Fraud In Oil Sector Forced FG To Remove Subsidy – Kyari [LEADERSHIP]

The Group Managing Director (GMD) of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mele Kolo Kyari, said yesterday that the federal government removed subsidy on Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) also known as petrol because the subsidy regime was characterised by fraudulent activities of some cabals which were not beneficial to the masses.

The GMD reiterated that while over N10trillion was spent on fuel subsidy between 2006 and 2020 without significant impact on the masses, marketers who were smuggling the subsidised PMS to neighbouring countries were making more profit and others who also faked documents to collect subsidy for fuel they never imported.

The NNPC GMD who stated during a Hausa Radio programme monitored by our Correspondent in Kaduna at the weekend said the fuel subsidy was the root of all the attrocities and frauds in the oil sector.

He averred that the federal government government removed the subsidy with a plan to reinvest on projects that will have direct impact on the general masses.

Kyari stated: “The crude oil is a global commodity and its price is not hidden, everyone can calculate and know how much is the cost of every final product from the crude at international market. But, since the inception of the country, the Government has been paying subsidy on petrol to make it cheaper for Nigerians to buy below the cost price.

“This subsidy is designed to assist the masses of Nigeria, that is the intention, but in reality, the masses are not the beneficiaries. First, the masses are not the owners of the exotic cars, buying fuel, owning the filling stations and doing the oil business.

“This subsidy that the government has been paying over the years is the root of all the atrocities and fraud committed in this country. For example, if you look at it from 2006 till 2020, we have spent over

N10trillion on fuel subsidy. Apart from that, there is also subsidy on foreign currencies, everybody knows how much is dollar in the market, but government is also subsidising it. So, this and the fuel subsidy within this period is around 14 to 15 trillion Naira.

“What was happening with the subsidy is that, some marketers were smuggling fuel to other neighbouring African countries because it was cheaper in Nigeria due to the subsidy. Another one is those who use to

fake documents and bring to Government to collect subsidy for fuel they never imported and the previous Government was paying them.

“So, it was not the masses of Nigeria that were enjoying this subsidy, except some cabals, who are rich and powerful, they were enriching themselves with the subsidy money at the detriment of the masses who

were the primary target of the subsidy. The masses are only enjoying the subsidy when it comes to the effects on cost of transportation, and we are going to do something about this.

“This money that has been wasted over the years, it cannot be justified. So, with the right leaders in place, this money should have been channelled to other areas of development. Even though I understand

that there is lack of trust between the leaders and the citizens, but if we have just leaders, this money can be judiciously utilised.

“But, what we have seen in the last five years, has shown that, if we have just and trusted leaders, that money can be judiciously utilised to the benefit of the masses. We have seen that, the resources at the disposal of the Government in the last five years, is not up to a quarter of what the previous Government got in the previous five years.

“So, what the Government is trying to do is that, to withdraw this subsidy and take it to where the Nigeria masses will feel the impact, by building hospitals, schools, roads, industries and so on, where people can see physically what the money are being used for.

“This subsidy has been removed since March this year, that time, price of crude oil was less than $30 per barrel, as a result of that, the price of fuel dropped, so, we dropped the price of fuel to the level of global market price, it was dropped to N125.

“From this money, Nigeria has been able to pay workers’ salaries without retrenching despite the effects of the Covid-19 on the global economy. In the whole of West Africa, it is only Nigeria that didn’t retrench workers as result of Covid-19 pandemic. Apart from that, part of the money will be used to support farmers and other business”.

On the Ajaokuta, Kaduna, Kano (AKK) gas pipeline project, the GMD said Nigeria has more gas deposit than oil, hence the need to extend the gas across the country.

He said because gas is cheaper than fuel, government decided to extend gas supply to the North to ensure revival of the moribund factories like the textile industry which collapsed due to lack of power, adding that the industries could not have survived running on diesel.

“If we don’t extend gas to the North, this challenge of collapse of industry will continue to worsen. So, when completed, it will bring back the factories, because we are going to build power plants in Abuja, Kaduna and Kano. This will create employment and address poverty in the region”, Kyari noted.

 

Flood Kills 30, Submerges Communities In Niger State [LEADERSHIP]

No fewer than 18 local governments and  500  communities have been ravaged and submerged by flood, with 30 people killed in Niger State this rainy season.

Releasing the statistics to LEADERSHIP yesterday, the director-general of the Niger State Emergency Management Agency (NSEMA), Alhaji Ibrahim  Ahmed Inga, said 50, 600 farmers had their farms with crops submerged by flood.

On the lives lost, he said Mokwa local government area recorded 1 death, Borgu Local Government 2 deaths, Munya Local Government 10 deaths and Suleja 17 deaths, the highest so far recorded.

He said only 14 bodies out of the 17 people who died in Suleja were recovered while the remaining 3 bodies were yet to be recovered.

Inga added that the state had submitted detailed report to the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), presidential committee on flood and the Federal Ministry of Agriculture for further action.

The director-general said the report was interim as the flood occurred on a regular basis in the state this year, even in the local government areas where floods were never recorded in the past

“Even  yesterday we recorded flood in especially  some  communities, now we have relocated some communities like ketso and Muregi in Mokwa local government area  to a new settlement,” the NSEMA Boss added.

According to him, the worse ravaged local government areas of the 18 were Shiroro, Agwara, Borgu Lavun, Edati,  Katcha, Lapai, Agaie, and Munya.

He said, “The governor has just approved that we take supply to some of these communities in the local government areas badly affected, in a village around Miuregi district Mokwa local government area,  the whole village is underwater only the roof you will  see.”

While noting that the government will continue to relocate the people in the vulnerable communities to a safe place, he added that proactive measures were put in place by the state government  to motivate the effects on the lives of the people living in the communities.

