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President Muhammadu Buhari has rejected the sum of N488.7 billion approved by the National Assembly as refund to state governments for projects executed on behalf of the Federal Government.




Buhari communicated the decision through a letter read by the President of the Senate, Sen. Bukola Saraki, at plenary on Tuesday.

The president said he rejected the National Assembly’s approval because it violated the provisions of the Public Procurement Act 2007.

He noted that whereas the Federal Executive Council (FEC) approved a total of N487.8 billion for the purpose, the National Assembly jerked up the figure to N488.7 billion.

He said the amount approved by the lawmakers was N890 million higher than that approved by FEC.

Buhari said a review of the National Assembly’s approval, communicated through a July 27, 2018 letter, also revealed discrepancies in the number of states submitted by FEC and those approved by the lawmakers.

He said, “While FEC approved reimbursement to 25 states, the National Assembly approved reimbursement to 21 states.

“The National Assembly did not approve any reimbursement to four states, that is Bauchi, Delta, Kogi and Taraba, whereas FEC approved reimbursement for them.

“And note that the amount approved by the National Assembly for reimbursement to 21 states is higher than the amount approved by FEC for reimbursement to 25 states.”

The president added that the amount approved by the lawmakers for each of the 21 states was higher than that approved by FEC for each of them, except for Adamawa, Jigawa, Kano and Niger.

He urged the Senate to note that the Public Procurement Act 2007 empowers the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) to approve vendors for contract sums.

According to him, the amounts presented to the National Assembly for approval were duly certified for reimbursement by the BPP before they were approved by FEC.

“This was after the projects had been inspected through a programme under the chairmanship of the Minister of Power, Works and Housing.

“Since the BPP is charged with the responsibility of approving contract sums, and there is need for compliance with the Public Procurement Act 2007, I wish to request that you forward to us details relating to the amounts approved by the National Assembly for the 17 states in excess of what was certified by BPP, for necessary verification and approval.

“Furthermore, I wish to request for a review of the reimbursement earlier submitted in favour of Bauchi, Delta, Kogi and Taraba states,” the president said.

In the meantime, Buhari told the lawmakers that the Federal Government would proceed with implementation on the reimbursement on certain grounds.

First, he said where the amount approved by the National Assembly is the same as the amount approved by FEC, the jointly approved amounts would be refunded.

He identified the states in this category as Adamawa, Jigawa, Kano and Niger.

Second, the president said that where the amount approved by the National Assembly was higher than the amount approved by FEC, the amount approved by FEC would be paid.

The benefiting states are Akwa Ibom, Anambra, Ebonyi, Benue, Edo, Ekiti, Enugu, Gombe, Imo, Kwara, Lagos, Ondo, Ogun, Osun, Oyo, Plateau and Zamfara.

He however said the four states (Bauchi, Delta, Kogi and Taraba) excluded in the NASS approval would not be refunded until their consideration by the lawmakers.




Former Manchester United captain, Gary Neville has issued out warning to former Real Madrid manager, Zinedine Zidane over taking the Red Devils job.




Neville issued out the warning after United sacked manager, Jose Mourinho on Tuesday.

Zidane has been heavily linked with a move to Old Trafford over the past few months.

Neville has now warned Zidane to make sure he has “his own ground rules” and the “correct” support at the club if he eventually takes United job, else he will not succeed.

“Zinedine Zidane has won three European Cups in the last four seasons,” Neville told Sky Sports.
“From that point of view, I don’t think anyone could argue with his pedigree.

“He’s been world class on the pitch, he’s been world class in the dugout at Real Madrid. He wouldn’t be my choice in the sense I would choose Mauricio Pochettino… but on the other hand you couldn’t argue with the introduction of Zinedine Zidane because of his record in the past four years.

“What I would say at this moment in time, any manager coming into that football club needs to make sure they come in with their own ground rules. Make sure the support around them is correct or they won’t succeed.

