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The Police on Wednesday night described the failure of the President of the Senate, Dr Abubakar Bukola Saraki, to honour its invitation on the Offa, Kwara State robbery incident of April 5 as disrespectful.

The Force Public Relations Office, Deputy Commissioner of Police Jimoh Moshood, stated the position of the police on Wednesday on a television programme.

The police had invited Saraki via a letter by the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris.

Idris directed Saraki to report to the IGP Intelligence Response Team.

But Saraki did not honour the invitation but sent another written response.

Reacting to the development, Moshood said: “On the 23rd of July, an invitation was sent to him.

“We were expecting him by 8 am on Tuesday for further investigation into the Offa bank robbery where 33 people were killed.

“The position of the law is that anybody that was alleged to have committed an offence must make himself present.

“He has sent a written statement to the investigation team and it was not satisfactory.

“There are lots of grey areas that need to be cleared, and that is why he was invited.

“The investigators have been directed to take all actions within the ambit of the law to ensure that there is compliance with the law because the bottom line is that we have a case that can stand the test of a trial against the Senate President and we don’t want people to politicize criminality.

“He was indicted based on the confession of five principal suspects in Offa robbery.”

On how the Police perceived Saraki’s refusal to honour its invitation, Moshood said: “We are treating it as a disrespect to the law and we are going to take appropriate action to ensure that he complies with the rule of law because nobody is above the law.”

Speaking on the alleged blockade of the residence of Saraki on Tuesday morning when he was expected to have gone to attend the summon, Moshood said: “If we were expecting him, why would we go and block him?

“We had no hand in the blockade and two press statements were sent from my office on Tuesday on the directive of the IGP for the public to know what actually transpired.

“We have over 170 Police Mobile Force personnel attached to the National Assembly and about 40 are attached directly to the Senate President.

“Outside that, we have the Special Protection Unit that is equally attached to him.

“We have the ADC, the CSO.

“We have a lot of other police personnel, including those who are riders and drivers.

“So what happened yesterday (Tuesday) was not a blockade by our personnel.

“We didn’t block the residence.

“Those seen in the picture and video were personnel that were attached to him because we don’t even use Mercedes Benz for patrol.

“We don’t have any Mercedes Benz in our fleet for patrol and in that picture, there was a Mercedes-Benz vehicle.

“Those are the personnel attached to the convoy of the Senate President and those attached to his residence for his protection.

“We have the obligation to also protect his family.

“The wife has policemen attached to her.

“Also his guest house and other houses are equally protected.

“So those seen were those attached to the Senate President, but the IG, concerned with public interest and the need to let Nigerians know what transpired has directed an investigation into the matter.

“The ADC was invited because he is supposed to know the whereabouts of his principal, but if the ADC is in isolation, we would want to know who called for whatsoever additional police personnel seen there because there was no authorised deployment from FHQ or any other formation to block his residence.

“You don’t go and block an empty house.

“What do we stand to gain by doing that?

“We have other means for which if we want the Senate president to comply with the dictates of the law, he would and he was invited and we were waiting for him.

“Whoever is the officer that used that discretion to order a blockade is attached to the Senate president and that is what we want everybody to know.

“It was circulated for the media to embarrass us.

Apart from the pictures and videos, radio stations were also running commentary that they didn’t know the whereabouts of the Senate president as at then.

“They were also saying the house of the Deputy Senate President was blocked.

“They are the heads of the legislative arm of government and we have an obligation to protect them.

“A thorough investigation has been ordered to know who gave that directive but we strongly believe that they are among the convoy of the Senate president.

“If the whereabouts of the Senate President is not known, then the ADC has a right to exercise a discretion and if the discretion was exercised wrongly, then the Force has the responsibility to discipline him and that is why he has made the statement and he is being investigated.

“It is important for Nigerians to know that we don’t have hand in it.

“If we blocked him, he wouldn’t have appeared in the Senate but he presided over activities in the Senate.”

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NIPOST, FIRS War Escalates Over Stamp Duty Collection

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The imbroglio between Nigeria Postal Service (NIPOST) and the Federal Inland Revenue Services (FIRS) over jurisdiction in respect of stamp duty collection worsened on Tuesday.

Director Communication and Liaison FIRS, Abdullahi Ismaila Ahmad, in a statement vowed the FIRS is determined to ensure all monies collected by NIPOST into its alleged illegally operated Stamp Duties Account are fully remitted into the Federation Account.

He also said but FIRS would make sure that any kobo not accounted for in that account is legally recovered.

But Chairman of the Nigeria Postal Service, Maimuna Abubakar, in a series of tweets on Sunday, lamented FIRS has stolen the mandate of NIPOST.

The NIPOST chairman said the FIRS, which is the agency responsible for assessing, collecting and accounting for tax accruing to the Federal Government, had begun printing stamps.

She alleged FIRS did not only steal NIPOST’s stamps but also its ideas.

Abubakar tweeted: “I am worried for NIPOST, having sleepless nights because of NIPOST. We need the general public to come to our aid; FIRS stole our mandate.

“FIRS are now selling stamps instead of buying from us. What is happening; are we expected to keep quiet and let FIRS kill and bury NIPOST?

“We need to get our mandate. NIPOST is the sole custodian of national stamps; another agency printing and selling stamps is against the law of the land.”

