CJ DISMISSES METUH’S PETITION, ASKS JUDGE TO CONTINUE TRIAL
The Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Ibrahim Auta, has dismissed the petition by the National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party, Chief Olisa Metuh, seeking the transfer of his trial for money laundering from Justice Okon Abang to another judge.
Justice Auta’s letter responding to the petition by Metuh, a copy of which our correspondents obtained on Thursday, stated that it was too late in the day to reassign the case in which the prosecution had already called all its witnesses.
The Chief Judge’s letter, dated March 24, 2016, signed by his Special Assistant, Mr. Ambrose Unaeze, was addressed to one of Metuh’s lawyers, Mr. Emeka Etiaba (SAN), who had signed and sent the petition on behalf of his client. Etiaba sent the petition to the Chief Judge, accusing Justice Abang of bias in the handling of the case after his clients were called upon to open their defence.
The lawyer claimed in the petition that Metuh was a classmate of the judge in the 1987/1988 set of the Nigerian Law School. He claimed that Metuh and the judge both practised law in Lagos before the PDP spokesperson relocated to Abuja, and Justice Abang, on his part, was appointed a judge.
Etiaba also alleged that Metuh met and had discussion with Justice Abang late last year in the Meridien Hotel in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, adding that his client was baffled at the views expressed by the judge during their encounter.
RELEASE JONATHAN’S COUSIN ON BAIL, COURT ORDERS EFCC
A Federal Capital Territory High Court in Maitama, Abuja, on Thursday ordered the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission to release a cousin of a former President Goodluck Jonathan, Mr. Azibaola Robert, on bail. Justice Olasunbo Goodluck, ruling on Robert’s ex parte application ordered that the bail should be guaranteed by two sureties.
Each of the sureties must be a serving or retired Director in any of the Federal Government’s ministries or parastatal and must be resident within Abuja. The applicant would also deposit his passport to the Chief Registrar of this court.
The EFCC had on March 23, arrested Robert over an alleged diversion of $40m through a firm, One-Plus Holdings, which a sister company of Kakatar Construction and Engineering Company Limited, through allegedly phoney contract of securing oil pipelines. He was said to have received the money from the then National Security Adviser Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd.), who is also being prosecuted for diversion of funds allegedly meant for procurement of arms to fight insurgency. Justice Goodluck’s ruling on the ex parte application by Robert, through his lawyer, Chief Chris Uche (SAN), held that the applicant’s detention by the EFCC for over two weeks was unconstitutional.
RENEW CALL FOR RESOURCE CONTROL, DARAH URGES S’SOUTH GOVERNORS
Erudite scholar and a former Chief of Staff, Government House, Delta State, Prof. Gabriel Darah, has challenged governors of the Niger Delta states to revive the struggle for resource control and fiscal federalism. He also asked members of the state House of Assembly and the National Assembly from the region to join forces with the governors to rekindle the agitation for resource control and self-determination Darah, a professor of English at the Delta State University, Abraka, noted that the last time governors of the region actively engaged the Federal Government over issues of fiscal federalism and resource control was between 1999 and 2003.
Darah spoke on Thursday in Yenagoa as a guest lecturer at a public lecture, with the theme, “Federalism and Development in Nigeria”, organised by the Bayelsa State Government as part of activities for the funeral rites of the late former governor of the state, Diepreye Alamieyeseigha. “Niger Delta governors and legislators must come together and revive the resource control struggle, like it used to be during the time of Alamieyeseigha as governor of Bayelsa,” the don stated.
JUSTICE LIMAN TAKES OVER ARCO, AGIP CONTRACT DISPUTE CASE
Justice Mohammed Liman on Thursday took over the hearing of the contract dispute between Arco Group Plc and the Nigerian Agip Oil Company over the Nigerian Content Act at the Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt.
Justice Liman took over from Justice Lambo Akanbi, who was retired by the National Judicial Council in November 2015. It will be recalled that Arco Group had taken Agip, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Conoco Philips Petroleum Nigeria Limited and the Nigeria Petroleum Investment Management Services to court.
Arco had in suit No. FH/PH/CS/02/2015 sought the determination of the Federal High Court against the four firms on whether it (Arco) was entitled as a Nigerian firm to the exclusive right to be granted contract and also an extension of such contract’s duration.
This, according to Arco, was in view of the provision of Section 3 subsections (2) and (3) of the Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry Content Development Act, 2010, having demonstrated ownership of equipment. But at the resumption of hearing, counsel for NAOC (1st Defendant), Thompson Okpoko (SAN), said the court should take arguments on the jurisdiction of the court over the matter.
