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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has arraigned a former senior banker with Polaris Bank, Mrs. Ugochi Dike and her husband Architect Emmanuel Dike, who is also a popular elder of Seventh Day Adventist Church.

The couple was arraigned before a federal high court sitting in Port Harcourt.

Mrs Ugochi Dike is accused of defrauding a company, Clip Nigeria Ltd, to the tune of 500 million with the guise of investing in contracts execution with NNPC, SPDC and other IOCs with clear terms of return of investments to Clip Nigeria Ltd.

The company alleged that after a period of no returns, they realised they had been defrauded. They then asked for a refund of the principal money from Mrs Ugochi Dike.

Unable to refund the money, Mrs Dike claimed her husband, Arch. Emmanuel Dike invested the money into his Cryptocurrency trading business.

The couple who are facing a 5 counts charge with suit number FHC/PH/458C/23 FRN vs UGOCHI EZIAKU DIKE & ORS were brought to court from the custody of the EFCC on a 5 counts charge which includes: “Count 1: Conspiracy, obtaining money by false pretences contrary to section 8(a) of Advance Free Fraud and other fraud-related offenses Act, 2006 punishable under section 1(3).”

Ajoku granted bail to the accused in the sum of N 1 million each to the couple, noting that the surety must be up to a grade level 12 civil servant in Rivers state and should present a letter of employment and certificate of occupancy.

The court affirmed that the surety must reside within the jurisdiction of the court, produce passport photographs and admonish the lawyer to ensure his clients appear in court during the next sitting.

The court, however, adjourned till January 30, 2024, for trial and remanded the accused persons in the Port Harcourt Correctional Centre, pending when they meet the bail conditions.

The Minister of State of Agriculture and Food Security, Aliyu Abdullahi, has advocated for the National Agriculture Data Centre to attract investors to enhance food and nutrition security in Nigeria.

Abdullahi gave this indication during the meeting with the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) delegation led by the Director, Office of Emergency & Resilience, Rein Paulsen in Abuja.

The minister in a statement signed by the Chief Information Officer, Eremah Anthonia, on Thursday, said substantial data covering farms and farmers will enable the ministry to keep track of development, and challenges faced in the sector.

He said, “Nigeria has 70 per cent of arable land, and yet some number of people are not food secured. This is worrisome.

“The data governing system would attract and encourage investors, also help to define farm types and enable the Ministry to know where farms exist.

The Minister harped on the need to actualize the National Agricultural Data in Nigeria in the next two years and pointed out that the present administration was fully committed to making sure that Nigeria was food-secured which was the reason for bringing food security to the front burner.

Abdullahi also emphasized that the ministry had already started taking action to create the enabling environment to make investors’ entry easier with the focus on easing their businesses.

He pointed out that by the time investors come in, it would enhance self-sufficiency, create job opportunities, and inclusiveness of youths and women, amongst others

In his remarks, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Dr. Ernest Umakhihe reiterated FAO’s support in achieving the ministry’s mandate while urging the FAO to revisit the quarterly meetings usually held in the ministry to bring the issues again to the front burner.

The remains of the late Director of Finance and Administration in Ogun State, Mr Taiwo Oyekanmi, have been laid to rest in his hometown of Ifonyintedo in the Ipokia Local Government Area of the state.

Oyekanmi was shot dead while on official duty on the Kuto flyover in Abeokuta by armed robbers who attacked him on his way to the Governor’s Office while conveying a cash sum of about N112 million carted away by the robbers.

Earlier in the day, Governor Dapo Abiodun paid a condolence visit to the family of the deceased at his Abeokuta home.

Abiodun, during the visit, promised that the state government would take full responsibility for the family left behind by Oyekanmi.

He also assured the family and the people of the state that the perpetrators behind the killing would be caught and brought to justice.

An emotional Governor, Abiodun, described the deceased as diligent, hardworking, honest, and God-fearing.

He said that the Governor’s Office and the entire state workforce have been devastated by the killing, assuring that everything possible will be done to bring the perpetrators to justice.

“How could we imagine yesterday morning that we would be here this morning condoling with this family?

“We are all heavily burdened; the pain is not describable. He has been asking us questions since yesterday afternoon.

“Taiwo was very hardworking, very dedicated, diligent, honest, unassuming, a man who loved God, who served God, and very humble. He was very conscious.

“Let me assure you that we will do everything within my power to bring the perpetrators of this heinous crime to book.

