Saturday, October 23, 2021.

Editors’ Conference on Security: Olorunyomi, Fashola, Monguno, Irabor, Kyari, State governors confirm attendance; CBN, UBA, Glo, NNPC, others boost summit

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Mustapha Isa, NGE President
Mustapha Isa, NGE President

All is now set for the 17th All Nigeria Editors’ Conference, starting on Thursday, with Publisher of Premium Times, Dapo Olorunyomi; Editors-in-Chief of LEADERSHIP Newspaper, Azu Ishiekwene; Minister of Works, Babatunde Fashola; Group Managing Director, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Malam Mele Kyari; Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Lucky Irabor, and other security chiefs, scheduled to lead discussions at the conference.

Some state governors with security challenges, including Dr Ifeanyi Okowa (Delta); Malam Nasiru El-Rufai (Kaduna); Alhaji Yaya Bello (Kogi); Seyi Mankide (Oyo); Alhaji Bello Matawalle (Zamfara); Prof Babagana Umara Zulum (Borno), and Chief David Nweze Umahi (Ebonyi) have also been scheduled to be part of the conversation.

Other state governors expected at the event include, Oluwarotimi Odunayo Akeredolu, SAN (Ondo); Adegboyega Oyetola and others.

The conference with the theme, ‘’Media in Times of Crises: Resolving Conflict, Achieving Consensus’’, will bring together editors and media owners across the country as well as their foreign colleagues to discuss the security challenges in the country and agree on the solution to the raging strife.

The conference, which is being supported by corporate organisations, including Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), United Bank for Africa (UBA), Glo, Zenith Bank, Access Bank, Air Peace and Trustfund Pensions Limited, will take place at the Nigerian Airforce Conference Centre, Kado area of Abuja.

NGE logo
NGE logo

Other promoters are Nigeria Deposit Insurance Company (NDIC), Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) and the Yobe State government.

Olorunyomi, an accomplished internationally acclaimed investigative journalist and journalism teacher, would give the keynote address that would be discussed by security chiefs, including Monguno; Irabor; Director-General, Department of State Services (DSS), Yusuf Bichi; and the Inspector-General of Police, Usman Baba.

In a statement issued in Abuja by the President, Mustapha Isah and the General Secretary, Iyobosa Uwugiaren, the Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE), said Kyari would be the Special Guest of Honour, while the President, Newspapers Proprietors Association of Nigeria (NPAN), Malam Kabiru Yusuf, would be the Guest of Honour.

‘’A doyen of the media, Mr. Ray Ekpu, would chair the opening session with Fashola and others, including President, Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Mr. Chris Isiguzo, and foreign ambassadors giving goodwill messages.

‘’Besides the opening session, the conference would have three others; the second session for the Day 1 of the conference has a paper titled, ‘’Conflict Reporting: The Editor as a Mediator’’, to be delivered by the Editor-in-Chief, Leadership Newspapers, Mr. Azu Ishiekwene.

‘’The paper would be discussed by Editor-in-Chief, 21st Century Chronicle, Dr. Mahmud Jega; Director-General, Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN), Mr. Mansur Liman; and another leading journalist, Mr. Emmanuel Yawe. Noted broadcaster, Ms. Kadaria Ahmed, would chair the session’’, the statement added.

The statement said that the morning session of the Day 2, Friday, October 22, would have Managing Director, Nigerian Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agriculture Lending (NIRSAL), Mr. Aliyu Abdulhameed, presenting a paper, ‘’Accessing Capital for Alternative Career Development for Editors.’’

Discussants at the session to be chaired by the Managing Director/CEO, Access Bank Plc, Herbert Wigwe, are former NGE President, Funke Egbemode; Managing Director of New Telegraph Newspapers, Ayodele Aminu; and Executive Director (News), FRCN, Sani Sulieman.

The afternoon session with the theme, ‘’Security Challenges: Recovering Lost Grounds’’, which the statement explained, would be attended by state governors, will be chaired by the Minister of Defence, Maj-Gen. Bashir Magashi.

“The conference is to be rounded off in the evening with the induction of new fellows and members of the Guild,” the statement said.

Over 300 editors and media owners – from print, broadcast stations and online newspapers have registered for this years conference.

