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Reps Subject Service Chiefs to Thorough Screening

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Grill Service Chiefs

By Aduragbemi Omiyale

The service chiefs-designates nominated by President Muhammadu Buhari were on Wednesday subjected to a thorough screening by the House of Representatives.

The President had recently announced Major General Lucky Irabor as the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Major General Ibrahim Attahiru as the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Rear Admiral Auwal Zubair Gambo as the Chief of Naval Staff (CNS), and Air Vice Marshall (AVM) Isiaka Oladayo Amao as the Chief of Air Staff (CAS).

Last Wednesday, the Speaker of House of Representatives, Mr Femi Gbajabiamila, after reading the letter of nomination from Mr Buhari, constituted a Special Committee to grill the military officers.

Today, the panel headed by the Chairman of the House Committee on Defence, Mr Babajimi Benson, with chairmen of the committees on Army, Mr Abdulrazak Namdas; Navy, Mr Yusuf Adamu Gagdi, and Air Force, Mr Shehu Koko, questioned the nominees on ways they intend to address the rising insecurity in the country.

Speaking at the opening of the hearing, Mr Benson said, “I can assure you that the nominees will be grilled on questions covering a wide range of subjects.

“Areas in which they will be questioned include professional skill and experience, Nigeria’s war on terror and insurgency and insecurity in general, funding of the military and strategic security knowledge and vision of the nominees as well as welfare of military personnel.”

He said Nigeria is blessed with brave and gallant soldiers, many of whom have paid the ultimate price in service to the country, noting that, “It is to their memories that we must get it right with our National Security and help secure the peace for which they gave their lives.”

He said from the inception of this 9th House, national security has been discussed more than 200 times at plenary, but that the nation is still grappling with diverse and increasing security challenges, despite some successes recorded by the gallant men and women of the Armed Forces.

“While I appreciate there is no single magic solution, I believe the kind of leadership provided to our Armed Forces is part of the solution mix,” he said, pointing out that because of the sensitivity of security issues, the proper screening session would be held behind closed door to help protect national security and “give the nominees the freedom to respond more adequately, comprehensively and expansively without any fear of an unwitting exposure of sensitive information.”

While commending the President for appointing the CDS and the service chiefs at this time, Mr Benson said, “Over the next days, we will compile our notes, deliberate fully and extensively as a committee and submit our report and recommendations to plenary next week.”

In a remark, the Minister of Defence, Mr Bashir Magashi, thanked the lawmakers for their prompt action to screen the service chiefs.

He said the Armed Forces of Nigeria are fully aware and alert to their constitutional role, noting that “I have no doubt that those nominated by Mr President will make this country proud.”

Giving his vision, the nominee for CDS, Mr Irabor, said he intended to have a leadership focus and philosophy to ensure professional armed forces that meet Nigeria’s security needs.

On his part, the nominee for COAS, Mr Attahiru, said his focus would be to reposition the Nigerian Army to meet its mandate, ensure continuous leadership development among officers and men as well as innovation to meet the demands of the 21st century.

Also, the nominee for CNS, Mr Gambo, said despite his experience, he would need a great deal of the loyalty, cooperation and support of all the officers and men of the Nigerian Navy to succeed, saying he would re-energise the Nigerian Navy to make her meet her needs.

Similarly, the nominee for CAS, Mr Amao, who is a fighter and instructor pilot, said his focus would be to ensure the integrity of the Air Force and to enhance and sustain airmen capabilities, with focus on purposeful training and human capacity development, innovative efforts, a disciplined workforce and boost morale to improve personnel welfare.

Aduragbemi Omiyale is a journalist with Business Post Nigeria, who has passion for news writing. In her leisure time, she loves to read.

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EFCC Questions Ex-NDDC Boss Nsima Ekere Over N47bn Fraud

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Nsima Ekere

By Modupe Gbadeyanka

The former Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Mr Nsima Ekere, has been grilled by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

The former NDDC boss was at the Lagos office of the agency on Wednesday to honour an invitation to him to answer questions surrounding an alleged fraud to the tune of N47 billion.

