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Daily Archives: August 1, 2019

23-year-old woman plots with boyfriend to rape close friend

A 23-year-old woman, Eniola Shittu has been arrested by officers of the Ogun State Police Command for conspiring with her boyfriend, a 31-year-old David Peremobowe, to rape her close friend (name withheld).

The incident happened in Ikopa tuntun Abiola way in Abeokuta, Ogun State, last week Wednesday.

According to a statement by DSP Abimbola Oyeyemi, the command’s spokesman, the suspects were arrested following a report lodged by the victim at Obantoko Division.

The statement reads; “The victim reported that she was at home on 24th of July, 2019 at about 1:45pm, when her friend Eniola Shittu sent message to her on WhatsApp that she should help her to buy food and skushis and bring it to her boyfriend’s house at Somorin area of Obantoko Abeokuta.”

“On getting there, the boyfriend David Peremobowe offered her a bottle of beer which she took.”

“But immediately she finished taken the beer, she became very weak as a result of which David Peremobowe unlawfully had her carnal knowledge, and while he was doing it, her friend Eniola Shittu used her phone to do the video recording of how she was being raped.”“On the strength of her complaint, the DPO Obantoko Division, SP Olasunkanmi Popoola detailed his detectives to the boy’s house where David Peremobowe and his girlfriend Eniola Shittu were promptly arrested.”

“The Gionee handset with which the video coverage was made was also recovered.”

The Commissioner of Police CP Bashir Makama has, however, ordered the transfer of the suspects to Anti-human trafficking and child labour unit of the State investigation and intelligence department for further investigation and possible prosecution.

18 Lekki toll collectors handed over to police

The Lekki Concession Company Limited has handed over 18 toll collectors, suspected to have defrauded it of huge sums of money, to the police for investigation.

The Managing Director, LCC, Mr Mubashiru Hassan, who made this known in a statement on Wednesday, said the affected employees took advantage of the operational hitches, which occurred in January, to perpetrate some sharp practices at the Admiralty Circle Toll Plaza in Lekki, Lagos.

According to him, following the resolution of the hitches in June, the operations department carried out an audit and discovered some anomalies in transactions, such as the abuse of the transaction unblock key and non-adherence to vehicle processing procedures, including the receipt of money from customers without processing the vehicles and non-issuance of toll receipts to customers after receiving payment.

“Other offences were sabotage of toll equipment; non-adherence to the controls and operating procedures, including the use of personal phones in the booths; processing of vehicles on another person’s profile; and recording and accounting for low traffic numbers during peak periods,” the statement said.

Hassan was quoted as saying that consequent upon the discovery, the affected workers were queried and a disciplinary committee was set up to look into the matter.

He stated, “Out of the 56 suspected staff members, six were exonerated and 18 were indicted in the first batch and handed over to the police on July 11, 2019, for further investigation, while the remaining 32 are still undergoing internal questioning before decisive action will be taken against them in line with the disciplinary policies of the company.

“The LCC management will never tolerate any fraudulent act and will handle such behaviour decisively.”

He described the affected workers as unrepentant as “they have not seen what they have done as a criminal offence.”

“Instead, they have gone on the social media to malign the competence and character of the management staff, especially the managing director and managers in the operations department, who investigated and unravelled the fraudulent act,” Hassan stated.

Evil father gets 21 years jail term for raping, impregnating daughter

A herbalist, Jacob Alonge, 52, has been sentenced to 21 years in prison for raping his daughter, Gift, at their home in Ososo village, Akoko-Edo, Benin, Edo State.

Aside from raping the 17-year-old repeatedly and impregnating the daughter, he procured abortion for her and shaved the hair in her private parts.

He also instructed her not to sleep with any other man, as he turned her to a sex slave.

Gift had become pregnant a second time when the matter became public knowledge and he was arrested by the police and arraigned in court.

Pregnant 17-year-old Gift, however, died along with four others in an accident on the way to the court.

Among the dead were Gift’s uncle, two workers of a non-governmental organisation, BraveHeart Initiative, helping Gift with the case, and the cab driver.

Jacob, who had pleaded guilty to the counts against him and was about to be sentenced, changed his plea on the day his daughter and the others died.

The court on Thursday concluded his trial and sentenced him to five years on the first count of possession of fetish wrap of Gift’s pubic hair.

He got two years for raping and impregnating her and 14 years for repeated sexual assault.

The magistrate said the counts should run consecutively.

Appeal Court dismisses suit seeking to exonerate Saro Wiwa, others

The Appeal Court sitting in Port Harcourt has on Thursday dismissed an appeal seeking to exonerate late Ken Saro-Wiwa, an environmental activist as well as eight others who were found guilty and sentenced by an Ogoni Civil Disturbance Special Tribunal in 1995.

Justice Cordelia Jombo-Ofo struck out the appeal filed by a human rights group, Conscience of Ogoni People for lack of merit in Port Harcourt on Thursday.

