Nasarawa State Governor Abdullahi Sule has dismissed reports from an international publication describing Nigeria as drifting towards a failed state.
Governor Sule who was a guest on Channels Television’s Sunday Politics described the allegation as one borne out of ignorance and a deliberate ploy to dent the image of the nation.
He believes that although much more still needs to be done especially in the area of security, the country has significantly improved.
…as legislative experts say dropping resolution can only happen through a motion at plenary
Spokesman of the House of Representatives yesterday kept a deafening silence over a report that lawmakers secretly apologized to President Muhammadu Buhari for inviting him to brief them on the security situation of the country.
It will be recalled that the House had via a motion on December 1, 2020, invited the President to appear before it for the security briefing.
The development was a sequel to the cruel killing of over 43 rice farmers in Zarbamari village, Borno State at the time.
The motion sponsored by all the lawmakers from Borno State and presented by Hon. Ahmed Satomi on their behalf at plenary had chronicled many senseless killings and attacks by insurgents in the state and prayed for the invitation of the president to the House.
Speaking to State House Correspondents after a visit to the Presidential Villa to officially convey the resolution of the parliament to the President, the Speaker of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila told the country that Buhari had agreed to honour the invitation.
To this end, December 10, 2020, was slated for the president’s appearance.
But barely 24 hours to the time, the President pooh-poohed on his promise.
Nigerians were later to be treated with a statement from the Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami that the national assembly lacked the constitutional rights and powers to summon the President for the security briefing, saying it was his prerogatives to preside over security matters.
The U-turn, however, generated unusual controversy and spat between the opposition lawmakers in the House and the Executive Arm.
The House argued that it had the constitutional powers to summon anyone including the President.
Many informed Nigerians especially from the legal profession also supported the House.
Against this background, the major opposition lawmakers called for the impeachment of the President.
Hon. Benjamin Kalu, the House spokesperson had last week at a press briefing shortly before the House proceeded on Christmas vacation said that the House’s position on the matter remained the same: that they were yet to receive any official communication from the Presidency as to why the President failed to honour the invitation.
But on Sunday, reports filtered in from a national daily (not Vanguard) that the House had dropped the invitation and subsequently apologized to the President for inviting him.
The report added that the sponsors of the motion made the apology secretly.
All efforts made to elicit their reaction especially from the three most outspoken lawmakers from the lot namely, Hon. Mohammed Monguno (Chief Whip of the House), Hon. Ahmed Satomi and Hon. Ahmadu Jaha failed.
They neither answered their phones nor replied the text messages sent to them.
Similarly, our correspondent had a tough time getting the Spokesman of the House who had earlier in the day said he was in a function and promised to get back later.
When contacted again in the evening despite a reminder to look at the SMS sent to his phone, he also promised to get back to our correspondent.
Unfortunately, he never did as at the time of filing this report last night.
Meanwhile, Vanguard gathered that the report was to give a soft landing to Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila who sources said faced fire from the Presidency over the invitation.
It was learnt that the Presidency and most handlers of the president felt sad and disappointed that a speaker from the ruling party would allow a motion such as that to fly in the first place.
A source who confided in the paper last night however wondered how the House would drop such an invitation on a unilateral basis when it didn’t sit to take a collective decision.
For one, Vanguard can authoritatively report that parliamentary resolutions are not done by any leadership fiat. They are usually done via the consideration of motions at the plenary.
Having taken the resolution to invite the president, the only way such resolution could be dropped or jettisoned must also be through another motion which must happen on the floor of the House may be, upon resumption of plenary next year.
Many informed minds who are conversant with the legislative procedures have therefore expressed regrets that such a resolution could be dropped unilaterally by some people without a motion at plenary to debate it.
South Africa has become the first African nation to record one million coronavirus cases, according to new data published by the country’s health ministry on Sunday.
Currently suffering a second wave of infections, of which the majority are a new variant of the coronavirus, South Africa is the hardest hit country in Africa, with 1,004,413 infections and 26,735 deaths, the data showed.
As of 1900 GMT, a total 2,658,646 cases were recorded in Africa and 62,649 fatalities, according to an AFP tally.
