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NIGERIA

$30bn revenue loss probe: Reps to engage 24 banks, 14 oil coys

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The Joint House of Representatives Committee on Finance and Banking and Currency is set to investigate an alleged loss of over $30 billion revenue annually due to leakages.

For this purpose, the joint committee, chaired by Rep. Abiodun James Faleke (APC, Lagos) and Rep. Victor Nwokolo (PDP, Delta), will engage 24 commercial and non-commercial banks and 14 international oil companies (IOCs) over the alleged huge revenue loss.

They, will question officials of the banks and the IOCs during an investigative hearing, which commences today, Monday as concerning their roles on the alleged over $30bn revenue leakages arising from oil revenue interest payment on account of foreign currency dominated contracts by companies in engineering, procurement, construction, installation and marine transportations.

According to information, the investigative hearing, which is to be conducted based on the COVID-19 protocols, will be in phases. The first phase of the hearing will last for three weeks.

Recall that the House had on March 5, 2020, passed a resolution mandating the two committees to carry out the investigation following the adoption of a motion by Faleke.

Understandably, lawmakers had expressed concern that the billions of dollars revenue leakages may have been due to tax evasion, malpractices, misuse and diversion of foreign exchange allocations by companies and other entities.

In adopting the motion, the House said it would also investigate the disbursement of foreign exchange by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and other agencies to determine the exact amount government may have lost in the process.

The Green Chamber noted that the leakages arose from various malpractices in foreign exchange allocation to companies from sources such as CBN, interbank, domiciliary and over the counter purchases for importation of physical goods, payments of foreign service vendors, dividend repatriation and foreign loans.

The House mandated the Joint Committee to determine in a statutory and in a professional manner, the revenue amount involved in the malpractices by each organization based on every revenue line item collectible by government agencies for the purpose of timely recovery into government accounts.

Faleke had said in March, while leading debate on the motion that: “There is the urgent need to rescue the country from over $30billion dollars annual revenue leakages arising from tax evasion, malpractices, mis-use and diversion of foreign exchange allocations by companies and other entities,” .

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NIGERIA

Police dismiss IPOB Oct. 1 sit-at-home call

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The police on Wednesday dismissed the call by the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) for a sit-at-home on October 1.

Ebonyi State government urged residents to ignore the order and go about their normal business.

The Ohanaeze Ndigbo said it had nothing to do with the call.

IPOB leader Nnamdi Kanu said the directive was to protest “bad governance and economic annihilation”.

In a statement by IPOB Media and Publicity Secretary, Emma Powerful, Kanu urged the Igbo everywhere to boycott all activities organized to mark the Independence Day.

The statement said: “We, the global movement of IPOB, wish to announce to all Biafrans, friends of Biafra and lovers of freedom all over the world that Biafrans across the globe shall observe a sit-at-home in Biafra land  in public protests to mark October 1, 2020.

“We, therefore, enjoin all Biafrans and every conscious Nigerian, especially those ethnic nationalities reeling from the triple blow of terrorism, bad governance and economic annihilation, to boycott every government organized ceremony designed to eulogize the failure that Nigeria has become.

“This is the time to let the world know how disastrously intolerable human existence is in Nigeria.

“If you want to see an end to terrorism and organized mediocrity, now is the time to register your anger by ensuring that you and your household sit-at-home on October 1, 2020.

“Do not risk the life and well-being of your children by allowing them to gather in groups in the open where terrorists may find it easier to blow them up or kidnap them.

“This order is to highlight our position and resolve as Biafrans that we are no longer interested in propping up a crumbling state.

“The leadership of this great movement in conjunction with supporters of Biafra freedom across the globe has concluded every arrangement to let the whole world know and understand that we are no longer part of this shambolic monument to terrorism and failure.”

The group said it remained committed to “the full and irreversible restoration of Biafra sovereignty and independence for all oppressed ethnic groups in Nigeria”.

Ebonyi State government urged the people to go about their normal activities on October 1 as IPOB has no legal basis to compel anyone to stay home.

Commissioner for Internal Security and Border Peace, Stanley Emegha, said: “Who is IPOB to tell people to sit at home? That is the height of craziness on their side.

“How can you tell people who have a family to sit at home? To do what? Will you come and put food on their table?

“In the first place, we don’t even know if there is anything like IPOB existing in the state.

“People should disregard the said statement and go about their normal business on that day.”

Commissioner of Police in Ebonyi, Philip Maku, warned IPOB to steer clear of the state.

He said the proscribed group does not have the right to tell people to sit at home.

“People have the fundamental right to movement. If you try to restrict their right to move about and transact their lawful business activities, you are crossing the red line.

