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Daily Archives: June 7, 2019

AGF takes over Goje’s N25bn fraud case

The Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) on Friday took over the case of alleged N25 billion fraud filed against former Gombe State Governor Danjuma Goje from the EFCC.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports in Jos that for almost eight years, the EFCC had been prosecuting the former governor until Friday.

The case, which is before Justice Babatunde Quadiri of Jos Federal High Court II, has even gone to the Jos Court of Appeal over the remaining two count charge out of 21 filed against him by EFCC.

The Appellate Court is yet to fix a date for the hearing of the appeal.

When the case up for an emergency hearing before Justice Quadiri, the EFCC Counsel,Mr Wahab Shittu, told Court that the agency was withdrawing from the case and handing it over the office of the Attorney-General for continuation.

“My Lord, this case was earlier adjourned for June 20 for continuation of hearing, but then we are here today on the latest development on the matter.

“We as EFCC counsels are withdrawing from the matter and handing it over to the office of the Attorney-General for continuation with the prosecution.

“As you can, in Court today is a State Counsel from the AG’F’s office to formally take over this case from us,“ Shittu declared.

Responding, Mr Paul Erokoro (SAN), did not object to the EFCC withdrawal and handing over of the case to the Attorney-General.

“My Lord we not objecting to the anti-graft withdrawal and handing over the prosecution to the AG’s office,“ Erokoro said.

Mr Pius Asika, Counsel from the office of the attorney general, however, announced his appearance for the case.

Asika then applied for an adjournment to enable him prepared for the case proper “having come into the matter today (Friday).

Justice Quadiri then adjourned to the case to June 21, 2019 for continuation of hearing.

NTA removed from largest UK cable platform, Sky

The Nigerian Television Authority has been removed from the largest digital satellite television service platform in Europe, Sky Limited.

A visit to Sky’s website showed that NTA had been barred indefinitely from airing on Channel 794.

A message on Sky’s website read in part, “794: NTA International; currently temporarily removed from EPG (Electronic Programme Guide).”

A Sky customer service official told our reporter on the telephone in the UK that it had no control over NTA International whose rights are owned by Ben TV.

The news of the suspension of NTA International began to trend barely 24 hours after the National Broadcasting Commission, Nigeria’s broadcast regulator, suspended the licences of Africa Independent Television and Raypower 100.5FM.

However, sources within BEN TV told our correspondent that the NTA was pulled down two weeks ago.

Sky Limited is a British media and telecommunications conglomerate owned by Comcast and headquartered in London.

According to Wikipedia, it has operations in the UK, Ireland, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Italy and Spain.

Sky is Europe’s largest media company and pay-TV broadcaster by revenue (as of 2018) with 23 million subscribers and more than 31,000 employees as of 2019. The company is primarily involved in satellite television and broadband services.

The NBC headed by Kawu Modibbo had on Thursday announced the suspension of AIT and Raypower FM both owned by opposition politician, Chief Raymond Dokpesi.

Ibom Air makes inaugural flight to Lagos

Akwa Ibom-owned carrier, Ibom Air, on Friday began commercial flight operations with an inaugural flight from Uyo to Lagos.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the airline’s Bombardier CRJ-900LR aircraft landed at the Murtala Muhammed Airport 2, Lagos at 1:15 p.m.

It was welcomed with water canon salutation by officers of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) Fire Services.

Speaking with newsmen, Mr George Uruesi, Chief Operating Officer, Ibom Air, said the airline was set up by the government as part of its vision to make Akwa Ibom a choice destination for people visiting Nigeria.

He said the state had invested so much in the aviation sector and currently had an airline, an airport and a Maintenance Repair and Overhaul (MRO) facility that would soon be completed.

“We have started our operations today with flights on the Uyo-Abuja-Lagos-Uyo routes and gradually we will expand our services.

“Ibom Air is part of the vision of the government. It is designed to be a very well run organisation and would not be run as a parastatal, but like any private airline business.

“We have a robust business plan and even though we are starting with three, we plan to have 10 aircraft in operation within the next three years.

“Our fourth aircraft will arrive in August, while the fifth aircraft is being expected in the first quarter of 2020,” he said.

According to him, Ibom Air is in business to fill a seeming gap in the industry which are schedule reliability, on-time performance and superior customer services.

Uruesi, a former Managing Director of FAAN, said the airline chose the 90-seater Bombadier CRJ planes for their operations after a thorough feasibility study.

“I think investing in much newer aircraft is better for us. Our growth plan is to expand our operations within the African region.