Last week, South Africa recorded a daily average of 11,700 new infections, up 39 per cent over the previous week.
For three consecutive days, from Wednesday until Friday, the daily number of new cases topped 14,000, but dropped sharply again on Saturday and Sunday.
Authorities are considering reimposing restrictions to rein in the spread of the virus, and president Cyril Ramaphosa could give a television address later this week.
Morocco is the second hardest hit African country, with 432,079 cases and 7,240 deaths, followed by Egypt with 131,315 cases and 7,352 fatalities, Tunisia with 130,230 infections and 4,426 deaths and Ethiopia with 122,413 and 1,901 respectively.
Africa has not been as hard hit by the coronavirus as other regions, such as Europe with more than 25 million infections, the United States with 19.5 million, Latin America and the Caribbean with 15 million, Asia with 13.7 million and the Middle East with close to four million.
A total of 1,036 individuals and corporates that recorded losses during the recent #EndSARS protests across the country have lodged claims through 14 insurance companies; 667 of the claimants are from Lagos, ThePunch reports.
Fourteen insurance companies will pay about N9.7bn claims to different customers that suffered losses from the lootings and destructions that marred the #EndSARS protests in the country in October, investigation has revealed.
Weeks after the saga, some insured customers who suffered losses had been paid their claims while other reported losses were still being investigated.
The Director-General, Nigerian Insurers Association, Mrs Yetunde Ilori, said the insurance companies were responding to the claims of their customers.
She said the association was already collating the claims from the losses.
Giving details of the collated figures, she said, “As of Saturday, only 14 insurance companies have given us information.
“The total loss that people have lodged through the companies is N9.7bn. There are companies with higher claims who carried majority of the claims.
“About 1,036 claims have been lodged across the country with most of them coming from Lagos which is 667.
“About N7bn reserves was prepared by the 14 insurance companies to settle the claims.”
The Chairman, Boff & Company Brokers Limited, Chief Babajide Olatunde-Agbeja, confirmed payment of claims by the insurance companies to his clients.
He said his company had three clients who suffered losses from the protests but had been paid their claims by insurance companies.
Olatunde-Agbeja said, “There are three medium-sized claims which all have been promptly paid.
“They were paid N20m, N8m and N17m respectively.
“One was a pharmacist shop; one was a shop selling mobile phones in Surulere that was completely looted and claims paid in full.
“The insurance industry is getting better, slowly but surely.”
While some clients have been able to testify of getting claims, some individuals have decried their losses because they could not boast of having any insurance cover before the protests.
For instance, Nollywood actress, Uche Elendu, decried how her hard work and investments were gone when hoodlums entered her shop in Lekki, and carted away goods worth N100m.
According to underwriters, loss adjusters were still investigating some of the major claims that emanated from the lootings.
Some of the insurers disclosed that the estimated claims from the Nigerian Port Authority was about N1bn, while claims from Shoprite Nigeria was about N2bn.
Some Shoprite outlets across the country such as some parts of Lagos, Ilorin, Warri, Akure, Ibadan and a couple of others were looted.
Also, Automated Teller Machines of banks and their branches were also destroyed and insurers had already sent discharge vouchers to some of them, it was learnt.
More than 30 branches of some of the banks were torched in the protests, according to insurers.
The Managing Director, Law Union & Rock Insurance Plc, Mr Ademayowa Adeduro, who spoke on the company’s response to the #EndSARS claims, said it had issued discharge vouchers to some of the claimants.
He explained that this was like a promissory note and once the claimants returned the discharge vouchers, the claims would be paid immediately.
According to him, the company was yet to conclude some of the claims process as this was based on the limit and conditions on the policies.
He said the company was a lead underwriter in some of the insurance of big firms that were affected, and a co-insurer in some of the policies.
“In Law Union & Rock alone, we collated about N2bn claims. It may come lower or close to that because we used the sum insured as rough estimates but when loss adjusters get there, they will adjust the claims.”
Explaining how the claims process works, he said, “If your property is N1bn and you insure for N500m, it means you have short-changed it by 50 per cent, which means your claims will be adjusted in that manner. That is how insurance works.”