Meanwhile, the entire Ibaji local government area in Kogi State has been submerged by flood which started in the last couple of days, bringing unspeakable difficulties to the people.

The disaster ravaged farmland, residential areas in Lokoja metropolis, Idah, Kotokarfe, Bassa and Igalamela/Odolu, sending jitters through the spines of those residing along the river bank.

Kogi State is one of the states earlier forecasted for flooding by NIMET this rainy season, just as the agency had severally warned through the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) that residents along river banks should relocate to high-level areas.

 

Obaseki Defeats Ize-Iyamu Again [LEADERSHIP]

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) yesterday declared Governor Godwin Obaseki of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as winner of Saturday’s governorship election in Edo State.

For the second time, Obaseki defeated his main rival and candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu with a wide margin.

In all, 14 political parties participated in the election.

The governorship election result was declared by the state returning officer, Prof. Akpofure Rim-Rukeh who is the Vice-Chancellor, Federal University of Petroleum, Effurun, Delta State.

Pronouncing Obaseki as winner, he said, “I, Prof. Akpofure Rim-Rukeh, the Returning Officer for the Edo State Governorship Election do here certified the following votes as scored by the 14 parties that contested the election.

“They are as follows: AA: 107 votes; ADC: 1,370 votes;  ADP: 2,374 votes; APC: 223,619 votes; APGA: 177 votes; APM: -57 votes; APP: – 78 votes; LP:    – 267 votes; NNPP: – 258 votes; NRM: -573 votes;  PDP: 370,955 votes; SDP: -323 votes; YPP: -132 votes; and ZLP: -117.

“I hereby affirm Godwin N. Obaseki of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as winner of the election having scored a total of 370,955 of the valid votes cast; and having scores 25 percent of the total votes cast and margin of the lead higher gan cancelled votes is hereby declared winner of the election.”

His added: “That Godwin N. Obaseki, having satisfied the requirement of the law in meeting the 25 percent of the two-third majority votes of the local government areas of the state and having the margin of lead higher than cancelled votes is hereby declared winner and returned elected.”

Earlier, the returning officer announced that there were a total of 557,443 voters; valid votes: 537,407; total votes cast as 550,242 while rejected votes stood at 12,835.

According to the declared results, Obaseki won in 13 local government areas while Ize-Iyamu won in five.

Obaseki also won in all the seven local government areas of Edo South senatorial districts; two of the six local governments in Edo North and all the five local government areas of Edo Central, giving him a clear victory.

Ize-Iyamu had in 2016 suffered a similar defeat in the same contest against Obaseki, albeit on the platform of PDP while Obaseki was candidate of APC.

Obaseki in his appreciation message in Benin City on Sunday also hailed President Muhammadu Buhari, INEC, security agencies and other stakeholders for ensuring a free, peaceful and credible poll in the state.

The governor also thanked Edo people and PDP supporters for their display of immense courage and support in the face of threats, intimidation and brutalisation as he emerged victorious in Saturday’s gubernatorial election in the state.

Obaseki said, “The Great People of Edo State have spoken. They have spoken loud and clear. We thank God Almighty and give him all the glory for this victory.

“Thank you, President Muhammadu Buhari, for defending our democracy and allowing the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the security agencies to perform their constitutional functions without interference.

“INEC and the security services have shown to Nigerians and the world that they are capable of conducting free and credible elections.”

The governor continued: “Words fail me in saluting our teeming supporters who displayed immense courage in the face of threats, intimidation and brutalization. The collective will of Edo people made it possible for this triumph over godfatherism.

“I am eternally grateful to my party, PDP and my brother governors not only for giving me the umbrella during my political storm but for the hard work which has brought me back to office.

“Our success has reinforced my belief that there is nothing we cannot achieve as a people if we pull forces together and collectively call on God for support.

“I reiterate that working with my Deputy, Rt. Hon. Philip Shaibu, we are committed to Making Edo Great Again. Thank you for your support”.

River State governor and chairman of PDP campaign council, Nyesom Wike, in a brief remark at Government House in Benin City thanked other PDP governors for their support and described Obaseki as the man whom God used to fight godfatherism in Edo State.

“Edo people have spoken; he (Obaseki) was used to fight for the interest of people,” Wike stated.

Meanwhile, there was jubilation across the state as PDP supporters and residents took to the streets to celebrate Obaseki’s victory. The jubilation led to vehicular gridlock along major streets.

Former PDP governorship aspirants, Barrister Ken Imansuagbon and Senator Clifford Ordia, in separate reactions, hailed President Muhammadu Buhari and other stakeholders for ensuring that democracy strive in Edo State.

Also, Edo governorship election observers of Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) said the outcome of Saturday’s poll reflected the will of Edo People.

The group also said the governorship poll was not only generally peaceful but 90 per cent violent-free as against the anticipated anxiety and fear over possible breakdown of law and order.

Spokesperson for the group, John Alkpokpo Martins Esq, in an interim report, at the NBA Benin branch conference hall said in spite of voter’s apathy, large percentage of those who turned out for the election  were enthusiastic about the process with a considerable level of interest.

 

Obaseki: I owe my victory to people’s collective will [THE NATION]

EDO State Governor Godwin Obaseki was at the weekend reelected.

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate polled 307,955 votes to defeat All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate Osagie Ize-Iyamu, who scored 223,619 votes.

Twelve other parties fielded candidates in the election but showed no strength at all. Their results are as follows: AA – 107, ADC – 1,370, ADP – 2,374, APGA – 177, APM – 57, APP – 78, LP – 267, NNPP – 258, NRM – 573, SDP – 323, YPP – 132 and ZLP – 117.

According to the results announced by the Returning officer, Prof. Akpofure Rim-Rukeh, the Vice Chancellor of the University of Petroleum Resources, Effurun, Delta State, Obaseki won in 13 of the 18 Local Government Councils namely: Orhionmwon, Igueben, Owan West, Oredo, Ikpoba-Okha, Esan West, Esan Central, Esan South East, Esan North East, Uhumwode, Egor, Ovia North East and Ovia South West.