She stated that the decree that established the defunct Special Tribunal on the Ogoni Civil Disturbance was not properly constituted, adding that the reasoning of the judgement was not consistent.

The Judge said the appellant, Conscience of Ogoni People, did not state their interest and relationship with the deceased persons or the damages or injuries it suffered by their deaths.

She noted, “The appellant was merely out in the matter to exercise his academic prowess and failed to show the court the dispute between him and the defendant.

“It is not the function or duty of the court to engage in academic exercise or speculation, the court was established to determine live issues”

On his part, the National Coordinator, Conscience of Ogoni People, Chief Gani Topba who expressed dissatisfaction with the judgement, said he would head to the Supreme Court.

Topba added that he had hope and confidence that justice would be served at the Supreme Court.

“We are heading to the Supreme Court. It is sad that the right of the minority could be denied even at this level. I had an inclination that today’s judgement would look like this and I’m not surprised.

Six children killed by lightning in Guinea
“I have hope in the Supreme Court of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, that it would do justice to this matter because Ken Saro-Wiwa was killed wrongly and that must be corrected because if it is not, it will happen again.”

 

Police charge N12,000 for free crime-reporting VGS Mobile App

Nigerians who wish to report cases of rape, kidnapping, murder or incidents such as road accidents through the newly inaugurated Police VGS Mobile App must pay N12,000 before they can do so, The Punch has reported.

Recall that the Nigeria Police Force had, in a promotional video on its Twitter handle on June 2, 2019, said the app would go a long way in reducing the crime rate.

The Police had stated, “The Nigeria Police Force, through the dogged efforts of the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, in a bid to combat the high rate of criminality and criminal elements, kidnappers, domestic offenders, violence, cultism, rape, robbery, among so many, has launched the Police VGS Mobile App.

“The Police VGS Mobile App is a web-based dispatch system for quick emergency reporting of incidents by citizens for the prompt response by the Nigeria Police and other emergency and security agencies within five seconds of reporting.”

However, our Correspondent, who downloaded the application through Google Playstore, was first asked to choose between three subscription plans: family plan, individual plan and student plan.

Repeated attempts to select any other package apart from the ‘individual’ plan proved abortive, forcing everyone to subscribe for the individual plan.

A data page subsequently emerges, requesting for name, email, address and other vital information; while, at the bottom, it is stated that the subscription cost is N12,000 for 12 months.

Also, there is no option for monthly payment of subscription, as subscribers can only pay N12,000 per year.

Other options on the application such as FAQs and ‘contact us’ refused to open despite several clicks on the icons.

When contacted, Force Public Relations Officer, Mr. Frank Mba, said he would find out the information about the status of the app before responding to our Correspondent’s questions.

His response is still being awaited as of the time of filing this report.

The app was developed by Vigiscope Limited for the Police.

As stated on its website, Vigiscope Ltd was founded by a group of communication, information, technology, telecommunication, instrumental, electrical and automobile engineers who formerly worked for some major international companies.

“Vigiscope Ltd was incorporated in Germany and in Nigeria as Limited Liability Companies and commenced full communication, engineering, security, information technology, electrical and automobile business operations thereafter.”

Apart from the Police, it listed Kogi, Edo, Gombe, Bauchi and Sokoto states as clients.

When our Correspondent called the telephone number on the website of Vigiscope, a representative of the firm, who identified herself as Ms. Oloruntoba, confirmed that Nigerians would have to pay N12,000 before being allowed to use the emergency app.

She said, “Yes, we developed an app for the Police. The family plan and the student plan are still being worked on. It is only the individual plan that is active for now.

“The N12,000 is for a yearly subscription, not monthly. There is no monthly subscription.”

Meanwhile, speaking with our Correspondent on the telephone, a former director with the Department of State Services, Mike Ejiofor, said the Police was wrong to demand N12,000 from Nigerians to use a facility which is free in other countries.

Ejiofor said the good intention of the Police to create such an app has been undermined by the subscription fee.

He said with the high rate of poverty in the country, especially in rural areas, most Nigerians would not make use of the app.

Also speaking, human rights lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), said the subscription fee was most unfortunate.

We have lifted five million Nigerians out of extreme poverty, says Buhari

President Muhammadu Buhari says his administration has lifted five million Nigerians out of extreme poverty in three years.

Speaking at the opening of the global youth employment forum of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) in Abuja on Thursday, Buhari said this was achieved through the National Social Investment Programme (N-SIP).

He said N-SIP has produced positive outcome in the enrollment of children in schools.

Represented by Boss Mustapha, secretary to the government of the federation (SGF), Buhari said the government understands the need to focus on youth empowerment to create employment.

“We note at this point that the issue of youth unemployment has assumed a global significant, and on the front burner of development discourse,” he said.

“The government of Nigeria understands the need to focus attention on youth empowerment by creating the enabling environment for job opportunities and capacity building.

“The present administration from the onset, made the investment in our people, one of the key goals of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan, which is the national development blueprint from the period of 2017 to 2020.

