PDP WINS IFE CENTRAL FEDERAL CONSTITUENCY BYE-ELECTION
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP),candidate in the Ife Central State Constituency bye- election, Chief Dipo Eluwole was yesterday declared winner of the exercise held on Saturday and concluded yesterday. Eluwole, who was returned elected with a total of 5,504 votes, beat the Accord Party candidate, Mr. Segun Fanibe and ‘Tilewa Sijuade of All Progressives Congress, to second and third positions respectively.
The Accord Party gAP) candidate polled 4,790, while APC candidate, garnered 4,587 votes. Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, had on Saturday declared the rerun election inconclusive. The Returning Officer for the election, Mr. Francis Oladimeji said while speaking at the collation centre said: “Election in two polling units were cancelled. That is Agbedegbe Street, Moore Ojaja Unit 02 and Moore Ojaja.
“The number of accredited voters in the two units is 872. The margin between the first two candidates is 710 by our record. Following the regulation, where the number of cancelled votes is more than the margin between the two leading candidates, we cannot announce the winner.”
Osun PDP wants arrested ballot box snatchers unmasked. Meantime, the Osun State chapter of the PDP, yesterday urged the state Police command to make public the identities of the hoodlums arrested over snatching of ballot boxes and voters cards during the Saturday rerun election.
ARCO VS AGIP: COURT ORDERS PARTY TO BE SERVED HEARING NOTICE
A Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt (Rivers) has ordered that a hearing notice be served on Conoco Philips Petroleum Nigeria Limited in the ongoing legal tussle between Arco Group Plc and Nigerian Agip Oil Company, NOAC.
This came as Justice Muhammed Liman, who gave the order, fixed June 14 for the hearing of arguments on originating summons, contempt of court and preliminary objections canvassed by parties before the court. Justice Liman said: “I also order that the third defendant be served with hearing notice. I observed that they were not represented in court today. ”
Arco Group, an indigenous oil servicing company, had dragged Agip, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC),Conoco Philips Petroleum Nigeria Limited, and the National Petroleum Investment Management Services to court, praying it to determine whether under the Nigerian Content Act, Agip was under obligation to award maintenance contract of OB/OB, Ebocha and Kwale gas plants to it or not. Arco had, in the suit, submitted that the alleged refusal of NOAC to comply with the provisions of Section 3 Sub-Sections 2 and 3 of the Nigeria Oil and Gas Industry Content Development, NOGICD Act, 2010, was illegal. The law encourages the involvement of more indigenous participation in the nation’s oil and gas operations.
EFCC PROBES CLUES IN PAYMENT OF N1B TO ‘GHOST’ WORKERS
Detectives are probing fresh clues on the alleged diversion of public funds to pay 23,000 ghost workers.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) was shocked to discover that most of the slush accounts used for the pay fraud have either irregular Bank Verification Number (BVN) or no BVN at all, it was learnt yesterday.
The fresh clue raises the suspicious that the pay fraud cases may be more than the N1 billion so far uncovered by the EFCC. Some civil servants were said to have fled from their duty posts following the smashing of the syndicate behind the ghost workers. More workers might be picked up in the next few days by the anti-graft agency, a source close to the investigation said.
“The latest clues at our disposal have shown that more civil servants were involved in the IPPIS scandal. We are analysing all these fresh clues. In fact, some of the accounts made available by the Ministry of Finance do not belong to ghost workers. We will not allow the innocent to suffer.”
The EFCC has released on bail Ronke Usman, one of those implicated in the alleged ghost workers fraud. She has been granted bail pending the conclusion of the investigation. But her husband, Dayo Usman Aliyu, is still being detained.
The Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun recently summoned the managing director of a first generation bank over the alleged complicity of the bank in the payment of salaries to 23,000 ghost workers on the payroll of the Federal Government. Also, the Minister asked the Director General of Pension Commission, Ms Chinelo Anohu-Amazu, to appear before a probe panel in her ministry on how Pension Funds Administrators (PFAs) allegedly generated fake PFA numbers for the “ghost workers”. After the initial probe by the ministry, the Minister handed over the case to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
FRC, SHAREHOLDERS POISED FOR WAR OVER AUDIT COMMITTEE CHAIR
Trouble is brewing between the Financial Reporting Council (FRC) and notable shareholder groups in the country over a draft rule by FRC spelling out the qualification individuals aspiring to the position of audit committee chairmen of quoted companies must possess. FRC in the draft rule directed that such persons must be members of certified professional accounting body in the country. The Council based its argument on the premise that professional accountants are more reliable, saying that their education and training allow for their judgment to be relied upon.
