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Mandatory communication of court documents by e-mail begins July 16 in Nigeria – CJN

It will become mandatory for judges and staff of Nigerian courts to communicate court documents with lawyers by electronic mail from July 16, the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen, has announced.

Mr. Onnoghen made the announcement on Friday while speaking at the launch of the newly Retrofitted Court and Legal Email System which took place at the Supreme Court.

He said the email system, which is a unique feature of the day’s event, will replace manual forms of communication between judges, court staff and lawyers.

“I will like to implore all judges and lawyers to join us on this quest for excellence by subscribing to, and acquiring the legal email, as manual forms of communication within the Nigerian Courts will soon be phased out.

“Henceforth lawyers who have acquired the Legal Email can now communicate electronically with the courts and with each other. However, by July 16, it becomes mandatory.

“The Supreme Court will only serve processes by electronic means. (Legal mail). Hence all new filings as from July 16 must bear counsel’s legal email address.

“To ensure compliance, it is also imperative that all other heads of Courts aquire the Legal email addresses for their Courts from the JITPO Committee, especially for the Litigation Department staff.

“All courts are also encouraged to start using the email for serving lawyers. In addition, communication between the various Judicial bodies will soon be through the official email system only, thereby harnessing the benefits of the system in terms of confidentiality, integrity and availability,” Mr. Onnoghen said.

Mr. Onnoghen said the new email system will work better when the bar and the bench work together to improve it.

“From the inception of the email project, the committee of which the President, Nigerian Bar Association is a member, worked in tandem with the bar to ensure the successful completion of what we are witnessing today.

“I trust that the bar association will now drive the adoption so that the system will be fully operational within the period hereby stipulated.

“The quick adoption of the system will enable us move forward to improve and implement the other components that depend upon it. We must all take ownership of this project. It must not fail,” Mr. Onnoghen said.

The CJN noted that Nigeria had already developed and deployed the Nigerian Case Management System (NCMS) software, adding that the NCMS is the backbone of court automation project in the country.

EFCC files fraud charge against Code of Conduct Tribunal chairman

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has filed a two-count charge of fraud against Danladi Umar, chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT).

In the charge sheet obtained by Thenewsmatrics, the anti-graft agency alleged that in 2012, Umar demanded a bribe of N10 million from one Rasheed Taiwo who had a case at the tribunal.

Festus Keyamo, senior advocate of Nigeria (SAN), filed the suit at the high court of the federal capital territory (FCT) on behalf of the EFCC.

Count 1 read: “That you, DANLADI YAKUBU UMAR, being the Chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal and presiding over a case with Charge No. CCT/ABJ/03/12, involving one Rasheed Owolabi Taiwo, sometime in 2012, at Abuja, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court did ask for the sum of N10,000,000.00 (Ten Million Naira) from the said Rasheed Owolabi Taiwo, for a favour to be afterwards shown to him in relation to the pending Charge (No. CCT/ABJ/03/12) in discharge of your official duties and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 12(1)(a) & (b) of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2003.

The charge sheet

Count 2 read: “That you, DANLADI YAKUBU UMAR, being the Chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal and presiding over a case with Charge No. CCT/ABJ/03/12, involving one Rasheed Owolabi Taiwo, sometime in 2012, at Abuja, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court did receive the sum of N1,800,000.00 (One Million, Eight Hundred Thousand Naira) from the said Rasheed Owolabi Taiwo, through your Personal Assistant by name Alhaji Gambo Abdullahi, for a favour to be afterwards shown to him in relation to the pending Charge (No. CCT/ABJ/03/12) in discharge of your official duties and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 12(1)(a) & (b) of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act.”

Former President Goodluck Jonathan appointed Umar after he was recommended by the National Judicial Council (NJC) and the Federal Judicial Service Commission.

On September 18, 2015, Umar made history by becoming the first judge in the country to issue an arrest warrant against a sitting senate president.

He had ordered the arrest of Senate President Bukola Saraki who failed to appear before the tribunal in the trial of alleged false declaration of assets.

The tribunal eventually discharged and acquitted Saraki.

PDP chieftain, Braimah, lauds Obaseki’s achievements

 

A Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Chieftain in Edo State, Prince Musa Braimah, has applauded the Godwin Obaseki-led administration in Edo State, for its sterling performance in attracting investments to the state and restoring hope to the people.