In 2016, a year after losing the governorship primary election of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in Akwa Ibom State to Governor Udom Emmanuel, he was appointed as the MD of the commission.

He left office in 2018 to concentrate on his ambition to rule his home state and contested the gubernatorial poll in 2019 under the All Progressives Congress (APC) and lost again to Mr Emmanuel.

In 2019, President Muhammadu Buhari ordered a forensic audit of the NDDC from 2001 to 2019 and the report of the exercise, according to the former Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Mr Godswill Akpabio, said several frauds were uncovered.

The EFCC, reports said, has been trailing Mr Ekere and yesterday, he turned himself in and he was questioned on the allegations of contract inflation and award of fictitious contracts while in office.

This development is coming two days after the anti-money laundering organisation arrested the Accountant General of the Federation (AGF), Mr Ahmed Idris, over allegations of diversion of N80 billion.

He was suspended yesterday by the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainah Ahmed, to enable a transparent investigation into the matter.

Also, a former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mrs Patricia Etteh, was apprehended on Tuesday by the agency over allegations of diversion of funds for projects.

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IPMAN, EFCC Move Against Oil Theft, Vandalism in N’Delta

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IPMAN

By Adedapo Adesanya

The Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) has sought the support and intervention of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in curbing oil theft and pipeline vandalism in the Niger Delta.

This was disclosed by the Chairman of IPMAN, Mr Bello Binna, during a visit to the Port Harcourt’s Zonal Commander of the EFCC, Mr Nwanneka Nwokike, in his office.

Mr Binna said that the EFCC was the only agency trusted to give solutions on issues of pipeline vandalism and oil theft in the Niger Delta region.

According to him, IPMAN was more comfortable with what the EFCC is doing to curb

“We are here to collaborate with the Agency with which we are more comfortable, and we believe that with your support, our jobs will have a headway.

“In the past, our efforts have been wasted, we were advised that the agency that has the mandate to make our job effectively is the EFCC,” he said.

Responding, the Port Harcourt’s Zonal Commander of the EFCC, Mr Nwanneka Nwokike, said the EFCC was working tirelessly to put an end to the menace of illegal oil bunkering in the Niger Delta region.

Mr Nwokike also stressed the need to educate youths within the region on the ills of oil theft and illegal oil bunkering.

“I assure you that the EFCC has the desire to reduce, if not bring to an end, the menace of illegal oil bunkering.

“We will educate our youths on the dangers of this, which is part of our mandate, educating our youths on why they must leave these illegalities. We must all come together to see how we can tackle this menace. I want to assure you that we will work together,” he said.

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Akinwumi Adesina Turns Down Requests to Become Next Nigerian President

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Akinwumi Adesina Sworn-In

By Adedapo Adesanya

The President of the Africa Development Bank (AfDB), Mr Akinwumi Adesina, has ruled himself out of the 2023 presidential race in Nigeria.

Mr Adesina made his position known in a statement on Tuesday after months of calls for him to join the contest after a group bought the presidential nomination form of the All Progressives Congress (APC) for him at the cost of N100 million.

In the statement, the banker emphasised that his current desire is to continue to hold the office of the president of the AfDB which he won reelection for last year.

However, he expressed appreciation for those who found him worthy of leading his country at this critical time it is undergoing different challenges ranging from economy, security and others.

“While I am deeply honoured, humbled and grateful for all the incredible goodwill, kindness, and confidence, my current responsibilities at this time do not allow me to accept to considered,” the statement read in part.

“I remain fully engaged and committed to the mission that Nigeria, Africa and all the non-African shareholders of the African Development Bank have given me for Africa’s development.

“I remain fully focused on the mission of supporting the accelerated development and economic integration of Africa,” Mr Adesina added.

Less than two weeks ago, a coalition of 28 groups purchased the N100 million APC presidential forms for the former Agriculture Minister.

The coalition consists of groups such as the Youth Arise Movement, Nigerians in Diaspora, One Nigeria Group, Prudent Youth Association of Nigeria, women groups, farmers, and other civil society groups.

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