Ize-Iyamu won in five – all in the northern senatorial district,- Akoko Edo, Etsako East, Etsako West, Etsako Central and Owan East.

There were 550,242 votes cast and 12,835 rejected ballots.

INEC collation officer for Orhionmwon Council said results for Ward 7, with 7,600 votes and Ward 8 with 7,896 votes, totalling 15,496 votes, were cancelled for irregularities, but APC agents  protested. The returning officer promised to look into the complaints.

The Collation Officer for Etsako Central said an INEC official was shot and another INEC staff member was injured on the face.

He noted that both of them were battling with their lives in an hospital.

At the end of vote tally, the APC agent declined to sign the result form.

The PDP agent, Omoregie Ogbeide-Ihama, a member of the House of Representatives, hailed INEC and security agencies for doing a good job to strengthen democracy.

He noted that everybody was a winner and urged all Edo residents to join hands with Obaseki to move the state forward.

Immediately after the announcement of the final results, Obaseki’s teeming supporters and PDP members jubilated on the streets, especially at the strategic Ring Road, near the Oba of Benin palace; the Government House, Benin; singing, drumming, dancing and chanting four plus four, indicating another four years for the governor.

Obaseki hailed Edo people and supporters for their display of immense courage and support.

He expressed appreciation to President Muhammadu Buhari, INEC, security agencies and others who participated in the election

Obaseki said: “The great People of Edo State have spoken. They have spoken loud and clear. We thank God Almighty and give him all the glory for this victory.

”Thank you, President Muhammadu Buhari, for defending our democracy and allowing the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the security agencies to perform their constitutional functions without interference.

”INEC and the security services have shown to Nigerians and the world that they are capable of conducting free and credible elections

“The great people of Edo State have spoken. I want to thank Governor Wike of Rivers State, Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State, Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State and my brother, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State, for standing by me. I want to thank my party, the PDP, not only for giving me the umbrella when I needed it most, but for the hard work which has brought me back to office.

”Words fail me in saluting our teeming supporters who displayed immense courage in the face of threats, intimidation and brutalization. The collective will of Edo people made it possible for this triumph over godfatherism.

“I am eternally grateful to my party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), and my brother governors, not only for giving me the umbrella during my political storm, but for the hard work which has brought me back to office.

“Our success has reinforced my belief that there is nothing we cannot achieve as a people, if we pull forces together and collectively call on God for support.”

“I reiterate that working with my Deputy, Philip Shaibu, we are committed to Making Edo great Again. Thank you for your support,” he added.

 

CBN probes 71 for suspected forex deals [THE NATION]

THE Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has launched a massive investigation into foreign exchange transactions by 71 companies after preliminary reviews raised suspicions of possible infractions and contravention of extant foreign exchange laws and rules.

Sources close to the apex bank yesterday confirmed the investigation of many leading companies in key sectors of the economy including healthcare, food manufacturing, agriculture, oil and gas, energy, financial services and trading, among others.

This is the largest forex probe in recent period. The apex bank in August launched two separate investigations.

A source explained that the investigation was based on credible suspicion, although no conclusive indictment has been reached, against any of the companies.

The apex bank was said to be worried that rather than the companies patronising banks for their forex transactions, they opted for the black market.

In the light of the heightened security situation in the country, the apex bank was alarmed that recourse to black market by formal sector operators may be conduit for illegal transactions, including transmitting funds to terrorists, money laundering, under declaration and shortchanging of extant government rules and policies, among others.

A source said the apex bank was ready to clamp down on any company found to have contravened any of the extant laws and policies on forex.

The source explained that the companies are in two groups – those which specific forex accounts are being investigated and others which have all their accounts being investigated.

The companies under investigation include: Promasidor Nigeria Limited, Stallion Nigeria Limited, Bhojraj Nigeria Limited, Interswitch Nigeria Limited, Far East Mercantile Limited, Afrab Chem Limited, Multichem Industries Limited, Daraju Nigeria Limited, Dover Engineering Limited, BCL Trading Services Limited, Amarava Agro Limited, Shivlula Nigeria Limited, Deeplast Nigeria Limited, Givanas Industry Nigeria Limited, Godrej Nigeria Limited, Malok Nigeria Limited, Nagode Industries Limited, Prima Corporation Limited, Regal Chem Nigeria Limited, Vista International Limited, Budha Logistics Limited, Mitoch Global Link Ventures and Solem Agro Limited.

Others included Deekay & Sons Limited, Hana Nigeria Limited, Emel Nigeria Limited, Sonnex Nigeria Limited, Montana Nigeria Limited, Dasco Nigeria Limited, Savvy Corps Limited, Pan-Cat Nigeria Limited, Mustafa-Multipurpose Services, Olayfis Global Resources Limited, Pals Interchange Concept Limited, 2015 Petroleum & Investments Limited, Manann Nigeria Limited, Brollo Pipe & Profile Ind. Limited, Altrunk Nigeria Limited, Dartford Energy Services Limited, Global Links Ventures Limited, Elemental Integrated Associates, New Home Distribution (Africa), ACCI Ventures (Nig) Limited, John Kell & Associate Nigeria, Maaway Ventures Limited, Good Metal Enterprises, Medlog Logistics Services Limited and Beirut Hill Construction Limited.

Also being investigated are CMA CGM Nigeria Shipping Limited, Agrinexus International Limited, Sylvangel Maritime Resources Limited, Unimer SRL Limited, SCIB Nigeria & Company Limited, Domenik LLC, Petro-Afrique Energy Services, Silver Dome Enterprises Limited, Ajibola Bankole Adebutu, Petro-Afrique Energy Services Limited and Steel Force Far East Limited.