Braimah said this during a chat with journalists in Benin City, Edo State capital.

According to him, “Governor Obaseki has proven to be a governor who put the interest of the state ahead and above any other thing and has continued to make policies that benefit Edo people.

“So far, based on my assessment, Governor Godwin Obaseki is doing well as he continues to record great strides in driving economic development and creating prosperity for the people.”

Braimah urged members of the opposition political parties in the state to join hands with Obaseki to develop the state by providing constructive criticism, noting, “All Obaseki needs now is the support of the people, including members of the opposition in the state, to enable him succeed with his plans to move the state forward.”

He added that members of the opposition parties in the state should forget about the acrimony but rather join forces with the governor on developmental matters because “every Edo person deserves a better deal and the governor is delivering on his promises.”

On industrialisation of the state, the PDP Chieftain said, “Based on visible facts on the ground, Governor Obaseki is making progress in moving the state in the right direction with his policies to transform the state into an economically viable state through his drive to attract foreign investors and opening up the state to the organised private sector to do business.

“I have kept records of Obaseki’s plans to diversify the state’s economy. I must say he is doing creditably well. I urge him not to relent or be distracted as Edo need to be prepared for a future where crude oil-based economy will no longer be driving growth.”

He added, “Despite being a Chieftain of the PDP, I give the governor kudos because I am also an Edo person, who believes that the policies of the governor on agriculture and industrialisation are capable of transforming the state into an economic hub in the country.”

LASG provides helplines for Light Up Lagos project

The Lagos State Government has provided helplines – 09090146682 and 08100033199 – through which residents can call to report incidences of damaged, defective or vandalized streetlight poles, transformers and other electrical installations and equipment managed by the Lagos State Electricity Board to ensure prompt and effective rectification of faults.

The General Manager, Lagos State Electricity Board, Engr. Ibilola Kasunmu who made this known in her office today while reviewing report of the Light-up Lagos project noted that the helplines will avail government the opportunity to have firsthand feedback from the public on the state of its electrical installations and equipment across Lagos State with a view to replacing defective ones.

“I must stress that we have professionals who are readily available to listen to complaints, answer to enquiries and provide necessary help when needed; all you have to do is to call. Our engineers are also on red alert to promptly attend to reported cases of damaged, defective and vandalized installations and equipment”, she said.

Kasunmu stated that the Electricity Board had earlier put in place a monitoring mechanism which involves its officials going round to identify and rectify damaged and vandalized installations, adding that the helplines will aid the organisation in discharging its duties of illuminating and maintaining electrical infrastructure across Lagos State.

“The Lagos State Electricity Board will not relent on its oars in ensuring that street and public lights, as well as electrical installations and equipment, are properly maintained, and this we plan on doing, through collaborating with residents and partnership with the private sector in a way that will guarantee efficiency, sustenance of standards, cost-effectiveness and job opportunities”, she added

The General Manager warned people caught indulging in theft and vandalism of electrical installations and equipment for selfish gains will be made to face the full wrath of the law. 

Kasunmu explained the Light-up Lagos project is conceived to light up major highways and streets in the Lagos metropolis with the ultimate goal of boosting commercial activities, enhancing security, improving the citizenry’s standard of living as well as boost the aesthetics of the State.

She added that the initiative is in line with the State’s commitment to building a 24/7 economy that will create employment and wealth for the people, stressing that the project is also part of the State’s security strategy to make Lagos competitive, safe and secure.

“The Lagos State Electricity Board has a core mandate of illuminating streets, major roads and highways through its Light-Up Lagos project. Other major components of this project are Community Electrification and Embedded Power (IPP); these interventions have led to the enhancement of security, economics and social interaction in the State. It is with a view to consolidating these gains that we are providing the helplines”, Kasunmu said.

 

Nigeria, foreign countries share data on overseas bank accounts, property owned by Nigerians

The Federal Government of Nigeria and some foreign countries, including the United Kingdom Government, have commenced the Automatic Exchange of Tax Information (AETI), particularly on overseas assets held by Nigerians.

The Honourable Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, confirmed this on Friday in Abuja during the presentation of Progress Report on Tax Laws Reform by the Vice Chairman of the National Tax Policy Implementation Committee, Mr. Taiwo Oyedele.

The Minister expressed satisfaction with the data being supplied to Nigeria by foreign countries under the AETI, to which the country became a party in January 2018.