Avoid do or die politics, MURIC tells politicians

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Prof. Ishaq Akintola, Director, MURIC
Prof. Ishaq Akintola, Director, MURIC

As Nigerian Muslims join their counterparts to mark this year’s birthday (Maolud an-Nabiyy) of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (SAW), a Nigerian human rights group, the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), has appealed to politicians to avoid ‘do or die’ politics.

This was made known in a Maolud message released by the group’s leader, Professor Ishaq Akintola, on Tuesday, 19th October, 2021.

“The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) felicitates with President Muhammadu Buhari, the Sultan of Sokoto and President General of the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, Alhaji Muhammad Sa‘ad Abubakar, the Nigerian Muslim community as well as all Nigerian citizens and foreigners on the occasion of the 2021 (1443 AH) anniversary of the birth of the noblest man that ever lived, Muhammad the son of Abdullahi (SAW).

“We seize the opportunity of this august occasion to appeal to Nigerian politicians to eschew ‘do or die’ politics. The body language of our politicians in recent time is not encouraging, particularly after the recent party congresses held all over the country. Desperation, greed and avarice is still boldly written on the foreheads of our politicians.

“It cuts across the political parties. Parallel congresses are held in almost all of the states and in almost all the parties. The exercise so far manifests gross desertification of the spirit of sportsmanship, statesmanship, patriotism and sacrifice.

“Why are ex-governors breathing down the necks of sitting governors? Where is the spirit of living and letting live? What did the ex-governors forget in the state houses? Whatever achievement or failure registered during the tenure of a former governor is his own story and score card.

“No ex-governor has the right to take more than one ‘last look at the Moor’. Cast your last look at the government house as you pack your belongings out of it at the end of your tenure and wish your successor well. Unfortunately the reverse is the case as most of our ex-governors fight tooth and nail to retain control of the political architecture of the states.

“Worse still, gunmen are hired to disrupt political gatherings. The fact that our politicians still believe in thuggery and hooliganism as a means of settling scores and achieving their political ambitions indicate that we are still playing Stone Age politics.

“MURIC charges Nigerian politicians to learn from Prophet Muhammad (SAW), the master of the arts of persuasion and dialogue. Though he lived as a fugitive in Makkah for several years, he returned to liberate the city from the clutches of his oppressors without a single sword leaving the scabbard.

“Though a complete alien in Madinah, its inhabitants welcomed him with pomp and pageantry. Nigerian politicians will disarm their opponents without firing a single shot if only they will emulate this great man, Muhammad. We therefore challenge our politicians to find time to learn about him. We have no iota of doubt that the Nigerian political architecture will never be the same again if they can do so.”

Pandora Papers: Obi welcomes proposed EFCC probe, .says yet to get invitation

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Peter Obi
Peter Obi

Vice Presidential Candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) during the 2019 election, Peter Obi, has welcomed the proposed probe of his foreign business operations by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) as a result of the recently released Pandora Papers.

Though Obi was not accused of either stealing public funds or money laundering in the leaked papers, reports in a section of the media say that he has been invited for questioning by EFCC.

But reacting through a statement on Monday by his Media Office, signed by Valentine Obienyem, Obi said he was yet to get the EFCC letter probably because from what he read on social media, it was sent to an office he was no longer part of.

“However,” the statement further reads, “Obi being a law abiding Nigerian will honour all legitimate invitations from government agencies at all times.”

Obi had in the wake of initial media publications on the Pandora Papers insisted that he broke no law. He said it was instructive that nowhere in the publications was he accused of any form of corruption, whether in the form of diversion of public funds or in any other manner during and after his stewardship as the governor of Anambra State. He added that the publication did not also allege that he had been engaged in unlawful business ventures at any time whatsoever.

Obi said his understanding was that the allegation bordered more on tax avoidance and non-declaration of some jointly owned assets. He then wondered if a thorough scrutiny and appreciation of all the facts and circumstances surrounding the alleged transactions were made by the writers.

“On the allegation that I violated the Nigerian Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act, as well as sections of the 5th Schedule to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), by not declaring any alleged assets in Companies registered outside the Nigerian Federation, I think that the authors displayed ignorance on matters of Trust and International Investment Practices,” he said.

The former governor said he did not in any respect whatsoever violate any law before, during and after his stewardship as the Governor of Anambra.

He said that in all matters relating to his investments and declaration of his personal assets, wherever they may be found, he proceeded, pursuant to professional opinions and advice of investment experts both locally and internationally.

Obi said he also engaged and acted on solicited advice by reputable legal practitioners on whose opinion he relied.