“We don’t have plans for long-haul flights and that also influenced the choice of our equipment,” he said.

Also, Mr Lookman Animashaun, Director of Maintenance, Ibom Air, commended the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) for doing a thorough job before issuing Air Operator’s Certificate (AOC) to the airline.

Animashaun said the airline management observed that there was a dearth of CRJ engineers in Nigeria and therefore, sent nine of its new personnel abroad to be type-rated on the aircraft.

I’ve lost weight governing Lagos in just one week, says Sanwo-Olu

Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State, says  governing the state is not an easy task, as he has lost weight in just one week of assuming office.

Sanwo-Olu spoke with State House correspondents after a private meeting with Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, shortly after the expanded security council meeting on Friday, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

According to him, governing Lagos is not a tea party, as the experience and challenges are real.

“It is not a tea party; you don’t sleep and wake up and the traffic has gone down; you don’t sleep and wake up and there is no rain or say that you have resolved Apapa gridlock; it’s real.

“ So, it is something that one has psychologically prepared for; the best thing you can do, is to make sure that you are not about looking for what the other person did.

“It is for Lagosians to see you do what you promised to do for them.

“And if you don’t do it from your office; you have to do it on the road; you have to do it where the issues are, so that people will truly know that you mean business.

“ In one week, I will say I have lost weight; I will probably still lose a bit more, but I think it is worth the job.

“ It is also important to ensure that you have the right team;  people that will also support you; so, when as a leader you can show that leadership support, then the message itself trickles down and trickles very well,” he said.

He said that clearing of the Apapa gridlock was work in progress, as efforts were being made to solve the problem.

Sanwo-Olu said that the concern of his government was to ensure that, what was done concerning the gridlock was sustained as sustainability was critical.

He further said that his administration was engaging all the stakeholders in the conversation around port utility –Shippers’ Council, shipping lines and Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and others, in order to achieve a sustained resolution.

On security in Lagos State, the governor said it was something he attached much importance.

He said that security was everybody’s business but as a governor, he had a major responsibility of protecting lives and property of Lagosians.

“So, it is a work in progress and for me in particular, it is something that I take so seriously.

“We are not just mouthing it; we will ensure that we put resources and strategies that can help in place,

“We have been talking about domesticating; the security trust fund that we have done is part of the initiative

“We will continue to engage and identify what are the sources; what are the underlying issues that bring about insecurity.

“Are they economic or more than that? So, we can also attack the root cause.

“For us, as a government that is looking for investors. We certainly must continue to be in a position where we can give confidence to all our investors that Lagos State is a safe haven to come,’’ he said.

He said that the security council meeting was paramount and thanked President Muhammadu Buhari for convening it.

Judge slaps pastor during church service in Ondo

Justice Folayemi Omoleye, a serving judge at the Akure division of the court of appeal, has been accused of assaulting a pastor at the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), Ijapo estate, Akure, Ondo state.

According to a witness, Omoleye, whose residence is located beside the church, had forced her way into its premises during a mid-week service.

She was said to have brought out her phone to record the service and one of the pastors reportedly challenged her over the manner in which she entered the church and the audacity to record the service without permission.

Argument broke out and in the process, the judge was said to have slapped the pastor.

“We were in a Divine Encounter service which normally holds between between 10am and 12am on Wednesday. The woman (judge) entered into the church and started recording the church’s activities,” the witness said.

“A pastor and some members advised her not to disrupt the church service and she slapped the pastor as they were discussing. She also assaulted a 68-year-old woman. When the woman fell down, the judge started beating her with her slippers. The woman got injured and was taken to the hospital.”

The church where the incident occurred 

The witness said officers from nearby Ijapo police station had to intervene before the matter was brought under control.

Dele Oyesola, pastor in-charge of the church, confirmed the incident, describing the judge’s action as dishonourable.

He said the piece of land where the church is, was acquired in 1989. Oyesola said it was the Ondo state Housing Corporation that approved the land. He added that the judge bought the house beside the church about 10 years ago.

Idris Umar, a regional pastor of RCCG, said the church had directed its lawyer to write a petition to the National Judicial Council over the “dishonourable action”.

Effort to get the judge’s reaction was not successful as the security man at her residence denied journalists access. He said she was not expecting reporters.

Femi Joseph, spokesman of Ondo police command, said the allegation of assault levelled against the judge was being investigated.

Joseph said officers of the command led by the divisional police officer (DPO) of Ijapo had visited the judge to question her about the incident.

