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Alleged N206bn Budget Padding: Waste no time, arrest Finance Minister, HURIWA tasks EFCC



Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), on Monday, tasked the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission to arrest or invite for interrogation the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed over the alleged insertion of N206,242,395,000 into the 2023 budget of the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management.

HURIWA has also cautioned the anti-graft body to steer off the naming of serving government officials as ambassadors of EFCC since the anti-corruption body is not a LOCAL CHIEF OR EMIR that awards traditional titles but is a very serious agency of government set up to wage real time war against the many embedded economic saboteurs working within the government circles who have destroyed Nigeria’s economy.

HURIWA said the recent announcement purporting to name the Executive Vice Chairman of the National Communications Commission Professor Umar Garba Danbatta as an Ambassador of the EFCC, whatever that means, is absolutely irregular and inappropriate since that would mean that the holder becomes a sacred cow and therefore the financial affairs of that agency under his control may never come under any kind of scrutiny should any allegations of misconduct arise in the near future.

The Rights body asks the EFCC to allow the office of the  Secretary to the Government of the Federation to continue with its pastime of giving awards to government officials including state governors that owe teachers backlog of salaries as it just did just as HURIWA prays the EFCC to respect itself because Nigerians see it as such an institution that people look up to in terms of waging anti-graft war comes rain or shine therefore awarding ‘chieftaincy titles of the so-called ambassadors  of EFCC, belittles the essence and telos of the phenomenal anti-graft commission.”

HURIWA’s National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, in a statement to NewsDirect, rejected the explanation of the finance ministry that the bogus amount was wrongly captured in the budget estimates submitted to the National Assembly just as it insists that those in charge must be arrested to give proper statement under oaths.

The Rights group said the President Muhammadu Buhari administration is encouraging corruption, contrary to what is considered ‘weird propaganda’ in some quarters that it is fighting graft.

Recall that the humanitarian affairs minister, Sadiya Faruoq, told the National Assembly that N206,242,395,000 found its way into its budget without its knowledge.

But, the Special Adviser to the finance minister on Media and Communications, Yunusa Tanko Abdullahi, in a statement said the funds in question were wrongly captured in the 2023 Appropriation Bill for the humanitarian affairs ministry.

The Senate similarly uncovered forgery of signatures of participants in payment of over N208 million in the zonal skill acquisition organized by the Ministry of Labour led by Chris Ngige.

Commenting, HURIWA’s Onwubiko said, “Corruption in President Muhammadu Buhari’s cabinet is mind-boggling and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission are overlooking these spectacular crimes.

“This, sadly, is the greatest cause of insecurity because a corrupt government is even a threat to national security.

“Budget padding is not alien to Nigerian ministries, departments and agencies. Just in September, the ICPC chairman, Bolaji Owasanoye disclosed that the N13.59trillion 2021 budget was padded by MDAs with duplicated projects worth N300bn. He also said project duplication worth N100bn were also inserted into the N17.12trn 2022 budget by some MDAs.

“The explanation or defence of the finance ministry is lame and unacceptable. Nigerians won’t sit down and watch these shenanigans under APC-controlled government whose officials have exhibited grand larceny and corruption like the suspended Accountant-General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris in EFCC net for usurping hundreds of billions of naira and who reportedly gave EFCC a refund of 900,000 US DOLLARS in cash as part of the alleged siphoned public fund.

“HURIWA demands actions by way of arrests, prosecution of officials who padded the budget for they are economic saboteurs. Anything short of this is aiding and abetting corruption. If the EFCC overlooks these crimes, then in the fullness of time, the persons responsible will be apprehended to face justice whenever a God-fearing administration takes office since such heinous crimes are not status barred.”


Tinubu calls for good governance at 64th ECOWAS Session



President Bola Tinubu has called on ECOWAS leaders to prioritise good governance for the citizens in the quest for socio-economic transformation and development of the region.

At the 64th Ordinary Session of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Tinubu emphasised that good governance would guarantee improved quality of life and stable environment.

‘’Let me also underscore the need for us, as leaders, to prioritise good governance for our people, as it serves as a catalyst for socio-economic transformation and development.

‘’The delivery of good governance is not just a fundamental commitment; it is also an avenue to address the concerns of our citizen, such as improved quality of life and a stable environment conducive to the achievement of sustainable development.

‘’By providing good governance that tackles the challenges of poverty, inequality and other concerns of the people, we would have succeeded in addressing some of the root causes of military intervention in civilian processes in our region.

‘’Our gathering here today is, therefore, a clear demonstration of our resolute commitment to the development and effective integration of our sub-region.

‘’As a people, we aspire to create a borderless, peaceful, prosperous and cohesive region, built on good governance and the rule of law, where people would have the opportunity to realise their full potentials for sustainable development,’’ he said.

On the issue of democratic abortion in some member countries, the President underscored the need for sustained efforts to ensure the return of peaceful transition of power based on the people’s choice.

‘’Allow me to emphasise that, to further strengthen our regional democratic achievements and uphold the right of our people to elect the leaders of their choice, the region agreed upon specific punitive measures to be taken against any Member State opting for unconstitutional change of government.

‘’While the imposition of punitive sanctions may pose challenges, it is important to underscore that the struggle to protect the fundamental liberties of our Community Citizens must be upheld and respected.

‘’To this end, I would like to reiterate the imperative of re-engaging with the countries under military rule on the basis of realistic and short transition plans that can deliver democracy and good governance.