He urged all well-meaning persons to see through what he called “the hopeless sleight, and ignore the publications”.

Colin Powell, first black US secretary of state, dies of COVID

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Colin Powell
Colin Powell

Colin Powell, retired general and first black US secretary of state, is dead.

Powell, who was also a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was said to have died of COVID complications on Monday.

The deceased family confirmed his death via a Facebook post.

According to the family, the late Powell was fully vaccinated and was treated at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.

“General Colin L. Powell, former U.S. Secretary of State and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, passed away this morning due to complications from Covid 19,” the family said.

“He was fully vaccinated. We want to thank the medical staff at Walter Reed National Medical Center for their caring treatment.

“We have lost a remarkable and loving husband, father, grandfather and a great American.”

The deceased served as the national security advisor to former President Ronald Reagan from 1987 to 1989 and was the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under ex-President George HW Bush from 1989.

He was appointed as secretary of state in 2001 Under the Bush administration, and he became the first black person in US history to be so appointed.

Stop persecuting opposition, MURIC tells Tayyip Erdogan

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Turkish President Erdogan
Turkish President Erdogan

Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the president of Turkey, will arrive Nigeria today, Monday, 18th October, 2021 on a state visit. However, an Islamic human rights organisation, the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), has berated the Turkish leader for persecuting opposition back home in Turkey. MURIC accused Erdogan of arbitrary arrest, torture, political killings, long imprisonment of opposition figures and critics, particularly members of the Hizmet Movement.

The Nigerian human rights group spoke on Monday, 18th October, 2021 through its leader, Professor Ishaq Akintola, said “President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will arrive in Nigeria today, Monday, 18th October, 2021 on a state visit. He is expected to sign some business deals with his Nigerian counterpart, President Muhammadu Buhari. However, Erdogan’s visit leaves a sour taste in the mouth because of his undemocratic and tyrannical practices back home in Turkey.

Born on 26th February, 1954 at Rize, Turkey and presently leading the Justice and Development Party (Adalet ve Kalkinma Partisi), Erdogan who became prime minister of Turkey in 2003 clinged to power for eleven years before metamorphosing into a president on August 28, 2014. He cooked up a phantom coup on 15th July, 2016 to justify sweeping changes to the constitution and he arrogated extensive powers to himself as president one year later.

“What followed was arbitrary arrest, torture, political killings, long imprisonment of opposition figures and critics, particularly members of the Hizmet Movement. Travelling documents of key members of Hizmet were seized, and their properties were confiscated. They were thrown in jail in their thousands without fair trial. Members of the group who were outside Turkey were disallowed from returning.

“Though Hizmet is not a political movement that could threaten his position, yet like all dictators and tyrants, Erdogan was envious of the group because the latter had become extremely popular.

“Erdogan uses its diplomats in Nigeria to haunt Turkish citizens and members of the Hizmet Movement who are rendering humanitarian services in the country. They were declared persona non grata in Turkey and disallowed to enter their country of origin. Their travelling documents were seized thereby denying them right of return.

“Erdogan also uses his diplomats in Nigeria to label members of the Hizmet as terrorists. This is a very wicked attempt to push Nigerian security agencies to arrest, intimidate and unduely punish innocent refugees and asylum seekers.

“Members of their families whom they left behind in Turkey are also not allowed to travel out to unite with their loved ones in Nigeria. Thus we find Recep the tyrant masquerading as a liberal, Tayyip the dictator disguising as a democrat and Erdogan the bully pretending to be a hero. Afraid of his own shadow, Erdogan has forcefully separated husbands from their wives and children from their parents.

“MURIC affirms clearly, unequivocally and categorically that members of Hizmet are peace-loving people who are committed to the service of Nigerians and other people of the world. This they do by establishing primary and secondary schools of international standard as well as universities and hospitals. They also assist in building boreholes in Nigeria’s public schools and villages.

“Hizmet is therefore a mere network of humanitarian workers commited to the upliftment of mankind from ignorance to knowledge and from the abyss of poverty to the pinnacle of economic emancipation. This is service to humanity per excellence. How can anyone in his right senses accuse such a movement of being a terrorist group?

“MURIC rejects the double standard and hypocritical pretence of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. We charge him to leave members of Hizmet who are resident in Nigeria alone. We call on Erdogan to fling open the doors of Turkish prisons and torture chambers if he wants to be embraced by the international community.