“The data received in Nigeria with regard to overseas assets held by Nigerians has been impressive and will underpin a long term improvement in the nation’s tax to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) ration, in turn, will improve life for the masses.

“The data on bank accounts, property and trusts, which has come automatically from a number of countries is being used to support the Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration Scheme (VAIDS) by allowing the tax authorities to check the accuracy of declarations received.

“The Federal Government is also using the data to generate ‘nudge’ letters which are being sent to those identified as being potential tax defaulters,” said Adeosun while responding to questions raised by journalists during the submission of progress report on tax laws reform.

She disclosed that Nigeria had written to a number of nations to request specific information about offshore trusts and bank accounts held by its citizens.

The Minister advised users of offshore structures to take advantage of VAIDS to regularise their taxes before the expiry of the amnesty programme.

“The offshore tax shelter system is basically over. Those who have hidden money overseas are being exposed and whilst Nigerians can legally keep their money anywhere in the world, they must first pay any taxes due to the Nigerian Government so that we can fund the needs of the masses and create jobs and wealth for our people.

“The moral argument against illicit financial flows and tax evasion and the strong international co-operation are such that every Nigerian tax payer should do the right thing. The needs of our people for development override any other argument against payment of tax,” she stated.

Adeosun stressed the need for a sustainable revenue that could deliver infrastructural development for Nigeria and improve the tax to GDP ratio of the country.

She assured that the Federal Government would build a robust tax system and implement the recommendations by the National Tax Policy Implementation Committee (NTPIC) on tax laws reform.

Earlier in the address, the NTPIC Vice Chairman, Mr. Taiwo Oyedele, who represented the Chairman, said the Committee considered three major policy documents namely; the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP), the National Tax Policy and Ease of Doing Business Plan.

He disclosed that the Committee agreed that tax reforms should align with overall Government objectives as articulated in these documents, such that every action or recommendations would promote and catalyse the realisation of overall objectives.

The Committee, according to him, identified the seven major tax areas that would have the highest impact. These include: Company Income Tax (CIT), Value Added Tax (VAT), Customs & Excise Tariff (CET), Personal Income Tax (PIT), Pension Contributions, Industrial Development Income Tax Relief (IDITR); and Tertiary Education Trust Fund.

He disclosed that he proposed changes to the tax laws would achieve the following specific objectives: increase and diversify Government revenue, simplify paying taxes and doing business, promote Micro, small and medium enterprises, protect most vulnerable persons in the society, and remove obsolete, ambiguous and contradictory provisions in the law.

Oyedele added that the Committee’s work resulted in two executive orders and five amendment bills.

The executive orders include Value Added Tax Act (Modification) Order and Review of Goods Liable to Excise Duties and Applicable Rate Order, the proposed Amendment Bills are: Companies Income Tax Act (Amendment) Bill, Value Added Tax Act (Amendment) Bill, Customs, Exercise, Tariff (Consolidation) Act (Amendment) Bill, Personal Income Tax Act (Amendment) Bill and Industrial Development (Income Tax Relief) Act (Amendment) Bill

Fidel Castro’s eldest son commits suicide

Fidel Castro Diaz-Balart, the son of the late Cuban revolutionary president Fidel Castro, killed himself on Thursday after being treated for months for depression, Cuban state-run media has reported.

“Diaz-Balart, who had been attended by a group of doctors for several months due to a state of profound depression, killed himself this morning,” the Cubadebate website said.

Castro Junior, 68, also known as “Fidelito” because of how much he looked like his father, had initially been hospitalised for depression and then continued treatment outside of hospital.

Castro Diaz-Balart’s mother was Mirta Diaz-Balart, a woman from Cuba’s aristocracy whom Castro married in his youth before beginning the revolutionary struggle that later brought him and his brother Raul to power.

A nuclear physicist who studied in the former Soviet Union, Diaz-Balart had been working as a scientific counsellor to the Cuban council of state, as well as vice-president of the Cuban Academy of Sciences, at the time of his death.

His father, who built a communist state on the doorstep of the United States during the cold war, died on 26 November 2016 aged 90.

Nigerian car dealer buys Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Bugatti for $2.5m

A popular U.S based Nigerian car dealer, Obi Okeke, aka Doctor Bugatti just bought Hollywood actor, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Bugatti Veyron for a whopping $2.5 million.

According to reports, Arnold’s 2015 Veyron, which goes 0-60 mph in 2.5 secs, only had about 1,000 miles on it.