“If Manchester City, Liverpool and Tottenham are buying better players, getting the first in on players, a better recruitment department and better support network, then they’ll still do better.

“Clubs outspent United for many, many years 10, 12 years ago and Manchester United were still winning leagues. It’s not always about the amount of money you throw at it, there needs to be something more than that.”

Man United will now tackle Cardiff City this weekend in the Premier League fixture at Old Trafford.





Popular singer, Simisola Ogunleye aka Simi and Adekunle Gold are reportedly engaged.

ccording to a post on The Net Instagram page on Tuesday, the duo got engaged over the weekend.

The engagement was reportedly attended by only close family and photos were not allowed at the events.

The post read, ”Did you guys hear that Simi and Adekunle Gold are now engaged? The two had a low key introduction ceremony this past weekend.

”It was attended by only their family and close friends, and photos were not allowed to be taken.

”Wish them all the best guys! And when you see photos, remember we told you first. They are now accepting hashtag suggestions.”



Following the announcement of the acquisition of Diamond Bank Plc by Access Bank Plc yesterday investors have swooped on the shares of both banks pushing them to the top of the Nigerian Stock Exchange, NSE, top gainers and volume transaction chart at close of trading yesterday.





Diamond Bank shares which had been on free fall in the past few weeks rose 9.47 percent to N1.04 from N0.95, while Access Bank's shares appreciated by 9.40 percent to N8.15 from N7.45 per share.

Also, 70.98 million units of shares were traded in 129 deals in Diamond Bank, making it the most active stock in volume terms in the banking sector, while 13.62 million units were traded in Access bank in 254 deals.

Meanwhile, capital market authorities, the Securities and Exchange Commission, SEC, and the Nigerian Stock Exchange, NSE, have both indicated that the deal is not yet approved adding that it is just a notice of intention to merge.

Responding to the enquiries from Vanguard NSE stated:
"As an operator of a market, The Exchange's role is to ensure appropriate disclosures around the discussions between the two listed Banks and related matters in accordance with the rules and regulations of The Exchange.

"Our approval of press releases from listed companies does not extend to approval of the substance of such press releases unless we discern from the face of such intended release that information contained in it is manifestly inaccurate. "Otherwise, our role is to permit the release of information so that shareholders are empowered to form a view and make investment decisions based on such releases and all other information available in the public domain.

"In line with our process, as you may have seen, we approved press releases from both Diamond Bank Plc and Access Bank Plc earlier today (Monday).

"There is a clear process of approvals for mergers, including approval of shareholders of both entities at a court ordered meeting of shareholders, regulatory approvals of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) as well as the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) since both companies are public companies.

"It is only when these approvals have been granted that an application can be filed with The Exchange.
"The Exchange will review such application when it receives it; taking into consideration its rules on such application, regulatory approvals, Board and shareholders approvals and any other relevant matter in line with its rules.

"As the required approvals for the continuation of the proposed merger are primarily from the shareholders of the two entities, CBN and SEC, we advise that you share your concerns with the two statutory regulators and, if you are a shareholder, raise your concerns also during the relevant approval meeting."

Also SEC in a statement said, "The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is aware of the intention of Access Bank and Diamond Bank to go into a merger. Access Bank and Diamond Bank have both notified the Commission and the general public. It is a notice to merge, they have not merged yet. SEC is awaiting their application on the matter."

Shareholders reactions:
Reacting, Shehu Mallam Mikaili, National President, Constance Shareholders Association of Nigeria, said, "To me, it is a welcome development because it will protect the interest of shareholders instead of the assets of the Bank (Diamond) being taken over by the CBN."

Speaking in the same vein, Mr Patrick Ajudua, National Chairman, New Dimension Shareholders Association, NDSA, said, "We are not against the merger in this case because we still have our investment protected in the enlarged entity. Rather than face the unacceptable situation of Skye Bank, we are pleased with this development. Therefore, the take over of Diamond by Access Bank is okay by us. The banks in question will both seek the approval of their shareholders before the deal will be consummated since they are both listed on the exchange."

