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NEMA fraud: We’ll not stop investigation – Reps

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The House of Representatives has said it cannot be intimidated to discontinue its investigation into alleged violation of public trust and due process in the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA).

It however decried what it described as attempts by some individuals to pitch it against the presidency, saying it has nothing against Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.

Briefing the media, members of the House committee on national emergency and disaster management led by Hon. Ehiogwa Johnson Agbonayinma (APC, Edo) said the panel was worried at media reports concerning the ongoing investigation by the committee.

He said, “we also observed with dismay, the ongoing campaign of calumny sponsored to pitch the House against the presidency especially his Excellency, Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo.

“The VP’s only involvement is because according to the law establishing NEMA, Section 2Sun-section 2 (a) the vice president is the chairman of the governing council; we, therefore, want to know if the council under the vice president authorized the suspension of the directors”.

While noting that the Constitution empowers the National Assembly to investigate corruption and waste, Agbonayinma stressed that the committee will leave no stone on unturned until the truth is unearthed.

“We want to state unequivocally that no amount of blackmail or campaign of calumny will deter or prevent us from conducting this investigation.

On the suspended directors in the agency, the lawmakers explained that the Director General of NEMA, Engr. Mustapha Maihaja informed the committee at one of its hearings that he suspended them.

“Engr. Mustapha Maihaja himself during one of the committee hearing, when he introduced a new director of finance and else sought to know what happened to the former director and he admitted to suspending them.

“The committee also sought to know whether the suspension followed due process because these same directors are witnesses in the ongoing investigation”, he said.

The House committee is amongst other things, the release of N5.9 billion food intervention in the Northern; release of N1.6 billion for Libya Returnees and the un-accounted N10 billion release from the ecological fund. The committee at its last sitting summoned the vice president and all the suspended directors to appear before it.
It would be recalled that the Presidency on Monday released what it described as an authoritative report on how seven suspended directors of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) allegedly stole over a billion naira, $284,000 and £95,000.

A statement by an official of the presidency said the report revealed that the immediate past NEMA Director General, Mohammed Sani Sidi and maintained 20 different accounts in various banks.

The official alleged that the suspended staff had hurriedly and illegally taken the matter to the House of Representatives in a pre-emptive move to forestall the ongoing investigations by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Accordingly to the report, a report submitted to the Presidency by agencies involved in the investigations and activities of the suspended directors revealed clear cases of abuse of office, graft and collusion on the part of the NEMA directors.

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Killings: Nigeria is a failed state – Dickson 

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Bayelsa State Governor, Henry Seriake Dickson said the wanton killings in the country by Fulani herdsmen is symptomatic of a failed state. 

Dickson who spoke yesterday at a National Prayer Conference in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital, stated that Nigeria is seriously bleeding and divided more than ever. 

In a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Francis Agbo, the Bayelsa State governor said Nigerians must unite in prayers and resolve to work together to ensure fairness, justice, equity and equal citizenship.                                       

“In this country,  God’s children, human beings irrespective of the God they worship are being slaughtered mercilessly, remorselessly in many parts of the country. 

“Our nation is bleeding, we must unite in prayers and resolve to do what is right and fair. Our nation should be a nation of fairness, justice, equity, equal citizenship and united by common ideals of being the greatest black nation,” Dickson added. 

He called on the nation’s leaders to take the responsibility to stop the bloodletting, adding that this is the time Nigerians have to intensify prayers for the nation to overcome its challenges. 

The governor said:‎ “We are united by our common shared humanity and nationality, so injustice and unfairness anywhere should be a concern to anyone and everyone in our nation. 

“I join you in praying that the bloodletting, unnecessary killings in our nation under any shape or guise ends in Jesus name. 

“God should intervene so that people will feel the need to do the right thing, be fair and just to one another.”

Chairman and convener of Nigeria Prays, General Yakubu Gowon (retd), stressed the importance of prayers, which he said, could help to solve Nigeria’s problems better and faster than military generals and soldiers could do with physical weapons of war. 

Gowon assured Nigerians that God would honour the collective prayers and intercession for the nation, while also advising people to shun violence and retaliation.

Also, the National Director of Nigeria Prays,  Reverend Moses Aransiola said the organisation believes in the efficacy of prayer, and argued that it is the patriotic responsibility of all Christians to pray for their leaders. 

President,  Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN), Revd. Felix Provide, in a message, assured of God’s intervention to the nation’s problems. 

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2019: PDP may merge with other parties to defeat APC

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The National Chairman of the party, Uche Secondus, made this known at an emergency National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting of the party on Thursday in Abuja.

Mr Secondus said that the consultation with the groups was useful, and that in coming days, a broader platform would be raised to wrestle power from the All Progressives Congress (APC).

He said that PDP had taken it upon itself as the leading opposition party to broaden its scope, open its doors and allow ideas to flow in for a more robust democratic process.

“Our consultations have taken us to meet with various interest groups, who are willing to do business with us.

“I can report to you that it has been very fruitful.

“We expect in the coming days to have a broader political family, working hard to rescue this democracy and our beloved country from the hands of APC.”

He hinted that all former presidents and former leaders of Nigeria were in unison to make sure that in 2019 a fresh and new government was formed in the interest of the nation.