“The implementation of the plan also has the flagship programme such as the National Social Investment Programme (NSIP).

“It has yielded some measurable outcomes in the form of increased school enrolment and the creation of more jobs.

“One of the key components of the NSIP is the N-Power programme and its sub-components has led to the creation of job opportunities in different sectors of the economy for young persons.

“For example, in the past three years, the programme has yielded over five million direct and indirect employment opportunities and has lifted over five million Nigerians out of extreme poverty.”

DHQ dismisses report on secret graveyard in north-east

The Defence Headquarters has denied the existence of secret military graveyards in Borno state.

Colonel Onyema Nwachukwu, Defence spokesman, made the denial while reacting to a report by The Wall Street Journal.

The report stated that over 1,000 soldiers involved in the Boko Haram war were secretly buried.

But in a statement, Nwachukwu described the publication as “sacrilegious” and “a figment of the imagination of the writer.”

“This insinuation can only emanate from an uninformed position of the author of the said publication,” he said, adding that Nigeria’s armed forces has a “rich and solemn tradition for the interment of our fallen heroes.”

The defence spokesman further said the military always gives befitting funerals to soldiers killed in the course of duty and does not indulge in secret burials.

“The cemetery described in the publication, which is situated in Maimalari military Cantonment is an officially designated military cemetery for the Armed Forces of Nigeria in the North East theatre, with a Cenotaph erected in honour of our fallen heroes,” the statement added.

“The official cemetery has played host to several national and international dignitaries, where wreaths were laid in honour of the fallen heroes. It is therefore a far cry from the sacrilegious impression being painted by Wall Street Journal.”

Tristan Thompson addresses rumors he cheated on his pregnant GF with Khloé Kardashian

Tristan Thompson hit Twitter to deny cheating on his then-pregnant girlfriend Jordan Craig with Khloé Kardashian.

Jordan had previously alleged that Tristan’s relationship with Khloé was damaging to her pregnancy.
Thought you could get through the week without Tristan Thompson stirring up new drama? Please. Summer 2019 will have no! such! thing! For some reason, Tristan felt the need to respond to allegations that he cheated on his pregnant ex-girlfriend Jordan Craig with Khloé Kardashian—news that made headlines back in June when tabloid Radar Online published court documents from Jordan, alleging that Tristan’s relationship with Khloé was damaging to her pregnancy.

Unclear why Tristan waited a full month to weigh in, but he hit Twitter—first to deny that he spent the summer on vacation:

And then to deny that he was in a relationship when he started dating Khloé. He also got pretty defensive of both her and Jordan, saying “Also, when I met Khloe I was SINGLE. The negative comments that are constantly being directed towards her are unnecessary. She does not deserve all this backlash for my wrong doings. Both Khloè and Jordan have been nothing but great mothers to my kids.”

First of all, lol @ Tristan for using the wrong style accent on Khloé’s name. But also, for what it’s worth KoKo denied the Jordan cheating rumors too, hitting Instagram last month to say this:

“My truth is: I met Tristan because HE CHOSE to go on a blind date with me. A mutual friend set us up. After going on some dates, Tristan told me that he had an ex that was pregnant. Obviously, I was reluctant about us continuing to date or start a relationship. He pleaded with me that the relationship was over long before we met. He had me talk with his most inner circle. He showed me physical proof (correspondence between the two) and had me on calls with his lawyers to prove his point. His best friends, business associates and even his mother told me, him and his ex were broken up before we met.”

‘The Lion King’ makes $1bn in three weeks

Disney’s ‘The Lion King’ has crossed the billion-dollar mark after less than 3 weeks in theatres.

News Agency of Nigeria reports that the live-action remake of the 1994 movie features Beyonce, Donald Glover and Chiwetel Ejiofor in lead roles.

The movie joins ‘Avengers: Endgame’, ‘Captain Marvel’ and ‘Aladdin’ as the fourth Disney title to surpass one billion dollars in global ticket sales in 2019.

With its blockbuster slate, Disney has nearly 38 per cent of the domestic market share, a cut that increases to more than 40 per cent when Fox, which it just purchased, is added.

‘The Lion King’ earned 361 million dollars at the domestic box office and 638 million dollars overseas.

Outside of North America, it had especially strong showings in China with 115 million dollars, along with the United Kingdom with 48 million dollars and Brazil with 44 million dollars.

The movie also stars Billy Eichner and Seth Rogen as Timon and Pumbaa. James Earl Jones reprised his role as Mufasa from the original animated film.

The milestone comes on the heels of another Disney benchmark. Between July 26 and July 28, the company set a new all-time record for global ticket sales for a single studio.

Disney hit 7.67 billion dollars worldwide, smashing the mark it previously set in 2016 with 7.61 billion dollars.

Disney set a new record in 2016 with four films that grossed over 1 billion dollars. In the coming months, Disney will release ‘Frozen 2′, a ‘Maleficent’ sequel and ‘Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker’.