Igbrude Moses, National Secretary, Independent Shareholders Association of Nigeria, ISAN, said, "If the board and management of Diamond Bank think that the only way to sustain the bank is to merge with another bank, so be it, but they should make sure that all the stakeholders are carried along to avoid litigation. CBN, NSE and any other regulator concerned should ensure that minority shareholders are carried along and not short changed in the whole arrangements. They should also ensure that the process is transparently carried out."

He advised that the aim of building the biggest bank in Nigeria or Africa should not overshadow the consideration of ensuring that the acquiring institution has the capacity to manage the enlarged entity.
He said that shareholders are becoming weary and skeptical of banks stocks due to issues of constant take overs in the banking industry.

Access, Diamond Bank management speaks.
Uzoma Dozie, CEO, Diamond Bank, assured that the proposed combination, which is expected to be completed by first half of 2019, with Access Bank would create one of Africa's leading financial institutions.
He said: "There is clear strategic rationale for the proposed merger and strong complementarities between the two institutions."


Vanguard



Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State, yesterday, accused his predecessor, Mr Ayodele Fayose of plundering the N18 billion Paris Club refund to the state.

 


Fayemi wondered how Fayose, could still be owing workers between four and eight months salaries and pension arrears of 10 months, despite the huge amount of money that accrued to the state from the Paris Club refund. 

He also expressed worry over why the former governor preferred to divert the fund for other use, rather than attending to workers remunerations.

But in a swift reaction, Fayose told Governor Fayemi to stop complaining, but to use the over N30 billion his government already received from the Federal Government as refund on federal roads construction, arrears of Budget Support and Paris Club refund to pay workers salary instead of lying against him. 

Fayemi, who spoke in Ado Ekiti, on Sunday evening, while appearing on the December edition of a programme tagged: Meet your Governor, said he had started giving incentives to security outfits in the state to ensure safety of lives and property. His words: “Let those making the allegation come with verifiable proofs to substantiate their claim. Let them come with evidence. 

“I have not collected any money in the fashion of road intervention or paris club refund. Fayose had the opportunity of paying bulk of the backlog of salaries and pensions. 

He collected a sum of N18 billion out of the N21.5 billion due to Ekiti in the fund, so what is left for Ekiti is just N3.5 billion which can’t pay a month if we add the overhead costs of subvented institutions. 

Govs back Buhari’s veto on Paris Club refund to states “As we speak, we are doing a lot of cleansing and that had reduced the monthly pay to workers to N2.1b. 

Those not properly employed had been left out until they provide evidence. The medical workers that were employed on consequential ground had been reabsorbed. 

“I decided to delay appointment of politicians into government to enable me pay our workers. With this, Ekiti can now know who the honest friend of the masses is. 

“I don’t want to do media trial for anyone, so I have hired the services of a renowned audit firm to look into our finances and the forensic state’s accounts will be published during our 100 days in office in January, 2019.” 

Stop complaining — Fayose In his reaction, Fayose told Governor Fayemi to use the over N30 billion his government already received from the Federal Government as refund on federal roads construction, arrears of Budget Support and Paris Club refund to pay workers salary instead of lying against him. 

Speaking through his Special Assistant on media, Lere Olayinka, Fayose exonerated his administration from the four months salary owed state government workers before the expiration of his tenure, saying; “It was on the basis of the N2.1 billion arrears of Budget Support and N14.1 billion Paris Club refund already approved for payment in June that he promised to clear the salary arrears. 

But due to his bitter politics, Fayemi blocked the payment and more than one month after receiving the payment, he is still following his usual path of deceit instead of paying the workers. 

“Besides, the fund was meant for both the state and local governments and it is on record that Ekiti fell into the hardship of inability to pay salaries regularly as a result of debt incurred during Fayemi’s first tenure and the loans restructuring done at the instance of the Federal Government and the Federal Economic Council.”