“I will not leave any stone unturned until these criminals are arrested and dealt with; that much I also promise.

“I want to assure the members of his family, particularly his wife and children, that we will not leave you.

“We will take full responsibility for your welfare and your wellbeing,” Prince Abiodun said.

He noted that the death of Oyekanmi was a painful reminder that life is a journey, adding that the deceased lived a life of impact, touched everybody, and was well respected by everyone.

Responding on behalf of the family of the deceased, his younger brother, Tayo Oyekanmi, thanked the Governor for the visit, even as he said destiny has been shattered and dreams cut short, not only for the family but for the entire Ifonyintedo community in the Ipokia Local Government Area of the state.

He urged the governor to unravel the people behind the killing in no distant time to assuage the pains of the family.

Abiodun directed that the national flag be flown at half mast and declared one week of mourning in honour of the deceased.

The Governor also said that his administration had secured more than 60 percent of the 2023 budget and efforts would be made to ensure Bauchi residents enjoyed the dividends of democracy.

Tagged, “Budget of unification and renewal of commitment” Bala Mohammed appealed to the members of the state House of Representatives to give the budget an acceleration and rapid passage of the continuation of development.

The Governor said, “Mr Speaker, Honourable Members, the year 2024 budget which I tag “BUDGET OF CONSOLIDATION & RENEWED FOCUS”’ is prepared based on the Medium-Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) in compliance Bauchi State Fiscal Responsibility Law (2009).”

He added that “It further complies with the National Format and Chart of Accounts, aimed at improving the quality of financial reporting in line with the International Public-Sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS).”

He added that the 2024 Budget has been predicated on the assumptions of an oil production projection of 1.78 million barrels per day; a benchmark oil price of 73.96 US dollars per barrel; an exchange rate of N700 to the US dollar; an improved level of revenue accruals into the Federation Account arising from oil subsidy removal; and an improved and efficient system of internally generated revenue collection.

The Governor added, “Government has in the course of the preparation of the Budget taken the following measures into consideration: Ensure the completion of ongoing projects and Propose new projects only on the basis of critical need and the immediate impact they would make.”

It also ensures reduction in non-essential overheads, compliance with Budget guidelines issued by the Nigerian Governors Forum to ensure peer review and comparability.

Furthermore, Compliance with debt servicing and repayment agreements in fulfillment of our obligations, target favourable sources of Capital Receipts and financing such as Aids and Grants, PPPs.

The 2024 projected revenue and expenditure are for Capital and Recurrent services during the fiscal year comprising Recurrent Expenditure of N121,341,193,343.11 or 40.4% while Capital Expenditure receives the sum of N178,878,512,477.49 or 59.6%.

“The 2024 proposed Budget is 48.2% higher than the budget I presented at this House for 2023. The increase is attributable to the increased revenue arising from the subsidy removal and the upward inflationary trends associated with the depreciating state of the local currency,” he added.

The Governor explained, “This implies an increase in prices upon which our projects and programmes will be implemented. The adoption of this conservative approach is to ensure that projects and programmes captured are appropriately costed.”

According to him, “The process of the preparation of the budget has been all inclusive. Budget Public Hearings were conducted in the three Senatorial Zones where inputs from Stakeholders were elicited and incorporated into the Budget proposal.”

“Mr Speaker, Honourable members, the details of the Budget are as follows: Recurrent Estimates
Recurrent Revenue Estimates with an Opening Balance of the sum of N14,472,988,092.29 while the sum of N196,117,152,647.51 is estimated as Recurrent Revenue,” he added.

According to him, “This is made up of the following: Internally Generated Revenue N37,029,075,592.51, Statutory/Other FAAC Allocation 114,084,525,864.62, VAT N45,003,551,190.38 totaling the sum of N196,117,152,647.51. ​Recurrent Expenditure Estimates is a total sum of N121,341,193,343.11 earmarked for Recurrent Expenditure.”

The breakdown is as follows:- Personnel Cost​​, N73,104,107,842.86, Overhead Cost N 121,341,193,343.11.

For capital receipts, it is projected that the State will realize Capital Receipts in the sum of N89,629,565,080.80 in the following areas: Loans (Internal & External) N50,983,704,414.25, Aids and Grants​​​ N24,018,520,052.85, Other Capital Receipts​​ N14,627,240,713.70 totaling the sum of N89,629,565,080.80.

