By Adedapo Adesanya
The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) says it is going to deploy Revenue Assurance Solution (RAS) to monitor revenue generated by its licensees in a bid to block leakages in their Annual Operating Levy (AOL).
This was disclosed by the Executive Vice-Chairman, (EVC) of the telecommunications industry regulator, Mr Umar Danbatta, on Friday in Abuja, during an interactive session with stakeholders on the deployment of RAS in the Nigerian telecommunication industry.
Speaking on the importance of RAS to the nation’s economy, Mr Danbatta said it would enable the commission to determine how much their licensees generate annually.
He explained that the technology solution would not wait for licensees to submit information to the commission before determining what they should pay as AOL.
“The financial burden of deployment will be on the operators. This project relieves the commission of the initial financial burden that will be required for the deployment of the RAS project.
“It will also ensure that accurate revenue generated by the licensed network operators are tracked, analysed and utilised for the benefit of the industry. Beyond revenue assurance, when deployed, the NCC RAS will bring a lot of solutions to the industry,” he said.
He added that the solution would include more effective and enhanced monitoring and regulation of the licensed telecommunications operators by the commission.
The EVC said the commission believed that the deployment of an appropriate revenue assurance solution would confer higher levels of integrity and fidelity on the AOL figures obtainable in the industry.
He also said the RAS would enable NCC to validate the information, records and data supplied to it by the licensees from time to time, amongst others.
“This is in addition to plugging possible loopholes and leakages in the revenue computation and collection processes. AOL is a very important tool in the regulation of the telecommunications industry. In Nigeria, the importance of AOL is well expressed in the Nigerian Communications Act 2003.
“AOL can be described as the taproot of an efficient and effective telecommunications regulatory environment. The mechanisms for collection and computation of AOL, are of interest and importance to both the regulator and the operating networks,” he said.
Mr Danbatta explained that various efforts had been made towards achieving a very effective AOL administration, pursuant to the powers of the commission under Section 72 of the NCA Act 2003.
He informed that one of these key efforts include the making of the Regulations 2014, which was also currently undergoing review. According to him, some of the major objectives of the AOL Regulations, as provided in Part 1 (2) of the AOL Regulations 2014, are to:
“Create and provide a regulatory framework for the effective and efficient administration by the Commission of the Annual Operating Levy regime and all matters related thereto;
“Stipulate the mode and methods of assessment of Annual Operating Levy and the payment modes thereof; specify guiding standards and principles for the administration by the Commission of the Annual Operating Levy regime.”
The NCC boss also said that the size of the Nigerian telecommunications industry and revenue events engaged by the network operators, demands effective, accurate and technology-driven revenue assurance solution which NCC-RAS represents.
Mr Danbatta said appropriate revenue assurance systems have resulted in higher revenues and plugging of leakage and that modern revenue assurance systems had shown to be equipped with additional capacities to generate and analyse information beyond those required for revenue computation.
“The system is designed to be connected to the licensed telecommunications operators’ systems. It will have the capability of capturing and reporting in near real-time billing activities by the operators for the purposes, amongst others.
“Computing and assuring with minimal, if any, error margin, the accrued AOL payable to the NCC by the licensees,” he said. He advised Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) who might need data not to duplicate efforts but come to the NCC for it.
“This effort may be relevant to the FIRS for payment of taxes by our licensees and so there is no need for duplication of this effort by another agency of government. So the whole essence is to ensure seamless cooperation of all MDAs that require the kind of data we will be getting from this effort. Which is for the purpose of computation of other levies, operating levies,” he explained.
CPPM Asks Buhari to Discipline HoS for Failure to Appoint Accountant General
By Adedapo Adesanya
A civil society organisation, the Committee for the Protection of Peoples Mandate (CPPM), has knocked the Head of Service of the Federation (HoS), Mrs Folasade Esan, for allegedly undermining a presidential directive to commence the process of appointing a substantive Accountant General of the Federation.
The group, in a statement made available to Business Post on Sunday, described the move as “irresponsible, provocative, reckless, condemnable, unacceptable and a threat to national security.”