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A Federal High Court in Osogbo, Osun State has sentenced a former Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) lecturer, Prof. Richard Iyiola Akindele, to six years imprisonment for demanding sex to give higher marks to one of his students, Monica Osagie.



In her judgement yesterday, Justice Maurine Onyetenu, who convicted Akindele, said that the sentence became necessary to serve as a deterrent to others who might want to indulge in such acts.

The accused had earlier pleaded not guilty to the charge of sexual harassment preferred against him by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC).

He had been remanded in prison custody following objection to his bail by the ICPC.

However, when the case came up yesterday, Akindele opted to change his earlier plea and admitted guilt of the offences as charged.

He was arraigned before Justice Maurine Onyetenu on November 19, 2018 for alleged sexual harassment.
Efforts by the counsel to prevail of the judge to suspend the sentencing and negotiate for a plea bargain failed, as Justice Onyetenu frowned at the rampant cases of sexual harassment by lecturers.

The counsel to the defendant, Mr. Francis Omotosho, told the court that the defendant had lost his job and had learnt his lesson.

He said that the university had discovered the mistake in the marking of the examination paper of the victim and had concluded plans to compensate her.

Omotosho further told the court that plans were ongoing to make offices of the lecturers open by building the front side with glasses at OAU.

But, the judge, who apparently was not convinced with the prayers of the counsel, said “do you think they do it in the office? They go to hotels.”

Counsel to the ICPC, Mr. Shogunle Adenekan, urged the court to confiscate the mobile phone of the defendant and forfeit it to the federal government, saying that sensitive materials were discovered during forensic.

He also urged the court to grant order releasing the mobile phone of the victim, Monica.

According to the judge, “this kind of issue is too rampant in our tertiary institutions. We send children to school; they come home telling us that lecturers want to sleep with them.

‘’We cannot continue like this. Somebody has to be used as example. Even primary school pupils are complaining. Telling me to suspend the sentence does not arise. Plea bargain does not arise. May be the such cases continue to occur because someone has not been used as an example.“It is time for the court to start upholding the right of the children, especially female students. The case is endemic,” she said.

After considering the plea bargaining entered and signed by the counsel, the judge said that there was need to deter other people because of the nature of the offence.

Justice Onyetenu therefore sentenced the convict to 24 months on count one, 24 months on count two, one year on count three and another one year on count four.

She ordered that the jail term should run concurrently.

The judge also ordered that the Samsung X4 of the victim should be returned to her and the Samsung X8 of the defendant should be forfeited to the federal government.






The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar has highlighted “reasons” President Muhammadu Buhari should not be returned to power in 2019.





Abubakar said Buhari has no single economist in his cabinet and can’t manage the country’s economy, hence should not be re-elected in 2019.

The former Vice President, who spoke during a youth town hall meeting in Lagos yesterday, pointed out that the current Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo was not an economist.

He maintained that the job of a Vice President was to manage the country’s economy.

According to the Waziri of Adamawa, “Our President said the economy has collapsed and he told the governors that it is going to be worse. Is this the kind of government that you want to return to power again?

“Do you know that in this government, there is no single economist? So, they don’t even know how to manage the economy and our lives, whether youths, the old, women or men depend on our economy.

If the economy is good, we will prosper individually and collectively. If the economy is bad, we all perish and they are asking you to return them to power”.

“I am not here to tackle individuals, but we have a professor of Law. A professor of Law is not a businessman, he is not an economist…and the job of the Vice-President in our own type of government is to help you manage the economy. So you have to take the right type of Vice-President to help you do that.”

The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) on Monday continued with its reconciliation meeting with the Federal Government.




Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi, ASUU President who refused to speak with newsmen after the two hours meeting said, “go and ask the Minister of Labour and Employment, Sen. Chris Ngige”.

The meeting which was called at the instance of the minister was aimed at finding ways of ending the strike, which commenced on Nov. 5.

ASUU demands included some areas of understanding in the implementation of the Memorandum of Action agreed to in 2017.