The Capital Expenditure has been proposed in the sum of N178,878,512,477.49 in the following sectors administrative sector N19,025,419,968.80, Economic Sector N74,907,055,058.74, law and Justice Sector N2,002,430,000.00, Regional Sector N17,460,965,081.05, Social Sector N65,768,787,368.90 totalling the sum of N178,878,512,477.49

“​​In concluding this presentation, I want to solicit the continuous support and cooperation of this Honourable House in our efforts towards the development of our dear State and in improving the lives of its citizens. We have no doubt made significant progress in that respect,” he added.

Bala Mohammed said, “As we get to settle into our responsibility of governance coming into the second term, I want to use this opportunity to urge our citizens to embrace our development objectives of making our State a better place for all of us.”

According to him, “We will continue to work to ensure that the prevailing peace, security and protection of lives and properties of citizens is guaranteed. Our absolute trust is, indeed, in the Almighty Allah in Whom we truly believe.”

Justice Adenike Akinpelu of the Kwara State High Court on Thursday sentenced the Serikin Fulani in the state (ardo), Alhaji Usman Adamu, his brother, and one Gidado Idris to life imprisonment for conspiracy to kidnap and kidnapping himself.

The case was investigated by the DSS and prosecuted by the Kwara State Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), Ayoola Akande.

The Serikin Fulani and two others were accused of kidnapping one Abubakar Ahmad and collected a ransom of N1 million before his eventual release after spending 20 days.

The kidnap incident took place in the middle of last year.

In her judgment, Justice Adenike Akinpelu said that the trio was all in agreement to commit the offence, adding that whether they were physically present at the kidnap scene was immaterial.

She added that the convicts “supposedly arrested their victim claiming that he was a kidnap suspect to extort money from him.

“I am not persuaded by the submissions of counsel to defendants to dismiss the two- count charge against them based on the fact that they were not at the scene of the incident”.

Continuing, Mrs. Akinpelu lamented that “it is saddening and disturbing that community leaders charged with the welfare of their subjects could because of the love of money breach the security of the same subjects.

“They are hereby found guilty as charged and are so convicted”.

After listening to the convicts’ allocutus plea of having over 20 children, more than eight wives and being the breadwinner of the family, the judge said that “by Section 15 of the Kwara state Anti-Kidnapping Law, the court cannot exercise any discretion of leniency, so you are hereby sentence to life imprisonment. The sentence is to run concurrently”.

She ordered that a sum of N600,000 be paid to the victim of the abduction.

The House of Representatives on Thursday passed the N27.5trn 2024 budget for second reading.

Leading the debate on the general principles of the budget, House Leader, Julius Ihonvbere commended President Bola Tinubu, noting that national security and education which got significant allocations, will be enhanced if implemented.

“Nigeria will be more secure with the allocation to defence and security.

“As a teacher, I am impressed by the emphasis on basic education. I am sure that education will be better off this time,” he said.

The Ondo State House of Assembly on Thursday, withdrew the appeal against the Deputy Governor of the state, Lucky Aiyedatiwa, at the appeal court sitting in Abuja.

Justice Emeka Nwite of the Federal High Court, Abuja had on September 26 restrained the Ondo State Governor, its Chief Judge, the House of Assembly, its Speaker, and others from proceeding with their planned impeachment of Aiyedatiwa pending the determination of a pending motion on notice for interlocutory injunctions.

But the Speaker and the National Assembly on October 3, 2023, filed an appeal

At the proceedings, the counsel for the applicants, Remi Olatubora, SAN announced to the court that the parties in the matter have found a political solution to the issue.

A Chief Magistrate Court sitting in Isabo, Abeokuta, Ogun State, has sentenced the Osolo of Ado-Odo, Muftau Dosunmu, to six months in prison for presenting himself as an Oba.

The Osolo title, which is one of the high chiefs in Ado-Odo, Ado-Odo/Ota Local Government Area of Ogun State, was upgraded to a coronet Oba by the past administration of Senator Ibikunle Amosun, among 74 others across the state.

But, the Governor Dapo Abiodun administration has since its assumption of office reversed the upgrade of all 75 Obas.

Though the monarchs claimed they had secured a high court judgement against the state, the government had insisted that they should stop parading themselves as traditional rulers.

In his case, the Osolo was dragged to court for alleged impersonation and disturbance of peace within the Ado-Odo magisterial district.

He was accused of parading himself as an Oba, donning regalia and a beaded crown, despite lacking the rightful title, thereby violating Section 23(2)(c) of the Obas and Chiefs Law of Ogun State.