Report: Over 1,000 soldiers secretly buried in Maiduguri

Over 1,000 soldiers killed on the battlefront in the fight against insurgency were secretly buried in Maiduguri, Borno state, according to a report by The Wall Street Journal.

Quoting military sources, the newspaper said the number of soldiers buried in that manner could be higher than the figure.

It said on the eve of President Muhammadu Buhari’s visit to Borno in November, army commanders secretly moved corpses of soldiers from a morgue to unmarked graves.

“When President Buhari visited the Maiduguri base in November, commanders rushed to bury bodies that had collected at the morgue from the recent attack on the base in Metele and several others, according to several soldiers at the base,” the report read.

Fence of the reported burial ground 

According to Wall Street Journal, this is the fence of the secret burial ground

“They moved the bodies from the morgue into the unmarked graves under cover of darkness.”

A soldier was quoted as saying: “We could see the headlamps and the torches of the engineering division digging the graves.”

The report said as the commanders prepared the base for the president’s arrival, they also drafted in additional medical staff to treat the dozens of wounded soldiers in the base’s hospital wards.

It said as soldiers tried to register complaints about their conditions when Buhari addressed them, the president pledged to do everything within his powers to continue empowering them.

The military authorities are reportedly trying to expand the secret graveyard.

“As the secret cemetery at the Maimalari barracks grows, the military has expanded the site into neighboring fields,” the report read.

Sarah James, a 50-year-old farmer, was quoted as saying: “The farmland has been fenced off so they can bury

Sagir Musa, army spokesman is yet to comment on the report.

MTN , Nigeria’s largest mobile operator, is about to become a bank

MTN Nigeria, the country’s largest telecoms operator, has been granted a “super agent” license which allows it set up an agent network through which it can provide financial services.

It’s the first step in MTN’s plans to finally roll out mobile money services in Africa’s largest economy as the company says it has also applied for a payment service bank license, which will allow it “offer a broader and deeper range of financial services.”

The license comes after reforms by Nigeria’s central bank last October permitting telecoms operators to get mobile money and banking licenses in a bid to boost financial inclusion and facilitate the long-held ambition for a cashless society.As already seen in several African countries, the real-life application of mobile money among unbanked populations ranges from quick, seamless fund transfers to facilitating payments and boosting small businesses.

In Ghana, the service has been adopted for investing as well with MTN’s selling shares for its landmark IPO mainly through mobile money. The West African country has recently become the fastest-growing mobile money market in Africa, with registered accounts increasing six-fold between 2012 and 2017.

The Nigerian reforms now allow telecoms operators like MTN attempt to tap into the promise of mobile money to offer similar services locally. As Africa’s most populous nation as well being home to a vast population of unbanked adults, Nigeria remains an attractive prospect given the success of mobile money services in other parts of the continent.

At the end of last year, there were nearly 400 million registered mobile money accounts—nearly half of the global total—across sub-Saharan Africa with nearly 90% of users in East and West Africa. In Ghana, Kenya and Zimbabwe, over 60% of adults have mobile money accounts.

Compared to standalone startups who have to build marketing and distribution infrastructure through a network of agents from scratch, mobile money services owned by telecoms companies have the in-built advantage of offering their services to an existing user base of millions of subscribers. Indeed, the continent’s biggest mobile money players are all owned by telecoms operators.

In MTN’s case, its longstanding status as Nigeria’s most dominant telecoms operator means it will have a pool of 67 million users to offer its services. And there’s room for significant upside in the near future too with Nigeria predicted to add 31 million mobile subscribers by 2025.

The license is part of South African-owned MTN’s delicate balancing act in Nigeria. It has a tumultuous history of billion-dollar fines and lawsuits in its largest market. Most recently, the company faced allegations of illegally repatriating $8.1 billion in profits and owing $2 billion in taxes. In 2016, it reached a $1.7 billion settlement with Nigeria’s government after a protracted SIM card dispute and an initial $5.2 billion fine.

(Credit: Yomi Kazeem,Quartz)

Gov suspends 5 doctors after midnight visit to hospital

Governor of Borno State, Babagana Zulum, on Tuesday suspended the Medical Director at the Umaru Shehu Ultra-Modern Hospital, Dr Audu Usman alongside four medical doctors.

The governor wielded the big sticks against them after he paid an unscheduled midnight visit to the hospital and discovered they were conspicuously absent from their duty posts.

Spokesman of the governor, Isau Gusau, in a statement on Wednesday, listed other affected doctors to include Musa Chuwang, Chijioke Ibemere; Baba Malgwi and Esther of the Paediatric department.

According to the statement, Zulum had paid an unscheduled visit to the state Specialists’ Hospital and Umaru Shehu Ultra-Modern Hospital around 1am on Tuesday to inspect the condition of patients and the facilities but found out that none of the doctors was on ground.

He had reportedly instructed nurses to call the doctors on phone during his visit but none responded.

