By Adedapo Adesanya
A Federal High Court has ruled in favour of the federal government and the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) against the state governors over the financial autonomy for the 774 Local Government Areas of the federation.
Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja delivered the ruling on Monday, May 23 in favour of the central government and the NFIU.
The NFIU had in June 2019 issued guidelines aimed at curbing crime vulnerabilities created by cash withdrawals from local government accounts by various state governments.
It directed that the states/local government joint accounts should use only for receiving funds and subsequently transferring them to local government accounts only.
The guidelines also reduced cash withdrawal from local government accounts to N500,000 daily.
Immediately after the guidelines came into place, most local governments across the country stopped facing challenges in the payment of staff salaries.
However, the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) sued the FG and the NFIU for interfering with state government powers to initiate transactions on Local Government Joint accounts citing provisions of the 1999 constitution.
While reacting to the judgement the Director/CEO of NFIU, Mr Modibbo Tukur, said the judgement is good because the federal government is always ready to protect both states and local governments by making funds available for their governance responsibility.
He stressed that funds can now be decided on by local councils which can be channelled to improve local security.
Mr Tukur stated that the ruling would help ensure transparency and accountability since anti-corruption agencies like the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) are involved.
“From this judgement and from today all transactions on Local Government funds will be disclosed to ICPC and EFCC 100 per cent and will be reported continuously,” he said.
SERAP Drags FG to Court over $23m Abacha Loot
By Adedapo Adesanya
A suit has been filed against the federal government by the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) over the recently recovered $23 million looted by ex-Head of State, General Sani Abacha.
In a suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/1700/2022 filed last Friday at the Federal High Court in Abuja, the group is asking the court to “direct and compel President Buhari and Mr Abubakar Malami to release and widely publish a copy of the agreement on the Abacha loot with the US.”
In a statement on Sunday by SERAP Deputy Director, Mr Kolawole Oluwadare, the organisation said the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN) is joined in the suit as respondent.
The United States government had in August signed an agreement with the federal government to repatriate the $23 million Abacha loot to Nigeria. It was in addition to the $311.7 million Abacha loot repatriated from the US to Nigeria in 2020.
“The Nigerian Constitution 1999 [as amended], the Freedom of Information Act, and the country’s international obligations impose transparency obligations on the Federal Government to widely publish the agreement on the $23 million Abacha loot,” SERAP argued in the suit.
“Publishing a copy of the agreement with the U.S. would allow Nigerians to scrutinise it, and to monitor the spending of the repatriated loot to ensure that the money is not mismanaged, diverted or re-stolen.
“The repatriated $23 million Abacha loot is vulnerable to corruption and mismanagement. A substantial part of the estimated $5 billion returned Abacha loot since 1999 may have been mismanaged, diverted, or re-stolen, and in any case remain unaccounted for.
“Publishing a copy of the agreement would ensure that persons with public responsibilities are answerable to the people for the performance of their duties, including the management of repatriated loot,” SERAP said.
The suit filed on behalf of SERAP by its lawyers Kolawole Oluwadare and Ms Atinuke Adejuyigbe, said the Nigerian Constitution, Freedom of Information Act, and the country’s international obligations rest on the principle that citizens should have access to information regarding their government’s activities.
No date has been fixed for the hearing of the suit.
Lagos to Severely Punish Those Behind Mushin Collapsed Building
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
The owner of the building that collapsed in the Mushin area of Lagos State and others would be “severely punished,” the state government has promised.
On Friday, it was reported that a 3-storey building on 2/4 Oye Sonuga Street, Palm Avenue, Mushin, Lagos collapsed, killing four people and injuring others.
In a statement issued yesterday, the new Commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban Development, Mr Omotayo Bamgbose-Martins, said the state government would go after whoever is indicted in the incident, hinting that an investigation has commenced to unravel what happened.
During a visit to the scene of the unfortunate incident, the Commissioner directed that the adjoining building be pulled down for safety reasons, adding that efforts are on to rescue those who might have been trapped in the rubble.
He disclosed that the Lagos State Building Control Agency (LASBCA) and the Lagos State Materials Testing Laboratory have been directed to unravel the cause of the collapse.
NNPC Opens Talk with Financers on Gas Projects
By Adedapo Adesanya
The Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited has established talks with the United States Finance Corporation and the African Export and Import Bank (Afreximbank) to seek financing for its multi-billion-dollar gas projects.
The Group Chief Executive Officer of NNPC, Mr Mele Kyari, disclosed this at the Nigerian International Economic Partnership held in New York as part of the ongoing United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).
Mr Kyari said: “Inclusion (in energy transition) means we need to be supported. We are already talking to the US DFC, and the EXIM so that they can give us financing and funding for our gas projects, and this is very critical so that we can have that flexibility to move forward and at the back of this.
“I’m sure some of you may be aware that today, we are getting a grant to build baseline carbon emission studies in our country by the United States Government. This is very helpful in the sense that President Muhammadu Buhari, has also asked that we need to be supported. Currently, the major source of financing we are having is from the African Exim.”
Nigeria’s transition to net zero by 2060 requires enormous investments in gas projects which have been positioned as the country’s major transition fuel.
Mr Kyari said Nigeria is looking for opportunities to leverage the gas resources in the country to provide the possibility required for the energy transition.
It will cost $410 billion to transit, according to the federal government, and huge gas projects like the recently signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the NNPC, ECOWAS Commission, and Morocco to deliver pipelines along the African corridor will gulp billions of dollars.
“We are embarking on massive infrastructure and to see how we can deliver the Morocco gas pipeline which will pass through some countries to provide a number of securities including bringing people out of poverty and increasing gas supply in the domestic market,” Mr Kyari said.
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