“The whole world is now fully aware that Erdogan is an enemy of democracy. Allah-given fundamental human rights, including freedom of speech, freedom of movement, freedom of association and the rule of law are alien to Erdogan’s political philosophy. The whole of Turkey has become a huge prison camp in the grips of a vicious ruler.

“We appeal to the world community to intervene in the case of prisoners of conscience in Turkey. Thousands are languishing in jail without trial. Too many people are being tortured by Erdogan’s agents. Hundreds of Turkey citizens who have loved ones outside the country should be allowed to travel out. We call on Amnesty International and all other civil society groups around the world to speak out against Erdogan’s inhumanity to his perceived enemies.

“We urge President Muhammadu Buhari to be wary of the antics of the Turkish president as they both engage in business deals for their two countries. Erdogan is the modern fox of the Balkans, the Otto Von Bismarck of the Mediterranean and the Jekyll and Hyde of the Black Sea. Erdogan is not to be trusted. There is no scintilla of humanity in him.”

APC conducts peaceful state congress in Bayelsa

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APC
APC

The All Progressives Congress (APC), Bayelsa State Chapter, Saturday conducted a peaceful state Congress to elect its 36 State Executive Committee (SEC) members. The congress, which was held at the state party secretariat located along Mbiama/Yenagoa Road, witnessed the presence of major stakeholders led by the Senator Biobarakuma Degi- Eremienyo, two members of Federal House of Representatives, Hon. Isreal Sunny-Goli and Hon. Preye Influence Oseke.

The Leader of the Party in the State and Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva, was however absent but his political machine held sway.

At the end of the execricise, Chief Dennis Otiotio, a doctorate holder in Law, emerged State Chairman with Hon Ebipadei Fekoweimo, a former member of the Bayelsa State House of Assembly, as State Secretary. Media and Political Strategist, Doifie Buokoribo, was returned as State Publicity Secretary.

The Chairman of the 7-man State Congress Committee, DCP Yusuf Aurelius Adejo (rtd), described the election as peaceful and a family affair.

Also speaking, the member representing Southern Ijaw Federal Constituency, Hon. Preye Oseke, commended the conduct of the exercise, predicting that the emergence of Otiotio as Chairman will lead to a new dawn for the APC in Bayelsa.

The full list of the newly elected APC Bayelsa State Executive Committee is as follows:

1: Chief Dennis Otiotio – Chairman.

2: Hon. Francis Kolokolo – Deputy Chairman.

3: Hon. ThankGod Deizigha – Vice Chairman (Central).

4: Hon. George Otto – Vice Chairman (West).

5: Hon. Martins Alabo – Vice Chairman (East).

6: Hon. Ebipadei Fekoweimo – Secretary.

7: Hon. Nerius Owutuomo – Assistant Secretary.

8: Hon. Preye Agama – Youth Leader.

9: Hon. Doumo Isaac – Deputy Youth Leader.

10: Hon. Ebizimor Romeo – Bayelsa West Youth Leader.

11: Hon. Donny Sigah – Bayelsa Central Youth Leader.

12: Hon. Eriaye Gift Jasper – Bayelsa East Youth Leader.

13: Mrs Ebiere Akpobasa – Woman Leader.

14: Mrs Pamela Douglas – Assistant Woman Leader.

15: Mrs Seikemefa Akamu – Bayelsa West Woman Leader.

16: Mrs Ikadoi Francis – Bayelsa East Woman Leader.

17: Mrs Isowei Leigha – Bayelsa Central Woman Leader.

18: Hon. Ogisaman Orubo – Financial Secretary.

19: Hon. Abosi Felegha – Assistant Financial Secretary.

20: Hon. Doifie Buokoribo – Publicity Secretary.

21: Mr. Tamaratare Tamaratare Otis Zuokumor – Assistant Publicity Secretary.

22: Hon. Ebimene Emmanuel – Treasurer.

23: Hon. Lawrence Yongosi – Assistant Treasurer.

24: Prince Tokpo Coronation – Organising Secretary.

25: Hon. Bedford Woyengilayefa – Assistant Organising Secretary.

26: Barr Bipeledei Efieseimokumor – Legal Adviser.

27: Barr Doumo Ogbomani – Assistant Legal Adviser.

28: Hon. Ebikinei Tekerebo – Auditor.

