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Betta Edu: Tinubu has set the pace for us to fight corruption — EFCC

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…Vows to investigate ‘anyone’ found culpable

In view of President’s Tinubu swift response to the alleged financial misappropriation rocking the Humanitarian Affairs Ministry, the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr Ola Olukoyede has stated that the President has set the tone for the anti-graft agency to tackle corruption in the country.

President Bola Tinubu on Monday suspended the embattled Humanitarian Minister Betta Edu and also ordered a panel to review the structure of social investment programmes in the country.

The President tasked a panel that is headed by the Coordinating Minister of the Economy and Minister of Finance to, among other functions, conduct a comprehensive diagnostic on the financial architecture and framework of the social investment programmes with a view to conclusively reforming the relevant institutions and programmes in a determined bid to eliminate all institutional frailties for the exclusive benefit of disadvantaged households and win back lost public confidence in the initiative.

Speaking when he received the Chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), Dr. Musa Adamu Aliyu at the EFCC headquarters on Tuesday, Olukoyede said the political will of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to fight corruption, as demonstrated in recent events were enough boost for anti-corruption agencies to give their best.

“We believe that with the kind of President that we have, who is willing and ready to do the right thing as demonstrated in the last 48 hours, it is clear that the President is providing the political will and the leadership for the anti-corruption agencies to work and I believe that with this, there’s no hiding place for us and we must ensure that we give our best.

“We are going to give the President the right support and we believe that the courage would be there to take the right decisions. Nobody is too big to be investigated in this country. Once you are not playing to the rules, we’ll investigate you.”

In his remarks, the Chairman of ICPC, Dr. Musa Adamu Aliyu, SAN stated that the visit to the EFCC was a show of commitment to the existing relationship between the two agencies.

He expressed the readiness of ICPC, under his leadership to provide the needed support and cooperation in the interest of eradicating corruption in Nigeria.

“It is important for us to work together, and we cannot do this without a good relationship. That’s why I think I need to extend this hand of friendship to the EFCC so that we can effectively partner in the fight against corruption in Nigeria.

“I am aware that there’s an MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) between the EFCC and ICPC and I’m willing and ready to partner whenever there’s any issue of interest in the fight against corruption.

“I’ll be reaching out to my brother and Chairman of EFCC on issues I think we can partner with because there’s no need for us to be duplicating responsibilities, wasting resources and time. I hope with this first meeting, we are going to be meeting regularly to review what we are doing together.”

The EFCC Chairman responding concurred on the position of collaboration saying the meeting had also presented an opportunity for the review of the existing MoU between the two agencies.

“We have areas of similar mandate and with a population of about 250 million people, there’s so much in our hands and I can tell you that the enormity of the work demands that we work together.”

The meeting had in attendance the Chairmen and management staff of the two anti-graft agencies and was aimed to deepen mutual cooperation and synergise efforts for greater impact in Nigeria’s anti-corruption drive and discuss other areas of collaborations.

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NIPOST apprehends 33 illegal operators during clampdown in Lagos, set to visit more states

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By Omolola Adeyanju

The courier and logistics regulatory department (CLRD) NIPOST has held its clampdown for the first quarter of the year in Lagos with thirty three unlicensed/ illegal courier and logistics operators apprehended during the exercise carried out in Ikeja LGA and Falomo, Lagos State on Thursday last week.

According to the General manager, Courier and Logistics and Regulatory Department (CLRD), NIPOST, Shonde G. Dotun, “the clampdown has been carried out in 11 States already which include Abia, Rivers, Edo, Ekiti, Ogun, Oyo, Lagos, Katsina, Ondo, Kwara and Delta states respectively and the regulatory department are in the process of visiting more states to ensure adherence to the statutory provisions.”

In an official statement, the organisation said: “The postal, express, Courier and logistics industry in Nigeria has been proliferated and infiltrated with so many unlicensed and illegal courier and logistic operators with reckless abandonment for ethical standard and professional conduct.