Others included Cavendish Mechanicals Limited, Aquashield Oil & Marine Limited, Haitch & Elf Integrated Services Limited, Fenog Nigeria Limited, Hatford Resources Nigeria Limited, Don & Chyke Nigeria Limited, Omniworx Export Enterprises, Stemcor London Trading Limited, Fix Nigeria Limited, SA Turutu International Ent, New Brand Metals Global Limited Ventures and Auto Petroleum Company Limited.

Faced with twin-shock of global crude oil decline and COVID-19 pandemic, the CBN has struggled to balance its developmental mandate with regulatory role of maintaining stability in the financial system.

 

Thousands bid Emir of Zazzau farewell [THE NATION]

AFTER 45 years on the throne, light dimmed yesterday for Emir Zazzau Alhaji Shehu Idris, who passed on at 84.

Thousands of people converged on the palace at Zaria to pay their last respects as the remains of perhaps, the longest serving emir, were interred beside the tomb of some of the past emirs.

Prayers for the repose of the soul of the 18th Emir of Zazzau, were  attended by Chief of Staff to the President, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, who led the presidential delegation. Other members are:  Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika and Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu.

Governor Nasir El-Rufai led the Kaduna State delegation which included Secretary to State Government, Balarabe Lawal-Abbas, Speaker Yusuf Zailani and heads of military and paramilitary formations and institutions in the State.

The demise of the Emir threw the entire people of the emirate into tears and mourning, as the remains of the late paramount ruler arrived the Palace from Kaduna at about 2.45pm.

The palace that was filled to capacity by friends, relatives and well-wishers who patiently waited till evening.

 

OHESU directs members to resume as strike ends [THE NATION]

MEMBERS of the Joint Health Sector Unions (JOHESU) are expected back at work on Monday, following the suspension of the seven-day warning strike by the union’s leadership on Sunday.

The leadership directed its members to resume work nationwide.

JOHESU stated it called -off the strike, despite the Federal Government’s refusal through its Health Ministry to address the health workers’ demands as presented within the seven-day warning strike as was done to other bodies in the health sector.

In a statement, the union said its next line of action would be decided by the Expanded National Executive Council of JOHESU in due course.

The statement signed by its National Chairman, Biobelemoye Josiah, accused the government of resorting to intimidation and blackmail, instead of calling the leadership for dialogue to resolve the trade dispute.

On September 13, JOHESU, proceeded on strike following the inability of the Federal Government to meet its members demands.

Some of JOHESU’s grievances to include non-implementation of the September 20, 2017 agreement on COHESS adjustment; some court judgments in its favour; a review of the implementation of COVID-19 hazard allowance; non-payment of all withheld salaries of members at JUTH, FMC Owerri, LUTH, among others.

The statement reads: “This is to bring to your notice that the seven-day nationwide warning strike embarked upon by the members of the Joint Health Sector Unions would come to an end midnight today, 20 September, 2020.

“By this notice, all health workers under the five unions that make up Joint Health Sector Unions and Assembly of Healthcare Professionals Association (AHPA) shall return to work on Monday, 21st September, 2020 across all Federal Health Institutions in the country.

”However, since the Federal Government through the Federal Ministry of Health has continued to exhibit high level of bias/discrimination by refusing to address the demands of our members as presented by JOHESU within the seven-days of the warning strike as was done to other bodies in the health sector, the next line of action would be decided in due course by the Expanded National Executive Council of JOHESU.

“It is pertinent to also inform the general public that rather than call JOHESU for dialogue to resolve the the trade dispute, the federal government has resorted to intimidation and blackmail of JOHESU leaders using all forms of instruments and faceless organisations.

“JOHESU will continue to use all legitimate means to defend the rights and demands for the welfare of its members in the health sector. Nigerian should bear us witness that JOHESU has shown high patriotism by demanding that public health system in Nigeria is sustained and adequately financed for effective, efficient and affordable healthcare delivery.

“In view of the above and in line with the resolution of the Expanded NEC meeting held physically and virtually today, Sunday 20, September, 2020, I hereby declare that the 7 days warning strike is suspended”.

 

Buhari, Sanwo-Olu, Oyetola; others laud Oluremi Tinubu at 60 [THE NATION]

PRESIDENT Muhmmadu Buhari, Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu and his Osun State counterpart, Gboyega Oyetola, have lauded the tenacity and courage of former First Lady of Lagos State and Senator representing Lagos Central Senatorial District, Oluremi Tinubu, who clocks 60 today.

They said in situations that had demanded virtues, she had demonstrated courage and commitment to principles.

The President, in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, commended Mrs Tinubu’s devotion and commitment to the development and stability of the ruling All Progressives  Congress (APC).

“President Muhammadu Buhari sends warm felicitations to former First Lady of Lagos State, Sen. Oluremi Tinubu, who turns 60 on September 21, 2020, joining family, friends and political associates to celebrate the milestone, adorned by many years of service to the nation and humanity.

“The President salutes the senator, who has been  elected three times to represent Lagos Central, for her courage and tenacity in many daunting situations, and remaining consistent in her passion for inclusivity, particularly as it relates to women and children, who constitute majority of the population, yet rank high on vulnerability.

“President Buhari notes, with gratitude, the loyalty and dedication of Sen. Tinubu to the growth of the governing party, All Progressives Congress, and her contributions to strengthening leadership structures at various levels, always providing wise counsels and advocating middle ground reconciliation in favour of greater good for greater majority.

“As the senator turns 60, the President believes the stage for better and more rewarding service has been set, with all the experiences gathered over the years from the Lagos State Government House, and as a ranking member of the National Assembly.

“President Buhari prays for strength, good health and wisdom for the graceful matriarch of the Asiwaju Bola Tinubu family”, the statement said.