29: Hon. Sinime Benjamin – Assistant Auditor.

30: Hon. Abi Morris – Welfare Secretary.

31: Hon. Jacob Jonah – Assistant Welfare Secretary.

32: Comr. Austin B Jonah – Physically Challenged.

33: Ikisikpo Marcus – Ex-Officio I.

34: Awini Gerenkeme – Ex-Officio II.

35: Humphrey Highlife – Ex-Officio III.

36: Suoyo Amaran – Ex-Officio IV.

Obi congratulates Isiguzo on re-election as NUJ President, charges journalists to drive positive change in society

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Peter Obi
Peter Obi

The Vice Presidential Candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) during the 2019 elections, Peter Obi, has congratulated the National President of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Comrade Chris Isiguzo, on his re-election.

Isiguzo was re-elected at the 7th Triennial Delegates Conference of NUJ held at the Dr. Michael Okpara Auditorium, Umuahia, Abia State, on Wednesday, October 7, 2021.

In his congratulatory message over the weekend, Obi urged Isiguzo to leverage on the support and confidence reposed in him by the Union to build a more formidable media space for the nation. He encouraged Isiguzo not to rest on his oars, but to strive harder to ensure that journalism continues to serve as the true watchdog of society.

Obi urged journalists to remain professional in their duties and avoid yielding to sensationalism, especially with the rise of fake stories in recent times.

“Journalists must, through their professional duties, continue to drive positive change in society. They need to tell stories that not only inspire hope in the people, but keep society from succumbing to lawlessness and chaos,” the former Anambra State Governor said.

He reiterated that the task of nation building is for all, adding that with collective efforts and sacrifices, the nation would be repositioned on the path of growth and development.

SERAP sues Buhari, wants court to declare ‘plan to monitor WhatsApp messages illegal’

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President Buhari and SERAP
President Buhari and SERAP

Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has filed a lawsuit against President Muhammadu Buhari, asking the court to “declare illegal and unconstitutional the plan by the administration to track, intercept and monitor WhatsApp messages, phone calls, and text messages of Nigerians and other people, as it severely threatens and violates the right to the preservation of privacy.”

The suit followed the proposal in the Supplementary Appropriation Act signed in July 2021 to spend N4.87bn to monitor private calls and messages. The amount is part of the N895.8bn supplementary budget approved by the National Assembly.

In the suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/1240/2021 filed last Friday at the Federal High Court in Abuja, SERAP is seeking: “an order of perpetual injunction restraining President Buhari and any other authority, persons or group of persons from unlawfully monitoring the WhatsApp messages, phone calls and text messages of Nigerians and other people.”

SERAP is also seeking “a declaration that any monitoring of WhatsApp messages, phone calls and text messages is oppressive and draconian, as it threatens and violates sections 37 and 39 of Nigerian Constitution 1999 [as amended]; Article 9 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights; and Articles 17 and 19 of International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Nigeria is a state party.”

SERAP is arguing that, “The plan to monitor WhatsApp messages, phone calls and text messages is an arbitrary interference by the administration into respect for family and private life, the home, and correspondence. It also fails to meet the requirements of legality, necessity, and proportionality.”

According to SERAP, “The Buhari administration has legal obligations to protect Nigerians and other people against arbitrary interference and violations of their human rights. Monitoring of WhatsApp messages, phone calls and text messages would grant free rein to government agencies to conduct mass surveillance of communications of people.”

SERAP is also arguing that, “The mere threat of mass surveillance, even when secret, coupled with the lack of remedy, can constitute an interference with human rights, including the rights to privacy, freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association.”

SERAP is further arguing that, “Privacy and expression are intertwined in the digital age, with online privacy serving as a gateway to secure exercise of the freedom of opinion and expression. Therefore, targets of surveillance would suffer interference with their rights to privacy and freedom of opinion and expression whether the effort to monitor is successful or not.”

Joined in the suit as Respondents are Mr Abubakar Malami, SAN, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation; and Mrs Zainab Ahmed, Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning.

The suit filed on behalf of SERAP by its lawyers Kolawole Oluwadare and Kehinde Oyewumi, read in part: “The powers to conduct arbitrary, abusive or unlawful surveillance of communications may also be used to target political figures and activists, journalists and others in the discharge of their lawful activities.”