The statement signed by Mr Nelson Ekujumi, its Executive Chairman, said, “We are aware that sequel to the presidential directive with regards to the appointment of a substantive Accountant General of the Federation, following the indefinite suspension of the former Accountant General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris, for fraud of which he is in court to answer charges as preferred by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the HoS in a memo dated June 21, 2022, announced the commencement of the process for the appointment of a substantive AGF.”
The organisation acknowledged that applications were called for from qualified accountants from the mainstream civil service in the pool of Accountant General of the Federation with set criteria for eligibility and subject to security checks but “surprisingly, before the conclusion of the process in line with presidential directive and the HoS memo, Mrs Folasade Esan stalled the process for reasons which amounts to a violation of her oath of office and an affront to constituted authority.”
“Shockingly, with a motive, which has an interest far and above national interest written all over it, the HoS in a memo to the President dated October 13, 2022, while acknowledging Mr President’s directive conveyed via the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation letter dated June 16, 2022, stated that…
“At the close of submission of applications and security clearance by appropriate agencies, a very negligible number of directors met the criteria. The number will not provide a large pool to engender a competitive process at the end of which a substantive Accountant General of the Federation could be appointed”. She then went ahead to propose to Mr President the extension of the process to the first quarter of 2023 just to satisfy her personal interest and motive.
“This position of the Head of Service of the Federation is rather strange, a perversion of civil service rules and an affront to the authority of Mr President by trying to be clever-by-half. We want ask that under what provisions of the civil service rules did Mrs Folasade Esan derive the powers to single-handedly determine the number of applicants who have met set criteria and security clearance for appointment as negligible? Also, we need to ask that what number of applicants can be described as negligible according to the civil service rules of Mrs Folasade Esan?” it quipped.
The civil society organisation went further to describe the action of Mrs Esan as a contravention of the oath of her office, which amounts to an abuse of official position and public trust for personal gain far and above national interest and security, which is irresponsible and condemnable.
“Thus, we at CPPM wish to draw the attention of Mr President, who is a strong advocate for due process and the rule of law, to the actions of Mrs Folasade in trying to pervert civil service rules and undermine constituted authority and national security,” it continued.
CPPM then demanded the immediate presidential rejection of Mrs Esan’s request for “abortion of the process for the appointment of a substantive Accountant General of the Federation and extension to allow for her personal interest over national interest.”
It also called for disciplinary proceedings against her for the perversion of civil service rules, abuse of public trust, and an affront to a constituted authority which is unacceptable and condemnable.
NDLEA Arrests Teacher for Recruiting Mules for Drug Cartel
By Adedapo Adesanya
Operatives of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), at the weekend, disrupted the activities of a major cocaine syndicate in Lagos following the arrest of a 56-year-old man, Mr Lawal Lateef Oyenuga, who was caught on a mission to deliver 400 grams of class A drug concealed in a pair of palm sandals in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
This led to the swift follow-up arrest of a wanted suspect, Mr Wasiu Sanni Gbolahan, popularly known as Teacher, who the authority says recruits mules for the cartel.
NDLEA operatives attached to the screening point of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Ikeja, Lagos had on Thursday, November 24 intercepted Mr Oyenuga with a pair of black palm sandals packed in the luggage he was going with to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, via Addis Ababa on an Ethiopian Airways flight.
A thorough examination of the sandals revealed they were used to conceal two parcels of cocaine weighing 400 grams. This is barely a week after a 56-year-old widow and mother of four, Mrs Ajisegiri Kehinde Sidika, was arrested at the airport over her attempt to traffic 400 grams of cocaine concealed in her footwear to Makkah, Saudi Arabia, on board a Qatar Airways flight.
In his statement, Mr Oyenuga claimed he was recruited to traffic the drug by Teacher, adding that he was first given some pellets of cocaine to swallow, but when he couldn’t do that, then he was given the ones concealed in the palm sandals.
He said he resorted to the criminal trade to raise money to pay an examination fee for his daughter in Senior Secondary School class 3.
The agency’s database reveals Teacher has been linked to previous attempts to traffic cocaine to Saudi Arabia and Dubai, UAE.