 

Wild jubilation as Obaseki defeats Ize-Iyamu, APC alleges foul play [PUNCH]

The Independent National Electoral Commission on Sunday declared the incumbent Governor of Edo State, Godwin Obaseki,  as the winner of Saturday’s governorship election in the state.

The Returning Officer for the election, Prof  Akpofure Rim-Ruke, who announced the result,   said Obaseki polled  307,955 votes to beat his closest rival, Osagie Ize-Iyamu of the All Progressives Congress, who scored 223,619 votes.

Rim-Ruke, who is the Vice Chancellor of the Federal University of Petroleum Resources, stated that Obaseki, who contested on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party,  met all the criteria needed for him to be returned as governor.

There was wild jubilation in the state immediately Obaseki became  victorious,  but the state chapter of the APC dismissed the victory, alleging  that the election was marked by falsification of results.

Obaseki had,   in June defected to the PDP following his failure to clinch the APC governorship ticket, which was won by Ize-Iyamu, who defected to  the later a few months before its governorship primary.

The governorship electioneering was tension-soaked in the state as a result of the intractable crisis between the governor and his predecessor, Adams Oshiomhole.

The immediate past APC national chairman supported Obaseki to emerge as the state governor in 2016, but they parted ways after the 2019 elections.

During the electioneering, both parties  mobilised their leaders to Benin as part of efforts to win the state. While the APC team was led by the Kano State Governor, Dr Abdullahi Ganduje, his Rivers State counterpart, Nyesom Wike, headed the  PDP team.

Also the APC National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, in a video released on the week of the election, urged the Edo electorate to reject Obaseki, but the PDP said Edo State was different from Lagos State, where it said Tinubu called the shots.

But at 2.45pm on Sunday, the electoral race was won and lost when the returning officer, Rim-Ruke, announced Obaseki as the winner.

He said, “I, Akpofure Rim-Ruke, hereby certify, as the returning officer for the Edo State governorship election held on the 19th day of September, 2020, that the election was duly conducted.

“The PDP candidate, having got the 25 per cent in two/thirds of the local government areas in the state and having a margin of lead higher than the cancelled votes, is hereby declared the winner and returned elected.”

Obaseki, in defeating his main opponent, Ize-Iyamu, won 13 out of the 18 local government areas.

But Oshiomhole pulled his weight in his local government, Etsako West, where the APC won 26,140 while the PDP polled 17,959 votes.

According to the returning officer, 557, 443 voters were accredited for the election, while 537, 407 people voted. He said 12, 835 votes were rejected out of a total of 550,242 votes that were cast.

Leading with a gap of 84,336 votes,  Obaseki emerged victorious in the  central and  southern  parts of the state, while Ize-Iyamu won in five – Etsako West, Akoko Edo, Etsako East,  Etsako Central and Owan East – out of the six local government areas in the  northern part.

However, while the PDP agent and his counterparts from other political parties were present at the state collation centre, no agent from the APC was present to sign and receive a copy of the election result.

But the delay in declaring Obaseki the winner had caused tension among PDP big wigs as some of them became apprehensive and began to make frantic calls to party agents and other members at the collation centre.

The PDP agent, Omoregie Ogbeide-Ihama, had drawn the attention of the returning officer  to the sudden disappearance of the collation officer for Orhionmwon, Segun Samuel, after he (collation officer) was called to present his LGA result.

Rim-Ruke had immediately called for a break in the collation of the remaining two local government results, including that of Ovia South West, pending the time the collation officer would come.

It was, however, a relief to journalists, observers and other occupants of the hall when the Orhionmwon collation officer resurfaced an hour later and was called upon to present his results at about.

Before then, an angry Chairman of the PDP Edo 2020 Campaign Council, Chief Dan Orbih, called on leaders of the party to move to the INEC office to express their grievances.

He warned that people of the state would not tolerate any manipulation of the election through the delay in declaring the PDP candidate the winner.

He said, “We are aware that the collation officers for these LGAs are in the INEC with the result sheets, copies of which are with our agents. Edo people will not tolerate any manipulation which INEC and its staff appear to be planning.”

The tension inside the collation centre, however, disappeared when the returning officer eventually declared  Obaseki the winner of the election.

 

EFCC has recovered N4.4bn looted from our agency – NHIS boss [PUNCH]

In this interview with ENIOLA AKINKUOTU, the Executive Secretary of the National Health Insurance Scheme, Mohammed Sambo, speaks about the activities of the NHIS

What has been your biggest challenge since you assumed office last year?

There are so many challenges. Some have to do with stabilising the organisation because it is an organisation that has faced challenges and it requires a lot of patience, a lot of creativity to bring about the stability. The human resource culture in the NHIS is not a good one. It is an organisation that has been polarised; an organisation where chief executives come and go within a short time. So, there are many challenges of stabilising the human resource and it is not going to be a one-day job. That problem has denied the NHIS of having a stable culture. So, trying to entrench that civil service culture is a huge challenge. Other challenges of human resource are very critical. If you look at the total workforce of the NHIS of the over 1, 400 staff members, only about 40 are health care workers by this I mean doctors, pharmacists, nurses, laboratory medical sciences. You go to so many states and you will not find one of these staff members and all the activities are driven from the headquarters of the NHIS and our state officers in the states are redundant doing nothing. So, this is the main challenge and you know people can resist so many things. About 40 per cent of the total workforce is here in Abuja when the operational centre is the states. So, we don’t have the requisite staff mix. Therefore, I am seeking approval to ensure that we engage these relevant staff and at least place them at state offices so that they can discharge the function. What is happening currently is that if there is a complaint in Yenagoa, it will come to the executive secretary and we have to be taking this long route of resolving it. But if we are able to strengthen our state offices that are terribly weak, then we will have a chance to move fast and purposeful. The state offices are weak and they don’t have clearly defined functions and we have been able to undertake that exercise. I set up a committee and we have defined the functions of the states and we want to deploy a lot of staff from the headquarters. Then of course, we want to see our funds grow. The EFCC is supporting us and it has made a lot of recovery for us.