Court orders INEC to issue certificate of return to Okorocha

The federal high court sitting in Abuja has ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to issue certificate of return to Rochas Okorocha, former governor of Imo state.

Okon Abang, the presiding judge, held that having been declared winner of the February 23 senatorial election in Imo west district, INEC has no reason not to issue him certificate of return.

He ruled that the decision to deprive Okorocha of the certificate falls outside the provisions of the law.

“Once the declaration is made under section 68(c) of the Electoral Act, INEC has become functus officio and INEC has no lawful authority to withhold the certificate of return for any reason whatsoever,” the judge held.

“Therefore the issue of duress is unknown to both the Electoral Act and the Constitution.”

The court ruled that Okorocha remained elected subject to the outcome of the ongoing proceedings of the election petition tribunal.

He, therefore, ordered, INEC to publish and circulate the name of the Okorocha as the senator-elect representing Orlu Imo west senatorial district.

The judge awarded the cost of N200,000 payable by INEC to the plaintiff, and awarded N100,000 payable to the plaintiff by each of the other seven defendants to the plaintiff.

The judge ordered the defendants to pay the costs personally to Okorocha before taking any further steps in the case.

INEC had delisted Okorocha among senators-elect, saying Francis Ibeawuchi, returning officer for the election, declared the former governor winner of the election under duress.

Two Oando directors resign amid SEC sanctions

Two independent non-executive directors of Oando Plc have resigned from the company’s board, The Cable is reporting.

Sena Anthony (pictured) and Oghogho Akpata have both informed the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) about their decisions.

In their separate resignation letters dated June 3, 2019 and addressed to the company secretary/chief compliance officer of Oando, they did not give any reasons for their decision.

Reports suggest, however, that they are “unhappy” with the outcome of the forensic investigation by the Securities and Exchange Committee (SEC), the stock market regulator, which indicted a number of the company’s executives and directors.

Anthony and Akpata were not indicted.

Wale Tinubu, the group managing director, and Mofe Boyo, his deputy, were asked by SEC to resign and barred from being directors of any public company for five years.

They were accused of several infractions but they have secured a court order restraining the regulator from removing them.

Akpata

Anthony was appointed as a non-executive director of the company in January 2010.

She had worked with the ministry of justice before joining the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) in 1978, where she was appointed group general manager, corporate secretariat and legal division, and secretary in July 1999.

IN 2007, she was promoted to the group executive director — the first female to reach that height at the national oil company.

Akpata is the managing partner and head of the energy and projects group at Templars Barristers & Solicitors.

He is a member of the Association of International Petroleum Negotiators (AIPN), Chartered Institute of Taxation, Nigeria, and the energy and natural resources section of the International Bar Association.

Court orders reopening of AIT, Raypower

A federal high court sitting in Abuja has  restrained  the National Broadcasting Commission from suspending the licences of  African Independent Television (AIT) and Raypower.

Inyang Ekwo, the presiding judge, gave the order on Friday.

DAAR Communications, owners of AIT and Raypower, had on May 31, filed a suit to prevent sanctions from the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC).

This followed some warning letters received from the regulatory agency on May 27.

In the suit filed through Mike Ozekhome, its counsel, DAAR Communications, owners of AIT and Raypower, sought an order “restraining the defendants from blocking, jamming, stopping  removing from air and/or interfering with the air waves of the plaintiff/applicant (Daar Plc) in any way and manner howsoever called from invading the premises of the plaintiff/applicant (Daar Plc) or closing down, viet armis, the said premises, its operations or broadcast services, pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice filed along with this application.”

But on Thursday, NBC suspended the stations indefinitely, citing violation of its code.

In his ruling, Ekwo asked NBC and the stations to maintain the status quo as of May 31 when the suit was filed.

He also ordered the NBC and the ministry of information to appear on Thursday and show cause why the motion on notice challenging the commission should not be granted.

Shell expands domestic gas distribution in Nigeria

 

Shell Nigeria Gas (SNG), the country’s first and wholly-owned subsidiary of an international oil company involved in domestic gas distribution in Nigeria, increased its gas distribution capacity by over 150 per centfollowing the safe completion of its second gas train, the Agbara-Ota Capacity Increase Project.

The world class facility enables SNG and its partners to achieve regular gas supply to subscribed industries in Ogun State while efforts are ongoing to reach more states.

Managing Director, SNG, Ed Ubong, said, “Apart from increasing the distribution capacity in existing states where it operates, SNG is maturing opportunities to expand its gas distribution network to new states. On completion of its expansion projects, over 1,000 megawatts equivalent of energy will be directly supplied to various industrial parks and manufacturing companies in Nigeria.”