“There exist unethical sharp practices such as price undercutting, pilfering, broaching, damages, loss and dumping of customers’ items, poaching and subletting of operating licenses with mountain of public complaints about customers being duped or obtaining money from them under false pretense, no traceable office address nor registered brand name. As well as overloading and carriage of items above the stipulated 50 kg.”

The statement further stated that provision has been made for a flexible payment plan for those who cannot afford to pay for the operating license at a stretch.

He said that a special consideration has been given to the Independent/Soldiers Scheme now.

He added that over eight regional operating licenses have been granted, over two hundred national operating licenses approved and over ten international operating licenses have also been granted as well.

However, the GM advised, “Every interested private investor in the Courier and Logistics business should follow the due process by obtaining a grant of operating licenses from the federal government. (NIPOST).”

Meanwhile, one of the alleged culprits Monday Ajobiewe, speaking to Newsdirect explained that he got his motorcycle through a hire-purchase hence wasn’t aware of the cycle being unregistered.

He confessed to being helpless knowing that NIPOST officials are only doing their job as he cannot fight the government

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Account for trillions of FAAC allocations or face legal action — SERAP tells 36 governors, Wike

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…As FG, States, LGs share N1.1trn in March

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged Nigeria’s 36 state governors and the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, Mr Nyesom Wike to “provide our organization with documents on the spending of trillions of FAAC allocations received by your state and the FCT since 1999, and to widely publish any such documents.”

SERAP also urged them “to invite Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) and Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to jointly track and monitor the spending of FAAC allocations by your state and the FCT and to probe any allegations of corruption linked the allocations.”

SERAP’s requests followed reports that the Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC) disbursed N1.123 trillion to the federal, state, and local governments for March 2024 alone. States collected N398.689 billion.

In the Freedom of Information (FoI) requests dated 20 April 2024 and signed by SERAP deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare, the organisation said: “Nigerians ought to know in what manner public funds including FAAC allocations, are spent.”

SERAP said, “Without this information, Nigerians cannot follow the actions of their states and the FCT and they cannot properly fulfill their responsibilities as citizens.”

According to SERAP, “trillions of FAAC allocations received by Nigeria’s 36 states and the FCT have allegedly gone down the drain. The resulting human costs directly threaten the human rights of socially and economically vulnerable Nigerians.”

The FoI requests, read in part: “ensuring that the FAAC allocations received by your state and the FCT are spent to achieve the security and welfare of Nigerians are serious and legitimate public interests.”

“Secrecy in the spending of FAAC allocations received by your state and the FCT is entirely inconsistent and incompatible with the Nigerian Constitution 1999 [as amended] and the country’s international anti-corruption obligations.

“Secrecy in the spending of FAAC allocations received by your state and the FCT also denies Nigerians the right to know how public funds are spent. Transparency in the spending would allow them to retain control over their government.

“The documents should include the evidence and list of specific projects completed with the FAAC allocations collected, the locations of any such projects and completion reports of the projects.

“The documents should also include details of the salaries and pensions paid from the FAAC allocations collected, as well as the details of projects executed on hospitals and schools with the FAAC allocations.

“Despite the increased FAAC allocations to states and FCT, millions of residents in your state and the FCT continue to face extreme poverty and lack access to basic public goods and services.

“The reported removal of petrol subsidy and the floating of the exchange rate by the Federal Government has translated into increased FAAC allocations to states and the FCT. However, there is no corresponding improvement in the security and welfare of millions of Nigerians.

“FAAC allocations received by your state and the FCT are reportedly characterised by mismanagement, diversion of funds, and abandoned projects. FAAC allocations have also been allegedly spent for other purposes such as election campaigns and political patronage.

“Publishing the documents on the spending of FAAC allocations by your state and the FCT would promote transparency, accountability, and reduce the risks of corruption in the spending of the funds.

“Publishing the documents would enable Nigerians to meaningfully engage in the implementation of projects executed with the FAAC allocations collected.

“The report that some 140 million Nigerians are poor suggests corruption and mismanagement in the spending of trillions of naira in FAAC allocations collected by your state and the FCT.

“We would be grateful if the recommended measures are taken within 7 days of the receipt and/or publication of this letter. If we have not heard from you by then, SERAP shall consider appropriate legal actions to compel you and your state and the FCT to comply with our requests in the public interest.