How much did the NHIS lose that the EFCC is recovering?

(Laughs) It is not good to be quoting figures because the media will put the figure as the headline.

How much has been recovered so far?

We can say that the EFCC has recovered about N4.4bn for the NHIS. This is very good for us because we have a lot of things to do and we have recovered a separate N1.7bn for health care facilities from Health Management Organisations. So, if you look at the health care recoveries, it is good but we have more to recover and there is more to be recovered for us by the Office of the Accountant General.

Upon your appointment there were some recommendations made by the Presidential panel that investigated the NHIS. Have you been able to implement these recommendations?

The independent Presidential panel of inquiry that investigated the organisation recommended the termination of the appointment of the former Executive Secretary and the dissolution of the board and a new ES in the person of my humble self was appointed by Mr President. When I was given my appointment letter, a letter was also sent to the Federal Ministry of Health when the Permanent Secretary was the acting minister. It had about 10 recommendations which were a product of the white paper of the Presidential panel of the inquiry. About 10 recommendations were encapsulated. The first was to ensure that there is a comprehensive human resource audit in resolving issues that have to do with human resources including disciplinary cases. Number two issue is one that has to do with a 10-year strategic plan. Number three had to do with a comprehensive evaluation and assessment of financial management systems. Number four had to do with backlog of unaudited accounts for like 10 years as captured in the paper. The number five issue had to do with developing new structure for the scheme. Then also the issue of capacity for public procurement; the contentious issue of seconded staff to the NHIS; the issue that has to do with the labour unions in the organisation and finally, the issue of clearly defining the responsibility of the executive secretary. So, these were the 10 recommendations that we were asked to undertake and I am happy to say that almost all the recommendations have been completed or has almost been completed. The strategic plan has been done like financial audits and review of financial management systems and I have the report. It was undertaken by the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation. On the issue that has to do with auditing, we have cleared all the backlog of audit which dates back to 2015. When I came, I viewed the situation; it was from 2015 to 2019. So, I am happy to tell you that we have been able to address that. Then the issue that has to do with labour, a representative of the ministry of labour undertook detailed investigations and they have since come up with their report and they have submitted to the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation. Then the issue that has to do with capacity building and procurement is ongoing. If not for the COVID-19 interruption, we would have even got far or almost completed it. Then the issue of human resource audit is a long one. The process has to ensure taking relevant data from the staff.

There were reports that your predecessor, Prof. Usman Yusuf, left with some NHIS property including vehicles and you had made failed attempts to get them back.

Yes, it was actually true that he left with some vehicles and we have attempted to reach him with letter and emissaries but up till now he has not brought them back but what were told to do was to liaise with the DSS so that they could help us recover those vehicles. So, that is ongoing.

 

Family accuses FCT SARS of raping, killing daughter, petitions IG [PUNCH]

The family of a 28-year-old graduate of the Institute of Management and Technology, Enugu, Ifeoma Abugu, has been thrown into mourning after she was allegedly sexually assaulted and killed by the personnel of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, Federal Capital Territory Command, Abuja.

It was gathered that three policemen on September 10, 2020, around 5pm, stormed the residence of Ifeoma’s fiancé, Afam Ugwunwa, at Wumba village in the Lokogoma area of Abuja to arrest him.

PUNCH Metro learnt that in absence of Ugwunwa, the policemen arrested Ifeoma and took her away.

Our correspondent learnt that all efforts to know the police station she was being taken to proved abortive as she was not found until Ugwunwa got a call the next day that Ifeoma had died and her corpse had been deposited in the morgue.

Ifeoma’s brother, Alex, who spoke to our correspondent on the telephone, said she had just concluded her National Youth Service Corps and was arrested and killed four days after she had her introduction with Ugwunwa in Enugu State.

He said, “I was in Lagos when one of my junior brothers called me that he learnt that SARS arrested our sister and she died in detention. I just came to Abuja today (Sunday) and I have asked some of my uncles, who have been to the police station, and they said that the policemen alleged that they met my sister unconscious on the bed and they carried her to hospital, where she died.

“When I asked my sister’s fiancé what happened, he said he went out and someone called him on the telephone that SARS had arrested my sister and when he came back, he called someone he knew at the SARS office to help in facilitating her release, but the person was unable to do it that night.

“The following morning, he gave the woman money to help facilitate the release, but the woman called back to tell him that Ifeoma was dead. When my uncles saw the picture of her corpse, they saw signs that she was sexually assaulted. We’re waiting for the result of an autopsy to come out to ascertain what happened to her.

“My sister was arrested four days after her introduction in the village and her wedding was slated for December. We want the killers to be brought to justice.”

When our correspondent contacted Ifeoma’s fiancé, he said he was too distraught to talk.

The family’s lawyer, Ifeanyi Mamah, who spoke to our correspondent on the telephone, urged the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, to order a proper investigation into the matter.

He said, “She (Ifeoma) had just finished cooking that day, while her fiancé and her friend had finished eating and the friend left, while the fiancé went to see a friend in one of the neighbouring estates, when he received a call from a neighbour that the police had come to arrest his fiancée and she had been taken away and he received another call from Ifeoma that she was been taken away by SARS, but she didn’t know where they were taking her to.

“Ifeoma’s fiancé called a friend of his to help in looking for her and secure her release, but she was not found, only for the fiancé to receive a call the next day that she was dead and her corpse had been deposited in the morgue.

“The family of the deceased have not seen the corpse; the picture we have is the one the IPO snapped and sent to us when she went to the hospital, where her corpse was deposited; from the picture of the deceased, it appeared she was sexually assaulted before her death.