The governor consequently directed the chief medical director of the state hospitals management board to comply with the directive.

The statement reads in part: ‎”Governor Zulum has ordered the suspension of the Medical Director of Umaru Shehu hospital, Dr Audu Usman, for his failure of leadership.

“Furthermore. Dr. Musa Chuwang and Dr. Chijioke Ibemere who absented themselves while on call had also been suspended while Dr. Baba Ali Malgwi who was second on call was suspended arising from his inability to respond to telephone calls during the Governor’s visit.

“At the same time, frantic attempt to reach him was impossible even when he lives within the doctors’ quarters located around the hospital.

“Similarly, Dr Esther of the Paediatric department who was supposed to be on duty was found absent and hence, she also was suspended.

“All medical doctors attached to the accident and emergency unit are to be queried for their absence and the lack of duty roaster.

“Chief Medical Director of the Borno State Hospitals Management Board is directed to comply with the governor’s directive while he is to take measures that should ensure all gaps are filled.

“Governor Zulum is determined to ensure that all hospitals across Borno State provide adequate healthcare delivery at all times through,” the statement added.

Much ado about ‘Bow and Go’, by Ola Awoniyi

 

The screening of ministerial nominees by the Senate has come and gone but the dust it raised may take some time to settle. The announcement of ministerial nominations is always greeted with public excitement. And the case was not different this time round too, for obvious reasons. The President needs ministers to help him in running the affairs of the country. When the ministers are in place, it is generally believed the full complement of the Executive is formed for the business of governance to begin in earnest. This is why the nation was eager about the composition of the next Federal Executive Council. President Muhammadu Buhari eventually forwarded the names of his nominees to the Senate for screening and approval last week. The public anxiety continued until last week Tuesday when the list was unveiled at the Senate plenary by Senate President Ahmad Ibrahim Lawan.

The following day, the Senate began the screening after earlier deciding to postpone its recess for the exercise. The prompt commencement of the legislative process by the Senate under the leadership of Senator Lawan is remarkable. It showed the senators were willing to defer their holiday for what they considered a national assignment. And the way they went about it was a clear departure from the past wherein nominees were made to go through some undefined pre-screening rituals before being invited to the Red Chamber for formal screening.

Rather than applaud the Senate for that, a well-known parliamentary practice of giving recognition to former lawmakers, who by virtue of being in parliament before without abusing their integrity had fulfilled the condition for their appointment ab initio, started generating controversy. Eight nominees, out of the 43 on the list, took their turns on Day One. Uchechukwu Ogah, a nominee from Abia State, was the first to be invited into the chamber for screening. For almost one hour, the senators feasted on him. Then former Benue State Governor George Akume, who previously was also Minority Leader of the Senate, took his turn. Standing on his feet looking at Akume in his white babariga as he mounted the podium, the Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege, cleared his throat and said: “I rose for only one purpose to ensure that tradition, that convention be respected in perpetuity so that no question here, other than ‘take a bow and go’ propagated by a few of our colleagues, be maintained.” The privilege was accorded Akume as a former two-term senator.

Akume’s case is interesting. Between 2007 and 2015, he not only had his seat well marked, as others, in the Senate, he also took part in the screening of nominees of the President more than twice. “I rise to support that he should be asked to take a bow and go, given his length of service in this chamber,” said Distinguished Senator Omo-Agege. It was obvious the DSP spoke the minds of his other colleagues. The President of the Senate then came point-blank on the issue: “Let me also remind us that it is a tradition here to give this privilege, this concession to senators who served in this chamber or in the House of Representatives or indeed the State Houses of Assembly. This tradition must continue despite the fact that some people do not understand it and we need to educate them.” It is a tradition inherited from previous Senate, which evidently underscores the importance the lawmakers attach to the institution of the parliament such that if one has discharged himself or herself creditably there, he would do even better in other areas notably in the executive branch.

Not knowing the import of that parliamentary practice and one of prerequisites for ministerial nomination, which equates it with the condition for qualification for membership of the House of Representatives, some Nigerians, among them commentators and columnists, queried the essence of the screening if all that a nominee would do at the Senate is to bow and take his leave. I admit that asking these former lawmakers some questions may refresh the memories of their new colleagues and indeed Nigerians about the character and competence they had earlier demonstrated in parliament. It may also be a needless exercise because the former lawmakers had abinitio met the condition for their nominations.

Ita Enang, Special Adviser on Senate Matters to President Buhari, who was formerly in the House of Representatives and Senate and indeed in charge of Rules and Business, first in the House and later in the Senate for several years, put this issue succinctly. According to him, the practice of “take a bow and go” is not new and not peculiar to the Nigerian Senate. “It is a tradition that started in the United Kingdom and the United States parliament and has become a parliamentary tradition everywhere.” Enang knows his onions and knows well the rules guiding confirmation hearings. If that practice deserves a review as some honestly canvass, I think the Senate will not hesitate do so accordingly. The point, however, is some of those who criticised the practice and erroneously called the upper chamber and its leadership all kinds of names would wish to be at the receiving end of that privilege if previously in parliament and now appeared on the ministerial list.