The buyer is Obi Okeke a.k.a Doctor Bugatti, the same Nigerian luxury car dealer who sold Floyd Mayweather a similar whip. Okeke plans to resell it.

Obi Okeke first came to the United States as a 5-year-old refugee during the Nigerian Civil War in 1967. His mother, from Ohio, was able to leave the country with him, but his father, who was born in Nigeria, stayed to fight.

Over four decades later, Okeke, now 53, is a fixture in the luxury automobile industry, dealing in cars that cost millions and selling to clients like Floyd Mayweather.

 

 

 

 

Obi Okeke

After that first move to the US, Okeke returned with his family to Nigeria, where he stayed until attending a private high school in Switzerland.

And that’s when he discovered great cars.

Benue killings: Presidency accuses Nigerian media coverage of promoting hate speech

The Presidency has strongly condemned what it calls an upsurge in the promotion of hate speech by the media especially as it relates to the farmers/herders crisis in Benue state.

The condemnation was made Friday by the spokesperson of President Muhammadu Buhari, Garba Shehu, while briefing State House correspondents.

Mr. Shehu said the “growing lack of respect for journalism ethics and press laws in the Nigerian media, especially regarding the clashes in Benue State is very unfortunate”.

He said the frequent expressions of hate speech published by newspapers, in news stories and especially in columns have become a source of concern to all Nigerians.

“We want to state emphatically that a segment of the Nigerian media is sinking deeper and deeper into the mesh of hate speech in spite of repeated appeals by recognised and reputable media bodies, the Government and concerned Nigerians,” he said.

“Unfortunately, self-regulation which is the norm in civilised societies has taken flight from many of our newsrooms.

“For instance, a recent column published in a national newspaper (The Sun newspaper), said ‘‘President Muhammadu Buhari was the first to endorse the Benue massacre’’ on New Year Day. The same columnist described the Minister of Defence, Mansur Muhammad Dan-Ali as ‘‘a dyed-in-the-wool Fulani irredentist who places trade over and above human life’’.

“The diatribe went further to invite citizens of the country to arm themselves and fight each other. In addition, one of the newspaper’s Saturday headlines proclaimed: ‘Expect More Blood in Benue…’,” he said.

The presidential spokesperson also said apart from the basic tone of respect expected from an individual who is “supposedly intelligent and educated enough” to know better since they have been granted space to write in a national newspaper, there is the risk of inciting the public to actions that will have gory consequences for the entire nation for generations to come.”

He also reminded those “beating the gongs of war and fanning the embers of discord” to remember what prevailed in Rwanda before the genocide of the early 90s, during which hundreds of thousands of lives were lost as a result of consistent hate speech spewing from that country’s media.

“We must learn to express our grievances and criticisms without resorting to gutter language or to name calling, and the press has a responsibility to maintain that even if it means calling their columnists to order,” he said.

He also said Mr. Buhari, by the Constitution, has the primary duty of protecting life and property of all Nigerians, adding “and that is what he has been doing in Benue and across the country.”

“Calling him a murderer is not only grossly disrespectful but unfair, especially when the President has written a letter to the Senate detailing his efforts to quell the crisis in Benue State, including dispatching the Minister of Interior and the Deputy Inspector General of Police in charge of operations for an on the spot assessment of the situation in the aftermath of the unfortunate incident; and receiving a direct briefing from the IG the following day”.

Mr. Shehu appealed to the media to show more decorum and professionalism in the reportage of security and humanitarian situation in the country.

Buhari renames university after Alex Ekwueme

The federal government has renamed the Federal University, Ndufu-Ikwo in Ebonyi State after the late former Vice President, Alex Ekwueme.

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo announced the renaming on Friday at Oko, Anambra State during the burial of Mr. Ekwueme, who was Vice President of Nigeria between 1979 and 1983.

Mr. Osinbajo said the renaming had already been approved by President Muhammadu Buhari, who had said Mr. Ekwueme was being honoured for his contributions to national development.

Governor David Umahi described the development as a welcome one and part of his administration’s educational policy.

Governor Umahi in a statement signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Emmanuel Uzor, commended the federal government for appreciating his educational policy and rewarding same by renaming a federal government university in the state “after a sage and former Vice President of Nigeria.”

Mr. Ekwueme who died late last year was buried on Friday at Oko, his hometown.

