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Court dismisses Agunloye’s request for AGF, NBA intervention in $6bn Mambilla case

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A federal capital territory high court has dismissed an application from Olu Agunloye, a former minister of power and steel, seeking to invite “amici curiae” to intervene in the criminal charge filed against him.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is prosecuting Agunloye over a $6 billion Mambilla hydropower contract.

The anti-graft agency said it traced some suspicious payments by Sunrise Power and Transmission Ltd to Agunloye’s bank accounts.

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo had also challenged Agunloye to tell Nigerians where he derived the authority to award a $6 billion contract to Sunrise for the Mambilla hydropower project in 2003.

Agunloye was arraigned on a seven-count charge bordering on fraudulent award of a contract and official corruption.

In a preliminary objection dated February 6, Agunloye said the EFCC lacks the powers to prosecute him because the offences levelled against him do not border on financial crimes.

Among other things, the former minister said it is the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) that has the power to prosecute him over the allegations contained in the charge.

Agunloye through his lawyer, Adeola Adedipe, added that contrary to constitutional provisions, the AGF did not give EFCC the fiat to investigate and institute proceedings in the case against his client.

In the motion for an amicus, the senior advocate of Nigeria said he would want the friends of the court to be present during the hearing of the preliminary objection.

An amicus curiae (friend of the court) is an individual who is not a party to a litigation, but volunteers or is invited to advise on a pending matter.

Agunloye sought the intervention of Lateef Fagbemi, the attorney-general of the federation (AGF); Yakubu Maikyau, president of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA); Joseph Daudu, former NBA president; and Kanu Agabi, former minister of justice.

Ruling on the application on Monday, Jude Onwuegbuzie, the presiding judge, dismissed the request.

Onwuegbuzie said he believed the defendant had a competent team of lawyers to handle the case.

He added that “the court is not confused or in doubt to warrant the intervention of amici curiae”.

He said an amicus “is not supposed to be invited by parties in the suit” but that it is the responsibility of the court to do so if it so desires.

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Lagos speaker, Obasa, loses father

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The Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Mudashiru Obasa, has lost his father, Alhaji Sulaiman Obasa.

It was learnt that Obasa died on Tuesday morning.

Confirming his demise, the Secretary of the Orile Agege Local Council Development Area chapter of the All Progressives Congress, who doubles as the Special Adviser to the Speaker on Political and Legislative Affairs, Fatai Olagoke Ajibola, in a statement on Tuesday, said the late Obasa would be buried today according to Islamic rites.

“Late Alhaji Obasa will be buried this evening (Tuesday) in accordance with Islamic injunctions.

“The venue of the Janazah prayer will be communicated in due course,” Ajibola added.

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Police begin 24-hour motorbike patrol of Third Mainland Bridge

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The police Rapid Response Squad (RRS) in Lagos has commenced a 24-hour patrol of the Third Mainland Bridge as a way of protecting the infrastructure.

On Monday, Olayinka Egbeyemi, commander of the RRS, directed the squad’s bike riders to commence a daily patrol of the bridge to prevent harassment of road users and vandalism.

“This is in line with the directives of the commissioner of police, CP Adegoke Fayoade, to the squad for the protection of lives, property and public infrastructure on the newly renovated bridge,” Egbeyemi said.

The RRS commander said motorists and road users should cooperate with motorcycle cops so that they can serve them better.

The 11.8km Third Mainland Bridge was recently given a facelift.

Theft of electrical installations and other fittings on the bridge are rife and have persisted for decades.

Earlier this month, the Lagos State Neighbourhood Safety Corps (LNSC) arrested one Friday Nwafor for vandalising and stealing road light indicators on the newly renovated bridge.

The Lagos police command had also arrested four suspects for stealing armoured cables on the bridge.

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Labour gives FG May 31 ultimatum to reverse electricity tariff hike

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The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) have given the federal government until May 31 to reverse the electricity tariff.

The labour bodies gave the ultimatum in a communiqué issued in Abuja on Monday at the end of a joint emergency national executive council (NEC) meeting of the NLC and TUC.

On April 3, the National Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) approved an increase in the electricity tariff for customers in the Band A classification—from N66 to N225 per kwh.

The tariff hike attracted public outcry and calls for its reversal.

On May 13, members of organised labour picketed the headquarters of the NERC, the federal ministry of power, and the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC) in Abuja, demanding a reversal of the tariff.

The protest was replicated across Nigeria.

In the communiqué, the unions said the action taken by the government without consideration for the hardship of the masses was “unjust and burdensome”.

“The NEC once again vehemently condemns the unilateral increase in electricity tariffs by the authorities,” the communiqué reads.

“This action, taken without due consideration for the economic hardships faced by the masses and the provisions of the law, is deemed unjust and burdensome.

“The NEC reaffirms its demands for an immediate reversal of the tariff hike and the vexatious apartheid categorization into bands to alleviate the suffering of Nigerian workers and citizens and gives the National Electricity Regulatory Commission and the federal government until the last day of May 2024 to meet these demands.”

The organised labour said appropriate actions would be taken if the government failed to meet its demands.

“This includes, but is not limited to, the mobilisation of workers for peaceful protests and industrial actions to press home these demands for social justice and workers’ rights,” the unions said.

The labour unions also reiterated the May 31 ultimatum for the federal government to finalise the new national minimum wage fixing process for workers.

“We need an agreement that will genuinely reflect the true value of Nigerian workers’ contributions to the nation’s development and the current crisis of survival facing Nigerians as a result of government’s policies,” the labour movement added.

“The NEC affirms its commitment to ensuring that the interests and welfare of workers are adequately protected in the negotiation process.

“The NEC-in-session therefore reiterates the ultimatum issued by the NLC and TUC to the federal government, which expires on the last day of this month.”

The organised labour directed all councils whose state governments are yet to fully implement the N30,000 national minimum wage and its consequential adjustments to “immediately issue a joint two-week ultimatum to the culpable state governments to avert industrial action”.

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Bodex F. Hungbo, SPMIIM is a multiple award-winning Nigerian Digital Media Practitioner, Digital Strategist, PR consultant, Brand and Event Expert, Tv Presenter, Tier-A Blogger/Influencer, and a top cobbler in Nigeria.

She has widespread experiences across different professions and skills, which includes experiences in; Marketing, Media, Broadcasting, Brand and Event Management, Administration and Management with prior stints at MTN, NAPIMS-NNPC, GLOBAL FLEET OIL AND GAS, LTV, Silverbird and a host of others

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