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Some reports and facts have emerged on how the suspended Director General of the Securities and Exchange Commission, Mounir Gwarzo, paid N1.7bn as severance package to 44 members of staff of the commission without approval from the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun. The payment of the amount is one of the contraventions of financial regulations by the embattled SEC DG, which led to the recommendation of his dismissal.

According to the report of the Administrative Panel of Inquiry, the payment of the N1.7bn to the 44 members of staff of the commission as severance package was never provided for in the commission’s budget for 2015. He was said to have in 2015 introduced a voluntary exit scheme for members of staff willing to quit the service of SEC. The scheme christened, Golden Handshake, was designed to ease out members of staff voluntarily with attractive packages as benefits.

A top government official privy to the content of the report of the administrative panel told Punch, “In 2015, he single handedly without a budgetary provision paid N1.7bn to a set of staff under a golden handshake. By law, the DG of SEC is required to seek the approval of the Minister of Finance, even if there is a board in place. “They should have sought the approval of the minister, who, in turn will present it to the President and the request is sent to the National Assembly. But the suspended SEC DG went outside budgetary provision to effect the payment”

Contrary to the claim by Gwarzo that he had resigned from the board of Outbound Investment and Medusa Investment Limited, a copy of the resolution reached by the board of Medusa dated August 15, 2016, showed that he was still a director of the company. Gwarzo’s personal interest in the companies, according to the report, is a clear contravention of the regulation, which explicitly prohibits public officers from being in situations that bring their personal interests into conflict with their public duties.

Gwarzo had tendered a letter of resignation as a director of Medusa Investments Limited on December 19, 2012, to the API while appearing before members of the committee in January 2018. The panel in its report, however, said the actions taken by the former SEC boss in 2015 and 2016 negated his letter of resignation as a director in Medusa. For instance, it was stated that based on bank documents , Gwarzo had written a Wuse branch of a bank in Abuja on July 24 , 2015, requesting for a change of account officer.

According to Punch, his letter to the bank, was signed in his name as a director of Medusa Investments Limited. The API had in its report recommended the sacking of the embattled DG from the public service. A final decision on the report is being awaited from the Federal Government. When contacted by Punch, Gwarzo said in a text message that the claim that he paid the sum of N1.7bn severance package to staff members without approval was untrue.

He stated, “It’s not true; please discuss with the Board Secretary of the commission and they will show you the board approval. We have also provided explanations to both the ICPC and EFCC and got clearance on the issue signed by the former Chairman of ICPC. “And let’s also state that at that time we had a board thus, we did not require the approval of the minster and the board approved it.”

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NEWS

CBA Foundation Lends Voice Against Police Brutality, Backs Effective Policing, Good Governance

Gbemileke Ajayi

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The Chinwe Bode-Akinwande (CBA) Foundation, a non-governmental organization in Lagos, has joined well-meaning Nigerians across the world to lend its voice against the unfriendly approach of the Nigeria Police Force to civil policing and respect of human rights.

The foundation expressed its support to the widespread cry on the need for the Nigeria Police Force to be uplifted and modernized to promote its efficiency in the discharge of its primary duties of protecting the lives and properties of all residents in the country, irrespective of nationality.

A statement by the foundation’s chairman, Board of Trustees, Dr. Adesina Adegunle, on Friday, said that as the protest for #EndSARs, #EndPoliceBrutality is being looked into by the government (legislative and executive arms), as well as other stakeholders in the place of influence and authority, a common ground and lasting solution is expedient so the trust of the police by everyone is achieved.

“We stand for #EndPoliceBrutality #EndDehumanisation on all grounds. Without a doubt, the victims of police brutality at the extreme case, hence death, have left many women widows; it has left many widows losing their children as well, with many having no one to turn to. Such dehumanization has made the meaning and essence of life lost by the victims.

“Now is the time to speak up, listen, represent right, and see through the solution we seek. We need to hear the plans, see actions, and feel the effectiveness of the timelines in place.

“We need a listening government, people-centered leaders that will be bold to ask the public to track and hold those in authority accountable.