The Chairman, Nigerian Insurers Association, Mr Ganiyu Musa, emphasised the relevance of having insurance covers.
He said it would take time to compile all the claims from the #EndSARS protests because they were still being adjusted.
Musa, who is also the group managing director of Cornerstone Insurance Plc, said the company was estimating to pay about N2bn on the claims.
He said, “Based on the model that we ran, it could be up to N2bn. Obviously, we will expect the major part of it to be recoverable from reinsurers.
“Initially when you get an estimate, you have to go through the adjustment process before you know the full amount.
“A number of the major businesses that have been widely reported are insured.
“The figure keeps changing as loss adjusters come up with figures.”
The Managing Director, NEM Insurance Plc, Mr Tope Smart, said the industry was still collating the total loss figures from the protests.
He said NEM also had collated the estimated figures it was expected to pay from the claims.
The Managing Director, SUNU Assurances Nigeria Plc, Mr Samuel Ogbodu, said the company had already paid some claims, most of which were not huge as investigations on them were promptly completed.
He said, “There are claims of N1m, N2m that are not much that we settled just like other small claims.
“Some heavy claims are from policies that we did not lead the consortium. We took a portion of some of the huge claims.”
By the end of 2020, he said, the company would come up with its estimated claims figure.
The Managing Director, FBN General Insurance, Mr Bode Opadokun, said the claims that the industry recorded from COVID-19 was minimal compared to what it was seeing from #EndSARS.
Due to the low claims profile from the pandemic, he said, the company gave palliatives in form of discounts to its motor insurance customers during the year.
Speaking on the company’s #EndSARS claims, he said, “Our estimates may be about N1.4bn and N1.5bn gross claims including reinsurance claims.”
A former President, Institute of Loss Adjusters of Nigeria, Mr Femi Hassan, noted that it was the duty of loss adjusters to investigate claims from losses, to conclude the exact amount the insurers would pay the claimants.
He said the industry could not yet produce the total claims figure as many of the major claims were still being adjusted.
Hassan said, “They are still investigating. It is not an easy knot to crack at all because most of my colleagues that are involved in investigating these claims have not reached conclusive stage.”
According to him, many small businesses had insurance but did not have extension for Strike, Riot and Civil Commotion that could entitle them to claims from losses from the protests.
Explaining the SRCC, he said, “It is standard exclusion especially in the fire, burglary covers, so the few with the extension are the ones that will benefit from RSCC.”
Before the #EndSARS saga, he said many customers were usually reluctant to take the SRCC as they felt it was like giving insurers money.
But those who were experienced and those who the insurance brokers were able to convince often took the cover, he said.
Terrorists burn worship centres, loot four communities
•Zulum orders immediate reconstruction of police station, others
Hundreds of villagers in communities in Hawul Local Government Area of Borno State have fled their homes following a clash between the military and fighters of the Islamic State for West African Province (ISWAP) that raged for hours at the weekend.
The ground troops and the Air Task Force of Operation Lafiya Dole launched an attack on Saturday to repel the insurgents who invaded the villages after a similar raid on Garkida and surrounding villages in Adamawa on December 24.
Garkida is located in the Gombi Local Government Area of Adamawa State, a contiguous state to Borno State.
It was learnt that the battle between the troops and the insurgents in Tashan Alade, Shafa, Azare, Sabon-Kasuwa and Debro, in Hawul Local Government Area of Borno State, began on Saturday.
Eleven people were reportedly killed while five others were abducted. Many residents of the area were injured.
The insurgents, during the attacks on the villages, razed down schools, shops and places of worship.
Three persons were discovered to have been killed in Shafa, two of whom were local hunters and a civilian.
Thousands of bags of farm products recently harvested by farmers, were alleged to have been looted by the insurgents who also emptied shops and market stalls.
It was learnt that the insurgents, who invaded villages in Borno State, came in their dozens in nine gun trucks and launched coordinated attacks on the communities.
However, ground troops, with aerial support from military jets, were able to contain and repel them.
Spokesman of the Nigerian Air Force, Air Vice Marshal Ibikunle Daramola, said the Air Task Force of Operation Lafiya Dole had scrambled fighter jets to engage the invaders.