Dosunmu was said to have installed one Alabi Afizu as Babaloja of Ado-Odo in March 2022, contravening Section 249(1)(d) of the Criminal Code Law.

Dosunmu was additionally charged for instructing a town crier to announce movement restrictions due to spiritual rites between April 2022 and August 2022, leading to charges under Section 249(1)(d) and 200 of the Criminal Code Law.

Another count stated that Dosunmu identified himself as the Olofin of Ado-Odo and paraded himself as the Osolo of Ado-Odo, a kingmaker, between April 2022 and July 2023.

The prosecution counsel, Adebayo Adesanya, had informed the court that his actions were punishable offences under Section 249(1)(d) and punishable under Section 249(3) of the Criminal Code Law.

Dosunmu was also charged for parading himself as a kingmaker without the traditional council’s approval, a violation of Section 41 of the Chief’s Law of Ogun State, 2021, punishable under Section 41(6) of the Obas and Chiefs Law.

In her ruling, Chief Magistrate E. O. Idowu declared that Dosunmu was found guilty of six counts and sentenced him to six months imprisonment.

“The convict is sentenced to one-month imprisonment on the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, and 7th counts of the charge, with an option of a fine of N50,000 on each count for which he has been convicted. The sentences shall run consecutively from today, 28th November 2023,” the court ruled.

Speaking with PUNCH Metro on Wednesday, Dosunmu said he was being persecuted by some individuals over the installation of the next of Olofin Ado-Odo, following the demise of Oba Lateef Adeniran on January 7, 2022.

In a phone conversation, Osolo said, “I got a letter of upgrading as a coronet Oba and I waited till we won a case filed before Justice Adeyemi of the State High Court before I did my traditional rites. We have a High Court judgement clearing the 75 Obas. I was joined in the case, even though I wasn’t a party initially. I didn’t do anything wrong after my traditional rites, I was only awarded honorary titles. That’s where the problem started with a few people in the town, who cooked lies against me.

“These people threatened me with the police. I was dragged to Zone 2 Police headquarters in Lagos, but the police said I didn’t do anything wrong. They returned to Ogun to continue with the police threat. But my lawyer told them that they could not be victimising a man who had a high court judgement. So, they filed a suit against me at the magistrate’s court.”

The Osolo said he tendered all necessary documents before the court, saying the written addresses were also adopted.

However, he said he was suddenly accused of lying before the court and was thereafter arrested by policemen from the Ogun State Police headquarters in Eleweran, Abeokuta.

He spoke further, “So, yesterday the court read a ruling against me. I was asked to pay N300,000, which I did. But, immediately, another suit was filed against me at Court 3. My lawyer said this is not done anywhere. I have returned to Ado-Odo after paying the fine. I am going to appeal that judgment without further delay.”

Meanwhile, Dosunmu told our correspondent that the Ado-Odo community was almost in chaos when news broke out that he was convicted.

“Crisis almost broke out this morning when people got the information. I had to go out in my car, wound down to placate the people not to fight anybody,” he stated.

Asked to state what he felt could be responsible for the crisis, the Osolo said it was as a result of who becomes the next Oba of Ado-Odo.

He explained, “They think I am the one disturbing the installation of the next Olofin of Ado-Odo because I am the Chairman of the Kingmakers; which is not true. I am not disturbing the installation of anybody as the Olofin.”

However, he kicked against the interference of external forces in the selection of the new first-class monarch, saying “I don’t how the Ministry (of Chieftaincy Affairs) or the Yewa Traditional Council will be installing unqualified persons as kingmakers. This is the time the whole of Nigeria will hear about this matter.”

It could be recalled that the late Olofin of Ado-Odo, Adeniran was in April 2013 attacked by some angry youths of the town.

The royal father was in his SUV when he was flagged down by some angry youths. He was beaten and stripped naked by the people, who were said to have earlier invaded his palace to vandalise cars and torch his house.

It was gathered that the youths at the time were protesting a Supreme Court judgment of January 12, 2009, which validated Adeniran’s appointment as the Oba of Ado-Odo.

Since 2013, the deceased Osolo has been in exile in Abeokuta. He returned to Ado-Odo in December 2020.

Economist Bismarck Rewane has stated that Nigerians are more concerned about the prices of essential commodities like rice, bread, and garri than budgetary numbers.

During his appearance on Channels Television’s Business Morning show on Thursday, Rewane, the Managing Director of Financial Derivatives Company Limited, emphasized the public’s focus on the cost of basic necessities over complex budget figures.

