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Court orders Betta Edu to disclose details of ₦535.8m school feeding expenditure during lockdown

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A Federal High Court, Abuja has ordered Dr Betta Edu, the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, to release details of how the sum of ₦535.8 million was expended on feeding of school children during COVID-19 lockdown.

Justice Nkeonye Maha, in a judgment, directed the minister and the ministry to furnish a civil society group with parts of the information sought in line with Section 25(1) of the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act, 2011.

Justice Maha held that the minister’s failure to respond to the group’s letter dated August 6, 2020 or even give reason for the refusal to respond to the request as prescribed under the FOI Act contravened the provisions of Section 4(a) and (b) of the act.

“In view of all the matters before me and flowing from the objectives of the FOI Act 2011, the court hereby orders the 1st and 2nd defendants, in line with Section 25(1) of the FOI Act, to furnish the plaintiff with the information sought in Reliefs 3(a), (b), (c), (d),” she declared.

The judge also ordered the minister to comply with the orders of the court within 21 days upon receipt of the orders. She, however, refused to grant “Reliefs 3(e), (f) and (g) of the plaintiff.”

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Incorporated Trustees of Kingdom Human Rights Foundation International had filed the suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/1162/2020 following alleged refusal of the then Minister, Hajia Sadiya Umar-Farouq, and her ministry to respond to the information sought.

Umar-Farouq was the minister under the Muhammadu Buhari-led government. The group alleged that independent investigation and information available to it “revealed that the so-called modified and implemented school feeding programme during lockdown against coronavirus pandemic was a scam, cover-up and well-articulated fiction to embezzle public funds.”

It said that the development was contrary to the statement made by Umar-Farouq during the taskforce briefing on COVID-19 on August 3, 2020. Therefore, in the originating summons, the group sued the minister, the ministry and the Presidential Taskforce on COVID-19 as 1st, 2nd and 3rd defendants respectively.

Also joined in the suit were the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) and Independent Corrupt Practice and other related offences Commission (ICPC) as 4th and 5th defendants.

The group sought an order of mandamus compelling the 1st defendant (minister) to immediately release and make available to it all the information and documents requested in its application letter to with:

“a. Details, accompanied with documentary evidence of how the N523,273,800 million was spent on school feeding programme during the COVID-19 LOCKDOWN in three states following presidential directive as disclosed to Nigerians by the 1st defendant during the Presidential Taskforce on Covid-19 briefing of Monday, 3 August, 2020 in Abuja.

“b. Details with the aid of documentary evidence disclosing how the said ₦523,273,800 million was dispatched/distributed to the 124,589 households whom the 1st defendant claimed received take-home rations valued at ₦4,200. 00 to wit:”In the FCT, 29,609 households were impacted; 37,589 households in Lagos and 60,391 in Ogun, making a total of 124,589 households impacted between May 14, and July 6. ‘if 124,589 households received take-home rations valued at N4,200, the amount will be N523,273,800.’

“¢. Facts with the aid of documentary evidence, disclosing whether the 124,589 households whom the 1st defendant claimed received take-home rations valued at ₦4,200 received it in cash or if they received food items.

“d. If the 124,589 households whom the 1st defendant claimed received take-home rations valued at ₦4,200 received it by cash, facts with the aid of documentary evidence, including state by state photographs of those distributing and those receiving, disclosing whether they were given cash of ₦4,200 or food items valued ₦4,200.

“e. Should the 1st defendant claim that the 124,589 households received ₦4,200 by bank transfer, facts disclosing that the ₦4,200 was paid into their various bank accounts, including disclosing the bank account numbers of the 124,589 households whom the 1st defendant claimed received take-home rations valued at 4,200 each.

“f. Phone numbers of the 124,589 households whom the 1st defendant claimed received take-home rations valued at ₦4,200 or the phone numbers of their heads of family.

“g. State by state addresses of the 124,589 households whom the 1st defendant claimed received take-home rations valued at ₦4,200 to enable the plaintiff immediately confirm if they received the items.”

The group said it instituted the suit in the overall public interest and promotion of rule of law, accountability, probity transparency and strengthening constitutional democracy and good governance.

Responding the minister and the ministry, in their counter affidavit, argued that they did not refuse to provide the information sought as the information had been disclosed in their counter affidavit.

They also argued that information sought by the plaintiff which bordered on addresses and phone numbers of beneficiaries were personal information and that such disclosure was exempted under Section 14 of FOI Act. They corrected that the total sum was ₦535, 873, 800 for 127, 789 households and not 523, 273, 800 for 124, 589 as alleged by the group.

They, however, said that they did not disburse cash but food items. Delivering the judgment, Justice Maha struck out the names of 3rd, 4th and 5th defendants’ from the suit, the plaintiff, having failed to disclose a cause of action against them.

The judge, in the decision delivered on October 30 but the certified true copy (CTC) sighted on Wednesday, said the suit succeeded in part. She agreed with the argument of the minister and the ministry that the 127, 789 households had not consented to the disclosure of their personal details as required by law.

She also refused to grant the request for the release of bank account numbers of the beneficiaries, having stated that no cash was disbursed. But Justice Maha held that there was nothing before the court to show how the said food items were disbursed and the defendants had not proved nor shown how the said ₦535, 873, 800 was distributed to the beneficiaries.

