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SURE-P fund misappropriation: PDP, APC disagree over N941.85m stomach infrastructure fund in Osun

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The Osun State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC)  and the Peoples Democratic Party ( PDP) have disagreed over the alleged utilisation if N941.85 million SURE-P fund for purchase of rice for members and leaders of the ruling party in Osun as stomach infrastructure.

The State Chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in a statement by its State Caretaker Chairman, Dr Adekunle Akindele commended the Governor for securing the purchase at a lower rate compared to what obtained under the former government and for ensuring purchase from factory and market women sources.

However, the Osun State APC Acting Chairman, Sooko Tajudeen  Lawal, in a statement issued in Osogbo, the Osun State capital yesterday disclosed  that  Governor Adeleke has swindled the people of the state by spending a huge sume of N941,850,000.00 to buy rice for the members and leaders of the PDP in the state.

Lawal said it was disturbing, worrisome and disheartening that a State Governor that has spent barely three weeks in the office could deep his hand into the kitty of the government without recourse to the state House of Assembly moreso when the money involved is slated for capital projects across the nooks and crannies of the state.

He stated that the APC surprisingly stumbled on a letter where Adeleke, through the State Ministry of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, directed the diversion of the money meant for the generality of the people of the state.

In the letter issued and signed by Mr Femi Ogundun, Coordinating Director, Ministry of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, dated December 16, 2022, Governor Adeleke approved the accessment of N13,650,000 for each of the 69 Local Government councils including the local council development areas and area offices to purchase Christmas and New Year gifts for political loyalists.

Adeleke also directed that N13,440,000.00 being the cost of the rice and transportation cost of N210,000 should be paid by each of the Local Government Council Areas into one company, Hill Crest Agro-Allied Industries Limited with account number 1014686758.

The Governor’s approval letter through the Coordinating Director to each of the Heads of Local Government Administration in the state reads, “I wish to convey the approval of His Excellency, the Governor of Osun State, Senator Ademola Adeleke to your Local Government to access the sum of N13,650,000.00k only from your Statutory Allocation Account in Wema Bank PlC, Ede for the purpose of procuring bags of rice as Christmas and New Year gifts to the citizens in the local government.”

In his response to the development, the Osun State APC Acting Chairman, observed that the whole rice purchasing saga was an indication that Adeleke is a political neophyte who knows next to nothing about governance.

Lawal asked Adeleke on whose authority he dipped his hands into the Local Governments’ kitty without any recourse to the State House of Assembly?

In the APC chairman’s words, “It is obvious that the Osun State people have boarded a metaphorical one-chance vehicle with Governor Adeleke in the driver’s seat of governance in the state.

“When did the confused Governor Adeleke defreeze the government accounts in the state as it was contained in one of his obnoxious Executive Orders that he reeled out on the day of his inauguration?

“It’s a pity that as usual, Adeleke  has missed it again as he succeeded in exposing himself as a total stranger to governance.

“What right has the Governor to use the Local Government SURE-P fund meant for the provision of capital projects at the grassroots to buy Christmas rice for the members of his party?

“Why was he denying before now that he would never spend the government’s money to advance the cause of his political party and its members?

“Why has Adeleke been running the affairs of the state as if it is an enterprise of his family in Ede?

“Who owns the Hill Crest Agro-Allied Industries Limited, Zenith Bank Account  number 1014686758 into which Adeleke directed the money for the rice to be paid.

“Adeleke should also be on hand to explain to the members of his party in particular and the people of Osun in general why he contracted out the rice supply to a Kwara State-based company owned by one Serah Alade that has a robust relationship with the former Senate President, Senator Bukola Saraki and the Governor’s elder sister,   Mrs Dupe Adeleke-Sanni, when there are copious rice dealers in Osun State?

“Why does Adeleke think that he has the unilateral limitless power and authority to frivolously dip his hands into the Local Government covers in order to satisfy the members of his party?

“The people of the state need to be extra-vigilant with this strange and awkward approach to governance so that the gains of yesterday would not be avoidably eroded,”Lawal warned.

Governor Ademola Adeleke of Osun State is receiving accolades for the transparency he introduced in the purchase and planned distribution of rice for the Christmas celebrations in Osun state.

“We applaud the Governor for not acting like kleptocrats of the old who misappropriated government fund, looted public properties and engaged in violation of due process. The men of yesterday cannot fathom a government as open and transparent as the Adeleke administration, hence their persistent peddling of falsehood and lies.

“We affirm that the current administration has acted rightly by ensuring rice purchase by local and State Governments and by putting in place a non-partisan distribution mechanism. The distribution committees across the wards have APC members as key actors.

“Was that ever done under the APC government? Was any distribution committee ever openly put in place as the government of the day has done? Was there any transparency and cost effectiveness in the purchase under APC? Were Osun market associations ever included in the previous transactions? Was there any mention of Sure-p fund in the purported letter APC was circulating?

If the APC government purchased similar rice for yuletide period at an even higher rate of N40,000 per bag and under secrecy, what right has it to question the Adeleke government that got same for below N40k and with transparent distribution process?

Despite clear clarifications that the funding for the purchase did not emanate from Sure-p fund which is still intact, the APC is obsessed with fake news simply because Governor Adeleke stopped the former government from looting the fund. The Sure-P money is very much intact.

As the Governor continues to receive accolades from the public on his handling of the rice distribution project, the PDP once again thanked the Governor Adeleke for breaking new grounds and for setting Osun State on the path of sustainable development and good governance.

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ECOWAS Court nullifies ECOWAS Commission staff’s dismissal

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The ECOWAS Court of Justice has nullified the dismissal of Mr Momodu Cham, a former staff of the Commission, saying it breached Article 69 of the ECOWAS staff regulations.