However, leaders of renowned shareholder groups have frowned at the guideline, which they describe as unnecessary and called for immediate reversal. According to them, the FRC rules is in contravention of section 359(3) and (6) of Companies and Allied Matters Act, Cap. C20. Controversial rule/guideline
The draft rule contained in a circular titled “Transitional Concessions Agreed between the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) and the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria (FRC) regarding Rules 1& 2 of the FRC’s Rules”, published by the NSE on March 29, 2016, with reference no:NSE/LARD/LRD/ CIR5/16/03/29, states thus: “Chairman of audit committee, to annual report, financial statements, accounts, financial report, returns and other documents of a financial nature, shall be a professional member of an accounting body established by Act of the National Assembly in Nigeria.”
It, however, states that current chairman of the audit committee shall be permitted to attest to accounts of financial nature regardless of whether he is a professional member of an accounting body or not for the current financial year only.
BUDGET 2016 CRISIS RAGES ON
House of Representatives Appropriation Committee Chairman Abdulmumin Jibrin reacted angrily yesterday to the report that President Muhammadu Buhari was stopped by ministers from signing the 2016 Appropriation Bill because of its “mutilation” by lawmakers. The lawmakers were accused of removing crucial capital projects from the document and inserting some items not originally included. But Jubrin (APC Kano State) denounced the executive for the report. He exonerated the lawmakers from any wrong doing. He said: “The Lagos- Calabar Rail was never included (in the budget estimates). How could NASS (National Assembly) have removed what was not there? But the nation is being misled.
“All they and those spreading the false information needed to have done is check the initial document sent by the Executive. The Executive seems to favour a top-down approach. But this is not enough reason to mislead Nigerians on the role of NASS on the budget.
“I actually find it shocking that even some national dailies made the removal (of Lagos-Calabar railway project) their headlines. A little research would have helped. This is unfortunate as it is quite clear to all and sundry that 2016 Budget and all its headaches and controversies didn’t emanate from NASS. The NASS has always been on the receiving end of bad press. This is being capitalised on in the conversations on the budget.
“Take the budget of the Ministry of Transportation, which was overshot by N54b. That is, by the time you add up the items on the ministry’s budget, you would still have a gap of N54 billion. The money was lying there without being allocated. NASS has a responsibility and it did the right thing. We added N39.7billion (from the unallocated N54 billion) to the Lagos-Kano Rail project. This will help complete the project once and for all.”
OKOROCHA DERIDES PREDECESSOR OVER FALSE ALLEGATION
Governor Rochas Okorocha has said his predecessor, Chief Ikedi Ohakim offered fake services to the people of Imo State throughout his four years in office. Okorocha’s reaction was coming on the heels of a recent statement credited to Ohakim that his successor was battering the economy of the state.
Expressing dismay over Ohakim’s comment, which was titled: ‘Ohakim bombs Governor Okorocha … You’ve Destroyed Imo State’, the governor through his Chief Press Secretary, Sam Onwuemeodo, decried his predecessor for his inability to substantiate his claims. Okorocha, who claimed he has taken his time to read through the allegations by Ohakim said, “My predecessor had told his audience how I destroyed Imo but we couldn’t find any claim or allusion close to what he said.”
The governor said his predecessor spoke about his plan to install another Orlu man as successor in 2019 and the sacking of the Secretary to the Government saying: “My worry is how does the issue of succession mean destroying Imo, as alleged by my successor.”
According to him, “Let us, for the sake of this rebuttal, agree that the governor would prefer an Orlu man to succeed him in 2019, the follow-up question would be, how that could be interpreted to mean destroying the State and how does the governor’s dropping of the SSG also mean the destruction of the State? We want to state that if there had been one man who had paid the State and her people in counterfeit, it is Chief Ikedi Ohakim when he was the governor of the State from 2007 to 2011.”