“The 1st and 2nd defendants merely stated facts without proof of how the said sum was allegedly spent.

“All these lapses give room for conjecture and speculation, and the court does not act on speculation; rather on material evidence placed before it,” she said, citing Section 167 of the Evidence Act.

She, therefore, granted Reliefs (a), (b), (c), and (d) above but declined to grant Reliefs (e), (f) and (g).

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FG invites heads of AEDC, IBEDC over poor power supply

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The federal government has invited heads of Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC) and Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company (IBEDC) over poor power supply in their service areas.

Adebayo Adelabu, minister of power, also invited Sule Abdulazeez, managing director of the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN), for the same reason.

Since the turn of the year, electricity supply to the nation’s capital and across the country has gone from bad to worse, with distribution companies citing gas constraints to generating companies (GenCos) as reason for the prolonged, agonising blackout.

In a statement, Bolaji Tunji, special adviser on strategic communications and media relations to the minister, said power supply should have improved because of the pressure mounted on GenCos to increase their output.

“These two DisCos have been summoned due to the worsening power supply situation in their regions despite improved supply from TCN,” Tunji said.

“So, we expect power supply to have improved across the country, unlike what we are experiencing in some regions presently.

“Findings revealed that some distribution companies were deliberately not taking up power supply from TCN, while some power lines were also damaged by vandals in Abuja, Benin, Port Harcourt and Ibadan regions.”

The aide said the minister has threatened non-performing DisCos nationwide with “outright licence revocation”.

Tunji said the minister also directed TCN to commence repair work on the damaged transmission lines.

The aide added that despite the shortage of gas, power generation has been ramped up to over 4000MW in recent days.

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Ghana’s electricity company cuts power supply to parliament over $1.8m debt

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The Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) on Thursday disconnected the power supply to the country’s parliament over a debt of 23 million Ghanaian cedi, approximately $1.8 million.

The power outage disrupted the parliament’s deliberation on the state of the nation speech delivered by Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo.

The blackout occurred when Abena Osei-Asare, the outgoing deputy minister for finance, was defending the president’s speech.

Videos showing the dark scene of the parliament in which some lawmakers were shouting “dumsor”, a Ghanaian word for “power outage”, have appeared on social media.

During the incident, some lawmakers and staff were stuck inside elevators.

ECG had earlier warned that it would disconnect the electricity supply to the parliament over the GH¢23 million debt.

Over the past few weeks, residents have been complaining about erratic power supply in the Gold Coast country.

Speaking about the incident, John Jinapor, a lawmaker and minority spokesperson on mines and energy, complained over the persistent load shedding being carried out by power companies.

The lawmaker attributed the power outages to the inability of the government to purchase fuel for the country’s thermal plants.

“Indeed, the load-shedding is getting worse by the day. The very day His Excellency the President was delivering the state of the nation address and boasting, up that very period, the utility companies were shedding the load,” the lawmaker said.

Later in the day, the power company restored the electricity supply to the parliament after a part of the debt was settled.

In Nigeria, the management of the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC) recently issued a 10-day notice to 86 government ministries, departments, and agencies (MDAs) to pay up the N47.1 billion electricity debt they owe or risk disconnection.

The presidential villa was listed among the debtors.

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CBN revokes licences of 4,173 BDCs

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The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has revoked the licences of 4,173 bureau de change (BDC) operators for failing to observe regulatory provisions.

In a statement signed by Sidi Ali, CBN’s acting director, corporate communications, on Friday, the apex bank said the BDCs failed to observe at least one of its regulatory provisions, such as payment of all necessary fees, including licence renewal, within the stipulated period in line with the guidelines.

“The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), in exercise of the powers conferred on it under the Bank and Other Financial Institutions Act (BOFIA) 2020, Act No. 5, and the Revised Operational Guidelines for Bureaux De Change 2015 (the Guidelines), has revoked the licenses of 4,173 Bureaux De Change Operators,” CBN said.

Other provisions not adhered to are rendition of returns, compliance with guidelines, directives and circulars of the CBN, especially anti-money laundering (AML), countering the financing of terrorism (CFT) and Counter-Proliferation Financing (CPF) regulations.

The apex bank said it is revising the regulatory and supervisory guidelines for BDC operations in Nigeria.

“Compliance with the new requirements will be mandatory for all stakeholders in the sector when the revised guidelines become effective,” CBN said.

The financial regulator advised the public to take note.

Some of the affected BDCs are;

Mountaintop BDC LTD
Movement BDC
Pointless FOREX BDC LTD
Protected BDC LTD
Reading BDC LTD
Roundtable BDC LTD
Shares OF Time BDC LTD
Stop Over BDC LTD
Surging BDC LTD
Valid BDC LTD
Unical BDC LTD
Turnover BDC LTD
Couple BDC LTD
Happy Ends BDC LTD
Village WAY BDC LTD
Welcome BDC LTD
Oyinbo BDC LTD
Oyoyo BDC LTD
Lamshade BDC LTD
Internal Curry BDC LTD
Give And Collect BDC LTD
Give and Take BDC LTD


The full list of the affected BDCs can be found here.

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