Cham had filed the suit following his dismissal from his position as a Procurement Officer with the Inter-Governmental Action Group against Money Laundering and Terrorism Financing (GIABA), a specialised ECOWAS agency.

The applicant, a community citizen residing in Banjul, Gambia, had joined the Economic Commission for West African States (ECOWAS) and its President, as first and second Respondents, respectively, in the suit challenging his sack.

Delivering judgment, Justice Dupe Atoki, the Judge Rapporteur, held that the cessation of Cham’s salary by the Commission before the exhaustion of the appeal process was arbitrary, unlawful, null, and void.

According to Justice Atoki, the action of the Commission is contrary to Article 73(b) of the ECOWAS Staff Regulations.

The Court, therefore, ordered the Respondents to pay Cham his salary arrears and other entitlements from January 2021 to June 2021, as compensation.

It further ordered the Commission to pay Mr Cham’s salaries and emoluments from July to December 2021 as compensation for the unlawful dismissal.

“Requesting an on-the-spot response to charges without prior notice or an opportunity to prepare a defense violates procedural safeguards outlined in the ECOWAS Staff Regulations.

“The regulations are designed to ensure an Applicant’s rights are fully maintained until the Council’s final decision.

“Consequently, the summary dismissal of the Applicant by the 2nd Respondent breached Article 69 of the regulation.

“Therefore, the cessation of the Applicant’s salary and other emoluments after invoking the right of appeal is a violation of Article 73(b) of the ECOWAS Staff Regulations,” Justice Atoki held.

The Court, however, declined to grant any orders for mandatory injunctions against the Commission and reinstatement of the applicant .

The Applicant had contended at the trial that he was suspended on July 11, 2019, following a forensic audit report by Ernst and Young UK, which implicated him in irregularities related to the purchase of IT equipment for GIABA.

He said that on Jan. 26, 2021, he was summarily dismissed, and his salaries and emoluments were withheld in violation of the ECOWAS Staff Regulations.

Cham had prayed the court to grant him several reliefs, including a declaration that his dismissal was arbitrary, null, and void.

He also sought an order setting aside his dismissal and the immediate payment of his salary arrears and other entitlements from January 2021.

The applicant had also prayed for his reinstatement to his position as a Procurement Officer and compensation for costs incurred in prosecuting the suit.

The Respondents, in their defense, had however, maintained that the applicant was properly suspended and later dismissed following a forensic audit report and a subsequent query.

They had also argued that the dismissal was appropriate due to the allegations of gross misconduct, embezzlement, theft, fraud, and abuse of trust.

The three-member panel also had Justices Gberi-bè Ouattara, presiding, and  Sengu Mohamed Koroma, as a member.

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Tinubu names National Theatre after Wole Soyinka

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President Bola Tinubu has named the National Arts Theatre in Iganmu, Lagos, after Nobel Laureate, Prof Wole Soyinka.

Tinubu announced this in a tribute he wrote to celebrate Soyinka in commemoration of his 90th birthday.

The tribute dated “Professor Wole Soyinka at 90: Tribute to a national treasure and global icon,” was personally signed by the President and made available to journalists on Friday.

Tinubu expressed his delight to join admirers around the world in celebrating Soyinka, adding that July 13 would be the climax of the series of local and international activities held in his honour.

Tinubu wrote, “Professor Soyinka, the first African to win the Nobel Literature Prize in 1986, deserves all the accolades as he marks the milestone of 90 years on earth. Having beaten prostate cancer, this milestone is a fitting testament to his ruggedness as a person and the significance of his work.

“It is also fitting we celebrate this national treasure while he is still with us. I am, accordingly, delighted to announce the decision of the Federal Government to rename the National Theatre in Iganmu, Surulere, as the Wole Soyinka Centre for Culture and the Creative Arts.”

Tinubu stated that Nigeria not only celebrates Soyinka’s remarkable literary achievements, but also his unwavering dedication to the values of human dignity and justice.

When he turned 80, I struggled to find words to encapsulate his achievements because they were simply too vast. Since then, he has added to his corpus with his series of Interventions, which have been published in many volumes.

“Professor Soyinka is a colossus, a true renaissance person blessed with innumerable talents. He is a playwright, actor, poet, human rights and political activist, composer, and singer.

“He is a giant best riding not just the literary world but our nation, Africa, and the world,” he averred.

According to the President, Soyinka is one Nigerian whose influence transcends the Nigerian space and who inspires people around the world, explaining that since his youth, he has been a vocal critic of oppression and injustice wherever it exists, from apartheid in South Africa to racism in the United States.

“Beginning from his 20s, he took personal risks for the sake of our nation. His courage was evident when he attempted to broker peace at the start of the civil war in 1967. Detained for two years for his bravery, he narrated his experience in his prison memoir, ‘The Man Died.’

“Despite deprivation and solitary confinement, his resolve to speak truth to power and fight for the marginalised was further strengthened.

“Our paths crossed during our struggle for the enthronement of democracy in Nigeria following the annulment of the June 12, 1993 presidential election,” Tinubu stated.

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Tinubu sympathises with victims of building collapse in Plateau

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President Bola Tinubu receives the news of the tragic collapse of a school building, which resulted in multiple deaths and many surviving victims in Jos, Plateau, with profound grief.

His spokesman, Chief Ajuri Ngelale, in a statement on Friday, said the President described the incident as a huge loss to the nation, as well as a devastating development – too excruciating to imagine.

“The President condoles with the bereaved families, families of all the victims, and the people and Government of Plateau State.

“President Tinubu commends emergency responders, the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA), security agencies, and all citizens involved in the search, rescue, and resuscitation efforts.

“The President assures the people of Plateau State of his fervent support at this difficult time,” said the statement.

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