PIB: WITHDRAW DRAFT BILL TO PAVE WAY FOR DIALOGUE, N’DELTA GROUP URGE NASS
NDOKWA National Youth Movement, NNYM and Isoko Development Union, IDU, yesterday called for the withdrawal of the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill, PIGB, as proposed by the National Assembly, to give room for dialogue and wider consultations by stakeholders.
They insisted that with the removal of the host communities fund from the PIB, the National Assembly had dashed the hope of the oil bearing communities. NNYM in a statement said: “The National Assembly and the Ministry of Petroleum Resources should take it as a matter of urgent national importance and come clean over the proposed PIGB”, stressing the need for it to be available to citizens to enable them scrutinize it and make comments based on knowledge rather than rumours.
The statement by the group’s Secretary, Comrade Presley Idi, warned that “youths from Ndokwa nation will resist the removal of the host community development funds, as well as the tempering of the Local Content Act,” urging President Muhammadu Buhari “who doubles as the Minister of Petroleum Resources to clarify what the intentions are with regard to the communities and indeed the oil field environment.”
WHY ELECTRICITY TARIFFS HIKED – OSINBAJO
The Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, yesterday, explained why electricity tariff increased, citing shortage in gas supply and drop in power generation. The Vice President in his key note address during the maiden edition of the National Forum on the economy, organised by Vintage Press publishers of The Nation Newspaper, themed: ‘ National Economy: The Way Forward’ said generation companies’ inability to supply power to consumers was as a result of short supply in gas and the drop in power occasioned by lost in line of transmission. He said that for this reason Generation Companies, GENCOs invariably requires increase in electricity tariff to enable them meet demand for power. “There is no way the GENCOs can supply enough power to consumers without generating enough fund to drive the necessary processes that will bring about adequate power generation and supply.”
NIGERIA FACING IMAGE PROBLEM OVER FUEL CRISIS, OTHERS – FG
The Federal Government has stated that the myriad of problems currently facing the country is creating an image problem for the country. Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Information and Culture, Mrs. Ayotunde Adesugba, who stated this at the Monthly Meeting of the Nigeria Institute of Public Relations, NIPR and launch of the Institutes monthly newsletter, lamented that the fuel crisis and other economic challenges are denting the image of the country. Adetugba, who was represented by the
Director, Information and Communication Technology, ICT, Mrs. Veronica Adeyemo, called on professionals, such as the NIPR to always remember the country in their deliberations and engagements.
CCT TRAIL: WHY ORUBEBE’S LAWYER, JUDGES CLASHED
Trial of the erstwhile Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Elder Godsday Orubebe, over allegation that he falsely declared his assets in 2007, kicked off on a dramatic note, yesterday, as his lawyer, Mr. Larry Selekeowei, SAN, exchanged hot words with the Justice Danladi Umar-led panel of the Code of Conduct Tribunal, CCT.
The clash followed moves by the Director of Public Prosecution, DPP, Mr. Mohammed Diri, to tender into evidence the Certificate of Occupancy (C of O) and the Right of Occupancy (R of O), of Plot 2057, Asokoro District Abuja, which Orubebe was said to have failed to declare as his property. The DPP had, through the star witness the Federal Government brought to testify against the former minister, Mr. Samuel Madojemu, who is an investigative officer at the Code of Conduct Bureau, CCB, attempted to tender the documents into evidence.
Meanwhile, the war-of-words ensued at a point Orubebe’s lawyer was adducing reasons the documents and an accompanying letter from the Federal Capital Territory Department of Land Administration, should not be admitted into evidence. Mid way into his submission, one of the judges on the CCT panel, Mr. Agwaza Atedze, interjected and asked the defence lawyer to streamline his argument to specific contents of the document before the tribunal. The remark infuriated Mr. Selekeowei, who reprimanded the judge for unduly interfering with his submission.
2016 BUDGET: FG REVEALS ACTION PLAN AS PMB RECEIVES DETAILS
Nigeria’s Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo has urged Nigerians to be patient with the All Progressives Congress (APC) administration, as President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday received the details of the 2016 Budget from the National Assembly. Prof. Osinbajo revealed that the federal government has put in place a 33-action plan on its budget implementation strategy to put the nation back on track.
Osinbajo, while delivering the keynote address at The Nation national economic summit, spoke on the government’s stance on corruption, the need to make government more efficient and what Nigerians need to pay more to get better power supply. According to him, the priority of the federal government was to run a cost- efficient administration and channel increased low interest funds to the real sector to engender growth in the economy.
He said the government was working towards achieving a single digit interest rate, especially, for critical sectors in the economy, adding that the government was determined to ensure a minimum of 30 per cent on capital spending. Noting that past governments had allocated about 15 per cent for capital expenditure with less than 15 per cent of the budget being utilised, he said the present administration would ensure that from this year not less than 30 per cent of the budget would be spent on building critical infrastructure.