“According to our information, the Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC) last week disbursed N1.123 trillion to the federal, state and local governments for March 2024.

“State governments got N398.689 billion while local government councils got N288.688 billion. The mineral-producing states received an additional N90.124 billion (13% of mineral revenue). In February, states collected N336 billion.

“According to the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI), the federal, states and local governments shared N10.143 trillion from the Federation Account as statutory revenue allocations in 2023, with states collecting N3.585 trillion.

“SERAP also urges you to provide details of the transparency and accountability mechanisms that have been put in place to ensure that the trillions of naira of FAAC allocations that have been received by your state and the FCT are not embezzled, misappropriated or diverted into private pockets.

“SERAP is concerned about the persistent lack of transparency and accountability in the spending of FAAC allocations by your state and the FCT.

“SERAP notes that Section 15(5) of the Nigerian Constitution requires public institutions to abolish all corrupt practices and abuse of power.

“Section 16(2) of the Nigerian Constitution further provides that, ‘the material resources of the nation are harnessed and distributed as best as possible to serve the common good.’

“Section 13 of the Nigerian Constitution imposes clear responsibility on your state to conform to, observe and apply the provisions of Chapter 2 of the constitution.

“Nigeria has made legally binding commitments under the UN Convention against Corruption to ensure accountability in the management of public resources.

“Nigerians are entitled to the right to receive information without any interference or distortion, and the enjoyment of this right should be based on the principle of maximum disclosure, and a presumption that all information is accessible subject only to a narrow system of exceptions.

“The Freedom of Information Act, Section 39 of the Nigerian Constitution, article 9 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights guarantee to everyone the right to information, including the documents on the spending of FAAC allocations by your state.

“The Nigerian Constitution, Freedom of Information Act, and the country’s anti-corruption and human rights obligations rest on the principle that citizens should have access to information regarding their public institutions’ activities.”

Meanwhile, the Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC), at its April 2024 meeting chaired by the Accountant General of the Federation, Mrs. Oluwatoyin S. Madein, shared a total sum of N1,123.391 trillion to the three tiers of government as Federation Allocation for the month of March, 2024 from a gross total of N1,867.808 trillion.

From the stated amount inclusive of Gross Statutory Revenue, Value Added Tax (VAT), Electronic Money Transfer Levy (EMTL), and Exchange Difference (ED), the Federal Government received N345.890 Billion, the States received N398.689 Billion, the Local Government Councils got N288.688 Billion, while the Oil Producing States received N90.124 Billion as Derivation, (13% of Mineral Revenue).

The sum of N69.537 Billion was given for the cost of collection, while N674.880 Billion was allocated for Transfers Intervention and Refunds.

The Communique issued by the Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC) at the end of the meeting indicated that the Gross Revenue available from the Value Added Tax (VAT) for March 2024, was N549.698 Billion, which was an increase from the N460.488 Billion distributed in the preceding month, resulting in an increase of N89.210 Billion.

From that amount, the sum of N21.988 Billion was allocated for the cost of collection and the sum of N15.831 Billion given for transfers, intervention and refunds.

The remaining sum of N511.879 Billion was distributed to the three tiers of government, of which the Federal Government got N76.782 Billion, the States received N255.940 Billion, Local Government Councils got N179.158 Billion.

Accordingly, the Gross Statutory Revenue of N1,017.216 Trillion received in the month was lower than the sum of N1,192.428 Trillion received in the previous month of February 2024 by N175.212 Billion.

From that amount, the sum of N46.934 Billion was allocated for the cost of collection and a total sum of N659.049 billion for Transfers, Intervention and Refunds.

The remaining balance of N311.233 Billion was distributed as follows to the three tiers of government: Federal Government got the sum of N133.960 Billion, States received N67.946 Billion, the sum of N52.384 Billion was allocated to LGCs and N56.943 was given to Derivation Revenue (13% Mineral producing States).

