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Abiodun commiserates with Buhari, Obasanjo, NBA, Ajibola family over world jurist’s death

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The Ogun State governor, Dapo Abiodun, has commiserated with President Muhammadu Buhari, the nation’s judiciary and the family of former Justice at the International Court of Justice, The Hague, on the death of the former Attorney General and Minister for Justice, Prince Bola Ajibola, who passed on in the early hours of Sunday.

Describing the death as a big loss to the judiciary, Governor Abiodun said his legacies in the judiciary, philanthropy and the educational development of Nigeria would never be forgotten.

Governor Abiodun, who also commiserated with the Owu Royal Family of the late former Attorney General, his friend, President Olusegun Obasanjo, as well as members of the Baptist Boys’ High School Old Students Association, described the legal icon’s death as saddening, devastating and the end of an era.

This was contained in a statement issued by his Chief Press Secretary, Kunle Somorin, on Sunday in Abeokuta.

The governor said: “The death of this illustrious son of Ogun State, a celebrated jurist and judicial activist, public intellectual and elder statesman, is a severe blow to all of us who knew him

“Words cannot adequately convey my heartfelt sorrow over Papa’s death, for he was a kind and beautiful soul who spread love to all who encountered him.”

The governor recalled that Prince Ajibola, after serving as President of the Nigerian Bar Association, also served as the nation’s Number One Law officer, Attorney General and Minister of Justice, before he answering the call of higher duties at the International Court of Justice, The Hague.

“He was a jewel of the Law Profession and an accomplished judicial officer of prodigious hue. Baba was a go-getter who delivered on any assignment committed to his hands because of his belief that service should always come first.

“Besides, he was a great religious influencer and philanthropist who established the faith-based Crescent University in his hometown, Abeokuta.

“He not only supported but funded some other altruistic projects and promoted research and scholarship through his establishment of an Islamic co-educational institution, Crescent University, in Nigeria in 2005, and he served as the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Muslim Ummah of South West Nigeria (MUSWEN). He was also the High Commissioner of Nigeria to the United Kingdom from 1999 to 2002”, the statement stated.

The governor, however, urged the Olowu of Owu, Oba (Prof) Saka Matemilola, Otileta VII, the Olowu-in-Council, sons and daughters of the Ajibola lineage and the entire Gbadela Royal Dynasty of Owu to be consoled by the fact that the deceased selflessly and fervently served God and humanity during his impactful life on earth.

“On behalf of the government and people of Ogun State, I commiserate with the immediate family of the deceased on this very huge loss. I also commiserate with President Muhammadu Buhari on the loss which signifies the dwindling class of sages in the country. I condole his bossom friend, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo and all alumni of BBHS over the demise of a dependable ally and a loyal schoolmate and the Nigerian Judiciary over the loss of its greatest assets and Benchers. May the Almighty Allah grant the family the fortitude to bear this irreparable loss,” the statement surmised.

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Expatriate Employment Levy: CPPE tasks FG on review to avoid unintended consequences

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The Centre for the Promotion of Private Enterprises (CPPE) has urged government to review the Expatriate Employment Levy (EEL) policy and undertake broader consultation to fine-tune it to protect genuine investors.

The Founder, CPPE, Dr Muda Yusuf, gave the advice on Sunday in Lagos, in reaction to the EEL policy.

The government had announced a mandatory annual levy for organisations employing expatriate workers.

The development requires them to pay $15,000 (£12,000) for a director and $10,000 for other employees.

According to the Federal Government, the move is to encourage foreign companies to employ more Nigerian workers.

Yusuf noted that the EEL had the dual purpose of promoting the localisation of skills and economic growth.

He, however, stressed the importance of worrying about the implications of possible diplomatic reciprocity, especially for the Nigerian diaspora community.

He stated that while the broad objectives of the policy were laudable, serious concerns remained about its unintended consequences.

Yusuf noted that there were extant legislations and regulations with similar objectives such as the expatriate quota, National Content Act, and Presidential Executive Orders 3 and 5.

“The expatriate quota empowers the Nigeria Immigration Service to give approvals to companies for expatriate staff engagement only when there is no local capacity. Companies currently pay $2000 per expatriate annually.

“There is the National Content Act for the oil industry which offers tremendous opportunities for indigenous investors to offer services to oil and gas companies.

“Indigenous capacity in the sector had grown remarkably since the enactment of the act.

“The Presidential Executive Orders directed Ministries, Departments and Agencies to give first right of refusal to indigenous contractors, service providers for procurement purposes.

“The point to stress is that implementation of these legislations and regulations has been very weak thus affecting the outcomes. The problem is not lack of policies, but the institutional structure to deliver results,” he said.

The CPPE founder said the timeline for compliance with the new policy was too short, noting that the policy gave barely four weeks for companies to comply.

According to him, for such a major policy shift, companies needed to be given minimum of six months, seeing that the new policy would be very disruptive for their businesses, plans and projections.

“Some of the companies affected are major investors that have investment billions of dollars and have been in Nigeria for decades. This administration, being an investment friendly regime, should give companies more time.

“The country needs more direct investors than portfolio investors at this time. But ironically, both foreign direct investors and domestic direct investors would be more negatively impacted than portfolio investors.

