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Senate launches investigation into N206 budget padding *Summonses Finance Minister

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Who is responsible for the surreptitious insertion of a whopping N206billion into the budget of the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, which has now been denied by Sadiya Farouq, the Minister.

This is the question Zainab Ahmed Minister of Finance, Budget and Planning, would be answering before the Senate, by the time she responds to the summons by the red chambers intent on getting to the root of the matter.

The invitation, came against the backdrop of the denial by Farouq, who said she was not aware of the figure, leading the Senate Committee on Appropriaton to turn its gaze to the Ahmed and her team, who coordinated the budget.

Yusuf Yusuf, the committee’s chairman, issued the summon after Farouq, who appeared before the panel for the defence of the ministry’s 2023 budget on Monday, flatly claimed to be at sea after Ishaku Abbo, a member of the committee, asked her about the nature of the projects to be implemented with N206 billion the Minister planned to borrow.

The law maker had asked: “In 2023, you intend to borrow N206 billion for a project. What are the projects to be implemented and is it captured in the medium term expenditure framework? If it is, what are the specific projects location and activities attached to this?”

But Farouq said: “Yes, we made mention of the projects for 2022 which were not released and part of it was part for the North-East Development Commission (NEDC). The money was not released and now we have seen it recurring by almost 10 fold.

“We are also going to clarify from the Ministry of Finance to know the reason for this increase in spite of the fact that the previous year, the money was not even released for the project. So we will get the details then send it to you.

“On upscaling of the National Social Safety-net Project (NSSNP); these projects under the National Social Safety-net, the condition cash transfer, the updating of the national social register and the Rapid Response Register (RRR) are to cushion the effect of inflation.

“This is all I can say for this. I cannot really give full details of how this amount is going to be utilised because it is something that was negotiated between the ministry of finance and World Bank.”

Yusuf, therefore, approved the motion to summon the finance minister to appear before the committee to give explanation on the N206 billion.

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PDP, APC suffering consequences of social injustice – Anyim

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Political parties in Nigeria as well as the leaders that emerge through them, must promote the principle of social justice, without which, democracy would not achieve its purpose, former Senate President, Anyim Pius Anyim, has said.

Anyim, former Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), told participants at the Inter Party Advisory Council (IPAC) of Nigeria Political Parties Summit (NPPS), in Abuja that the performance of any government remained dependent on the integrity, social justice and policy direction of the political party that produced it.

He said at the event, which held at at Barcelona Hotel, Abuja, on Wednesday that it was regrettable that some political parties instead of toeing the line of this principle, became subservient to the government in power, despite being the vehicle on which such government rode to office.

Emphasising the inevitable roles of the political parties in democratic governance, Anyim noted that the tensions now pervading the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Congress (APC), could be traced not only to their flawed primaries, but the obvious lack of social justice and equity in the management of their affairs.

“The rumblings in the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP and All Progressives Congress, APC, are surely due to perceived social injustice in the management of the affairs of the parties,” he said, arguing that the situation was even worse in the case of the main opposition party than it was in the ruling party.

Anyim, one of the frontline aspirants from the South East, who gunned for the PDP ticket in the May 28, 2022 primaries, bewailed the situation in which the party, virtually threw overboard its zoning arrangement, clearly enshrined in its constitution, a development, he stressed had been haunting it ever since.

The former Chairman of the National Assembly, said the agitation of some governors under the aegis of G5 Integrity Group, was as a result of the development, explaining that the group was simply protesting the perceived injustice which they felt had been done by sidelining a section of the country in the sharing of party structures.

On the part of the APC, he cited how the Muslim-Muslim ticket, which came from the presidential candidate, Ahmed Bola Tinubu picking Kashim Shettima, a fellow Muslim as running mate as problematic today, adding that the decision was also haunting the party, because of the same perception of social injustice.

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However, Anyim, commended the ruling party for making sincere efforts to mitigate the injustice by ensuring that its presidential candidate emerged from the South after eight years of President Muhammadu Buhari from the North despite pressures from different quarters, arguing that it was gladdening that the party toed this line though zoning and rotation were not enshrined in its constitution.

Interestingly, he observed that the governors, mostly from the North, who championed zoning of the number one office to the South, not only displayed a high level of boldness and selflessness but even had to step on some powerful feet, such as disobeying their National Chairman to do so for the purpose of equity and social justice.

He regretted that the case of PDP had remained very pathetic because it jettisoned zoning and rotation provisions, visibly stated in its constitution, due to political exigencies, adding that this perceived social injustice had remained the reason it might be going to the 2023 presidential election with a divided house, which could prove costly.