“If anyone tries to force people to sit at home, the Police will not fail to deal decisively with such persons,” he said.

The Anambra State Police Command also urged residents to ignore the call.

The spokesman, Mohammed Haruna, told our correspondent that IPOB remained banned and had no right to make the call.

The Anambra State President of Ohaneze Ndigbo, Chief Damian Okeke-Ogene, said the socio-cultural organisation has nothing to do with the directive.

Besides, he said Ohaneze had no control over IPOB.

He said: “They have their Modus Operandi and we have ours. That means, we have no control over them and they also don’t have over us.”

Activist-lawyer Emperor Ogbonna said IPOB lacked the right to compel non-members to stay at home.

He told our correspondent that the banned group would be infringing on others rights by stopping anyone from exercising their right to movement.

Ogbonna said: “IPOB members and their sympathizers have the right to stay-at-home and to go out.

“IPOB doesn’t have the powers to tell everybody in the Southeast not to go out because not everybody belongs to IPOB.

“They cannot compel non-members to comply with their order. If they do so, they will be infringing on the rights of those who are not members.”

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NIGERIA

Kogi declares two-day mourning over tanker explosion

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Kogi has declared a two-day mourning period in memory of those that died in the tanker explosion in Felele, along the Lokoja-Abuja highway on Wednesday.

No fewer than 25 persons, including five students of the state-owned polytechnic, three nursery school pupils and passersby were burnt beyond recognition in the resulting explosion from an auto crash.

The crash, which was said to have been caused by brake failure in the fuel- laden tanker involved five cars, two motorcycles and three tricycles, all of which went up in flames in the ensuing inferno.

Kogi government in a statement by the Commissioner for Information and Communications, Kingsley Fanwo, said full investigations will be carried out to determine the “causes of the painful incident.”

It called on the relevant Federal Government agencies to provide relief materials to support what the State Government shall be providing to the relatives of the victims.

Governor Yahaya Bello had also called on Federal Government to quickly repair failed portions of its roads strewn across the state, to curb incessant accidents.

The Governor made the request when he paid a visit to the Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, in Abuja on Wednesday.

Bello was quoted to have said that the deplorable state of federal roads in the state has led to many accidents.

The statement reads: “The government of Kogi State has declared a two-day state mourning in honor of the victims of the Felele tanker accident on Wednesday 23rd September, 2020.

“The governor and the government of Kogi State are saddened by the unfortunate incident that claimed many lives in the early hours (of Wednesday).

“The primary responsibility of government is to ensure the safety and well-being of the Kogi people. As a result of the importance placed on the lives of our people, government has declared a two-day state mourning to honor the departed souls.

“In this time of grief, we urge the people to be deep in sober reflection and stand together for one another to pull out of the agonizing loss.

“Government wishes to reiterate her call on road users to act responsibly in order to avert unfortunate situations that simple care and caution could have averted.

“Full investigations will also be carried out to determine the causes of the painful incident.

“The Kogi State government wishes to assure families that lost loved ones and those whose houses were affected of support at this trying moment. We also call on relevant Federal Government agencies to provide relief materials to support what the state government shall be providing.

“Our hearts are with the affected families. May the souls of the departed rest in peace.”

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NIGERIA

Ondo 2020: We’re committed to hitch-free polls, burnt smart readers replaced – INEC Chairman

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Following the destruction of over 5000 card readers in the ICT unit of the Ondo State headquarters of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, the Chairman of the commission, Prof Mammud Yakubu has disclosed that the card readers have been replaced.

The INEC boss revealed this on Wednesday in Akure while speaking with newsmen during a three-day working visit to the State.

Recall that about 5,141 smart card readers meant for the governorship election were burnt in the inferno that occurred on September 10.

According to Prof. Yabuku, the visit was to have on-the-spot assessment of the level of preparedness of the commission ahead of the October 10 governorship polls.

While stressing that the governorship election in the State will be hitch-free as witnessed in Edo State last Saturday, Yakubu maitainted that the commission had made provision for the card readers from other States and they have been configured ahead of the polls.

“We have already recovered some smart card readers. We unfortunately lost over 5000 smart card readers to the fire incident.

“We have, however, recovered by getting requisite a number of smart card readers from neighbouring Oyo State,” he said.

Yakubu explained that he was in the State to meet with the Resident Electoral Commissioner, REC, Ambassador Rufus Akeju and Head of Departments ahead of the October 10, Governorship Election in Ondo State.

He also stated that during the visit, he would interact with all the stakeholders in the election, including traditional rulers in the State to ensure the success of the election.

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