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Lagos state government says collection of service charge for its health insurance scheme is illegal, dubious

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The Lagos State Government through the Lagos State Health Management Agency (LASHMA) has condemned the collection of service charges for the enrolment of Lagos State residents on ‘ILERO EKO’, the state’s health insurance scheme, describing it as a dubious and illegal act.

This was made known by the General Manager of LASHMA, Dr. Emmanuella Zamba, who said that the agency does not charge any service fee before on-boarding the residents on ILERA EKO, adding that nobody has the authority to collect service charge or fee on behalf of LASHMA from any resident in the State.

Dr. Zamba warned LASHMA enrolment officers, independent or marketing agents, who are perpetrating such illegal acts, to desist immediately, adding that anyone caught would be made to face the full wrath of the law.

She said that the State is committed to ensuring that every resident lives a healthy life and that is why the administration of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu had ensured that ILERA EKO premiums are highly affordable and the cheapest so far.

The LASHMA boss reiterated that ILERA EKO basic plan which is the Standard Plan is N8,500 per annum while the family plan for father, mother and four children below 23 years is N40, 000 per annum, adding that the Standard Plus for individuals is N15,000 per annum and N70, 000 per annum for the family plan.

She added that the seniors’ plan is N34,000 for individuals per annum and the couple’s plan is N65,000 per annum.

Dr. Zamba said that to ensure flexibility of premium payment and achieve Universal Health Coverage (UHC), the State Government approved ILERA EKO Pay-Small-Small.

She said, “With the Pay-Small-Small payment plan, an individual will pay N1,000 monthly and will commence access to care having paid N3,000 for three months. The family plan payment option is N3,500 monthly and N10,500 for three months. Enrollees are also free to pay the premium either quarterly or bi-annually.’’

Dr Zamba urged Lagos residents not to pay into the personal account of any representative of the Agency, noting that all premium payment for the Lagos State Health Insurance is to be paid to the dedicated Lagos State Health Fund (LASHEF) account.

The General Manager said that premium payment into the LASHEF account can be made through the LASHMA customised POS at the Headquarters, 17, Kafi Street, Alausa, Ikeja, or Divisional Offices and kiosks located throughout the State.

She added that payment can also be made through the LASHMA website: www.lashma.com, the Nibss E-bills platform at any Bank in Lagos State, enrollees’ internet banking app or LASHMA USSD code: 6700006#.*

She said that the Group and Corporate premium payments can also be paid to the LASHEF Account as invoiced by the Agency and urged residents in the State to contact the Agency’s Customer Service numbers: 0800-ASKLASHMA (0800-275527463) or 0700-ILERA EKO (0700-45372356) whenever anyone demands the payment of a service charge or any other suspicious acts regarding ILERA EKO.

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EFCC launches manhunt for Kano APC senatorial candidate, Abdulsalam Zaura over ‘$1.3m fraud

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) says it is making efforts to arrest Abdulsalam Zaura, the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate for Kano central senatorial district, over alleged fraud.

Ahmad Rogha, counsel to EFCC, said this on Monday while speaking with journalists at the federal high court in Kano.

BACKGROUND

In 2018, EFCC had arraigned Zaura, better known as A.A. Zaura, on a five-count charge bordering on fraud before a federal high court in Kano.

The anti-graft agency had accused Zaura of defrauding a Kuwaiti national by obtaining the sum of $1,320,000 under the pretext that he is in the business of building properties in Dubai, Kuwait, and other Arab countries.

In June 2020, Lewis Allagoa, the presiding judge, found the defendant not guilty and discharged him on all counts.

Dissatisfied with the judgment, the EFCC approached the court of appeal.

In April 2022, a court of appeal sitting in Kano ordered a fresh trial.

TRIAL STALLED OVER ABSENCE OF JUDGE

On Monday, the trial of Zaura was stalled because Mohammad Yunusa, the judge, was absent from court as he was said to be attending to other national issues outside Kano.

In the previous court sitting, the trial judge had ordered the EFCC to produce the accused person in court owing to the latter’s absence.

Speaking on the development, Rogha said the defendant was supposed to be in EFCC custody, adding that the agency will ensure he is in court at the next sitting.