Ubong spoke with journalists at the recent media launch of the 2019 edition of the Shell in Nigeria Briefing Notes, an annual publication detailing the activities of the business interests of the global energy giant in Nigeria covering Shell Nigeria Gas, The Shell Petroleum Development Company, Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company and the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas Company.

SNG completed the first phase of its pipeline expansion in Abia State, connecting manufacturing industries in the Osisioma area directly to pipeline gas. It will also deliver pipeline gas to the IPP consortium that provides electricity to the popular Ariaria market in Abia State – one of the largest open stall markets in West Africa, with over 37,000 shops.

The 1st Phase of the Ariaria IPP project commissioned by President Muhammadu Buhari in 2019 currently provides electricity to over 4,000 shops.

Ubong said: “Shell, as a leading energy company, is committed to supporting the Federal government’s aspiration to grow the domestic gas market, making domestic infrastructure investments under the right commercial conditions and continuing to birth domestic gas projects that will be major game-changers in Nigeria’s quest for cleaner energy sufficiency, industrialisation and economic growth.

SNG currently supplies natural gas to over 100 industrial and commercial customers, mostly in Ogun, Abia, and Rivers States. This drives industrialisation, providing employment for the skilled and unskilled local population in addition to directly improving internally generated revenues in these states, he said.

In 2017, SNG entered into an agreement with the Rivers State Government for the distribution of gas to industries in the Greater Port Harcourt area and its environs.

In 2018, it explored opportunities to distribute gas to the Lagos State Government as part of the embedded power ‘Lights Up Lagos’ initiative. Efforts are on-going through partnerships to develop opportunities for natural gas distribution to wholesale and retail customers in Victoria Island, Ikoyi, Lekki and Epe areas of Lagos area.

He said: “This year, in collaboration with the Nigerian Content Development & Management Board and the Bayelsa State Government, SNG has signed commercial agreements with customers to supply gas to industrial clusters and parks in Bayelsa State, close to the SPDC JV Gbaran Ubie world class gas facility. Agreements have also been signed for offtake of the Assa North gas project in Imo State”.

SNG has implemented various social and community development projects covering education, community health, road safety and livelihood in areas of its operations, donating and renovating schools, providing information communications technology centres, equipping science laboratories and launching Road Safety Education and Awareness campaigns.

With a reputation for safety, credibility and reliability, SNG has maintained a 14-year streak of successful ISO 14001 certification and recently achieved 10 years of operating without any lost time injuries.

Mastercard cancels advertising campaign for Neymar after rape accusation

Mastercard has canceled an advertising campaign featuring Brazilian football star Neymar, after a woman accused him of raping her in a Paris hotel, a newspaper in Sao Paulo reported on Thursday.

The newspaper, O Estado de S.Paulo, reported on its website that Mastercard said in a statement it was suspending its use of Neymar in advertising until the situation is “cleared up’’.

Neymar denies the allegation of rape and has claimed the woman was trying to extort him.

The woman appeared on Brazilian TV on Wednesday and said the athlete did rape her.

A police report seen by Reuters over the weekend showed that a woman had accused the 27-year-old Neymar of raping her at a Paris hotel last month.

Sao Paulo police are investigating the accusation.

Following media reports on the matter, Neymar posted a long video on Instagram, in which he denied the accusations.

He claimed he was a victim of extortion, and shared WhatsApp messages he had exchanged with the alleged victim, including racy photos he had received.

That led police in Rio de Janeiro to open an investigation into whether Neymar had committed a crime by posting those intimate pictures online.

Neither a spokeswoman for Neymar nor Mastercard immediately responded to requests for comment.

Theresa May quits as party leader

British Prime Minister Theresa May steps down as leader of her Conservative Party on Friday, formally triggering the race for a successor who will try where she failed to deliver Brexit.

May will remain prime minister until a new leader is chosen, likely in late July, but has relinquished control over the direction of Britain’s tortuous departure from the European Union.

Brexit is still scheduled for October 31 but while her rivals thrash it out, the project remains stuck, with the only divorce plan agreed with Brussels stuck in parliament.

May took office after the 20 16 referendum vote to leave the EU and has spent the past three years working on the plan, delaying Brexit twice to try to get it through.

But she finally acknowledged defeat in a tearful resignation speech last month, the culmination of months of political turmoil that has slowly sapped all her authority.

Eleven Conservative MPs are currently vying to replace her, including former foreign minister Boris Johnson, but some are expected to drop out before Monday’s deadline for nominations.

