SERAP Pressures Lawan, Gbajabiamila to Probe Missing N4.4bn
By Adedapo Adesanya
The Senate President, Mr Ahmad Lawan; and the Speaker of House of Representatives Mr Femi Gbajabiamila, have been urged to urgently probe the alleged missing N4.4 billion budgeted for the National Assembly (NASS).
It was alleged that the public fund was missing, misappropriated, diverted or stolen, according to three audited reports by the Office of the Auditor-General of the Federation.
In an open letter dated January 30, 2021, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) challenged the parliament to “show Nigerians that the legislative body is a proper and accountable watchdog that represents and protects the public interest.”
In the letter signed by SERAP’s Deputy Director, Mr Kolawole Oluwadare, the organisation further urged the leadership of NASS o prove to the citizens that it “is able to hold both itself and the government of President Muhammadu Buhari to account in the management of public resources.”
The agency believes that if the matter is not satisfactorily addressed, the allegations would undermine public confidence in the ability of the legislative arm of government to exercise its constitutional and oversight responsibilities to prevent and combat corruption and to ensure the public interest, transparency and accountability in the management of public resources.
SERAP also expressed concerns that the allegations of corruption, mismanagement and misappropriation of public funds amount to fundamental breaches of the Nigerian Constitution of 1999 [as amended] and the country’s international obligations, including under the UN Convention against Corruption and the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption.
However, the group warned that “any failure to promptly, thoroughly and independently investigate these serious allegations, prosecute suspected perpetrators, and recover missing public funds and assets would undermine public trust in the ability of the leadership of the National Assembly to ensure probity, transparency and accountability in the management of public funds.”
“The Auditor-General noted in his 2015 report that the National Assembly account was spent N8,800,000.00 as an unauthorised overdraft, contrary to Financial Regulations 710. The National Assembly also reportedly spent N115,947,016.00 without any documents. Another N158,193,066.00 spent as cash advances to 17 staff between January and June 2015 is yet to be retired.
“The Senate reportedly spent N186,866,183.42 to organise Senate Retreat and Pre-Valedictory Session for the 7th Senate, although the money was meant to pay vehicle loan. The Senate also reportedly spent N15,964,193.63 as bank charges between July and December 2015, contrary to Financial Regulations 734.
“The House of Representatives also reportedly spent N624,377,503.30 to buy 48 Utility Vehicles. However, 14 vehicles were not supplied. The House also failed to make the 34 vehicles supplied available for verification. Similarly, the House spent N499,666,666.00 as cash advances to staff to carry out various assignments but has failed to retire the money.
“The House of Representatives also reportedly paid N70,560,000.00 as overtime and ‘special’ allowances to officials who are not legislative aides between November and December 2015 without any authority.
“The National Assembly Service Commission reportedly failed to remit N30,130,794.10 deducted from the salaries of the Executive Chairman and the Commissioners as car loan.
“The National Assembly Budget and Research Office reportedly spent N66,303,411.70 as out-of-pocket expenses without any documents. The National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies paid N246,256,060.51 by cheques, despite the prohibition of payments by cheque by the Federal Government, except in extreme cases, and contrary to Financial Regulation 631.
“According to the Auditor-General Report for 2017, the House of Representatives reportedly spent N95,212,250.00 without due process and without any documents.
“The National Assembly Management Account also reveals that N673,081,242.14 was spent between April and October 2017 without any documents. The Auditor-General reported that the funds may have been misappropriated.
“The Senate Account also reportedly shows that N1,364,816,397.95 was spent on store items without any documents to show for the spending. The Auditor-General stated that his office was denied access to the store and to the Senate’s records.
“The National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies also reportedly failed to remit N2,181,696.50 from contract of goods and services. The Institute also paid N67,296,478.00 without any payment vouchers.
“We would be grateful if you would indicate the measures being taken to address the allegations and to implement the proposed recommendations, within 14 days of the receipt and/or publication of this letter.
“If we have not heard from you by then, SERAP shall take all appropriate legal actions to compel the leadership of the National Assembly to implement these recommendations in the public interest, and to promote transparency and accountability in the National Assembly.
“The Auditor-General also noted in his 2018 report that the National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies failed to remit N577,634,638,20 due from contracts and supplies, even though the deductions were made.
“However, the Institute claimed that it was the National Assembly that was required to remit the money, as it is the body that maintains the account on behalf of the Institute.
“Our requests are brought in the public interest, and in keeping with the requirements of the Nigerian Constitution 1999 [as amended], the country’s international obligations including under the UN Convention against Corruption and the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption. Nigeria has ratified both treaties,” the letter read.
Family Announces Death of General Dipo Diya
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
A former Chief of General Staff, General Oladipo Diya (rtd), has been reported death by his family.
The late military officer was the second-in-command to the late Nigerian Head of State, General Sani Abacha, from 1993 to 1997, when he was arrested for an alleged treason.
In a statement, Mr Oyesinmilola Diya said the former Military Governor of Ogun State died in the early hours of Sunday, March 26, 2023.
However, he did not disclose if the 79-year-old Odogbolu, Ogun State-born army general suffered from any illness before his demise.