“There are serious implications for diaspora Nigerians as the policy may trigger reciprocal actions from other countries and this may affect Nigerians in diaspora.

“There are currently over 17 million Nigerians in various countries around the world doing extremely well in various fields and this is a pool of very valuable external sector assets for us as country.

“We have the largest diaspora population in Africa and we also have the highest diaspora remittances on the continent, generally in excess of $20 billion. All of these could be at risk as a result of this policy.

“If the reciprocity policy is activated in any of their host countries, the effect on our diaspora citizens will be very devastating,” he said.

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HURIWA condemns Army’s killing of civilians in Delta State

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Expressing deep worries that efforts are not being sufficiently made by the hierarchy of the Nigeria Army to instil discipline and professionalism in the ranks and file and officers, the civil society group-Human Rights Writers Association Of Nigeria (HURIWA) – has described as unwarranted, barbaric,  unconstitutional and deeply disturbing, the alleged killing of two young persons in Okere community of Warri, Delta State on Saturday.
HURIWA, citing available media information, recalled that no fewer than two persons were shot on Saturday at Okere Community in Warri Metropolis of Delta State even as it was gathered the victims were shot by security operatives believed to be soldiers of the 63 Brigade of the Nigerian Army.
The Rights group quoted the media to have identified the  victims of the extrajudicial  execution by soldiers to include Macaulay Uku and another simply identified as Eguono.  Uku, according to various sources, was shot early in the afternoon while Uku was shot later following a disagreement between the soldiers and youths.
The report stated that although the cause of the latest crisis in the Itsekiri enclave of Warri was still shrouded in controversy, sources said it was connected to the visit to the enclave of the Olu of Warri, Ogiame Atuwatse III
“I don’t really know what happened but what we heard was that the Olu went to the shrine as part of his visit to Itsekiri communities.”
“One side said at the shrine he tried to dab olive oil but was resisted by youths of the community,” a local source said.
It was, however, not clear how soldiers were deployed to the community.  Brigadier General Sanusi Aliyu, Brigade Commander 63 Brigade, Nigerian Army, Asaba, could not be reached for comment, says the media.
HURIWA which reacted to the incident is calling on the Chief of Army Staff Lieutenant General Taoreed Lagbaja to activate transparent mechanisms to fish out the killer soldiers, prosecute them for murder before a court Marshall or a regular court so that it will be known that his leadership doesn’t tolerate extra legal killings of citizens who are supposed to be protected by the security forces maintained with taxpayers money.
HURIWA said also that: “The hierarchy of the Army led by the Chief of Army Staff should take much more than the routine approach towards confronting this latest report of soldiers involvement in unlawful killings of citizens. The circumstances that characterised this latest story of abysmal conduct of some unruly soldiers is such that one begins to ask whether those soldiers were actually taken through the rudimentary training that soldiers ought to have passed through before being handed guns. There is no justification for these killings of very young citizens. These killings are provocative and absolutely despicable. The killers must be made to face the full wrath of the law.”
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COVID-19 Probe: Reps committee directs private airlines to refund N4bn to FG

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The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of the House of Representatives has given a week aultimatum to all private Airline operators  in the country within which to render justifiable evidence  before it on how they expended the N4bn  they collected from the Federal Government as COVID-19 intervention funds or  refund the money to the government treasury
The Committee being chaired by Rep.Bamidele Salam (Osun-PDP) handed down the directive on Friday at the resumed  investigative hearing on the alleged mismanagement of the COVID-19 intervention funds by the Ministries Departments and Agencies MDAs of the Federal Government and others who benefited from the funds
The Committee resolved that “all private airlines that received COVID-19 relief funds designated to support the aviation sector to refund the allocated funds to the federal government treasury, if they fail to give justifiable evidence of how the money was judiciously spent within a week”
The Committee lamented that despite appearing before it,  several of the airlines and industry stakeholders, including Aero Contractors, Azman, Newrest, and representatives from the Federal Ministry of Aviation and Aerospace Development, failed to provide satisfactory explanations regarding the allocation and expenditure of the funds.
The committee emphasized the need   for accountability and transparency in the utilization of public funds.
On its part, Azman Airlines represented by its Marketing Manager, Odum Chizoba Uju admitted receiving N367,935,779.95, purportedly allocated for various operational expenses including aircraft maintenance; spare parts, fueling, Forex purchasing, and insurance premium paid while  the Station Manager of Aero Contractor, Mr. Abdulmalik Musa said the company received N217,345,542.05 from the federal government for the Covid-19 intervention fund.
The representative of the Aero Contractor Airline explained that the fund was used for Airport handling and facility payment, fueling payment, Onboard catering payment, pilot training payments, and lease rental payments.
However in a Sharp reaction  to the  submissions on how they utilised the  funds , a member of the Committee and former pilot with the Nigeria Airforce, Hon. Ojuawo Adeniyi from Ekiti state faulted the submissions,  saying that the services claimed by the operators were applicable only during the regular operations of airlines.
Following this development a motion was moved by a member, Hon. Akiba Bassey   that the amount involved should be refunded to the Federatiom account should they failed to give justifiable evidence before the Committe on the expenditure which was unanimously supported by members.
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