 

Kwara windstorm: One dead, seven worshippers escape death [PUNCH]

Seven worshippers who were holding night vigil at the Apostolic Church, Station Area, opposite the General Post office, Ilorin, have been rescued alive by men of the Kwara State Fire Service when the church building collapsed on them.

It was said the building collapsed as a result of the heavy rain on Saturday.

However, the corpse of a young man was recovered from another building which collapsed in the Ita-Egba area in Ilorin during the rainfall which accompanied by windstorm.

Another person who was reportedly swept away by flood in the Oniyangi area had yet to be found.

The state fire service in a statement on Sunday by the head of Media and Publicity, Mr Hassan Adekunle, said the seven worshippers were rescued around 11.30pm on Saturday.

The statement reads partly, “Kwara State Fire Service has been attending to several rescue operations across the state since yesterday’s downpour.

“Part of this operation, was the rescue operation carried today opposite C&S Church Muritala Area, Ilorin, during which seven men were rescued well alive.”

The Saturday downpour, which lasted for more than five hours, wreaked havoc in Ilorin and other parts of the state as wind blew off rooftops of more than 300 buildings, uprooted electric poles and trees.

Areas badly affected by the storm included Gambari/Akerebiata/Sobi road, Okelele Amule, Oja-Iya, Adeta and Agbo-oba areas.

It was also gathered that schools in Oloje, Amule-Alabere community and the Magaji Are Healthcare centre were also affected by the windstorm.

Meanwhile, Kwara State Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Rafiu Ajakaye, said, “The governor is immediately setting up a special disaster response team to collate data of areas affected and determine how the state government can offer support based on available resources.”

 

APC kicks as Obaseki conquers Ize-Iyamu, Oshiomhole [SUN]

The All Progressives Congress(APC), yesterday kicked against the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC’s) declaration of Governor Godwin Obaseki of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as the winner of Saturday’s governorship election in Edo State.

The development came after Governor Obaseki floored the candidate of the ruling party, Pastor Ize-Iyamu and eclipsed the influence of his predecessor and immediate APC  National chairman, Adams Oshiomhole.

Edo State was literally turned into a carnival of some sort immediately the INEC declared Governor Obaseki reelected having scored a total of 307, 955 votes as against his closest rival, Pastor Ize-Iyamu who polled 223,619.

It was wild jubilation in the entire state as supporters of PDP and Governor Obaseki emptied into the streets, with the shouts of “4+4, torgba”, “PDPpppp”, “Obasekiiiii”, while others drove their cars on top speed, blowing their horns.

In his appreciation message in Benin City on Sunday, Governor Obaseki hailed Edo people and supporters of his party, the PDP for their display of immense courage and support in the face of threats, intimidation and brutalisation in the build up and during the election.

He hailed President Muhammadu Buhari, the INEC, security agencies and other stakeholders who participated in the conduct of the gubernatorial election for ensuring a free, peaceful and credible poll in the state.

Obaseki said: “The Great People of Edo State have spoken. They have spoken loud and clear. We thank God Almighty and give him all the glory for this victory.

“Thank you, President Muhammadu Buhari, for defending our democracy and allowing the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the security agencies to perform their constitutional functions without interference.

“INEC and the security services have shown to Nigerians and the world that they are capable of conducting free and credible elections.”

He added: “Words fail me in saluting our teeming supporters who displayed immense courage in the face of threats, intimidation and brutalization. The collective will of Edo people made it possible for this triumph over godfatherism.

“I am eternally grateful to my party the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and my brother governors not only for giving me the umbrella during my political storm but for the hard work which has brought me back to office.

“Our success has reinforced my belief that there is nothing we cannot achieve as a people if we pull forces together and collectively call on God for support.”

“I reiterate that working with my Deputy, Rt. Hon. Philip Shaibu, we are committed to Making Edo Great Again. Thank you for your support.”

Meanwhile, the APC, Edo State chapter, has alleged foul play in the election, but called on party members to stay calm while party leaders study the result and decide what next to do.

Buhari hails process, reiterates commitment to free, fair elections [SUN]

Yesterday, prominent Nigerians and groups from all political divides led by President Muhammadu Buhari congratulated the Edo State governor and candidate of the PDP in Saturday’s election, Godwin Obaseki for winning a second term in office.

President Buhari commended the election process which led to the victory of Governor Obaseki as declared by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

In a statement by Garba Shehu, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Buhari urged Obaseki to show grace and humility in victory.

The President Buhari said:

“My commitment to free and fair elections is firm, because without free and fair elections, the foundation of our political and moral authority will be weak.

“I have consistently advocated for free and fair elections in the country because it is the bedrock of true democratic order.

Democracy will mean nothing if the votes of the people don’t count or if their mandate is fraudulently tampered with.”

He commended the people of Edo State, the parties, candidates and security agencies for conducting themselves responsibly.

Meanwhile, Former Vice President,  Atiku Abubakar,  has said that the victory Godwin Obaseki,  has marked the end of god-fatherism in the country.

Atiku, in a statement,  yesterday,  congratulated the PDP) for standing with the people of Edo State in good and bad times.

The former vice president, who stated that he knows Obaseki to be a magnanimous man, urged the APC governorship candidate,  Osagie Ize-Iyamu,  to accept the hand of fellowship,  which the Edo governor will extend to him.

“There is a new dawn in Edo State, and the hard won victory of Governor Godwin Nogheghase Obaseki is not just a victory, but a Declaration of Independence from the anti democratic forces of god-fatherism and militarism. No victory could be sweeter than this, and I heartily congratulate the governor, and the good people of Edo State for their resilience in the face of the forces arrayed against them,” he said.

 

How 32 church members perished in Ebonyi River [SUN]

Members of the Christ Peculiar Assembly Church, Enugu, in Enugu State, have been thrown into devastating mourning following last Friday’s fatal accident that occurred at the Akaeze Ukwu axis of the Afikpo-Okigwe Highway in Ivo Local Government Area of Ebonyi State.