Mr Secondus called on members of the party and other political parties to join forces to rescue power from the APC.

“We, therefore, invite our brothers, sisters, youths and women from other political parties in this platform to join us to rescue our country that is in distress, socially, politically, economically and security-wise.”

On Wednesday’s Mace at the Senate chamber, he called for the prosecution of those responsible for the act.

The chairman described the incident as ugly and sad, which underscored the fact that the country’s democracy was seriously under threat.

He said, “how did the hoodlums pass through all the security checks, majestically walked into the chambers to cause such havoc, leaving much to chew to all discerning minds.

“What happened in the Senate yesterday is a clear assault on democracy, a coup against the legislature and should not only be condemned but those responsible should be tried for treason as demanded by the law.

“Herdsmen brazenly invade our homes and farms, rape, maim and kill our people daily, and thugs do the same in our parliament, yet we have a government.

“This obnoxious development has placed enormous challenge on us as the main opposition party to up our game and quickly rescue this country from the appalling APC administration.”

President Muhammadu Buhari addressing the Party chieftains during the Party’ 4th National Caucus Meeting held Monday night at the Presidential Villa Abuja. PHOTO; SUNDAY AGHAEZE. FEB 26 2018
Mr Secondus also expressed disbelief on the news credited to President Muhammadu Buhari, describing Nigerian youth as lazy people and “his continued de-marketing of Nigeria each time he travels outside the country.’’

“Our youth are not lazy, they are resourceful and indeed they are our future leaders.”

On his part, Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, who explained the Senate incident, said it was not just a coincidence but collusion.

According to him, this will send a wrong signal to foreign investors interested in investing in the country.

Mr Ekweremadu, however, pledged the support of PDP senators for all PDP activities.

In his part, Governor of Ekiti State and Chairman of PDP Governors Forum, Ayodele Fayose, pledged that the hope of Nigerians in the party would not be let down.

Mr Fayose also expressed optimism that the PDP would emerge victorious in the July 14 governorship election in his state.

(NAN)

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Reps threaten to arrest Malami, Obono-Obla others

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The House of Representatives has threatened to issue a warrant of arrest on the Attorney General of the Federation and minister for justice, Mallam Abubakar Malami, and the chairman of the Presidential panel of the recovery of public properties, Mr. Okoi Obono-Obla and members of the committee if they fail to appear before it next Tuesday.

Also on the list are the Office of the Vice president, the Inspector General of Police, Alhaji Ibrahim Idris, Office of the Secretary to Government of the Federation (OSGF), Office of the Head of Service of the Federation (OHSF), the Accountant General of the Federation (AGF) and Auditor General of the Federation.

Others are the representatives of the ministry of finance, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related Offences Commission (ICPC), the Budget Office of the Federation and the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA).

Chairman of the House ad hoc committee investigating the modus operandi of the Special Presidential Investigative Panel, Hon. Aliyu Ahman-Pategi who issued the threat yesterday warned that the affected persons must appear in person.

At the commencement of the investigation yesterday, most of the heads of the affected ministries, department and agencies (MDAs) were either absent or sent representatives forcing the committee to postpone the probe.

Addressing representatives of the chairman of the presidential panel, Ahman-Pategi said “we will not take that arrogance here. Even if it means inviting President Muhammadu Buhari we will do it. And let me read section 88 of the constitution, which give us the powers to do what we are doing.

“We are worried about the level of ineptitude and incompetence exhibited by government appointees and functionaries. This should be the last time heads of MDAs are invited here and they fail to appear. If anybody fails to honour our invitation next Tuesday by 10 am, we will wield the big stick”

Recall that the House had in March, mandated the ad hoc committee on the Special Investigation Panel, led by Hon. Ahman-Pategi to probe into activities of the committee, following a motion passed on the floor on the constitutionality and otherwise of the presidential panel.

Consequently, the ad hoc committee had in a letter dated 28th March 2018 and referenced NASS/8HR/DCD/016180/001 requested the chairman of the panel to submit the list, curriculum vitae, and certificates of its members.

The committee also demanded for documents showing “the annual budgetary provisions for the panel since inception; list of investigations carried out from inception to date; list of all the seizures effected from inception till date, showing their location and names of persons from whom the seizures where made; details of bank account; and details of income & expenditure since inception”.

While declaring the investigative hearing open, speaker of the House, Hon. Yakubu Dogara said that the legislature has the constitutional responsibility to ensure good governance, law and order in the country.

Represented by the Deputy Minority Whip Hon. Binta Bello Maigari, the speaker noted that the imperatives of the fight against corruption and doing things right in line with international best practices and added that the 1999 Constitution has vested the power of investigation of corruption on the National Assembly.

He expressed serious reservations on the constitution of the probe panel added that the ad-hoc committee is not to witch-hunt anybody rather it is to enthrone accountability and good governance.

Other members of the ad-hoc committee as Hon. Toby Okechukwu (Enugu, PDP) and Hon. Kingsley Chinda (Rivers, PDP) had noted with distrust what is happening in many government agencies.

The lawmakers insisted that they won’t take any brief from a representative of the Chairman of the Presidential Panel and other invited government agencies at the hearing and threatened to invoke the provisions of Sec 88 and 89 of the 1999 Constitution if the invitees shun the next sitting.

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