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$23m Abacha loot: SERAP sues FG over ‘failure to publish’ repatriation agreement

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Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has sued the federal government over its failure to publish details of the agreement recently signed with the United States for the repatriation of $23 million Abacha loot.

President Muhammadu Buhari and Abubakar Malami, attorney-general of the federation (AGF), are joined in the suit.

On August 23, the federal government signed an agreement with the US government to repatriate a new batch of funds looted by Sani Abacha, the former Nigerian head of state.

Malami had said the recovered loot, which is tagged ‘Abacha-5’, has been earmarked for the completion of the Abuja-Kano road, Lagos-Ibadan expressway and the Second Niger Bridge.

In the suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/1700/2022 filed on Friday before a federal high court in Abuja, SERAP is asking the court to “direct and compel President Buhari and Abubakar Malami to release and widely publish a copy of the agreement on the Abacha loot with the U.S”.

The organisation argued that “the Nigerian Constitution 1999 [as amended], the Freedom of Information Act, and the country’s international obligations impose transparency obligations on the Federal Government to widely publish the agreement on the $23 million Abacha loot”.

“Publishing a copy of the agreement with the U.S would allow Nigerians to scrutinise it, and to monitor the spending of the repatriated loot to ensure that the money is not mismanaged, diverted or re-stolen,” it said.

“The repatriated $23 million Abacha loot is vulnerable to corruption and mismanagement. A substantial part of the estimated $5 billion returned Abacha loot since 1999 may have been mismanaged, diverted, or re-stolen, and in any case remain unaccounted for.

“Publishing a copy of the agreement would ensure that persons with public responsibilities are answerable to the people for the performance of their duties, including the management of repatriated loot.”

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Again, INEC extends PVC collection deadline

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The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has extended the deadline for the collection of permanent voter cards (PVCs).

This is the second time INEC will extend the deadline for PVC collection.

The previous deadline was January 29.

In a statement on Saturday, Festus Okoye, national commissioner and chairman, information and voter education committee, said the decision was taken after a meeting on Saturday.

The new deadline for PVC collection is February 5.

“The Commission met today, Saturday, 29th January 2023 a day after its meeting with the Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) from the 36 States of the Federation and the Federal capital Territory, Abuja and deliberated on a number of issues, including the reports from RECs on the ongoing collection of Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs) in its 774 Local Government Offices nationwide,” the statement reads.

“It will be recalled that at the meeting with RECs on Friday, 28th January 2023, the Chairman of the Commission, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu indicated that the Commission will not hesitate to consider additional measures to ensure that all citizens have ample opportunity to collect their PVCs ahead of the General Election.

“Having reviewed reports from all the States of the Federation, the Commission is encouraged by the progress made so far as more Nigerians troop out daily to collect their PVCs.

“Arising from reports from the various States and discussions with Resident Electoral Commissioners, the Commission has decided to further extend PVC collection in all its Local Government Offices nationwide by an additional one week.

“The ongoing collection of PVCs nationwide will therefore continue and end on 5th February 2023. This is the second time the Commission is extending PVC collection nationwide and this will be the last extension of the exercise.

“Collection period has further been extended by an additional two hours and will start at 9am and end at 5pm daily including Saturdays and Sundays.”

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Lagos state government to divert traffic at old tollgate/Berger axis for 10 weeks

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The Lagos state government has announced a 10-week diversion of traffic at the old tollgate to Berger section of the Lagos-Ibadan expressway.

Frederic Oladehinde, Lagos commissioner of transportation, said the traffic diversion will commence on Monday, January 30, and end Friday, April 15.

He said the diversion is for the continuation of the rehabilitation of the road by the ministry of works.

Oladehinde said the construction would be carried out in short segments to minimise inconveniences for motorists.

He said traffic on the Ibadan-bound carriageway would be narrowed to two lanes to allow for the reconstruction.

Oladeinde said the U-turn in front of the Lagos State Emergency Centre would be temporary closed to traffic, adding that motorists on the expressway would be diverted to the next U-turn at the old tollgate by the traffic control point.

He said motorists from CMD Road intending to connect 7UP and motorways on the Lagos bound carriageway would make use of the old tollgate/traffic point U–turn as well.

He said trucks and heavy-duty vehicles will be diverted to Ojota interchange.

The commissioner added that traffic on CMD Road inbound the expressway will be diverted to the entry point beside the FMW weighbridge to access the expressway.

He said the exit route to the expressway by Caleb International School will be temporarily closed and that the CMD Road will be used as an alternative for the displaced Ibadan-bound traffic.

Oladeinde appealed to residents to shun indiscriminate stopping, waiting and parking along CMD Road so as to complement the efforts of the traffic management team that will be deployed to manage vehicular movement.

He assured that signage with directions will be mounted along the road to guide motorists.

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Ganduje asks Buhari to postpone Kano visit over hardship caused by naira redesign

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Abdullahi Ganduje, Kano state governor, has asked President Muhammadu Buhari to postpone his planned visit to the state due to security concerns and complaints from locals about difficulty in obtaining the new naira notes.

Ganduje’s request was contained in a letter to the president, according to a statement signed by Abba Anwar, the governor’s media aide.

Buhari was scheduled to visit the state on January 30 and 31 to commission some projects executed by the Ganduje administration.

The governor was quoted as saying lawmakers from the state, political stakeholders and the business community agree with the decision to postpone the planned visit.

Ganduje also called for an extension of the deadline for returning old naira notes.

“Deeply concerned with the hardship caused by the limited time given for halting the use of old Naira notes by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), and for security reasons, Kano State governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje reveals that the state resolved and wrote to Presidency that, the visit of the President to commission some projects to be postponed,” the statement reads.

Anwar said the decision was made on Friday at the government house during an interactive session with academics, lawmakers, political leaders, and members of the business community.

“As we are waiting for this important visit, we found ourselves in this situation, which puts citizens into untold hardship. For security purposes, we wrote to Presidency that President Muhammadu Buhari’s visit to Kano is postponed,” the statement reads.

“We got an acknowledgement copy of the letter. People are suffering because of this policy.

“During the meeting with sections of citizens in the state, they accepted that the decision was a unanimous one. As they all spoke in support of the letter sent to the Presidency.

“Two serving senators from the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Kabiru Ibrahim Gaya and Barau Jibrin, Twenty members of the House of Representatives and Thirty legislators from the State House of Assembly were amongst the groups that put their weight behind the governor.”

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