But before we go for tinkering with that established practice, it is important to know the intention of the law in assigning the all-important confirmation of ministers and other key appointments of the president to the Senate. In carrying out that task, the Nigerian Constitution asks the Senate to ensure the president complies with certain provisions. For ministerial nomination, Chapter 6 Part 1 Section 147 is very apposite here.

Subsection (2) of this section states: “Any appointment to the office of Minister of the Government of the Federation shall, if the nomination of any person to such office is confirmed by the Senate, be made by the President. Subsection (3): Any appointment under subsection (2) of this section by the President shall be in conformity with the provisions of Section 14 (3) of the Constitution;- provided that in giving effect to the provisions aforesaid the President shall appoint at least one Minister from each State, who shall be an indigene of such State. Subsection (5): No person shall be appointed as a Minister of the Government of the Federation unless he is qualified for election as a member of the House of Representatives.”

I consider the scrupulous application of these criteria as the real purpose of the confirmation screening. The same critics of the just-concluded process would have accused the Senate of over-reaching itself if it had done more than prescribed by the law. Proper screening would have been more helpful though if the President had provided the Senate the portfolios of the would-be ministers in which case the Senate would assess their competence and appropriateness against the portfolios assigned them. Again, ministerial nomination is the prerogative of the President and the Constitution does not mandate him to assign portfolio to nominees forwarded to the Senate. As such no one can blame President Buhari.

This is where those who equate Senate screening to a job interview miss the point. For a job interview, the candidate knows what to prepare for and the interviewers the questions relevant to specific jobs. In this case, neither the nominees nor the Senators know the portfolios the president intends for the nominees. Unless they speculate based on the educational or professional experience of a nominee, all the senators can do with those they did not know or those that had not passed through their institution previously is ask general questions that may give little insight about them and how they may perform as ministers.

Awoniyi is the Special Adviser on Media to the President of the Senate.

Nigerians may pay 5% tax on online purchases

The Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) may, from next year, ask banks to charge customers five per cent Value Added Tax for online purchases when using bank cards, its Chairman, Tunde Fowler, has said.

Mr Fowler, who gave the hint in an exclusive interview with Premium Times his office in Abuja, also said the federal government was yet to take a decision on whether to increase VAT or not.

Online purchases are increasingly becoming popular among Nigerians with online stores such as Jumia and Konga leading the pack. Many Nigerians also buy from popular Chinese online store, Aliexpress.

Payments for such purchases are often made using bank debit and credit cards, and could soon attract the five per cent tax being considered by the FIRS.

Although he acknowledged Nigeria was not fully ready for the growing global digitalised economy, the FIRS Chairman said, based on existing laws, the country will adopt a solution suitable to her peculiar circumstance.

“We will address the issue of the digitalised economy very soon. There is no global solution to a digitalised economy.

“Different countries have taken different solutions to address the problem. Nigeria has not taken a position yet. But, we are meeting to see if we can come up with a global solution that we can all adapt to.

“With the existing laws in Nigeria, we can appoint the banks as agents. First of all, all those who make payments for purchases online using bank cards and instruct their bankers to pay, we will tell the banks that, going forward, everyone who gives instructions for service for purchase online, they should deduct five per cent VAT,” he said.

“We are thinking that maybe early next year, we will advise banks to start deducting five percent VAT for all online purchases done locally,” he added.

Also, the FIRS Chairman spoke on the lingering debate on an increase in the VAT rate from the current five per cent to either 7.5 per cent or 10 per cent.

According to Mr Fowler, given a choice between increasing VAT rate and expanding the tax base, he will prefer the latter.

“Of course, the first one will be the expansion of the tax base. The tax has to be fair. That’s where we started off. That’s why we have said we have redesigned and issued new tax certificates for VAT.

“We have given to all registered taxpayers. We believe we should have effectively at least 1.5 million corporate taxpayers,” he said.

He said the FIRS will prefer to address the issue of VAT rate ”after it has achieved its target of bringing all eligible taxpayers under the tax net”.

Nigeria’s VAT rate ‘one of the lowest’
Describing the VAT rate in Nigeria as the lowest in the world, apart from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) that has just introduced five per cent rate, he said VAT is a consumption tax, only payable by choice.

“What that means is, if A wants to impress B, and takes B to eat at the Transcorp Hilton, A will pay VAT for services enjoyed. This is because of the environment.

“The cost of the Coca Cola they will drink at Transcorp Hilton at N1,000 could have been bought at N100 in any supermarket without paying any VAT.

“Also, A can buy chicken, with all the ingredients in the market, cook it and eat without any VAT. But, instead of spending N5,000 for that meal, if A decides to go to the Transcorp Hilton and spend N20,000, then A must pay VAT. It is a choice A has to make,” he added.