“On our part, we should be prepared to provide them with technical and material support, to ensure the achievement of these strategic goals.’’

Tinubu said that the countries involved in alliance against democratic tenets would not be allowed to distract the community of its resolve to follow laid down rules and regulations for dealing with such actions.

‘’It is important that we also review some development in our sub-region including the move by some of our members under Military rule to float an Alliance of Sahel States.

‘’This phantom, push back-alliance appears intended to divert attention from our mutual quest for democracy and good governance that will impact the life of our people.

‘’We refused to be detracted from pursuing the collective dreams, aspirations and the noble path of ECOWAS integration as laid out in our institutional and legal frameworks,’’ he said.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the ECOWAS Heads of State and Government are in closed door meeting to further deliberate on issues affecting the region in the last one year and those arising recently.

The body is expected to receive special reports on the practical arrangement for the Launch of the ECO , report on Member States in Transition, report on States of Implementation of the ECOWAS  Trade Liberalisation Scheme (ETLS) as well as decide on the venue of the 65th ECOWAS Session.

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Naira notes: There’s sufficient stock for economic activities, CBN assures Nigerians



Amidst complaints by some Nigerians about scarcity of Naira notes, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) says there is adequate supply of the currency.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that CBN gave  the assurance against the beck drop of complaints by some bank customers  on scarcity of Naira notes at the counters, Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) Points of Sale (PoS), and Bureaux de Change (BDCs).

Some officials of Deposit Money Banks (DMBs) also claimed that the DMBs were not getting adequate supply of cash from the CBN.

But, according to a statement issued by the Corporate Communications Department of the CBN, there is no shortage of Naira notes, as there is adequate supply of the currency in the economy.

The apex bank said that the seeming currency scarcity was occasioned by large volume withdrawals of cash from various CBN branches by DMBs.

It said that panic withdrawals by bank customers was also partly responsible for the seeming scarcity.

“The attention of the CBN has been drawn to reports of alleged scarcity of
cash at banks, ATMs, PoS and BDCs in some major cities across the country.

“Our findings reveal that the seeming cash scarcity in some locations is due largely to high volume withdrawals from the CBN branches by DMBs and panic withdrawals by customers from the ATMs.

“While we note the concerns of Nigerians on the availability of cash for financial transactions, we wish to assure the public that there is sufficient stock of currency notes for economic activities in the country.

“The branches of the CBN across the country are also working to ensure the seamless circulation of cash in their respective states of operation,” it said.

The CBN advised members of the public to guard against panic withdrawals as there was sufficient stock to facilitate economic activities.

It also advised Nigerians to embrace alternative modes of payment, which would reduce pressure on using physical cash.

Meanwhile, the CBN also warned Nigerians to beware of fake Naira banknotes in circulation.

Its Acting Director, Corporate Communications, Mrs Hakama Sidi-Ali, gave the warning in a  statement.

Sidi-Ali said that the counterfeit Naira notes were mainly used for transactions in food markets and other commercial centres across major cities in the country.

She said that any person found complicit in the circulation of the counterfeit currency notes would face severe sanctions.

The director said that the law provided punishment by a term of imprisonment of not less than five years, for any person found culpable of counterfeiting Naira notes or any other legal tender in Nigeria.

“The attention of the CBN) has been drawn to the circulation of counterfeit banknotes, especially higher denominations by some individuals.

“The CBN is in constant collaboration with relevant security and financial agencies to confiscate fake Naira banknotes, arrest and prosecute counterfeiters.

“Members of the public are also encouraged to report anyone suspected of having counterfeit naira notes to the nearest police station, branch of the CBN, or via,” she said.

She enjoined all DMBs, Financial Houses and Bureaux de Change and the general public to be more vigilant.

Sidi-Ali urged them to take all necessary precautionary measures to curtail the acceptance and distribution of counterfeit notes.

“Furthermore, the general public is encouraged to embrace alternative modes of payment for day-to-day transactions to mitigate the risk of spreading counterfeit banknotes,” she said.

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NOA lauds Dangote’s oil production in Lagos



The National Agency (NOA) has commended Dangote Refining Company and the Federal Government for restarting local production of petroleum products in the country.

Its Director General, Malam Lanre Issa-Onilu, in a letter of congratulations to the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, celebrated the delivery of the first cargo of 950,000 barrels of crude oil to the Dangote Refining Company.

“The supply from Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation Limited (NNPCL) is a major breakthrough for the country after many years of importation with attendant supply hicups, corruption and detrimental impact of high foreign exchange demand on the economy.

“The NNPCL and Dangote Refining Company said the breakthrough is a cheering news that underscores the resolve of government and Nigeria’s progress towards economic stability and prosperity.

“For him, the Dangote Refining company, the biggest in Africa, will become a major player in the petroleum production and supply chain in Africa and help to tackle the many problems affecting the sector, including unstable product pricing in the country.”

According to the director-general, this is the beginning of the onward march to self-reliance and development because more refineries will soon come up. We hope that our other refineries will return to business”.

Outlining the benefits of local production of petroleum products in Nigeria, the NOA DG said “This means jobs for our people in that sector, reduction of foreign dependency for supply in NIgeria and huge savings in forex.

“The economic growth outlook will be better with stability of local energy supply.”d

According to the director-general, NOA’s new vision seeks to promote national positives to encourage citizens to renew their hope in the country and reflect the true narrative of our nation’s progress and challenges.

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