“The Air Task Force OPLD has scrambled NAF aircraft to the area since the most recent attack on some settlements surrounding Garkida started just after sunset today (Saturday).
“The aircraft have been engaging the Boko Haram terrorists,” he said in a message to defence reporters.
As the battle raged, hundreds of the villagers fled their homes as the terrorists continued to shoot sporadically.
The fleeing villagers took refuge in the nearby bushes and mountains.
A member of the vigilante group in the area said the attackers burnt down two EYN churches in Tashan Allade as the villagers scampered to the bushes.
Another member of the Civilian Joint Task Force (JTF), Balami Yusuf, told reporters that the insurgents were presently attacking Shaffa and Khiributu villages.
“As I am speaking to you, they are shooting. You can hear from the background.
“We are in the bushes and people are running and children are crying. We are helpless,” Balami stated.
Air strikes from Nigerian Air Force compelled the attackers to flee while looting shops and residential areas.
The villagers were said to have watched the fire-fight from the mountain tops even as they braced the harsh harmattan haze.
The terrorists also set ablaze, vehicles and trucks belonging to a construction company.
It was learnt that Borno State Governor, Prof. Babagana Zulum, was briefed on the incident yesterday.
The governor had cut short his visit to Abuja to return to Maiduguri and on arrival, he took a military chopper to assess the damage inflicted on the affected communities.
All the communities are in the southern part of the state, which used to be relatively safe from attacks from the insurgents.
Zulum, according to his spokesman, Mallam Isa Gusau, had travelled from Maiduguri to Katsina and Abuja on Thursday, for series of scheduled activities, which he had to cut short Saturday’s following the attack.
A statement by the governor’s spokesman confirmed the destruction visited on Tashan Alade, Shafa, Azare, Sabon-Kasuwa and Debro by the insurgents.
The statement added that schools, shops and places of worship were destroyed by the insurgents.
Gusau said Zulum was in Yimirshika, Azare, Sabon-Kasuwa and Shafa, where he inspected all destroyed property, including police station, market stalls and others, and ordered their immediate reconstruction.
The statement said: “In Shafa, Zulum ordered the provision of six patrol vehicles and other components to strengthen local security network in the community. Also in Yamirshika, Zulum directed the provision of surveillance vehicles to hunters and vigilantes.”
He said the governor addressed “terrified residents who returned to Yamirshika town earlier Saturday, after attempts by insurgents on the town, was repelled.”
The governor, while commiserating with the people, said: “We departed Abuja to Maiduguri this morning, and we are here to show our sympathy and to stand with all of you, our brothers in Hawul, over the sad incident, yesterday (Saturday). I have been fully briefed and I have seen things myself, insha’Allah, we will strengthen security here and in all places. We will as soon as possible, make available all your requirements based on my interaction with security stakeholders and community leaders. We will rehabilitate the police station, the shops and all other infrastructures destroyed yesterday.”
According to him, he always feels bad going to commiserate with the people after attacks because he feels that government has failed in perhaps its major role, as the protection of lives and property is government’s first priority.
He said: “As enshrined in section 14, 2b of the 1999 Constitution, security of lives and property remains the cardinal objective of any government. We know this and we are doing everything within our powers to provide security and ensure the welfare of citizens. We will neither relent nor shy away from our responsibilities. We shall remain resilient and focused in our search for peace in Borno.”
Zulum, while later addressing journalists, said his visit to the affected communities was to strengthen community resilience and provide support to local volunteers supporting the security agencies in restoring peace.
He was accompanied to the communities by the Deputy Governor, Umar Kadafur, former Deputy Governor, Usman Durkwa, Senator representing Southern Borno, Ali Ndume, Commissioners for Reconstruction, Rehabilitation and Resettlement and Agriculture, Mr. Mustapha Gubio and Mr. Bukar Talba, respectively.
Outgoing U.S. President Donald Trump dropped his objections Sunday night and signed the $2.3 trillion COVID-19 relief and government spending bill.
The bill incorporates $600 stimulus checks for most Americans.
Trump had teased about the likelihood of his backpedaling when he wrote o Twitter: “Good news on Covid Relief Bill. Information to follow!”