Some of these areas include shortfall in salaries of some Federal universities’ workers and lecturers, earned allowances, revitalisation that are part of 2009 agreement, among others.

Ngige, while addressing newsmen, said the meeting was a continuation meeting from last Monday meeting.

According to him, we gave ourselves some assignment with different Ministries, Department and Agencies (MDAs) on what to do.

“They brought their reports today and we took the reports and we were supposed to do some implementation on the reports.

“So we are going to give ourselves some days for it to be done and to see whether we can accomplish them before Christmas,” he said.

The Minister also denied any walk out by the union, saying there is no walk out, “we held the meeting and we even broke into an executive session and we discussed.

He added that there is no dissatisfaction by the union as “we have already agreed on implementation and we have given ourselves some work plan”.

He, however, said that the only difference for the implementation on the agreement reached was only a matter of days before Christmas for the discussions.

“So that for students who are home, will have some hope of resuming in January and those who have missed their exams this time will also have hope for first week in January.

“So, the issue of shortfall in salaries are being worked on, among other major issues, and I will be meeting with the Minister of Finance tomorrow to find out the stage of implementation of that. So there is progress,” Ngige said.

He also said the meeting was adjourned indefinitely.


NAN






The Federal Government said it had filed a 1.1 billion dollar lawsuit against Royal Dutch Shell and Eni in a commercial court in London in relation to a 2011 oilfield deal in Nigeria.

The two oil majors are embroiled in a long-running corruption case revolving around the purchase of Oil Prospecting Licence (OPL)245.

OPL 245, which is one of the biggest sources of untapped oil reserves on the African continent with reserves estimated at nine billion barrels, is also at the heart of an ongoing corruption trial in Milan, Italy, in which former and current Shell and Eni officials are on the bench. 

Milan prosecutors alleged bribes totalling around $1.1bn were paid to win the licence to explore the field which, because of disputes, had never entered into production.

The new London case also related to payments made by the companies to get the OPL 245 oilfield licence in 2011, Reuters reported on Thursday. 

“It is alleged that purchase monies purportedly paid to the Federal Republic of Nigeria were in fact immediately paid through a company controlled by Dan Etete, formerly the Nigerian Minister of Petroleum, and used for, among other things, bribes and kickbacks,” Nigeria said on Thursday. 

“Accordingly, it is alleged that Shell and Eni engaged in bribery and unlawful conspiracy to harm the Federal Republic of Nigeria and that they dishonestly assisted corrupt Nigerian government officials.”

 The Nigerian government also included Nigeria-based Malabu Oil & Gas in the lawsuit, and a company called Energy Venture Partners Ltd., according to Bloomberg. Malabu was allegedly controlled by Etete, who took possession of the $1.1bn payment and used it for bribes and kickbacks, according to the lawsuit.

 Antonio Secci, a lawyer for Etete, was quoted as saying that the London suit “surprises” because the Nigerian government is already seeking damages in Milan. 

“This situation cannot be represented again in London because it is repetitive,” he said. Shell said “the 2011 settlement of long-standing legal disputes related to OPL 245 was a fully legal transaction with Eni and the Federal Government of Nigeria, represented by the most senior officials of the relevant ministries.” 

Eni was quoted as saying in an emailed statement that it rejected “any allegation of impropriety or irregularity in connection with this transaction.” 

“Eni (…) signed a commercial agreement in 2011 for a new licence for OPL 245 with the Federal Government of Nigeria and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation and the consideration for the licence was paid directly to the Nigerian government,” it said. Nigeria has already filed a London case against a US bank, JPMorgan, for its role in transferring over $800m of government funds to Etete, who has been convicted of money laundering.

 In another separate trial, a Milan court in September found a middleman guilty of corruption after prosecutors alleged he had received a mandate from Etete, who had denied any wrongdoing, to find a buyer for OPL 245, collecting $114m for his services. 

Last month, a global anti-corruption and accountability watchdog group, Global Witness, calculated that the OPL 245 deal deprived Nigeria of double its annual education and healthcare budget.

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