Also, the sum of N15.369 Billion from Electronic Money Transfer Levy (EMTL) was distributed to the three (3) tiers of government as follows: the Federal Government received N2.213 Billion, States got N7.377 Billion, Local Government Councils received N5.164 Billion, while N0.615 Billion was allocated for Cost of Collection.

The Communique also disclosed N285.525 Billion from Exchange Difference, which was shared as follows: Federal Government received N132.935 Billion, States got N67.426 Billion, the sum of N51.983 Billion was allocated to Local Government Councils, while N33.181 Billion was given for Derivation (13% of Mineral Revenue) Value Added Tax (VAT), Import Duty, Gas Royalty, Companies Income Tax (CIT) and others increased considerably while Excise Duty, Oil Royalty, Petroleum Profit Tax (PPT), Customs External Tariff levies (CET) and Electronic Money Transfer Lev (EMTL) recorded decreases.

According to the Communique, the total revenue distributable for the current month of March 2024, was drawn from Statutory Revenue of N311.233 Billion, Value Added Tax (VAT) of N511.879 Billion, N14.754 Billion from Electronic Money Transfer Levy (EMTL), and N285.525 Billion from Exchange Difference, bringing the total distributable amount for the month to N1,123.391 trillion.

The balance in the Excess Crude Account (ECA) as at April 2024 stands at $473,754.57.

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Gov. Abiodun flags off sale of rice at discounted rate

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Omobolaji Adekunle

The Ogun State Governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun, at the weekend, commenced the sale of rice to civil servants in the state as part of his commitment to the welfare of the workforce.

The event took place at the ‘Oja Irorun’ Civil Servants Farmers’ Market at the Governor’s Office, Oke-Mosan, Abeokuta.

Governor Abiodun, who was represented by the Head of Service, Mr. Kehinde Onasanya said the occasion was a significant step in the ongoing efforts of the state government at improving the living standards of workers in the state.

The governor praised the dedication and the commitment of the workers to service, which he noted contributed immensely to the success achieved by his administration.

“Ogun State civil servants’ dedication and hard work form the bedrock of the progress and prosperity of our dear state. Recognising this invaluable essence of workers to the actualisation of the policies and programmes of the state government, the administration has graciously approved the sale of high quality bags of rice at discounted prices exclusively to the workforce,” the governor said.

Prince Abiodun urged workers across Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs) to take full advantage of the opportunity and embrace the good gesture by the state government.

In his welcome address, the Head of Service, Mr. Kehinde Onasanya, represented by the Permanent Secretary, Bureau of Establishments and Training, Mrs. Lydia Fajounbo appreciated the government for the initiative, which is one of the many interventions by the government to cushion the effect of the fuel subsidy removal for the state workforce.

The Head of Service, however, urged the workers to reciprocate the good gesture of the government by remaining dedicated to their duties and collectively work for the progress of the state.

In their separate goodwill messages, the Chairman, Joint Public Service Negotiating Council (JNC), Comrade Isa Olude and his counterpart from the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Ademola Ahmed-Benco, appreciated the state government for the initiative, which they said, would restore the purchasing power of the people and promote the welfare of workers.

The union leaders added that the gesture was a testament that the state has a caring and listening governor whom they are proud of, they charged the workers to reciprocate the gesture by effectively and efficiently discharging their statutory duties.

Two of the beneficiaries, Mrs. Temitope Akintayo from the Ministry of Culture and Tourism as well as Mr. Olabanji Sanni, from the Ministry of Environment, thanked the state government for putting the process into motion and promised to keep working assiduously towards effective service delivery.

The bags of rice were handed over to the beneficiaries by Mr. Onasanya on behalf of the government while buses were also provided at no cost to convey the workers from the venue of the programme to a reasonable distance.

It would be recalled that the Prince Abiodun-led administration has made concerted efforts towards ensuring that the workforce and the entire people of the Gateway State are shielded as much as possible from the attendant effects of the fuel subsidy removal by the Federal Government through various interventions.

The interventions  include provision of monthly cash palliative, payment of peculiar allowance to deserving workers, provision of CNG buses for workers and the citizens as well as the unprecedented payment of a robust end of year bonus to all civil/public servants of the State last December, amongst others.

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