The accident claimed the lives of about 32 of them, with four others still battling for survival in the hospital.

As many as 32 persons died inside the Ezeiyiaku River when an Enugu-bound 608 bus plunged into the river as the driver of the bus tried to overtake an articulated vehicle. It was gathered that the victims of the tragic crash were members of the church who had attended the burial of their deceased general secretary in Owutu Edda, in Afikpo South Local Government Area of Ebonyi State.

While five occupants of the bus, including the driver, were rescued that Friday evening, 14 corpses were recovered from the river on Saturday evening, 24 hours after the incident. One of the rescued persons, a woman, later died in the hospital.

It was gathered that although the vehicle was a 32-seater capacity bus, the occupants were more than 32 as it was reportedly filled beyond capacity. The church members were reportedly in a convoy of more than eight vehicles when the incident happened.

Early callers at the scene said occupants of the other seven vehicles had alighted from their various vehicles to see if they could help pull out the vehicle from the river. But none of them could enter the ferocious water, which completely submerged the unfortunate bus and the occupants. Not knowing what to do, the church members could only wail while praying fervently to God for divine intervention. But no serious help came until about 24 hours later.

When our correspondent visited the scene in the morning on Saturday, a crowd of helpless people, comprising villagers, road users, Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) officers, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence (NSCDC) personnel, officials of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), as well as the army, police and some local divers were seen clustering atop and around the bridge.

A leader in Akaeze community and coordinator of Akaeze Development Centre, Mr. Ogbuatu Victor Simbard, told our correspondent that members of the community and some of the church members held vigil throughout the night after efforts by local divers to hook cranes onto the bus inside the river failed.

“The situation is a very challenging one for us. We have been trying our best to see that the bus is out from the river. At the moment, we have taken only five of them out, but one of them, a woman, died at the hospital. The two cranes that were brought in yesterday by the Commissioner for Works and the chairman of Ivo LGA could not do anything because the local divers were unable to tie the crane on the bus inside the river so that the crane could lift the bus. But they have located where the bus was inside the river. It is right under the bridge. But you know it requires the capacity to stay longer inside the water to be able to hook the crane on the bus. And the local divers do not have the equipment that could help them do that. So, the bus remains in the water with about 30 more persons, or corpses, because there is no way any of them can be alive up to this moment, after about 24 hours. But there is nothing God cannot do. Because we could not get help around anymore, our chairman, Chief Onyebuchi Ogbadu, has sent for professional divers from Rivers and Cross River states to come and help,” he said.

When the professional divers from Rivers and Cross River later arrived at the scene around 3pm on Saturday, their efforts led to the recovery of 14 corpses, after the bus was lifted from the river.

 

Nigeria has long way to go in leadership –Obasanjo [SUN]

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has declared that Nigeria still has a long way to go as far as good leadership is concerned.

Obasanjo, who stated that only Nigerians could fix the challenges confronting the country, equally said the country had failed to attain the position it ought to occupy.

The former president spoke at the weekend after he was conferred with a leadership award by the Treasure House Of God Church, Abeokuta, Ogun State, as part of the activities marking the 60th birthday and retirement of the Setman of the church, Seye Senfuye.

Senfuye, a former Accountant-General of the state and the Senior Special Assistant to the former Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, bowed out of service in August after 35 years.

But Obasanjo speaking during a thanksgiving service organised for Senfuye held at the THG, said every Nigerian had a role to play in moving the country forward.

Obasanjo said: “If we are talking about leadership in Nigeria, there is still a lot to continue to do for the country, and for those of us who have enjoyed the privilege of the position we have attained, we must not shirk in our responsibility of the duty that still lies ahead. You and I, and everybody who is here now know that Nigeria is not where it should be.

“And who will put Nigeria where it should be? Not people from America, not people from Europe, not people from Asia; it’s you and me here in Nigeria. And if we fail to do what we should do, if we fail to say what we should say, when we should do it and when we should say it, we will be liable. We will be liable here, we will be liable hereafter. My prayer is that the responsibility that God has given to us, by keeping us alive, we will live up to it.”

He, however, commended the celebrator for contributing meritoriously to the service of Ogun State and Nigeria, charging him to continue to dedicate himself to duties that would move the society forward.

Senfuye expressed his gratitude to God for seeing him through 35 years of public service and attaining 60 years of age, declaring that he would dedicate his remaining years on earth to the service of God and humanity.

 

Another leader of ‘One Million Boys’ arrested in Oyo [SUN]

The Director General of Oyo State Joint Security Task Force, popularly known as ‘Operation Burst’, Col. Oladipo Ajibola (Rtd.) has declared over the weekend in Ibadan that the second in command to the late Abiola Ebila, the leader of the notorious One Million boys in Ibadan has been arrested and currently facing trial.

Ebila was recently killed by the men of Operation Burst at Ibadan when he was reported to be involved in a kidnap ring and security personnel rounded him up at his hideout.

The second in command, popularly known as ‘Eji’ has assumed leadership of the gang before being arrested for sundry criminal offenses and handed over to the Police for trial.

Col. Ajibola said the security outfit has rid Ibadan of the menace of the notorious gang as the rest of them have run out of the State to seek cover in other States.

“Operation Burst” has been able to reduce criminality in Oyo State, people now go about doing their businesses without fear, we have effected a lot of arrests in relation to cultism, yahoo boys and other criminals and handed them over to the right security agency concerned, the high profile among the criminal cases was Abiola Ebila.

“Ebila, the leader of one million boys was involved in kidnapping and we got him through one of the personalities he kidnapped while he was asking for ransom, the elimination of Ebila has sent other gang leaders out of Oyo State and we are still trailing those who are their minions.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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