“Good leadership and representative governance are all we seek because Nigeria is ours and indeed the role security plays to the growth and development of the country cannot be overemphasized. God bless Nigeria,” he noted.

The CBA Foundation is primarily dedicated to promoting the protection of Nigerian widows and their vulnerable children, restoring immediate and lasting hope, confidence, and courage in their lives.

Established in 2015, the foundation, under its 5-point agenda, has reached out to thousands of underprivileged widows and children through skills acquisition training, health intervention, business start-ups, and provision of clothing, nutrition, and tuition fees for the children.

In breakdown, 5,600 widows have been empowered through its women empowerment and capacity building initiative; over 3,500 underprivileged widows have received health intervention; over 3,500 have also received food items.

The foundation has also reinstated 45 children in school, empowered 120 widows financially to start a business of their own, and also provided palliatives to 250 widows during the COVID-19 pandemic lock-down.

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BIG STORY

Senate Minority Caucus Knocks Buhari Over Lauretta Onochie’s INEC Nomination, Calls For Withdrawal Of Nomination

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The Senate Minority Caucus said on Tuesday that the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), flouted the nation’s constitution with the appointment of his media aide, Lauretta Onochie, as a national commissioner of the Independent National Electoral Commission.

The opposition senators in a statement made available to our correspondent in Abuja and signed by their leader, however, asked Buhari to withdraw Onochie’s nomination.

They noted that Buhari, by nominating Onochie, “has willfully gone against the constitution that he swore to uphold.”

Part of the statement read, “Item F, paragraph 14 of the Third Schedule of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) forbids a card-carrying member of a political party to be a member of INEC.

“The Minority Caucus of the Senate is against this nomination and call on Mr President to withdraw it.”

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NEWS

Baba Bajaj, Runs Faster, Lasts Longer, Covers Over 5500 Kms On Tough Nigerian Road

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Bajaj

For the first time ever, Nigeria experienced its own Keke rally that kicked off on 7th August from the Stallion Auto Keke- Ijesha Showroom for Bajaj Kekes. The Stallion Bajaj Keke Rally has now completed a tough terrain of 5594 km through 27 cities and 18 states in the West, East, and North Central in less than 41 days.

 The road trip was up of a team of 5 experienced riders and the Stallion Bajaj officials and security agents. Collectively the convoy covered more than 26000 Kms without any product issues.

 Managing Director for the business, Mr. Manish Rohtagi stated that “The Keke Rally really boasts on how the New Baba Bajaj is tough, strong, reliable, and well equipped for the Nigerian roads. Having covered almost more than 5000 km the Kekes did not face any performance or maintenance challenges. It kept its brand promise of “Runs Faster, Lasts Longer” through every rider who was a part of this rally.”

 The rally was flagged off from Lagos and covered states like Ogun, Oyo, Kwara, Kogi, Benue, Enugu, Ebonyi, Cross River, Akwa Ibom, Abia, Rivers, Anambra, Delta, Edo, Ondo, Ekiti, Osun, to prove the durability of  Bajaj Keke. It even spread the message of urging people of Nigeria to be responsible for maintaining hygiene to curb the spread of the Corona Virus. The Stallion Bajaj Keke Rally visited celebrated cultural and historic sites in each state highlighting and sharing the Nigerian culture of host communities. The journey to these sites brought forth the stories around it to encourage connecting the youth to their rich heritage.

 The vision from this rally was not only to take up the challenge of proving how credible the product is but also to engage in the stories of these riders that will go on to make the brand what it is. The alliance of Stallion and Bajaj will continue to improve lives by going the extra mile providing rider-training facilities, scholarship programmes, mechanic empowerment programmes, ease in the financing, ease of spare part availability, and differentiated customer service through its existing footprints within the auto industry.

 Bajaj Auto Ltd. is a world leader in the intracity vehicle space. Loved in 70 countries the brand stands for integrity, dedication, resourcefulness, and determination to succeed and empower. It is a well-known brand for its durability, speed, and maneuverability and is the pioneer brand of tricycles in Nigeria loved by millions. It’s a Keke for the people engineered for a smooth journey and better livelihood.

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