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N’Assembly leadership meets with Finance Ministers over 2023 budget proposals

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The Leadership of the National Assembly on Thursday met with the two ministers in the Finance Ministry and top officials of the ministry preparatory to the presentation of the 2023 Budget proposals by President Muhammadu Buhari.

The National Assembly leadership was led by the President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila.

The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed and Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Prince Clement Agba led their team of officials of Finance Ministry to the meeting.

The meeting which held at the Senate wing of the National Assembly was behind closed doors.

The meeting was a follow-up to the previous ones held to fine tune the preparation of the budget ahead of its presentation to a special joint session of the National Assembly by the President next month.

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Number of inmates awaiting trial soars by 70% in Kano — NCoS

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The Nigerian Correctional Service (NCoS),  Kano State Command, says 70 per cent of inmates are awaiting trial across the custodial centres in the state.
The Public Relations Officer of the Command, SC Musbahu Lawan, disclosed this while addressing newsmen at the State Headquarters on Monday in Kano.
He said that overcrowding was a challenge to the smooth operation of the NCoS in the state, as the number of awaiting trial inmates had tripled that of convicted inmates in the state.
“Statistics show that only 30 per cent of inmates are convicted in the correctional service, while inmates awaiting trial constitute 70 per cent of the total number of inmates in the state.
“Most of the inmates awaiting trial have stayed in custody with their cases yet to be determined by the courts.
“Our laws give us the power to transfer convicted inmates to any facility in the country, so if the inmates awaiting trial are eventually convicted there won’t be congestion,” Lawan said.
He noted that convicted inmates were easier to manage as they were mandated to engage in the various reformatory programmes, an opportunity which awaiting trial persons might  not have.
“Most of the convicted inmates also benefit from the educational programmes in the custodial centres.
“In Kano, 38 convicted inmates sat for and passed the NECO, SSCE and are now seeking for admission at the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN).
“Due to increased interest of the inmates to study, the service is working with NOUN to establish more study centres in the custodial centres in the state,” Lawan said.
He said that one of the challenges was lack of study facilities like computers and study materials.
Lawan said the Federal Government had introduced the non-custodial measures like parole, community service and  probation among others, to address the overcrowding conundrum in custodial centres.
He commended some judges for complementing the Federal Government’s effort by making maximum use of non custodial sentencing.
“NCoS  will continue to pursue its mandate of keeping safe and humane custody of the legally interned, while protecting the society safer by reforming rehabilitating and reintegrating offenders,” Lawan said
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Appeal Court fails to hear EFCC suit against order restraining ex-Kogi governor’s arrest

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The Court of Appeal in Abuja on Monday did not sit to hear the appeal lodged by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) against the order of a Kogi High Court which restrained the anti-graft agency from arresting the immediate-past governor, Yahaya Bello.

The Kogi court, in a ruling on April 17, restrained the EFCC from arresting, detaining and prosecuting  Bello.

The judge, I.A Jamil, gave the order in a two-hour judgment delivered in suit no HCL/68/M/2020 in Lokoja, the Kogi State capital, on Wednesday.

The judgment coincided with the  ”siege’ nvasion of Bello’s home in Abuja by EFCC operatives in a bid to arrest him.

The EFCC is seeking to arraign the former governor on 19 counts bordering on alleged money laundering, breach of trust and misappropriation of funds to the tune of N80.2billion.

The anti-graft agency determined to get Bello to face the law for his alleged crime, approached the Federal High Court in Abuja on the same day to get an arrest warrant.

.The warrant was issued following an ex parte motion filed by the EFCC.

In his ruling on the motion, Justice Emeka Nwite also directed that the former governor be produced before him on Thursday, April 18, for arraignment.

He said, “It is hereby ordered as follows:

That an order of this honourable court is hereby made directing and/or issuing a warrant for the immediate arrest of the defendant to bring him before this honourable court for arraignment.

“That case is adjourned until April 18 for arraignment.”

Alhough Bello was absent to take his plea, his team of lawyers, led by Abdulwahab Mohammed (SAN), informed the court of the matter before the appeal court.

Mohammed told the court that it was wrong for the EFCC to apply for an arrest warrant against Bello when the same matter was already before the appeal court.

The EFCC counsel, Kemi Pinehero, argued that court could go ahead with the trial.

The EFCC, in its appeal through its solicitor, J.S. Okutepa (SAN), is seeking a stay of execution to the order of the trial court in Kogi State.

In the appeal marked CA/ABJ/PRE/RDA/CV/165MI, the anti-graft agency contested the court order on the grounds that it is a body created by statute to carry out functions specified in its Establishment Act and empowered to investigate and prosecute economic crimes as set out under sections 6 and 7 of the EFCC Act.

The EFCC faulted the order of the lower court, describing it as an obstruction.

“The orders granted ex parte on the 9th of February 2024 constitute a clog in the progress of the appellant/applicant’s performance of its statutory functions and duties under the EFCC Act 2004,” the EFCC said.

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Unite against plastic pollution: HOMEF’s World Earth Day message

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In observance of the 2024 World Earth Day, the Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF), a non-governmental organization, has rallied for a unified effort to combat the pervasive issue of plastic pollution plaguing the planet.

HOMEF’s media officer, Kome Odhomor, issued a statement in Yenagoa emphasizing the necessity of concerted action to eliminate the scourge of plastics and preserve the well-being of all life forms. Dr. Nnimmo Bassey, Executive Director of HOMEF, echoed this sentiment, urging individuals worldwide to actively safeguard the environment within their local communities.

“Today presents a critical juncture where we must choose between the sustenance of our planet and the proliferation of plastics,” remarked Dr. Bassey. “While the allure of convenience may tempt us towards plastic usage, we must prioritize the health of our planet, which sustains all life forms. Failure to do so could lead us down a path of plastic dependency, resulting in dire consequences for our health, climate, and the overall ecological balance.”

HOMEF emphasized the imperative to recognize World Earth Day as a poignant reminder of our collective responsibility to protect and preserve the Earth. This year’s theme, “Planet Vs Plastic,” underscores the urgent need to forge a sustainable future for humanity, wildlife, and natural ecosystems.

“Our addiction to single-use plastics is suffocating the planet,” stated HOMEF. “These non-biodegradable materials persist indefinitely, clogging our environment and posing grave threats due to their chemical composition. The rampant production of plastic, coupled with dismal recycling rates, underscores the magnitude of the challenge we face.”

Acknowledging global efforts to reduce plastic consumption, HOMEF commended initiatives advocating for a 60 percent reduction in plastic usage by 2040. Additionally, the organization stressed the importance of embracing sustainable alternatives to mitigate the adverse effects of plastic pollution.

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