GOVT BEGINS LOADING OF PETROL FOR MARKETERS
The Federal Government has commenced loading of the pending 7,000 tickets of independent petroleum marketers in its bid to end fuel queues across the country. The Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN), which confirmed the move yesterday in Abuja, added that they had started loading product from some depots in Lagos following the intervention by the IPMAN
Reconciliation/Interim Management Committee recently constituted by the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu. IPMAN controls over 80 per cent of retail outlets in the country but had been starved of products from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) due to its leadership crisis that had lingered for two years.
IJAW YOUTHS WARN EFCC AGAINST ALLEGED PLAN TO ARREST JONATHAN
As the four-day burial programme for the late former governor of Bayelsa State, Chief Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, ended yesterday with a thanksgiving service in Ammasoma, the Ijaw Youths Council (IYC) cautioned against an alleged plot by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to arrest former President Goodluck Jonathan. The umbrella body of Ijaw youths worldwide urged President Muhammadu Buhari and the anti-graft agency to shelve any such plan to persecute the former president, insisting that such a move would spell doom for the country and the government. At a press conference to mark the end of the burial programme , the IYC President, Mr. Udengs Eradiri, said almost everybody that had close relationship with the former president had been arrested by the EFCC.
The IYC president particularly condemned the recent arrest and detention of Jonathan’s cousin, Mr. Robert Azibola, a contractor over an alleged $40million financial fraud. Eradiri said Ijaw youths would not allow Azibola, Jonathan or any rising Ijaw leader to be persecuted by the EFCC the way the Federal Government dealt with the late Alamieyeseigha.
ENGINEERS BEGIN CAPACITY BUILDING FOR PRACTITIONERS
Determined to address foundation failures and other related issues that contribute to frequent collapse of buildings in the country, the Nigerian Institution of Structural Engineers (NIStructE), a division of the Nigeria Society of Engineers (NSE) is to embark on training of young engineers and others that work in foundation construction across the six geo-political zones of the country. Besides, the Institution said it would strengthen its continuous professional development programme and sharing of knowledge with the younger ones to address the frequent incidents of building collapse, even as, so far, none of the registered members of the institution has been involved in any collapse of building.
Speaking at a 3-day Course, organised by the institution last week, with the theme: “Application of Sub Soil Investigation Results to Design of Different Foundation Types and Pile Foundation Integrity Tests”, President of NISE, OreOluwa Fadayomi, said collapse of buildings has become very embarrassing, not only to the nation, but to the structural engineers, in recent time. Fadayomi, while regretting the presence of inexperienced individuals in the industry, said it has become imperative for the qualified and older professionals to train the younger ones and share experience they have gathered over the years with them.
Fadayomi who is also a member of the five-man committee set up by the Lagos State government to restructure the Lagos State Building Control Agency (LASBCA), said: “The institution is poised to correct errors of the past whereby the younger ones were without guide or training, thus, creating a situation of garbage in garbage out.”
STAKEHOLDERS CHALLENGE MONOPOLY IN OIL AND GAS SECTOR
Amidst growing concerns over alleged monopoly status enjoyed by one of the operators in the Nigerian Oil and Gas Logistics and supply services, key stakeholders have called for regulatory appraisal of the competition environment.
There are also indications that a policy dialogue would be established by the federal ministry of transportation for stakeholders in the maritime industry to address the lingering issues of monopoly and trade malpractices. The indication came with recent acrimony generated by alleged forceful diversion of businesses to a particular operator under unsubstantiated government directive.
Last week, an official of the ministry told newsmen that the authorities in the ministry as well as the Nigerian Customs Service, NCS, may call a stakeholders’ meeting to resolve the festering crisis. He also indicated that the Federal Government of Nigeria would be reviewing the relevant laws and other directives guiding private sector operators in the maritime logistics services with a view to ensuring even playing field. Also reacting to a similar complaint by the chairman of Jagal Group, owners of Nigerdock and Snake Island Intergrated Free Zone, SIIFZ, Mr. Anwar Jarmallami, The Comptroller-General of NCS, Col. Hameed Alli (Retd) said last week that federal government would look into the industry competition issues with a view to redressing any anomaly, adding that the complaints earlier made by the management of the company would be scrutinized by top management of NCS who are knowledgeable enough to know the right thing to do.