By Aduragbemi Omiyale
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr Femi Gbajabiamila, has mandated the lower arm of the parliament to investigate the legality of the suspension of operations of Twitter in Nigeria by the federal government.
Last week, the Minister of Information and Culture, Mr Lai Mohammed, announced a ban on the use of Twitter in the country indefinitely, citing “the persistent use of the platform for activities that are capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence.”
To make the ban effective, after some Nigerians began to bypass the blockage, the Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami, said violators of the directive would be prosecuted.
At the plenary on Tuesday, Mr Gbajabiamila said the green chamber of the National Assembly recognises that Twitter, like other social media networks, is an important tool for communication and commerce in Nigeria, particularly amongst the younger generation who have used these networks for enterprise and innovation with great success.
“The House also recognises that as social media has been a tool for good, it can also be a tool for bad actors.
“As such, the government has a legitimate interest in ensuring that these platforms are not used to commit vile actions against individuals and the state,” the Speaker.
According to him, the proper role of the legislature in circumstances like this is first to peel back the layers of the decision-making process to unravel the issues until we develop an understanding of the why and the how of executive decisions.
“Following that, the legislature must make sure that regulatory and enforcement actions by the government are in accordance with the laws of the land, that due process of law has been followed to the latter and that the outcomes of regulatory decisions do not result in adverse consequences for the country and all our people.
“Fidelity to our responsibilities in situations like this requires the legislature and legislators to as in the words of Rudyard Kipling, keep your head when all about you are losing theirs.
“We listen to the agitation of the people, but we also hear from the government so that from the abundance of information, we reach the level of awareness that allows us to discharge our role dispassionately.
“It is in service of our obligations under the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and our moral duty to the Nigerian people, that the leadership of the House has decided to mandate the House Committees on Communication, Justice, Information and Culture, and National Security and Intelligence to immediately commence an investigation to determine:
“The circumstances of the decision by the Federal Government of Nigeria to suspend the operations of Twitter in Nigeria; and
“The legal authority for the ban on the operations of Twitter in Nigeria.
“The Committees are additionally mandated to Invite the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed to brief the House of Representatives on the objectives, intent, and duration of the suspension on the operations of Twitter in Nigeria, and to report to the House within 10 days.
“The report of the Committees will guide further action by the House of Representatives on this matter. Therefore, I urge the Committees to act with speed and sound judgment to address this issue that has animated our national conversations over the last few days,” he said.
EFCC Goes After Car Dealers, Real Estate Agents, Others
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
The Chairman of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr Abdularasheed Bawa, has hinted that a searchlight will be beamed on car dealers, jewellery sellers, real estate agents and others.
The anti-money laundering agency, while addressing newsmen in Abuja on Thursday, disclosed that evidence has shown that these set of people use proceeds of corruption for their business transactions.
He said the EFCC was working on a number of proactive strategies including a special control unit against money laundering, established particularly to address non-designated financial institutions including car dealers, real estate, jewellery dealers, among others.
Mr Bawa said that he was confident that when the unit is fully established, corruption will significantly decline in the country.
He added that the agency was equally working towards the development of a biometric ownership database to address money laundering.
According to him, most proceeds of crime are laundered through real estate and have become a huge challenge, giving examples of property acquired especially in Lagos, Abuja, and Port Harcourt where billions of naira were laundered through this means.
He, however, declined to disclose actual perpetrators or the properties involved but revealed that since his assumption, a number of recoveries have been made including N6 billion, $161 million, £13,000, €1,730, among others.
He further said internet fraudsters numbering 1,502 have also been apprehended between January and June 2021, noting that efforts were underway to file about 800 of them.
Mr Bawa was at the Presidential Villa yesterday to clarify the specific Minister involved in the laundering of about $37 million into real estate to which he referred in his earlier statement.
He said the matter was an old case involving a former Minister of Petroleum, Ms Allison Diezani Madueke.
KedCo Warns Customers Against Meter Bypass
By Adedapo Adesanya
The management of Kano Electricity Distribution Company (KEDCO) has cautioned customers in its franchise areas against meter bypass as it intensifies efforts in meter installation.
According to a statement by KEDCO’s Head of Corporate Communications, Mr Ibrahim Sani Shawai, “the warning had become necessary as a way of ensuring that renewed efforts at speeding up metering are not sabotaged.
“Anyone caught bypassing our meters would not be spared as we will go all out within the provisions of the law of the land to ensure that violators are made to pay penalty after prosecution.
“We are speeding up processes to ensure that 87,747 meters are installed by the end of the month under the zero phase.
“We have met with all vendors and mandated them to increase manpower to ensure speedy deployment and installation of meters to customers.
“We appeal to our numerous customers to give vendors the necessary cooperation to ensure that estimated billing system is brought to an end in KEDCO franchise within the shortest time possible.”
The distribution company had recently warned customers against meter apathy as it observed that some customers were deliberately refusing to get metered, which it considers unacceptable.
KEDCO is one of the major Nigerian electricity distribution companies. KEDCO operates in the northwestern geopolitical zone of Nigeria and generates, distributes and markets electricity in three states. It covers the franchise states of Kano, Katsina and Jigawa.
Navy Seizes 251 Bags of Smuggled Rice in Akwa Ibom
By Adedapo Adesanya
The Nigerian Navy, Forward Operating Base (FOB), Ibaka, Mbo Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom has impounded 251 bags of rice smuggled through the waterways.
The Commanding Officer of FOB, Navy Captain Suleiman Abdullahi, disclosed this in Ibaka on Thursday when he handed over the bags of contrabands to the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS).
He said that the 251 bags of rice were seized from smugglers on June 15 during routine patrol operations by the unit, explaining that the suspects abandoned the rice and the boat and fled on sighting the naval patrol team, emphasising that the Base would not relent in putting an end to illegalities on the Akwa Ibom waterways.
“What you are witnessing here today is the handover of 251 bags of rice suspected to be smuggled into the Nigerian maritime border.
“By the directive of the Flag Officer, Eastern Naval Command, Rear Admiral Sanusi Ibrahim, we have zero tolerance for smuggling.
“By the directive, we have carried out intensive patrol and on June 15, 2021, we seized one wooden boat and 251 bags of smuggled rice.
“On sighting the patrol team, the smugglers abandoned the rice inside the boat and flee to escape arrest.
This is an indication of their awareness of the crime perpetrated by these suspects for them to have abandoned their boat and flee,” Mr Abdullahi said.
The commanding officer warned smugglers to relocate out of the Nigerian maritime borders, stressing that it would not be business as usual for them.
He urged them to desist from smuggling and other illegal businesses, but they should engage in legitimate endeavours.
“I will like to use this opportunity to warn those maritime criminals that it is not going to be business as usual.
“That they should desist from their criminal ways and engage in genuine business, otherwise the long arm of the law will catch up on them,” he said.
Receiving the 251 bags of rice on behalf of the customs, the Comptroller of Sector 1, Port Harcourt, Mr Shehu Abubakar, said the agency would do everything possible to stop smuggling in the country.
Mr Abubakar, who was represented by the Superintendent of Customs, Border Drill Patrol Team, Oron Axis, Mr Mustapha Ahmed, warned smugglers to desist from the illegal trade, stressing that the organisation would continue to checkmate all economic sabotage in the country.
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