He said the only exemption for VAT are items required by everybody, like education, medical services, which, regardless of choice, one is expected to have.

No official decision on VAT Increase
Despite pressures from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on the need to increase VAT rate in Nigeria, the FIRS chief said the Federal Government is yet to make any official pronouncement on the issue.

“The IMF said Nigeria’s VAT rate is one of the lowest in the world. We had discussions back and forth on the benefits of the increase. My position is to first expand the tax net.

“We crossed the N1 trillion mark in VAT last year for the first time. We are equally improving this year. At the end of 2019, if we can have everybody come under the tax net, sign for VAT, start remitting VAT, let’s look at the volume we can generate.

“Then we can discuss the way we are, for government to take a decision as to whether VAT should be increased or not,” he said.

I’ll revive Kogi’s economy in four years, says Melaye

Senator Dino Melaye, representing Kogi West Senatorial District at the National Assembly, on Wednesday, pledged to revive the state economy and bring it to an enviable height within four years.

Melaye disclosed this at a media interactive organised by the Kogi State council of Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) for governorship aspirants, at the NUJ Press Centre, Lokoja.

Melaye, a governorship aspirant under the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), said the state was blessed with abundant resources but regretted the pervading poverty and penury owing to maladministration and widespread corruption.

While noting that countries now depended on ideas to revolutionise their economies, he promised that Kogi, under his watch, would not depend on handouts in form of monthly allocations from the Federation Account to survive.

Melaye, who is the Senate committee chairman on aviation, said he would revolutionise agriculture and transform the abundant mineral resources in the state into tangible products that would earn the state good income.

He said that through ideas, galvanised and harmonised by quality leadership, Singapore was transformed from a Third World country to an economically-advanced nation, while Dubai became a high income generating city in United Arab Emirate.

“In four years, we will revive the economy of Kogi and the state will become the envy of others. I have gone round the world and I am sure that I have the necessary capacity and exposure to achieve this.

“I am talking about Kogi State and the generations yet unborn. Let us have public nursery schools, develop education, health and other core sectors to bridge the gap between the rich and the poor, and restore the middle class.

“The paradox of Kogi is that in spite of our abundance, we are poor. Kogi is too rich to be poor. We have to prepare our youths for the future through ICT. Today, ideas have overtaken oil.

“We are focused and intellectually mobile with vision and mission to drive the process.

“I will operate Kogi like an independent country. Kogi occupies 30,354 square kilometres of land, with a population of about 4.7 million people,” he said.

The senator, who disclosed that he would contest the presidency of Nigeria in the next eight years, stressed that his governorship aspiration was divine.

“I am an emissary sent to emancipate the people of Kogi State from economic cowards and financial scavengers,” he declared.

Obaseki reshuffles cabinet

Gov. Godwin Obaseki of Edo has assigned portfolios to recently appointed commissioners and special advisers after their successful screening by the Edo State House of Assembly.

The governor also carried out a minor cabinet reshuffle without dropping any one.

In a statement issued by Special Adviser to the governor on Media and Communication Strategy, Crusoe Osagie, said that the development was part of the outcome of the state Executive Council meeting held at the state government house in Benin on Wednesday.

According to the statement, the portfolios are listed as follows: Marie Edeko; Ministry of Social Development, Damian Lawani; Ministry of Youth, Joe Ikpea; Ministry of Minerals, Oil and Gas and Momoh Oise Omorogbe; Ministry of Budget and Economic Planning.

Felix Akhabue was assigned to head Ministry of Cooperatives and Wealth Creation while Moses Agbakor was given Ministry of Energy.

In the minor cabinet reshuffle, the former Commissioner for Agricultural and Natural Resources, Assemblyman Monday Osaigbovo, was moved to the Ministry of Local Government and Community Affairs, while former Commissioner for Education, Assemblyman Emmanuel Agbale, now heads the Ministry of Science and Technology.

Former Commissioner for Local Government and Community Affairs Jimoh Ijegbai is now in charge of the Ministry of Education.
The five Special Advisers who were appointed alongside the commissioners in July were also assigned portfolios.

Andrew Momodu is the Special Adviser, Public Order and Security, while Assemblyman Osaigbovo Iyoha, former member of the Edo House of Assembly, is now the Special Adviser to the Governor on Political Matters, Edo South.

Also Magdalene Ohenhen, former Commissioner for Women Affairs is now Special Adviser Political Matters, Edo Central while the former Speaker, Edo State House of Assembly Kabiru Adjoto is the Special Adviser, Parliamentary Issues.

Assemblyman Ojo Asien, a former member of Edo House of Assembly is now Special Adviser, Political Matters, Edo North.

Kpodoh accuses Dickson of plot to defect to APC, demands apology

A chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Bayelsa State, Chief Perekeme Kpodoh, has described as “unacceptable” the show of support by Governor Seriake Dickson toward the nomination and successful screening of Chief Timipre Sylva.

