you’re there, to challenge you, to ask you about Madagascar cure or something like that. These are the challenges that we have that clog the lines but we keep trying to manage that.

“For most of the calls that come to us, our role is to do a risk assessment and then transfer the person to the state government that will ultimately collect his or her sample. The NCDC has never picked up patients; it has always been the responsibility of States government.”

 

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