He however, called on IPAC to step forward in playing a role to stabilise the democratic environment by ensuring that parties took their rightful position as the bedrock of democracy in Nigeria.

 

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Lagos court orders prison remand of Olaleye, 57, over child defilement case

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For Olufemi Olaleye, the days and hours have started counting from prison, where he would have to reside for now on the orders of Justice Ramon Oshodi of the Ikeja Sexual Offences and Domestic Violence Court, for alleged sexual offences on a minor.

Olaleye, 57, proprietor of Founder of Optimal Cancer Care Foundation, Lagos, was remanded after he took his plea in the two-count child defilement and sexual assault by penetration preferred against him by the Lagos State Government case involving of his wife’s 15-year-old niece.

The medical doctor, who pleaded not guilty to the charge preferred against him and was granted bail of N50m with two sureties in like sum, had remained in the news for the wrong reasons since his case broke with public outrage and over his alleged molestation of the girl for over two years.

The Lagos State Government promptly stepped into the case to ensure justice is served, following intensive pressure mounted by many Nigerians, including veteran actress Kate Henshaw, who not only called him out but championed the demand for his prosecution.

In his defence, the medical doctor, who claimed that the allegations against him were false, malicious and a set-up, had said specifically: “My name and organisation are in the news and on social media for all the wrong reasons. I think I may have underestimated the situation and thought it was a domestic issue which my wife and those encouraging her to destroy our home have weaponised. “I have now decided to fight against the false and malicious allegations and of course what now looks like set-up/blackmail.”

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Ikpeazu takes battle to criminals in Abia *You’re ‘police most friendly Governor’ – IG

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Okezie Ikpeazu, Governor of Abia State, has promised hard times for criminals, who might decide to remain in the state, henceforth, as he has decided to take the battle to them  in his renewed resolve to make the state safe for citizens.

At the commissioning and handing over of the brand new Eastern Ngwa Divisional Police Headquarters Building Umuobiakwa,Obingwa LGA, constructed by his government, Ikpeazu made it clear that his administration placed the highest premium on security of lives and property as the bedrock of sustainable development.

Warning that criminals would no longer find any hiding place in the state, he Ikpeazu was full of praises for the hard work and cooperation of the Service Commanders of the various security services in the state, saying officers and men of the Nigerian police, had continuously shown selflessness in their operations.

Ikpeazu, who harged the Inspector General of Police to continue to encourage them for optimal performance, particularly recalled that his administration completed and handed over the brand new Zone 9 Police Headquarters Umuahia to the Nigerian Police as part of his contribution to the safety of the people and assured that it would continue to provide logistics to security agencies to enable them discharge their duties effectively.

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He disclosed that the cordial working relationship between government and security agencies has yielded positive results adding that the prevailing peace in the state is attributable to the robust working relationship with all security agencies in the state.

Inspector General of Police Alkali Baba Usman, who commissioned the new building, while describing it as being up of International standard, was particularly happy about the provision of 24 hours power which he said would aide the job of the police.

Eulogising the governor, whom he said, had through the facility brought motivation and encouragement to the Nigerian police, he promised that his men would justify the gesture with improved performance, thanking him also for bequeathing to the Zone 9 Police Headquarters Umuahia.

Acknowledging that the structure now represented a permanent and modern office accommodation of International standard and for launching an ICT-driven security architecture in line with international best practices, the IG said the Governor had through the gesture entered the “Guinness Record Book” as Police most friendly Governor,” charging his men to protect and defend the facility as their own.

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In their goodwill messages, the Chairman, Obingwa LGA Mrs Uloma Nwogu, the Chairman, Abia State Council of Traditional Rulers,Eze Joseph Nwabeke and Chief Ike Onyenweaku congratulated the Governor on his developmental projects across the state including the security of lives and property of the citizenry and expressed optimism that he would do more in the Senate come 2023.

Governor Okezie Ikpeazu had earlier handed over the newly built DPO Quarters, Umuobiakwa to the IGP and was witnessed by the AIG Zone 9 Umuahia Isaac Akinmoyede ,State Commissioner of Police, Mr Muhammad Bala while the IGP later commissioned the newly completed one storey edifice for the Ubakala Divisional Police Headquarters Umuahia and the Special Protection Unit Building at Zone 9 Headquarters Umuahia witnessed by other Service Commanders ,the Secretary to Government, Barrister Chris Ezem, Chief of Staff to the Governor Chief Okey Ahiwe  amongst others.

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