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Reps Summon CBN Governor, PenCom Boss, FIRS Chairman, Others Over N300bn Expenditure

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The House of Representatives has summoned Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele; Director-General, National Pension Commission, Aisha Dahir-Umar; and Chairman, Federal Inland Revenue Service, Muhammad Nami, to explain various expenditure totalling N300bn.

Others summoned by the House Committee on Public Accounts on various audit queries issued by the Office of the Auditor General of the Federation were Head of Civil Service of the Federation, Dr Folasade Yemi-Esan; Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Pantami; and Accountant General of the Federation, Mr Ahmed Idris.

Chairman of the committee, Mr Wole Oke, issued the summons in Abuja on Tuesday at an investigative hearing on the audit queries issued by the OAGF to some ministries, departments and agencies of the Federal Government on the ‘cash withheld’ totalling N182.08bn in 2014.

Others include audit query on the N14.06bn issued against FIRS; and another N12.64bn against the Head of Service Pension Office, as well as Nigeria Atomic Energy Commission, Ministry of Communications, FIRS, Nigerian Board for Incubator Centre and the National Gallery of Arts.

The committee also summoned Federal Ministry of Defence, Federal Road Safety Commission, Accident Investigation Bureau, National Sports Commission, among others, over N425.127m loans unaccounted for.

The committee also summoned the Accountant General of the Federation over 83 queries in its 2014 annual audit report.

The committee, however, stepped down the queries and directed that CBN should provide the certificate showing the balance of the account as of December 31, 2014, and the bank statement of all the various sub-heads as of December 31, 2014, pursuant to Sections 88 and 89 of the Constitution.

In the same vein, the committee also summoned the Minister of Labour, Employment and Productivity, Senator Chris Ngige, over N7.88bn unaccounted fund as contained in an audit query.

According to the committee, Ngige is to provide the retirement particulars for the N5bn bailout fund released by the Accountant-General to the ministry for community service scheme as well as retirement particulars for an additional sum of N2.880,395,462 disbursed to the ministry for Vocational Training Centre under the SURE-P Programme.

The committee also summoned four officials from the Petroleum Equalisation Fund (Management) Board, namely, two former Executive Secretaries, Mrs Adefunke Kasali and Mrs Asabe Ahmed; former General Manager (Operations), Aisha Usman; and General Manager (Finance and Accounts), Yusuf Musa, over the 2016 audit query.

BIG STORY

Despite Wide Support, US ‘Opposes’ Okonjo-Iweala’s Emergence As WTO DG

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Despite wide support for Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Nigeria’s candidate for the director-general of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), the US has reportedly expressed its opposition to her emergence.

Recall that we had earlier reported that Okonjo-Iweala won the popular vote by a wide margin, with the expectation of an announcement after a WTO meeting in Geneva.

The heads of delegation of the WTO met by 3 pm but failed to reach a consensus.

After the meeting, Reuters is reporting that the US refused to support the candidature of Okonjo-Iweala, thereby protracting the process.

Bloomberg had initially reported that the US was leaning towards Yoo Myung-hee, the South Korean candidate.

It was reported earlier today that Okonjo-Iweala had emerged winner of the race with support from 104 of all 164 member countries of the WTO.

Those countries include many in Africa and the European Union, where she had received public support.

Despite being an American citizen, sources say the US does not consider Okonjo-Iweala as being committed enough to the interests of the world power at the flagship trade body.

Unlike the World Bank where the US has a larger voting power than other countries, the WTO is run differently, by the consensus of every member country.

“The WTO is run by its member governments. All major decisions are made by the membership as a whole,” the WTO website reads.

“In this respect, the WTO is different from some other international organizations such as the World Bank and International Monetary Fund.

“Where consensus is not possible, the WTO agreement allows for voting — a vote being won with a majority of the votes cast and on the basis of ‘one country, one vote’.”

The general council of the WTO will meet again to attempt a consensus or recourse to the vote.

The general council is the highest decision-making body of the WTO apart from the ministerial conference which meets every two years.

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Court Refuses To Order Diezani’s Arrest In UK, Demands AGF’s Extradition Evidence

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The Federal High Court in Abuja, on Wednesday, rejected the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission’s request to issue a warrant of arrest against a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, who is believed to be residing in the United Kingdom.

Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu rejected the EFCC’s request for an arrest warrant citing the commission’s failure to enforce the earlier criminal summons which the court issued on the former minister as far back as July 24, 2020.

The commission had in requesting the criminal summons in July claimed that it was required to facilitate the ex-minister’s extradition to Nigeria.

Faced with the failure of the ex-minister to honour the summons on Wednesday, the EFCC, through its lawyer, Mr Farouk Abdullah, urged Justice Ojukwu to issue a warrant of arrest against her

Ruling on the request by EFCC, Justice Ojukwu rejected it as she noted that the criminal summons which the court issued on Diezani in the ruling of July 24, 2019, ought to be sufficient for the commission to process her extradition to Nigeria to face her trial.

The judge who expressed willingness to give the extradition bid a chance to survive, however, demanded an affidavit with evidence from the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation (the office with exclusive power to facilitate extradition), to prove that there was a need for the arrest warrant to have Diezani extradited.

She ruled, “It is my view that the summons should have assisted in the extradition of the defendant by the Office of the AGF.

“Today, the defendant is not in court and no reason was given.

“I am being informed that the defendant is believed to be in the United Kingdom.

“The learned counsel also informed the court that the extradition process has failed as a result of the absence of the warrant of arrest.

“But if that is the case, learned counsel shall file an affidavit to that effect supported by evidence from the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation.
“I hereby give you time to put your house in order.”

The judge adjourned till December 3 for the report and possible arraignment of the defendant.

The EFCC had alleged that Diezani escaped from the country shortly after her tenure as the Minister of Petroleum Resources end and got wind of the plan to charge her with various offenses.

The commission on November 11, 2018, filed the 13 counts of money laundering to justify the bid to have her extradited to Nigeria.

Diezani was accused of among others in the charges that she unlawfully took into her possession, the sums of $39.7m and N3.32bn when she reasonably ought to have known that the money formed part of the proceeds of unlawful activities.

She was said to have purchased choice landed assets with the money using different fronts as the owners.d Street, Yaba, Lagos, with N937m.

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BIG STORY

Returning Looted Goods May Not Save You From Prosecution —- FCT Police Command

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The FCT police command says returning goods looted from warehouses storing COVID-19 palliatives and other items may not shield one from prosecution.

The Commissioner of Police, FCT Command, Bala Ciroma, said this on NTA’s Good Morning Nigeria programme on Wednesday.

Ciroma said stealing remains a crime in Nigeria and the return of looted goods doesn’t change the fact that a crime has been committed.

The police commissioner, however, said cases would be handled based on their merit.

Responding to a question, he said, “In a situation where people come to return goods, the fact remains did you commit an offense or not? We will get our legal experts to look at it and we will decide what to do with it.

“We will conclude our investigations and the legal experts will look at it accordingly but the fact remains that a crime has been committed.”

The CP stated that the police had been able to arrest several persons who looted warehouses and some properties had been recovered.

He promised residents that all those arrested would be prosecuted.

Ciroma said the police were still investigating the burning of vehicles in the Apo area of Abuja where hoodlums hijacked the #EndSARS protests last Monday.

 

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