The over 5,600-page bill was passed by Congress on Monday night.
The bill authorizes direct checks of $600 for people earning up to $75,000 per year. The amount decreases for higher earners and people who make over $95,000 get nothing.
It also contains a $600 per child stimulus payment.
The bill creates a new $300 weekly unemployment supplement and replenishes a forgivable loan program for small businesses.
Trump had objected to the omnibus bill, saying it offers little to the struggling Americans.
Instead, he wants the $600 checks to be increased to $2,000.
He also wanted the bill to expunge extraneous items, such as foreign aid.
He actually in a viral video described the bill ‘ a disaster’.
The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority has vowed to fine airlines $3,500 for each passenger that refuses to adhere to the new travel protocols announced by the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19.
In a letter addressed to all airlines and signed by the NCAA Director-General, Capt Musa Nuhu on December 26th, NCAA directed passengers flying from the United Kingdom and South Africa to present a pre-departure permit to fly/ QR Code and a negative COVID-19 PCR test result done within 96 hours of boarding.
In the circular titled ‘Protocol for all passengers originating from the United Kingdom and South Africa’, Nuhu explained that the new protocols were to curtail a new variant of the COVID-19 virus that was fast spreading round the world.
The circular read in part, “Passengers must present the following two documents to be allowed to board their flights to Nigeria:
“Pre-departure Permit to Fly/QR code generated from the Nigeria International Travel Portal (https://nitp.ncdc.gov.ng) showing evidence of payment for the post-arrival day 7 COVID-19 PCR test and;
“Documentary evidence of a negative COVID-19 PCR result done within 96 hours (four days) of boarding from a verifiable laboratory or health facility.”
Nuhu further stated, “On arrival in Nigeria, passengers will be received and processed separately by public health authorities.
“All passengers will be required to self-isolate for seven days after arrival followed by a COVID-19 PCR test.”
Nuhu equally warned that any carrier flouting the new rules would have its permit or approval to fly into Nigeria suspended.
He added that the PTF reviewed the quarantine protocols to ensure that passengers originating from both UK and SA would be received and processed separately by public health authorities.
The NCAA also stated that all the new travel rules would apply to both scheduled and non-scheduled passengers from both countries effective Monday 28th December 2020.
A dedicated list of passengers from both locations is set to be opened as the government threatened to return non-Nigerian defaulting passengers to the point of embarkation.
The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has directed that passengers arriving from South Africa and United Kingdom (UK) will from today be received and processed separately by the country’s public health authorities.
NCAA issued the directive at the weekend in a letter, which explained that this has become necessary following the recent spike in cases of COVID-19 in Nigeria and the reported highly transmissible new variant of the virus in UK and South Africa.
NCAA explained that the federal government, through the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19 (PTF), has reviewed the quarantine protocol.
In the letter dated December 26, 2020 and signed by the Director General of NCAA, Captain Musa Nuhu, which was sent to local and international airline operators, the agency stated that flights and passengers originating from the United Kingdom and South Africa, with final destination to Nigeria, must present pre-departure permit TO FLY/QR code generated from Nigeria International Travel Portal.
The permit must show evidence of the payment for the post-arrival day 7 COVID-19 PCR test and documentary evidence of a negative COVID-19 PCR result done within 96 hours (four days) of boarding from a verifiable laboratory or health facility.
Nuhu stated that on arrival, passengers would be received and processed separately by public health authorities, adding that all passengers will be required to self-isolate for seven days after arrival, followed by another COVID-19 PCR test.
He added that passengers with a post-arrival negative COVID-19 PCR result will be referred for isolation and further management.
“A dedicated register for arriving passengers from the UK and South Africa will be opened for enhanced surveillance and active enforcement of these protocols. Punitive measures shall be taken against airlines, which fail to comply with this all operators’ letter. The punitive measures shall include but not limited to:
“Airlines shall be fined $3,500 for each defaulting passengers. Airlines may be required to return non-Nigerian defaulting passengers to the point of embarkation, repeated non-compliance by any airline will lead to suspension of airline’s approval/permit to fly into the country,” the letter said.