He was earlier named as the one who recruited a BRT driver, Mr Bolajoko Muyiwa Babalola, for Lagos socialite and owner of Adekaz Hotels, Mr Ademola Afolabi Kazeem (a.k.a Alhaji Abdallah Kazeem Muhammed) to traffic drugs to Dubai. Mr Bolajoko was arrested on June 27 while taking 900 grams of cocaine to Dubai while Ademola Kazeem was nabbed on Thursday, November 10, barely 10 days after he was declared wanted by NDLEA.
A follow-up operation in the early hours of Friday, November 25, led to the arrest of the kingpin, Teacher, who specialises in recruiting mules for drug barons in Lagos and its environs at his residence located in the Ikorodu area of Lagos. The 64-year-old man is a housing and property agent with seven children and four wives, one of whom is now late.
In another follow-up operation to the seizure of 1.10kg cannabis concealed in bottles of body cream going to Dubai on September 9, the actual owner of the consignment, Mr Wordu Hopewell Chukwuemeka, who runs a boutique business in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, was arrested in the Garden City on Thursday, November 24.
Similarly, operatives attached to the NAHCO import shed of the Lagos airport on Tuesday, November 24, intercepted a consolidated cargo from Johannesburg, South Africa, via an Airpeace Airline flight.
The cargo contained different items, including cloths, cereals, baby toys, drinks, and a set of two big black speakers, which were used to conceal 25 parcels of Loud variant of cannabis, with a gross weight of 5.5kg.
In a similar vein, operatives attached to the SAHCO export shed of the airport the same Tuesday intercepted a carton of food items used to conceal 500 grams of cannabis going to Dubai, UAE, while the owner, Uzoma Kingsley, was promptly arrested.
In a related development, an attempt by an organised criminal group to traffic 131kg of Ephedrine, a dominant precursor chemical for the production of Methamphetamine, to Congo Kinshasa through the SAHCO export shed of the airport was foiled on Monday, November 21, by NDLEA operatives in conjunction with Aviation Security (AVSEC) officers of the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN). Two freight agents, namely Mr Nwazuru Georgewill and Mr Saheed Muritala, linked to the bid, were promptly arrested.
Meanwhile, an attempt by a suspected drug trafficker, Mr Udogwu James Johnson, facing multiple charges of drug offences, to flee the country after he jumped bail has been thwarted by NDLEA operatives at the Port Harcourt International Airport, where he was arrested on Friday, November 25.
The 51-year-old suspect was already facing trial at a Federal High Court in Lagos before he was arrested again on Saturday, April 9, in Port Harcourt for importing 5.48kg cocaine concealed in lotion plastic bottles sealed with candle wax.
He was granted bail by a Federal High Court in Port Harcourt on Wednesday, November 23, over his latest offence while the Lagos court had issued a warrant of arrest against him for jumping bail over his case in Lagos.
At the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport (NAIA), Abuja, the move by a Brazilian returnee, Iroegbute Ejike Francis, 46, to smuggle 4kg cocaine soaked in towels stuffed in his hand luggage into the country was foiled on Thursday, November 24, by NDLEA officers who arrested him, upon his arrival on a Qatar Airlines flight from Brazil -Doha-Abuja.
No fewer than 5,851.3 kilograms (5.8 tons) of cannabis Sativa were seized from dealers across five states in the past week, including a notorious cripple, Ibrahim Yusuf, 45, who was arrested on Monday 21st Nov. at Gasline, Ifo, Ogun state with 4kg of the psychotropic substance, while a total of 36 bags weighing 570kg of the same substance were recovered in another raid at a forest in Ogunmakin town, Obafemi Owode LGA.
In Edo, operatives on Tuesday, November 22, evacuated 141 bags of Cannabis Sativa with a gross weight of 1,884 kg (1.884 tons) stored in a warehouse in Okpe forest, Akoko Edo LGA, while on Thursday, November 24, NDLEA officers arrested Ismaila Abubakar, 50, at Okada junction, Ovia South West LGA with 22 bags of C/S weighing 216.5kg. A day after, operatives also seized 112 bags of C/S stored in Obi Camp forest, Ovia South West LGA weighing 1,512kg.