He ran for Presdent several times but was particularly credited with the idea of the creation of six geopolitical zones in Nigeria when he was a member of the National Constitutional Conference in 2005 during the regime of Sani Abacha.

He confronted Abacha with the formation of the G-34, when the late dictator tried to run as life president. G-34 metamorphosed into the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), which took over power in 1999 when the present republic was inaugurated.

Mr. Ekwueme trained and qualified as an architect, a sociologist and a lawyer.

He attended the prestigious Kings College, Lagos, before travelling abroad to pursue university education.

He founded the Federal Polytechnic, Oko, Anambra State and set up a foundation that offered thousands of scholarships to people from the Old Aguata region.

EFCC arraigns former minister over N450m ‘fraud’

Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on Thursday arraigned a former Minister of Water Resources, Sarah Ochekpe, a former chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party in Plateau State, Raymond Dabo before the Federal High Court in Jos for alleged embezzlement of N450 million.

The EFCC Alps arraigned one Lyons Sunday Jatau.

The accused were charged with illegally receiving the money from a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke, to finance the re-election campaign of former President Goodluck Jonathan and his Vice-President.

At the first hearing of the suit, Mrs. Ochekpe told trial judge, Musa Kurya, that she handed over the said sum to the PDP governorship candidate in the 2015 gubernatorial election in the state, the late Gyang Pwajok.

Mr. Pwajok died in an Indian hospital after a protracted aliment after the election which he lost to Simon Lalong of the All Progressives Congress.

EFCC prosecution counsel, Yusuf Muchaka, said the accused persons breached the law by receiving money they knew was corruptly sourced.

He supported the charge with an affidavit sworn to by Olayinka Rotimi, an operative with EFCC who was part of the team that investigated the case.

The judge granted the accused persons bail on self-recognition and adjourned the case to February 13 and 14 for further hearing.

Suspended SEC boss spent N1.7bn on ‘golden handshake’ — Panel

The embattled former Director General of the Securities & Exchange Commission, SEC, Mounir Gwarzo, appears to be in more trouble as fresh allegations emerged Thursday that he spent over N1.7 billion on ‘golden handshake’ to some staff without due process and approval.

Also, filings with the Corporate Affairs Commission, CAC and bank documents showed Mr. Gwarzo may have been economical with the facts about his relationships with the two private companies linked to him.

The latest allegation is coming barely 48 hours after an administrative panel of inquiry recommended his immediate dismissal from public service.

Mr. Gwarzo was said to have approved the payment of retirement benefits to 44 staff of the commission in 2015 without due process and approval of the Minister of Finance.

But, Mr. Gwarzo denied any wrongdoing, saying the latest allegations were part of a bouquet of accusations in the petition against him since January 2017 for which the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission, ICPC had already cleared him.

“These are issues we went to ICPC and EFCC (Economic and Financial Crimes Commission). It is completely untrue there was any wrongdoing. We had approval of our Board for the virement for the Golden Handshake. Ask the SEC Board Secretary for the approval. Even the ICPC wrote to clear us,” PremiumTimes reported. Gwarzo  as saying on Friday.

Mr. Gwarzo has been on suspension from office since November 2017 for allegedly paying himself about N104.9 million as severance package while still in office.

The payment was said to have breached paragraphs 313 and 316(4) of the Financial Regulations (Government Notice No. 219 of 27th October, 2009).

Is was understood that ‘golden handshake’ is a euphemism for a package for staffers aged 45 years and above who desire to voluntarily disengage from service after a minimum of 10 years.

Mr. Gwarzo was accused of approving an extra-budgetary expenditure of over N1.7 billion for the disengagement package without it being included in the 2015 budget of the Commission, apart from approval by the Minister of Finance and the National Assembly.

Although a review of a copy of the Commission’s 2015 budget confirmed no provision for the N1.7 billion expenditure, Mr. Gwarzo said fund was removed from another financial sub-head with the approval of the board.

“SEC does not require the approval of the Minister of Finance of its budget. The ISA (Investment and Securities Act 2007) puts the responsibility of approving the SEC budget on the Board, which is only required to send a copy to the Minister and the National Assembly. We have never taken our budget to the Ministry of Finance for approval, except where we do not have a Board,” he said.

“When I came into office I realized that the top management was very heavy and we needed to bring incentives for people to take and retire, to create room for fresh energy. Because government had stopped foreign training, we had to use the sub-head for foreign training and vire the funds there to pay the Golden Handshake, which was approved by the Board and the process.”