Earlier COVID-19 protocol for arriving passengers to Nigeria did not deviate much from the new rules, but indications show that concerned authorities would be more emphatic on implementation.
Writes Buhari, seeks review of recent police promotions
A South-east professional group has decried the unfair treatment of Igbo race in the country saying the zone has again been treated unfavorably in the recent promotions made by the Police Service Commission (PSC).
In an open letter addressed to president Muhammadu Buhari, the group said, it was unfortunate that like in the past recruitments, appointments, promotions and allocation of resources, the region was again denied its rightful place in the exercise carried out by the commission.
“We call on you sir, to address the principle of federal character in the distribution of public resources and appointive positions, especially security chiefs”, it stated.
They also appealed to President Buhari and the National Assembly to not only set up a panel with a view to unraveling circumstances leading to unfair treatment of Igbo race in the country but also review the recent promotions of the police commission.
The letter read in part; “We wish to kindly draw your attention to the recent appointments made in the Nigeria Police Force by the Police Service Commission (PSC), under the chairmanship of the retired former Inspector General of Police, Musiliu Smith.
“Recall that the Police Service Commission on Friday, December 18,2020 rose from its 10th plenary meeting with the promotion of 37 senior police officers to their next ranks. This action by the commission is highly commendable given that it would boost the morale of officers and men of the Force to serve their fatherland diligently and meritoriously.
“For instance,as observed by us,out of the figure mentioned earlier, the North West was apportioned 12 slots just as the North East was given 8 slots. The South West on the other had, got 7 while the South South got 5 in that order. The North Central geopolitical region was given 4 slots. We regret to say here that unlike the zones mentioned, the South East region only got 1 slot.
“This,to us,is the height of the ongoing desperate efforts of the current federal administration to completely alienate the Igbo race in the Nigeria project. This provocative action is condemnable and unacceptable to us.”
The group further listed areas the Igbos were being marginalised in the nation to include, “lopsided appointment of security chiefs; infrastructure deficit including roads, railway, and seaports; unfavourable allocations from the federal government; and concentration of interventions of development partners in other regions.
While calling on the president to address the principle of federal character in the distribution of public resources and appointive positions, especially security chiefs, they also appealled to the National Assembly to immediately step in with a view to stopping these unfair treatments of Ndigbo in Nigeria.
THE Indigenous People of Biafra on Sunday warned South-East governors not to work against its newly launched security outfit; the Eastern Security Network.
It accused the governors of a motive to incite the army and others against ESN.
The group in a statement by IPOB’s Media and Publicity Secretary, Emma Powerful, warned the governors to desist from such act or be prepared to face catastrophic consequences resulting therefrom.
The secessionist group also warned local vigilantes in the zone set up by state governors not to allow themselves to be used to carry out what it called evil agenda or have themselves to blame.
It said both the governors and community leaders would be held responsible for any form of attack on any of its security personnel.
IPOB advised the Nigerian Army and other security agencies to stop dissipating energy towards stopping ESN, but rather channel their strength against Boko Haram, bandits and terrorists rampaging the North.
The pro-Biafran group maintained that ESN was not a Biafran Army but a vigilante group set up to defend the people of the old Eastern region against terrorists and criminals responsible for the growing insecurity in the region.
The statement partly read, “The game plan is to orchestrate crisis between the vigilante groups and ESN to pave the way for Nigeria soldiers to attack ESN personnel.
“We, therefore, wish to warn all local vigilantes in every state of Biafra who have been or may be contacted or are being recruited by the masterminds of this evil agenda through the traditional rulers and President General of any community or town in Biafraland to attack ESN operatives to have a rethink. Embarking on such unholy mission is suicidal.
“Anyone, vigilante group, community, traditional ruler or President General, political elite or anybody under any guise who will connive with the enemy to expose or attack ESN in their locality will live in eternal regret of such satanic mission. It’s not a threat but a promise.
“We want to make it clear that leaders of any community in Biafra land where any ESN personnel is attacked will pay dearly for such attack.”
The statement added, “We specifically warn Governor Dave Umahi of Ebonyi State not to push us any further against the wall. He cannot sacrifice Biafran freedom on the altar of his imaginary presidential ambition. Umahi must retrace his steps now and not test our resolve to protect our land.”