In the statement, he only stated that further announcements would be made public in due course.
We Will Fulfil Paris Agreement on Climate Change—FG
By Adedapo Adesanya
The federal government of Nigeria has assured that it is ready to fulfil the Paris Agreement on Climate Change to ensure effective gender inclusion.
This was disclosed by Mr Chris Ngige, the Minister of Labour and Employment, during the inauguration and inception workshop of the project in Abuja tagged The Nigeria Initiative for Climate Action Transparency (ICAT), Just and Gender Inclusive Transition (JGIT) Project.
The project is aimed at helping countries to better assess the impacts of their climate policies and actions and fulfil their transparency commitments.
Mr Ngige said the objective of the inception meeting was to launch the ICAT Just Transition project and increase awareness among the national stakeholders for a better understanding of its implementation.
He said that ICAT, an International multi-stakeholder partnership of the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS), was supporting Nigeria in setting up Monitoring, Reporting, and Verification (MRV) of a Just and Gender Inclusive Transition(JGIT).
The minister, represented by Ms Daju Kachollom, Permanent Secretary in the ministry, said Nigeria had signed a Project Cooperation Agreement (PCA) with the UNOPS, represented by the ICAT management.
According to him, the PCA is to firm up the process leading to the take-off and implementation of the project over a 12 months period.
“The objectives of the project, among others, include developing JGIT monitoring and MRV and ensuring it links with the sectoral MRV system.
“Another objective is to Enhance Transparency Framework (ETF) implemented by the Federal Ministry of Environment to achieve synergy, institutional memory, and stakeholder inclusion and cooperation.
“It will further enable a tripartite cooperation between government, labour, and employer associations to achieve a Just and Gender Inclusive Transition going forward with the implementation of the Paris agreement,” he said.
The minister said that the ICAT project would be implemented by a team of national experts and international ICAT consultants under the supervision of the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment.
On his part, Dr Yerima Tarfa, ICAT, JGIT Project Team Lead, said the initiative would help to increase the overall transparency capacities of countries and assess the contribution of policies and development objectives.
According to him, this is by providing appropriate methodological information and tools to support evidence–based policymaking.
Dr Tarfa noted that Nigeria was the largest economy and leading oil producer, and most populous in Africa.
“It faces the unique challenge of having to diversify its economy away from fossil fuels (petroleum, natural gas, and increasingly, coal) while responding to the unmet energy needs of its growing population.
“Nonetheless, Nigeria is turning this challenge into an opportunity by increasing the use of renewable energy, reducing its carbon footprints, and eliminating gas flaring.
“Nigeria’s National Determined Contributions (NDCs) is committed to a 20 per cent emission reduction by 2030 unconditionally and 45 per cent conditional, with focus on power and electricity, oil and gas,” he said.
The team lead said the highlights of the NDCs include ending gas flaring by 2030 and a 30 per cent energy efficiency level by 2030.
He said the inauguration of the inception workshop would provide the opportunity to create awareness and build a national cross-knowledge sharing that would provide a platform for key stakeholders to facilitate the implementation of the Nigeria ICAT JGIT Project.
He added that this would further set up an MRV of Just and Gender Inclusive Transition and its Roadmap for implementation in Nigeria.
Appeal Court Restores Adeleke as Osun Governor
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
An appeal court sitting in Abuja on Friday upturned the judgment of the Osun governorship election tribunal, which removed Mr Ademola Adeleke as Governor of Osun State.
In January, the tribunal declared the former Governor of the state, Mr Gboyega Oyetola, as the authentic winner of the 2022 governorship election in the state.
While Mr Adeleke contested for the position under the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Mr Oyetola flew the flag of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Mr Adeleke was declared winner of the poll by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), but Mr Oyetola, who contested as a sitting governor, approached the tribunal to dislodge the winner.
He argued that Mr Adeleke won through an electoral fraud, over-voting and his prayers were answered, as the tribunal upturned INEC’s decision and declared him the winner.
However, Governor Adeleke appealed the judgement and today, a three-member panel of justices held that the election tribunal erred when it ruled that Mr Oyetola and the APC proved their allegation of over-voting.
The appellate court held that Mr Adeleke was validly elected as the governor of Osun State and restored his mandate.
Latest News on Business Post
- Family Announces Death of General Dipo Diya March 26, 2023
- Wema Bank Educates Students on Personal Finance March 25, 2023
- Access Bank Gets Regulatory Nod to Merge Zambian Subsidiaries March 25, 2023
- BUA Cement, Nigerian Breweries, Others Drive Stock Market’s 0.06% Loss March 25, 2023
- Again, NASD OTC Exchange Valuation Crosses N1 trillion March 25, 2023
- Naira Appreciates at Official Market, Loses at Peer-to-Peer, Black Market March 25, 2023
- US Reserves Worries Tumble Crude Oil Market March 25, 2023
- CBN Distributes Naira Notes to Banks, Orders Weekend Operations March 25, 2023
- Nigeria Records 36.3% Rise in Insurance Premium in Q4 2022 March 24, 2023
- How Data Protection Policy In Nigeria Is Evolving To Secure Customers March 24, 2023