But, FIRS in a series of tweets on Tuesday, countered NIPOST and faulted claims of Maimuna Abubakar.

It said: “To be sure, NIPOST is a government parastatal established by Decree 41 of 1992 with the function to develop, promote and provide adequate and efficiently co-ordinated postal services at reasonable rates.

“This function is clearly contrary to the claim by NIPOST over the administration of stamp duties in Nigeria.

“On the other hand, the FIRS is the sole agency charged with the responsibility of assessing, collecting, and accounting for all tax types including Stamp Duties.”

There has been contention between FIRS and NIPOST over which agency is the custodian of stamp duty following the implementation of the Stamp Duty Act.

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WAEC Releases 2020 WASSCE Timetable, Exams To Start August 17

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The West African Examinations Council has released the timetable for the 2020 West African Senior School Certificate Examination, The PUNCH is reporting.

The Federal Government had announced the resumption of graduating pupils beginning August 4, noting that WASSCE would begin effective August 17, 2020, through September 12, 2020.

WAEC Nigeria in a statement on Tuesday signed by its Head of Public Affairs, Demianus Ojijeogu, advised candidates to disregard other versions of the examination timetable in circulation.

The statement was titled, ‘WAEC Releases Timetable For The Conduct Of West African Senior School Certificate Examination For School Candidates, 2020’.

The statement read, “The West African Examinations Council, Nigeria wishes to inform its stakeholders-schools, parents and candidate-that the Final International Timetable for the conduct of WASSCE for School Candidates, 2020 has been released.

“The Council notes that several versions of the examination timetable have been in circulation and enjoins the general public to disregard them as they did not emanate from it.

“The examination which has been slated to begin on Monday, August 17, 2020, will end on Saturday, September 12, 2020.

“The Council hereby urges the candidates to abide by the rules and regulations guiding the conduct of the examination by shunning all acts of malpractice and obeying all Covid-19 protocols that have been put in place at the examination centers.

“This is wishing the candidate’s success in the examination.”

Ojijeogu in a chat with our correspondent said details of the timetable would follow.

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Financial Recklessness: Pondei, Other NDDC Staff Spent N5bn As Medical Allowances During Lockdown —- Senate Report [Full Breakdown]

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The Senate report on the alleged financial recklessness in the Niger Delta Development Commission has revealed how the top management of the agency shared N4.9bn among themselves in the guise of medical checkup.

The document also showed that the management paid N114.9m as a supplementary medical allowance to 26 staff members during the same period.

It stated that both disbursements were made when the nation was under lockdown to check COVID-19 spread.

The report was adopted and approved by the Senate shortly before it proceeded on its annual recess penultimate week.

A copy of the document obtained by our correspondent in Abuja on Monday indicated that the monies were paid to the individual accounts in March and April this year.

The document indicated that the acting Managing Director, Daniel Pondei, and the two executive directors got N14.2m each.

The report noted that no such payment took place during the first Interim Management Committee led by Joi Nunieh.

It nonetheless, stated that available data showed that the allowance had been in existence even though it appeared to have no specific policy underpinning it.

The report stated, “The three members of the Interim Management Committee received the highest amount of N142m each.

“Two other people, namely Evan Caroline Nagbo and Ms Cecilia Akintomide, took N12,387,500 each, while Peter Uwa Edieya was paid N10,340,000.

The report further added that four other members of staff collected about N8m each while 140 others collected an average of N7m each.

The NDDC management also paid 75 others N6m each while 153 staff members were paid N5.5m.

Four other categories of staff were paid between N4.1m and N4.8m while seven others got about N3m each.

The document further indicated that 804 staff members collected between N2.4m and N2.9m each.

Apart from these, the document showed that the management paid N114.9m as a supplementary medical allowance to 26 staff members.

No fewer than 15 of them got N7m while one of them collected N5.2m.

The rest however collected between N375, 000 and N550, 000 each.

The report indicated that “payment to all the 1,401 staff who received the allowance was made on 16 March 2020.”

It added that the distribution of the payment category and the number of staff did not suggest a regular hierarchical pattern and an absence of clear policy, which raised suspicion of arbitrariness.

The report also stated that the NDDC management used staff members for the distribution of Lassa Fever kits.

It explained that Personal Protective Kits were given to the 185 LGAs of the Niger Delta states through the NDDC staff.

The staff members, according to the document, were paid various amounts, ranging from N300,000 to N6,845,000, on April 15, 2020, for the distribution of the kits.

The report stated, “The total amount used for the distribution is N55,090,000.

“Twenty-nine employees were engaged in ‘Monitoring of the Emergency Response Programme on Lassa Fever Outbreak at a cost of N5,972,500’.

“NDDC did not provide any returns on the end-user beneficiaries which would have helped in evaluating the accountability and transparency of the programme. There was also no mention of the original target beneficiaries.

“NDDC management did not provide details of allocation of the Lassa fever Protective Kits per each state and LGA and how the distributors were assigned as well as the collated report on the distribution exercise.

“They should have justified the huge amount of money allocated for the exercise.”

The report further added that by its own record. NDDC spent N808.9m as imprest between October 29 2019 and May 23. 2020.

It stated that “this covers a period of seven months during most of which the nation was on lockdown.

“Given that significant amount was also expended on travels, duty tour allowance during this period, payment of bills, it is difficult to justify this huge amount as imprest necessary for the services of the commission.”

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