In all, two directors; 13 deputy directors; one general manager; five assistant directors; five senior managers; one principal senior supervisors; 13 managers; two senior supervisors and two supervisors benefitted from the payment.

Meanwhile, documents tendered before the panel of inquiry debunked the suspended DG’s claims on his relationship with the two private companies – Medusa Investments Limited and Outbound Investment Limited – linked to him.

In the report, Mr. Gwarzo had told the committee he had resigned as director of Medusa Investments Limited vide letter dated December 19, 2012.

He had also told the committee that he was only representing his wife’s interest in the other company, Outbound Investment Limited, which he said belonged to her family.

However, an application he sent to the Wuse Branch Manager, Guaranty Trust Bank, on July 24, 2015 requesting for a change of Account Officer for Medusa Investments Limited was signed by him in his capacity as the director of the Board of the company.

Besides, other documents also showed that Mr. Gwarzo had on August 16, 2016 used the company’s official headed-paper to request for the issuance of Naira Mastercards on Medusa Investments Limited’s account for him and the wife, Khadijat, the two directors indicated in the CAC registration filing.

A review of the account statement belonging to Outbound Investment Limited with the United Bank for Africa, UBA showed evidence of payments from the Commission for various contracts, including supply of diesel for as recent as April 2017 when he was still the DG.

I’m not sure if Obasanjo is among Buhari’s advisers, says Oshiomhole

Former Governor of Edo state, Adams Oshiomhole has reacted to the letter of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, asking President Muhammadu Buhari to forget about the 2019 election.

Speaking when he visited Buhari at the presidential villa in Abuja on Friday, Oshiomhole said since Obasanjo is not one of Buhari’s advisers, he should allow the president to make his own decisions.

He also recalled that while Obasanjo was in power, he told ministers and advisers that he was at liberty to heed or reject their advice.

“I’m not sure that President Obasanjo is one of the advisers of President Buhari. But I also recall with respect that the day President Obasanjo was swearing in some of his advisers, he did say that anybody who is his adviser can advise him, he will make his own decisions. And I think that principle still stands,” he said.

Oshiomhole said as an All Progressive Congress (APC) “activist and loyalist”, he visited the villa to assure the president of his “absolute and total support” for his government.

“I came to wish the president a Happy New Year and appreciate him for his leadership of the country because as an APC activist and loyalist, I’m a party man, to reassure him of my absolute and total support for his government and even for 2019,” he said.

“I think that in moments like this nobody should seat on the fence. Our country has challenges and there are huge temptations here and there. It is important he knows that he has men and women who even at this hour have huge confidence in his leadership ability.

“Everything taken to account, I believe that every Nigerian who wants us to sustain some of the renewed vigour to deal with one of the most challenging problems that Nigeria has faced, namely corruption and things like that, you cannot but appreciate the president and all that has been done under his leadership this past two years and some months.”

Asked to review developments in the country in line with the poverty level, the former Edo governor said, “Let’s trace the route of poverty, is not something that developed over the past few weeks or few years. If you review all your newspapers editorials from my days as president of the NLC, the challenge has been how do we ensure that the Nigerian economy worked for the betterment of the majority of the people particularly the forgotten rural majority.

“So, this has been there but everybody who understands development issues and if you review Africa development literature, you will agree that one of the key issue that explains the paradox between a potentially very rich continent in the case of Nigeria a very rich nation, the paradox of a wealthy country but people getting poorer and poorer have to do with the issue of corruption. And if you do not deal with that you cannot deal with other things. I think this president rightly identifies that as a major area of focus.”

IGP says anti-grazing law should be suspended

Ibrahim Idris, inspector-general of police (IGP), says the anti-grazing law should be put on hold until ranches are established.

Although the law which is in effect in Ekiti and Benue states was meant to check clashes between farmers and herdsmen, it has not achieved that purpose.

Over 100 people have been killed since it was implemented in Benue.

When he appeared before the senate committee on police on Friday, Idris explained the efforts of the police to quell killings.

A source at the meeting which Idris had with the lawmakers quoted him as saying the clashes between farmers and herdsmen escalated because of the anti-grazing law.

“He (IGP) said the anti-grazing law is the issue and that it should be stopped temporarily but brought back after the ranches have been put in place by the federal government,” the source said.