The former governor was screened on July 23, by the National Assembly as ministerial nominee by President Muhammadu Buhari.

Kpodoh, a former security adviser to Sylva, said on Wednesday in Yenagoa that Sylva had already been appointed a minister designate, adding that there was no need for the governor to want him to succeed him.

“Bayelsa people have gone beyond such deceit. He should apologise openly to Sylva over the name calling and apologise to the APC family over the various name calling against the state party leaders.

“Dickson should apologise to Sylva because he is the symbol of APC in the state. We hear he is working for soft landing and such action should not be allowed. The apology is necessary because many members of opposition have been framed up at one time or another.

“I was framed up at one time and accused of arms dealings. At another time, a woman was used to set me up. If not for the Appeal Court that granted me bail, they would have left me to die,” he alleged in a statement.

According to him, Dickson’s purported show of sportsmanship will remain suspicious without an open apology to the former governor, Sylva and APC members.

Kpodoh also said that the people of Bayelsa were concerned at the reports indicating that Dickson might be planning defection if the PDP refuses to allow him produce a successor.

He, however, called on the national leadership of APC to review parameters adopted by the party for soft landing to state governors planning to defect from another party.

Raise the standard of emergency response, Sanwo-Olu charges LASEMA officers

Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu has said there’s need to rejig the operation of the State’s emergency response team for better performance and service delivery in disaster management.

The Governor who spoke during his visit to the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA) operational headquarters at Cappa, Oshodi, praised the emergency response personnel for the quality of service the agency rendered, while saying that there was need to raise the standards of its operation in line with best practice. He pledged that his administration would support the agency to deliver on its mandate.

He said: “On behalf of the people of Lagos, I commend LASEMA and its emergency workers’ performance in disaster management. But, we know there is still a lot that we can do to raise the standard and there is still a lot that is expected of us but I can assure you that we will support LASEMA for quality service.

“This is why we are here to assess the level of response mechanism and take stock of the challenges the agency might be facing. We do not want to give excuses to the taxpayers. We pledge our continued support to encourage the agency to live up to expectations, because its efficiency in service delivery would be the parameter citizens would use to assess and write the agency scorecards.”

The Governor emphasised the need for maintaining professionalism and empathy in the discharge of the agency’s duty, noting that disaster management required promptness and competency to minimise losses.

Sanwo-Olu tasked the emergency workers to work towards reducing their response time by half. He said the government would address the resource gap hindering the agency from taking its service to optimal level.

He said: “LASEMA needs to raise its escalation level in managing emergencies. If it gets to the level where we need additional support from other agencies, such police, fire fighters, or any arm of government, we must be able to quickly be able to analyse the situation and be able to escalate it to another level, so that we can reduce losses to lives and property. Lagos is a centre of excellence and we must live up to billing by putting forward the best rescue operation.”

LASEMA Director General, Dr. Femi Oke-Osanyintolu, led Governor Sanwo-Olu on an inspection of the equipment used by the agency in its emergency operations. The Governor also inspected the state of facilities in LASEMA Response Unit (LRU) in Alausa.

In the Governor’s entourage were the Deputy Governor, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat; Secretary to the State Government, Folashade Jaji; Head of Service, Hakeem Muri-Okunola; Chief of Staff, Tayo Ayinde and Deputy Chief of Staff, Gboyega Soyannwo.

Anambra traders ban prayers in markets

The Anambra State Amalgamated Traders Association on Wednesday banned prayers in markets in the state.

ASMATA President -General Ikechukwu Ekwegbalu said this in Onitsha while addressing market union leaders.

He said the ban became necessary because politicians had hijacked the exercise.

Ekwegbalu said, “What we see now is extortion and conversion of prayer sessions into political rallies.

“This move became necessary because we have discovered that some overzealous people abuse this practice by extorting money from market men and women regularly.

“Some have turned the prayers into political jamborees and this is not healthy for the system.”

The union chief urged ASMATA members to stop involving police or government officials in matters concerning them, saying they should report cases to the leaders of their markets

Buhari hails appointment of UK-born Nigerian Kemi Badenoch as British Minister

President Muhammadu Buhari has hailed the appointment of Olukemi Olufunto Badenoch, a United Kingdom-born Nigerian as Minister of Children and Families by the new British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Describing her appointment as “well-deserved,” the President urged the 39-year-old to regard her new position as an opportunity to justify the confidence reposed in her by making lasting impact.

President Buhari, who expressed confidence that Badenoch would succeed, given her academic qualifications and parliamentary experience, also enjoined the junior minister to see herself as an ambassador of her fatherland in conduct and performance.

In a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, the President described Badenoch’s appointment as a plus for Nigerians in Diaspora.

He said: “It further confirms my belief that with hard work and integrity, Nigerians can excel in their chosen professions and fields of endeavour anywhere in the world.”

The President, who also applauded Prime Minister Johnson for finding Badenoch suitable, wished her success in the new challenging role.