He said, “In the end, budgetary arithmetics, budgetary mathematics in economics is of no use to anybody except when by this time, six months’ time if we are buying rice at N40,000 a bag rather than N60,000 a bag if we are buying bread N900 a big loaf instead of N1,300 which we are doing today. If we are buying garri at lower prices.

“The people are not interested in whether the budget is balanced and what the debt is. How does it (the budget) affect their day-to-day livelihood? That is the key thing.”

President Bola Tinubu at his maiden budget presentation before the National Assembly on Wednesday said the proposed N27.5trn 2024 budget will ensure micro-economic stability, poverty reduction, and greater access to social security, amongst others.

He highlighted priority areas such as security, local job creation, macro-economic stability, investment environment optimization, human capital development, poverty reduction, and social security.

Giving a breakdown of the budget estimates, the President fixed recurrent non-debit expenditure at N9.92trn, capital expenditure at N8.73trn, debt service at N8.25trn, revenue at N18.32trn, new borrowings at N7.83trn and deficit at N9.18trn.

Rewane, analysing the budget proposal, said in the final analysis, the people are not interested in figures but want to feel the impact of the government’s economic policies as many are under pressure.

He added that the rate of poverty in the country is driving people mad.

Rewane said, “And as you know, prices are up and people are under tremendous pressure.

“You will notice that on the streets of Lagos in particular, the number of lunatics has increased and part of it is driven by poverty. Many mental health issues. People are pushed to the wall. Some of them walk across the road even in moving traffic.

“People need to feel the impact. the impact is not going to be felt because of 10 or 12% of GDP, that is N27trn; it has to be more. Where is the more going to come from? It’s going to come from investors and investors are going to come here when they are sure that their money is safe and the environment is clean, and they can look forward to a brighter future.”

The economist said the government must be honest with Nigerians on the economic realities, saying that “honesty is in short supply”.

According to him, people cannot start pretending to be happy.

He said, “You can fake news but you can’t fake prosperity.”

Last modified on Thursday, 30 November 2023 13:08

The Abia State government has revealed that the past administration of Dr Okezie Ikpeazu, left a vandalized old Government House and an uncompleted, unfurnished new Government House complex at Ogurube layout Umuahia.

This is in reaction to a recent media report that the state governor, Alex Otti, abandoned a newly built multi-billion naira Government House in Umuahia, the state capital, since assuming office about six months ago, accusing him of running the government from his country home.

Dismissing this report, the Chief Press Secretary, to the state governor, Kazie Uko, who conducted newsmen round the old and new Government Houses’ rooms and offices, regretted the level of vandalization of what used to be the Government House, used by the last administration.

He said, “At what was designated as the Governor’s Office, the level of vandalization was so much that not even a single furniture was left, even as cable television dishes, decoders, televisions and wires were removed. This is what we inherited.

“At the new Government House complex, a section of the peripheral wall has caved in, while inside apartments are yet to be completed as carpenter’s wastes and planks filled the rooms.

“But for the left wing of the ground floor of the new Government House, which has three air-conditioner units and some furniture, the rest of the two-storey building are yet to be completed.”

Continuing, he lamented, “This is where Governor Alex Otti is expected to live. There was no handover, and our administration did not even know what was here, except that it was an uncompleted building. They called it New Government House, when it is supposed to be Governor’s Lodge.”

Recall that the Okezie Ikpeazu administration had commissioned the new Government House on 28 May, a day before the end of its tenure, but according to the CPS, “If fully built, how come we have a bottomless pit in place of lifts, no electricity, uncompleted wiring, no furniture, dilapidation in and outside the building, unfixed doors, carpenter’s wastes and materials littering everywhere?

“The New Government House is a mere workman’s workshop. Hence, the last governor finished his building at his village and relocated there and that was where he operated from for eight years. It wasn’t until the eve of the handover that he hurriedly commissioned the so-called new Government House.

“The whole place was barren. It was like a huge carpentry workshop, with huge heaps of wastes, dusts, woods here and there, rubbles, absolutely nothing.

“That was a clear indication that they never prepared for the incumbent governor to live and work from any Government House, whether old or new. Apparently, they never believed that he, Otti, was going to win the election

“They had clear three months after the election to hand over and didn’t do anything about these facilities, to refurbish the old Government House, furnish the new Government House or build and complete it as it ought to be and furnish it adequately. So there was no provision made for him to live and work in any Government House environment.”

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