“Any spending of public funds should stay within the limits of constitutional responsibilities, and oath of office by public officers, as well as comply with Chapter 2 of the Nigerian Constitution relating to fundamental objectives and directive principles of state policy.”

“The lack of any safeguards against discriminatory decision-making, and access to an effective remedy shows the grave threats the purported plan poses to constitutionally and internationally recognized human rights.”

“Section 37 of the Nigerian Constitution and Article 17 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights provide for the right to freedom from arbitrary or unlawful interference with privacy and correspondence, communications and private data.”

“Section 39 of the Nigerian Constitution and Article 19 of the Covenant also guarantee the right of everyone to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers and through any media.”

“The UN General Assembly has condemned unlawful or arbitrary surveillance and interception of communications as ‘highly intrusive acts’ that interfere with fundamental human rights (see General Assembly resolutions 68/167 and 71/199).”

“Interference with privacy through targeted surveillance is designed to repress the exercise of the right to freedom of expression. Surveillance of journalists, activists, opposition figures, critics and others simply exercising their right to freedom of expression – would lead to violations of other human rights.”

“Targeted surveillance creates incentives for self-censorship and directly undermines the ability of journalists and human rights defenders to conduct investigations and build and maintain relationships with sources of information.”

SERAP is also seeking the following reliefs:

A DECLARATION that monitoring of WhatsApp messages, phone calls and text messages of Nigerians and other people is inconsistent with the principles of legality, necessity, and proportionality and amounts to threat and infringement on the rights to private and family life, access to correspondence, and freedom of expression and the press guaranteed under sections 37 and 39 of Nigeria Constitution, 1999; Article 9 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, and Articles 17 and 19 of International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights

A DECLARATION that the act of the Defendants budgeting N4.87bn of public money to monitor WhatsApp messages, phone calls and text messages of Nigerians and other people is unlawful and a violation of the rights to private and family life, access to correspondence, and freedom of expression and the press

AN ORDER setting aside the budget line of N4.87bn to monitor WhatsApp messages, phone calls and text messages of Nigerians and other people for being inconsistent and incompatible with constitutional provisions, and international human rights treaties

AN ORDER mandating the 1st Respondent to redirect public funds in the sum of N4.87bn budgeted to monitor WhatsApp messages, phone calls and text messages of Nigerians and other people to improve the working conditions of healthcare practitioners and improve public healthcare facilities across Nigeria

AND FOR SUCH FURTHER ORDER OR ORDERS that this Honourable Court may deem fit to make in the circumstances.

No date has been fixed for the hearing of the suit.

FIRS to spend N2.8bn on uniforms, N550m on meals

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Mohammed Nami, FIRS boss
Mohammed Nami, FIRS boss

The Federal Inland Revenue Service has earmarked the sum of N2.8bn for “uniforms and clothing” for the year 2022.

The tax body has also budgeted about N550m for refreshments and N200m for sporting activities. The FIRS, which is one of the highest revenue generating government bodies, set aside N262.5m for security votes while N17.8bn would be spent on “miscellaneous” expenses.

The details are included in the 2022 budget proposal the agency submitted separately to the National Assembly.

Already, there are concerns over the cost of governance and the percentage of the annual budget that goes into recurrent expenditure.

In the 2022 budget proposal President Muhammadu Buhari presented to the joint section of the National Assembly on October 7, a whopping N4.69tn out of the total N16.39tn budget was appropriated for personnel costs and pensions (inclusive of N617.72bn for the 63 GOEs). Also, the overhead cost would gulp N792.39bn (inclusive of N451.0 billion for the 63 GOEs).

Owing to the nation’s scarce resources and low revenue, the Federal Government would spend N3.61tn on debt servicing while it would borrow an additional N6.25tn from domestic and external sources to fund the deficit in the budget.

Meanwhile, the total budget of the FIRS stands at N228bn, surpassing the 2022 budget of the National Assembly (N134bn) and the judiciary (N120bn).

The FIRS budget also surpasses the current 2021 budgets of Abia, Adamawa, Anambra, Bauchi, Benue, Ebonyi, Edo, Ekiti, Enugu, Gombe, Jigawa, Kano, Kebbi, Kogi, Kwara, Nasarawa, Niger, Ondo, Osun, Plateau, Sokoto, Taraba, Yobe and Zamfara states.

In its 2022 budget proposal, the tax body earmarked N2.5bn for the purchase of land, N3bn for office furniture, N1.5bn for photocopying machines, N2.04bn for computers and N500m for the construction of sports facilities.