The winner will have only a few months to decide whether to try to salvage May’s plan, delay Brexit again – or sever ties with Britain’s closest trading partner with no agreement at all.

They are under pressure from eurosceptic figurehead Nigel Farage, who has called for a “no deal” option and whose Brexit party topped European polls last month.

His party made a strong showing in by-election for the British parliament in the eastern city of Peterborough on Thursday, but failed in its goal of winning its first MP.

However, the pro-European Liberal Democrats, who want to reverse Brexit, also performed well in the European polls, highlighting how divided Britain remains over its future.

‘You can’t cage the media’ — PDP hits FG over action against AIT

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has condemned the suspension of the licences of AIT and Raypower FM by the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC).

The opposition party said the decision was an attempt by the All Progressives Congress (APC)-controlled federal government to cage the media.

In a statement, Kola Ologbondiyan, national publicity secretary of the party, said the action was targeted at “intimidating and gaging the media, repress constitutionally guaranteed freedom of speech and stifle public opinion, particularly as related to the determination by Nigerians to retrieve the stolen Presidential mandate at the tribunal.”

The spokesman said the ruling party was aware of the decision, adding that Ishaq Modibbo Kawu, director-general of the NBC, “is a card carrying member and frontline leader in the APC who was also an aspirant on the platform of the party for the governorship of Kwara state.”

“This clamp down on AIT as well as earlier siege on other media houses and journalists under the APC administration, ostensibly point to a plot to frighten and asphyxiate the media, shut down outlets perceived to hold dissenting views and ultimately foist a siege mentality on our citizenry to restrain their demand for fairness and justice in the polity,” he said.

“The APC is mortally afraid that a free press will raise the red flag and expose its manipulations and any attempt to subvert the course of justice, especially in the Presidential petition, hence this desperation to strangulate the media and cow Nigerians from freely expressing themselves.”

He called on Nigerians and members of the international community to condemn “this desperation to gag the media and repress free speech in Nigeria.”

Raymond Dokpesi, founder of DAAR Communications Plc, had earlier accused the Presidency of using NBC to frustrate his stations.

DAAR licences: NGE says ‘it is a case of executive highhandedness’

 

The Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE) has condemned the closure of Dear Communications, owners of African Independent Television and Ray Power radio stations over breaches of the broadcasting code.

It accused the regulator, the National Broadcasting Commission of highhandedness in a statement issued in response to the action.

Below is the full statement:

The Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE) hereby condemns in very strong terms the indefinite suspension of the licences of the African Independent Television, AIT, and Ray Power by the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC). The two stations belonged to Daar Communications Limited.

The Guild demands in clear terms the revocation of the suspension order as it runs contrary to the ideals of free speech and the fine tenets of press freedom. This is a case of Executive highhandedness and it paints our dear country in the darkest tar of dictatorship.

The Fourth Estate of the Realm remains the watchdog of society and any attempt to gag it in any guise is an affront on democracy and the people. The NBC must and should rescind this ignoble and despicable decision.

The Guild strongly believes the NBC action is a draconian forms of regulation, being out of tune with democratic principles.

The Guild is concerned about the violation of the constitutional rights of DAAR Communications and absence of media freedom, independence and the stifling of operations of media outfits which are preforming their roles as the watchdog of the Nigerian society.

The NGE condemns in strong terms the barbaric crackdown on the broadcast outfit and demands immediate cessation of this atrocious repression and excessive show of power by the NBC, whose duty is to regulate and not kill the media.

Muzzling the media and throwing thousands of Nigerians into the already saturated labour market should not be the trophy for good corporate governance of a regulator; it is something to be ashamed of and NBC should be ashamed at its action in a fledgling democracy in the 21st Century.

The Guild is strongly of the opinion that the NBC, in exercising its regulatory powers, should concentrate on implementing policies that will position Nigeria’s broadcasting to compete in the global spheres, rather than engage in witch-hunting and unnecessary show of excessive force.

The Guild hereby expresses its solidarity with the AIT/Raypower family, urging the staff and management to remain calm as the Guild liaises with and other media professionals as well as well meaning Nigerians to get justice.
The NGE appeals to President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, to use his good offices to call NBC to order.

It is to be recalled that NBC had, before the 2019 general election, shut down Joy FM in Jos for violations of the broadcasting code. Last year, the NBC shut down Ekiti Radio/TV station. Shutting down stations and withdrawing licences are too extreme in the circumstance. There must be humane and saner ways to resolve disputes bordering on violation of the Broadcasting Code.