“We are looking for Zaura and he will be arrested as soon as we find him,” he said.

“Ordinarily, he was supposed to be in our custody and the court has affirmed that. But I can assure you, he would be arrested and brought to court on the next adjourned date — 30th January, 2023.”

In a counter argument, Ibrahim Waru, counsel to the defendant, said EFCC does not possess any legal authority to arrest his client.

Waru also said it was not necessary for his client to be in court on Monday since the court did not sit.

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Budget Padding: Senate clears Finance Minister, Zainab Ahmed

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The Senate has on Monday cleared the Minister of Finance , Budget and National Planning , Mrs Zainab Ahmed of alleged insertions in budgetary provisions of some Ministries , Departments and Agencies ( MDAs).

The Senate gave the Finance Minister a clean bill of health on alleged series of puddings in the proposed N20.51trillion 2023 budget when she appeared before the Senator Barau Jibrin, APC, Kano North led Senate Committee on Appropriations to make clarifications on the issues

Satisfied by her submission , the Chairman of the Committee on Appropriations, Senator Jibrin said that the clarifications presented by the Minister were well understood by all the committee members and thereafter hailed her for ensuring transparency with capturing of such loans or grants in the budget .

Meanwhile, the Senate has frowned at shoddy implementation of the National Social Investment Programme ( NSIP) based on lack of records of verifiable beneficiaries .

In her presentation, the Finance Minister told the Committee that the various sums some heads of agencies feigned ignorance of during their interface with relevant committees for budget defence , were approved by the Federal Executive Council ( FEC), before budget presentation itself by President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday , October 7, 2022.

Ahmed said, “All the proposed budgetary sums like the N206billion in the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development , the N8.6billion in the Ministry of Defence , N195.468billion in the estimates for the Ministry of Power etc , were all captured before presentation by Mr President.

“Most of these sums are bilateral or multilateral loans captured in the budget of agencies selected for projects execution for sole purpose of transparency.

“The totality of such loans captured in the proposed budget of the relevant agencies is N1.771trillion .

“Had heads of the affected MDAs carried out thorough scrutinization of their approved budgetary proposals , the issue of insertion or budget padding wouldn’t have arisen at all, realization of which made the Minister of Defence , Bashir Magsshi to apologise after feigning ignorance of N8.6billion in his Ministry’s budget during interface with Senate Committee on Defence “

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Naira redesign may be declared illegal if challenged in court, says Falana

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Femi Falana, human rights lawyer, says the redesign of the naira may be illegal if President Muhammadu Buhari did not seek approval of the national assembly for the funds used for the initiative.

On November 23, Buhari unveiled the new currency notes at the state house, Abuja.

The redesigned naira notes are expected to be in circulation on December 15.

Godwin Emefiele, governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), had on October 26 announced the plan to redesign the naira to control money supply and aid security agencies in tackling illicit financial flows.

Falana, in a statement on Sunday, said the president’s endorsement of the CBN’s naira redesign policy is not legally sufficient.

He said the president should have presented a “money bill” to the national assembly to seek approval for the funds used for the project.

Falana said the expense is not captured in the 2022 budget, adding that the president must comply with the provision of section 59 of the 1999 constitution (as amended).

“However, the official endorsement is not sufficient as the president is mandatorily required to present a money bill to the national assembly for the withdrawal of the billions of naira from public funds earmarked for the printing of the new naira notes,” the statement reads.

“Specifically, section 59 of the constitution requires “an appropriation bill or supplementary bill including any other bill for the payment, issue or withdrawal from the Consolidated Revenue Fund or any other public fund of the Federation of any money charged thereon or any alteration in the amount of such payment, issue or withdrawal.

“Since the fund for the printing of the new naira notes is not captured in the 2022 appropriation bill, the president is advised to prepare and present a supplementary bill to the national assembly to authorise the withdrawal of public fund from any account of the federation for printing the new naira notes.

“Otherwise, the printing of the new naira without appropriation by the national assembly may be declared illegal and unconstitutional if it is challenged in a court of competent jurisdiction.”

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