This was also followed by another seizure of 45 bags that weighed 529.5kg, while officers equally intercepted a Toyota Sienna bus with Reg. No. BDG 598 FZ (Lagos) loaded with 566.5kg cannabis going to Onitsha, Anambra State, and a suspect, Mr Sunday Mathias, 30, was arrested with the seizure.
Meanwhile, in Ondo state, NDLEA operatives stormed Oke-Ogun forest on Friday, November 25, where a Mr Onyebuchi Chime was arrested with 88kg cannabis, a gun, and some ammunition while they also recovered 149.5kg of the substance at Ipele forest. Not less than 12.42 hectares of cannabis farms were destroyed, and 195kg of processed weeds of the substance were recovered at Efon Alaye, Ekiti State, where two dealers, Mr Richard Ebong and Mr Nze Abraham, were arrested on Saturday, November 26.
In Oyo state, operatives arrested a 27-year-old Mrs Adebayo Rahmat on Thursday, November 24, at Sabo-Ilupeju, Atiba LGA, with 136.3kg cannabis, while no fewer than 84,000 pills of Tramadol tablets were recovered from a suspect, Mr Muhsin Abdullahi in Bodinga area of Sokoto state same day.
In another development, 16,000 pills of Exol-5 and D5 concealed in palm oil were seized from Lawal Rabe, 24, on Friday, November 25, at Kokami village, Danta LGA, Katsina, while a total of 54,500 tablets of Tramadol and Exol-5 were seized from the duo of Mr Basiru Muhammadu and Mr Saidu Yusuf in the same area on Saturday, November 26.
Compel Buhari to Probe Oil Theft—SERAP Begs ECOWAS Court
By Adedapo Adesanya
The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has taken President Muhammadu Buhari’s government to the ECOWAS Court of Justice over his alleged inaction on illegal pipelines and oil theft in the country.
In a statement on Sunday, the organisation said it filed a lawsuit against the current administration over “the failure to probe the operations of illegal oil pipelines between 2001 and 2022, to name and prosecute those suspected to be involved, and to recover proceeds of crime.”
SERAP Deputy Director, Mr Kolawole Oluwadare, said the suit was filed by the group, Chief Eric Dooh, (who is suing for himself as a leader of the Goi Community in Gokana Local Government Area of Rivers State, and on behalf of the Goi Community), and 15 other concerned Nigerians.
According to him, the suit followed recent reports of the discovery of at least 58 illegal oil pipelines used to steal the country’s oil wealth.
“The stealing is reportedly carried out through the illicit pipeline connected to the trunk line via an abandoned pipeline and linked to a location in the high sea, where they load crude oil into vessels and sell overseas,” the statement read.
In the Suit No ECW/CCJ/APP/53/22 filed last Friday before the court in Abuja, the plaintiffs are seeking: “an order directing and compelling the Buhari government to immediately probe the reports of operations of illegal pipelines and oil theft, name and prosecute suspected perpetrators.”
The plaintiffs are also seeking: “an order directing and compelling the Buhari government to fully recover any proceeds of crime, and to respect, protect, and fulfil the human rights of the people of Niger Delta that have continued to suffer the effects of oil theft by non-state actors.”
“The Buhari government is failing to uphold its international legal obligations to ensure that the country’s oil wealth is used solely for the benefit of Nigerians and that the wealth does not end up in private pockets,” the plaintiffs argued.
“Poor and socio-economically vulnerable Nigerians have continued to pay the price for the stealing of the country’s oil wealth apparently by both state and non-state actors.
“Despite the country’s substantial oil wealth, successive governments have largely squandered the opportunity to use the wealth to improve the lives and well-being of ordinary Nigerians.
“The illegal pipelines have been operated for many years without notice, implying a flagrant violation of international human rights obligations to ensure the proper, effective, and efficient management of the country’s wealth and natural resources.”
Business Post understands that no date has been fixed for the hearing of the suit.
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