The agency set aside N1bn for generator fuel and N250m for maintenance while a separate N550m was set aside for purchasing more generators.

The FIRS will spend N6bn on its new headquarters and N2bn on the purchase of vehicles.

It budgeted about N1.3bn for cleaning and fumigation of its offices nationwide while N1.4bn will be spent on general maintenance services.

The FIRS budgeted about N1.3bn for office stationery and computer consumables while N3bn will be spent on printing non-security documents.

The agency will spend N1.4bn on electricity charges, N460m on telephone charges and N1.3bn on security services.
The FIRS will spend N7.9bn on donations and N200m as contributions to international organisations.

The agency earmarked N800m for legal services, N1.04bn on bank charges, N9.5bn on welfare packages; N1.1bn on staff retreat and N2.9bn on repairs.

The FIRS collects Value Added Tax, Company Income Tax, stamp duty, technology levy, Personal Income Tax, Capital Gains Tax, Nigeria Customs Service Import VAT, electronic money transfer and gas income.

Currently, the FIRS is involved in a legal dispute with Rivers and Lagos states over the right authority to collect VAT.

The Federal High Court in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, had on September 10 ruled that Rivers State and not the FIRS should collect VAT and Personal Income Tax in the state.

Until then, the FIRS was the agency collecting VAT across the country and after deducting its four per cent collection cost, it remitted the rest to the federation account for sharing among the three tiers of government.

Following the ruling of the Federal High Court, the FIRS filed an appeal at the Court of Appeal in Abuja, and the court ordered all the parties to maintain status quo. It also granted the application for joinder by the Lagos State government. Rivers and Lagos states have enacted their VAT laws.

The Court of Appeal in Abuja has however transferred the matter to its division in Port Harcourt for further hearing.

Meanwhile, the Rivers State Government has also approached the Supreme Court to set aside the Appeal Court’s ruling that parties should maintain status quo.

‘Harvest of confusion’ – PDP takes a dig at APC over parallel state congresses

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Kola Ologbodiyan, PDP Spokesperson
Kola Ologbodiyan, PDP Spokesperson

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has criticised the All Progressives Congress (APC) over the division which characterised its state congresses.

Several APC state chapters held parallel congresses and produced two sets of executives on Saturday.

Commenting on the development, the opposition party said the “crisis-ridden” congresses “explain why Nigeria is in conflict”.

Kola Ologbondiyan, PDP national publicity secretary, on Sunday, described the APC congresses as a “harvest of confusion”.

The statement reads: “Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has noted that the crisis in 20 state chapters of the All Progressives Congress (APC), where parallel congresses were held on Saturday to elect state officers of the party, is a clear signal for reasons why our nation is in a disaster.

“The fractious congresses of the APC have shown how greed and lust for power by the APC leaders has created crisis in all facets of our national life.

“It is indeed despicable that a party that has the incumbent President of the country could not successfully conduct state congress, as their leaders were seen behaving recklessly and investing heavily in violence; a development that speaks volumes on why our nation has been under the heavy yoke of violence, division, bloodletting and acts of terrorism under the APC watch.

“The outcome of APC congresses in many of the states has shown that it is a party that lacks leadership direction and internal cohesion; a party of unruly people, who are averse to peace, which explains why our country is reeling in crisis under the APC.

“The APC cannot guarantee or give unity, tranquility and progress to our nation. Instead, it has continued to worsen the tension in the country. It has continued to show itself as a party that is troubled from within and only waiting to implode at any time.

“Nigerians should be wary of the APC. If the APC congresses turned out this bad, one can only imagine the type of mayhem that would characterize its primaries as well as their involvement in the general election.

“The APC state congresses present an unprecedented scenario in the history of our nation, where a party which produced the incumbent President, will have its ranks so torn down in shameful spectacle.

“Nigerians should make a correct interpretation of the signal sent out by APC congresses, which is that the ruling party is a mere contraption and an inchoate body of desperate elements. Such a party cannot organise for the genuine development of the country.

“Moreover, our party, the PDP is not however unaware of the efforts by the APC to inject crisis into our congresses but we commend the deft handling of issues in all our congresses to avert a crisis situation plotted by the APC.”

The PDP asked Nigerians to reject APC in 2023, saying the party is a “conflict-provoking, and troubled political special purpose vehicle”.