When contacted, the Anambra State Commissioner of Police, John Abang, said he would not want to speak on the matter.
Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has sent Freedom of Information requests to President Muhammadu Buhari and 36 state governors, urging them to disclose details of proposed ‘security votes’ spending in the 2021 appropriation bills to ensure the security and welfare of Nigerians.
SERAP also urged the president to explain measures the government is putting in place to prevent the misuse and embezzlement of public funds in the name of security votes.
In the FoI requests dated December 26, 2020 and signed by its Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, the organisation said disclosing details of spending would serve to engage the Nigerian people in an honest conversation about the security challenges confronting the country, and what the federal and state governments are doing to respond to them.
The FoI requests, read in part: “Nigerians have the right to know what the government is doing in their name. The framers of the Nigerian Constitution never contemplated opaque spending of public funds as security votes. Transparency and accountability would ensure that the policies and action that the government will pursue to guarantee the security of Nigerians are truly relevant and effective in keeping them safe.”
“We would be grateful if the requested information is provided to us within 7 days of the receipt and/or publication of this letter. If we have not heard from you by then, SERAP shall take all appropriate legal action under the Nigerian Constitution, the Freedom of Information Act, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights to compel you to comply with our request.”
“Successive governments have failed to effectively discharge their primary and constitutional responsibility to protect the lives and property of Nigerians. This is patently contrary to Section 14(2)(b) of the Nigerian Constitution, which provides that ‘the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government.’”
“Our requests are brought in the public interest, and in keeping with the requirements of the Nigerian Constitution, the country’s international human rights obligations including under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights. Nigeria has ratified both human rights treaties.”
The Senate has commenced investigation into the alleged breach of the 2000/2001 the federal government’s Fiscal Incentive Package Conditions by SINOPEC-ADDAX, following fears in some quarters that Nigeria may have lost over N1.2 trillion in oil revenue due to improper execution of the deal by the company.
The disclosure was made yesterday in Calabar by the Vice Chairman of the Senate Committee on Petroleum, Senator Gershom Bassey, who also raised the alarm that Nigeria stood the risk of losing an additional $750 million from abandonment/decommissioning liability at the expiration of SINOPEC-ADDAX stay in the country by 2022.
Bassey, who issued a press statement to this effect, said based on a motion he sponsored drawing the attention of the federal government to the possible loss of such humongous revenue, the Senate has mandated the Senate Committee on Petroleum Upstream and Senate Committee on Gas to investigate and make recommendations with regards to the 2000/2001 Fiscal Incentive Package and other federal government’s agreements with Sinopec-Addax Petroleum Company.
Bassey, who is the representative of the Cross River South senatorial district in the National Assembly, said the investigating committees have been mandated to ascertain the level of the company’s compliance with these agreements and make recommendations.
Bassey stated that in 2000/2001 the Federal Government of Nigeria had provided a Fiscal Incentive Package to Addax Petroleum Company that saw the reduction of the company’s Petroleum Profit Tax from 85 per cent in the 1998 Production Sharing Contract (PSC) to 60 per cent in the 2001 Fiscal Incentive Package and the company’s share of oil lifting increase from about 45 per cent to 56 per cent.
Addax Petroleum followed through by investing to grow production from about 10,000bopb in 2000 to over 100,000bopb by 2008.
He said from the purchase of Addax by Sinopec in 2009, the assets have witnessed significant production decline due to poor investment decisions making production levels to fall presently to approximately 30,000bopb with no developed gas.
The lawmaker stated that “Sinopec Addax, despite holding a 100 per cent Production Sharing Contract(PSC) with oil mining leases OML-123, OML-124, OML-126, has refused to stick to its end of the bargain to continue investing in the operated assets leading to a revenue loss of about $3.35 billion per year by the Nigerian Government…OML-137 is non-producing because the oil firm breached the Fiscal Incentive Package by neglecting to invest in that asset resulting in huge oil revenue loss to Nigerian.”