“He blamed the escalation of the clashes on the implementation of the anti-grazing law.”

The source added that the IGP said about 100 people had been arrested in connection with Benue killings.

He reportedly said they have been charged to court.

The source also said the IGP expressed worry over the presence of armed militias across the state.

Idris said the police would need resources for effective performance.

The IGP appeared before committee after he was summoned to brief the senate on the level of his compliance to its directive.

The lawmakers had given Idris a two-week ultimatum to arrest and prosecute the perpetrators of killings in Benue.

22% of Nigerians suffer from chronic depression – World Bank

A new study by the World Bank has revealed that 22 per cent of Nigerians, on average, are chronically depressed.

The study looked at the first nationally representative estimates of chronic depression in Nigeria to shed light on how it may be linked to economic outcomes, such as Labour market and human capital investments, especially in heavy-conflict areas or for individuals or communities who have experienced shocks or deaths.

Describing the availability of representative statistics of mental health at the national level as rare, the Washington-based lender’s Mind, Behaviour and Development Unit said the results were not surprising, but telling.

Chronic depression, according to the report, is strongly associated with adverse events, especially conflict, and these events are positively associated with chronic depression but their effects vary.

“For example, less than 30 per cent of household heads who are affected by a family death or a community shock (such as droughts) are chronically depressed. This contrasts with more than 50 per cent of household heads affected by conflicts; this rate of depression is more than twice the national average,” it said.

There are strong socioeconomic gradients at play with respect to chronic depression, the World Bank’s behavioural sciences team in the Poverty and Equity Global Practice said.

It said, “Being in the bottom 30 per cent of the income distribution is positively associated with chronic depression. Even worse, adverse events affecting these households add another 10 percentage points to the probability of having a chronically depressed household head. Poverty and shocks go hand in hand.”

The study also finds that there is a strong correlation between chronic depression and labour market outcomes.

It said, “Specifically, a household head who is chronically depressed has an eight percentage points lower probability of participating in the labour market. While the overall effects are similar by gender, chronic depression drives lower labour market participation in agricultural activities for men and in non-farm self-employment for women (which is mainly driven by gender sectoral distribution). In our sample of workers, there is no correlation in terms of number of hours worked.”

According to the report, chronic depression also affects child investments.

It says families with a chronically depressed parent spend nearly $30 (in current terms) less in educational expenses annually, driven by lower investments among older girls between 12 and 18 years of age.

It adds that younger children (particularly girls) between five and 11 years of age who live with a chronically depressed parent are 2.5 percentage points more likely to work.

The World Bank said, “Taken together, these findings suggest that chronic depression is likely to have both short- and long-term effects on welfare in Nigeria. It also seems to be affecting intra and inter-generational channels of upward mobility.

We’re the authentic Coalition for Nigeria, says group which claims Obasanjo copied its name

A group known as the Coalition for Nigeria (CN) has accused ex-president Olusegun Obasanjo of using its name to launch his ‘Third Force’ known as the Coalition for Nigeria Movement (CNM).

On Thursday, Obasanjo unveiled the CNMin Abeokuta, Ogun state after the movement had been launched in Abuja on Wednesday.

Subsequently, Sabo Odeh, national coordinator of CN, addressed a press conference to announce that his group is the “authentic Coalition for Nigeria”.

Odeh said the CN, unlike Obasanjo’s group, is made up of Nigerians who have the “best intentions” for the nation.

“Our coalition is not limited to creating a backdoor for retired and tired politicians to install puppets in government for the purpose of continuing to loot the treasury while ruling by impunity as had been experienced in the past,” he said

“The Coalition for Nigeria, having the best intentions of our dear nation at heart, is careful to go about effecting change in a way that does not jeopardise the stability and safety of Nigeria.

“There is nothing to be gained in burning our country in the name of seeking improvement; the reforms we all desire are achievable through persuasion, consensus building and collaboration without resorting to inflammatory acts and utterances as we have seen with some people.

“Our coalition is made up of Nigerians that yearn for a better country with the firm belief that the dismantling of the infrastructure for corruption is a necessary first step that ensure that we can then build the country on a solid foundation that provides level playing field to all citizens.

“The authentic Coalition for Nigeria will continue to pursue the noble objective of having credible persons to drive the Nigerian project irrespective of differences pertaining to class, ethnicity, religious or political affiliation.”