Although he said rail, road and power would be the major focal points, Osinbajo, however, stated that there would not be new road contracts as government would focus on completing all outstanding infrastructure projects that had been abandoned, suspended or were ongoing
WE WON’T CEDE SENATE PRESIDENCY, DEPUTY TO APC, SAYS URHOGHIDE
As the trial of Senate President Bukola Saraki, continues at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT), Senator Mattew Urhoghide (PDP, Edo South), on Thursday warned the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), against its plot to impose a Senate President on the upper chamber.
Urhoghide, who described what he called the “political persecution” of Saraki as a misplaced priority by the government, stated that there would not be any vacancy in the senate presidency.
According to him, “I see this thing as a misplaced priority. I see it as something strange in our political history. It is a slight on the National Assembly, and a pity that 109 Senators are not allowed making their own free choices. What is going on in the court is just a drama,” he said. According to him, “The backdrop of all these troubles is because Saraki is the Senate President. What we have done as an institution, we have no regret. He still enjoys our support. He is going to be there for the next four years,” he declared. Notwithstanding the strategies the APC may be perfecting, “We in the PDP will support Saraki to the end. Since he became the president, he has been able to dignify the senate. The turning point has been made that we must be able to choose our presiding officers without anybody interfering,” he said.
NIGER ASSEMBLY PASSES IGR DRIVEN BUDGET
The Niger State House of Assembly yesterday passed the 2016 budget of the state into law even as the House increased the amount from N74.7 billion submitted in December last year by the Governor to N85 .09 billion. For the first time in the history of the state, the budget will be driven by Internally Generated Revenue, IGR and capital receipt while the revenue from statutory allocation as presented by
Governor Alhaji Abubakar Sani Bello was N35.7 billion less than 50 per cent of the entire budget.
The budget as passed by the Assembly indicated about 5 per cent increase in the budget over N80,81 billion budget passed for 2015 fiscal year when the expected revenue from the statutory allocation was about N60 billion accounting for over 80 per cent of the expected revenue.
The passage of the budget showed an increase of N10.39 billion from the amount earlier submitted to the House of Assembly and for the first time since 1999 the legislatures have altered the amount substantially from what was submitted to the Assembly. The comparative analysis of the budget passed and that which was proposed by the executive shows that an estimated expenditure of N74,744,151,131 made up of N39,501,796,081 as the recurrent expenditure and N35,242,355,032 as the capital expenditure, was proposed for consideration by the Governor but the House of assembly now approved an expenditure of N85,092,122,133 made up of recurrent expenditure of N41, 433,666,593 and capital expenditure of N43,658,455,540.
PANAMA LEAKS: MY HANDS ARE CLEAN – MARK
Former president of the Senate, Senator David Mark has reacted to the recent Panama Papers which named him and other prominent World leaders in offshore companies.
A press statement yesterday by Mark’s media aide, Mr Paul Mumeh in Abuja said his name was never listed in the offshore companies. “Our attention has been drawn to spurious media reports on the Panama papers in which former President of the Senate, Senator David Mark was alleged to have operated offshore companies.
“For the avoidance of doubt, in the released materials of the Panama Leaks, his name is not listed anywhere in the database of Mossack Fonseca Law Firm. We reiterate categorically, that he is not directly or indirectly connected to any of the companies registered, operated or managed by the Mossack Fonseca Law Firm. We challenge all those behind this propaganda and media outburst to prove
or show that Senator Mark’s name was mentioned in the leaks. He is prepared to stand and defend himself against any accusation in relation to this matter,” the statement said.
300,000 JOSTLE FOR 3,000 NAVAL JOBS, AS AGENCY SHIFTS RECRUITMENT
The Nigerian Navy has postponed its recruitment exercise initially slated for tomorrow, as the force plans to work out a new digital approach in handling the huge volume of applications received with over
300,000 candidates applied for limited slot of 3,000.
The postponement, according to the Nigerian Navy, is necessitated to ensure a well-planned and hitch-free recruitment. This is coming on the heels of warnings of ex-service men by the Military Pensions Board (MPB) of the discovery of a fake website known as mpbnigeria.com.
A statement from Naval Headquarters on the postponement, signed by the Director of Naval Information, Commodore Christian Ezekobe said: “The aptitude test for applicants of the 2016 Nigerian Navy Recruitment initially scheduled to hold nationwide on Saturday, April 9, 2016, has been postponed.
“The exercise will now hold on Saturday, May 14, 2016, at all the designated centers nationwide as earlier planned.