Bassey alleged that given “the lack of any demonstration by Sinopec-Addax to stay in Nigeria because of the company’s unwillingness to purchase an office building and its refusal to invest for production growth, it is shocking that NNPC continues to honour the elapsed gentleman’s agreement that made Sinopec Addax to operate these assets and lift 70 per cent of the crude oil they are producing resulting in a huge annual revenue loss to Nigerian government.”
He further alleged, “That in 2016 the process of Value For Money (VFM) audit of $1.37 billion of cost oil that had been lifted by Addax Petroleum from 2007 to 2014 was initiated with the understanding that it would take three months to conclude.”
Continuing, Bassey said, “Since the initiation of the VFM audit in 2016, Sinopec Addax Petroleum has continued to enjoy oil over lift and have frustrated the process of conclusion of the audit to allow for the equitable and accurate determination of lifting.
“The Covid-19 Pandemic has negatively impacted on our economy and has thrown Nigeria into debt meanwhile the federal government has over N1.2trillion of its oil revenue lying with Sinopec-Addax Petroleum Company and it will be leaving an abandonment/decommissioning liability cost of about $750 million at the expiration of their stay in Nigeria come 2022.”
Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, says he may re-impose another lockdown beginning from January as the number of coronavirus cases surge in the State.
He gave hint of imminent second phase of lockdown amid rising cases of COVID-19 during the thanksgiving church service in celebration of the 90th birthday of Mrs. Priscilla Nwanediye Mark, at the St. Martin’s Anglican Church, Omagwa in Ikwerre Local Government on Sunday.
Governor Wike, lamented as worrisome the refusal of most churches and markets in the State to enforce compulsory wearing of face mask in adherence to COVID-19 protocol.
He said the State government had initially relaxed the restriction on the number of persons who worship in churches, but with second wave of COVID-19, he will by this week announce new stringent measures to check the spread of COVID-19 cases in the State,
“When you go to some churches, they don’t wear mask. Go to market, they don’t wear mask. They believe COVID is not real. It’s not real because it has not happened to you; nobody had died whom you know. When somebody has died and the person was close to you, you will know that COVID is real.
“So, it is real and I want to appeal to all of you that we have to be more strict now because the second wave is more dangerous than the first wave. It’s very, very dangerous. I know how many people we have lost since the second wave started.”
Governor Wike implored the Bishop of Diocese of Ikwerre to prevail on members of all the churches under his jurisdiction to always wear their face mask.
“If you don’t comply, I have no choice, but to shut down the churches; Pentecostal, Catholic, Anglican. I have no choice, because when you have it, who spends the money? It is the state that treats. So, we need to use the money for some other things, but not for this. Let us discipline ourselves and know that COVID is real. Let nobody tell you that there is nothing like COVID. It’s real.”
Delivering a sermon titled “Thanking God for His Mercy” the Bishop, Diocese of Ikwerre, Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion, Right Reverend Blessing Enyindah, stressed the need for people to always acknowledge God’s mercies in their lives.
Bishop Enyindah who observed that this is an era were people lived below the lifespan of 50 years, said it was the mercy of God that made Mrs. Priscilla Mark attain 90 years.
Kidnapped chairman of the Kaduna State chapter of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria, Apostle Emmanuel Egoh Bako, and his wife, Cindy, have regained freedom from their captors.
Gunmen about 8:00pm on Christmas Day, invaded the Albarka Prayer Camp at Fadan Kagoma near Kafanchan in Jema’a Local Government Area of the state, shot indiscriminately before taking away the cleric, wife and one other person simply identified as Mr. Douglas to an unknown destination.
A government statement by the commissioner of Internal Security and Home Affairs, Mr. Samuel Aruwan, said Bako and the wife were freed from the kidnappers’ den on Sunday.
The statement was titled, ‘Apostle Bako, wife regain freedom.’
The commissioner said the Secretary of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN) in Kaduna State, Rev. Tony Inwulale, also confirmed the development to the government.
Aruwan said Governor Nasir El-Rufai expressed relief and happiness over the development and offered his best wishes to the cleric and his wife.
“The Kaduna State Government has been informed by the security agencies of the release of Apostle Emmanuel Ego Bako and his wife, Mrs Cindy Bako on Sunday afternoon by their abductors,” the commissioner added.