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Lekki massacre: EndSARS report lacks credibility – Islamic group

The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), has dismissed the leaked EndSARS report on the clash between Nigeria’s security agencies and armless protesters at Lekki Toll Gate on October 20, 2020.

The Islamic group handed down a resounding verdict of rejection of the report, describing it as full of loopholes and lacking credibility.

MURIC’s verdict was pronounced in a statement on Thursday by its director, Professor Ishaq Akintola.

Recall that the Lagos State EndSARS panel had submitted its report on the Lekki Tollgate shooting last week.

In the report, the panel had indicted the Federal Government, the police and the military.

MURIC’s statement read in part: “In the wake of a Tsunami of rejections which greeted the leaked report of the #EndSARS report, we of the Muslim Rights Concern, having critically scrutinised the report with the aid of experts hereby affirm that the said report is full of loopholes, discrepancies, half truths, irregularities and inconsistencies too many to mention.

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“For the sake of clarity, we assert that life is sacred and to that extent we abhor the killing of protesters even if it’s just one person.

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“The wording of the report is replete with terminological inexactitude. Exempli gratia, the word ‘massacre’ was used to describe the so-called killing of a total of 9 people whereas ‘massacre’ is used for the killing of tens, hundreds and thousands of people. This’s symptomatic of a desperation to indict at all cost.

“Nigerians were made to suffer the trauma of mathematical juggling from DJ Switch’s 78 bodies to CNN’s 56, BBC’s 38 and the feminists’ paltry figure of twenty-three which the panel pruned down to 9 bodies. But analysts have even reduced the figure to 3 or 4 after establishing prima facie cases of improper evaluation of evidence. This report can’t stand the test of time.”

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The statement added that there were outright lies in the EndSARS report.

It said, “For instance, the Doctor at Reddingtons never mentioned that a dead body was deposited at the hospital, yet the panel claimed on page 287 that he did. Kolade Salami, who was killed in 2019, was listed among the victims of Lekki shootings.”

According to the statement, half of the names were given without addresses, while no relations have turned up to claim bodies and yet the panel recommends payment of compensation to the non-existing families.

“These are some of the reasons the panel’s recommendations are laughable, irrational and unrealistic,” it concluded.

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Over 90% of police officers in barracks don’t have befitting accomodation – IGP

Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Usman Baba has disclosed that the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) is facing gross housing deficit as less than 10 percent of its personnel in barracks have proper accomodation.

This was disclosed on Thursday by the IGP at the quarter four 2021 public private partnership units consultative (3PUCF) meeting organised by the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC) in Abuja.

The 3PUCF forum was initiated by the ICRC to provide a stakeholder engagement platform that will enhance knowledge and experience sharing among key PPP personnel in MDAs.

The IGP was represented by Zanna Ibrahim, deputy inspector-general (DIG), logistics and supply.

The IGP said a good living condition is important for optimal service delivery as housing is considered a fundamental physiological human need and the foundation on which to develop higher human motivation.

“It will surprise you to know that with a workforce of over 350,000 in staff strength, the NPF has less than 10 percent of its personnel quartered in befitting barracks accommodation,” he said.

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“The state of disrepair and integrity failure in our barracks need no emphasis and we are really in dire need of befitting accommodation to enable us tackle the art and act of policing the nation optimally.

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“Suffice to add that there is an ongoing initiative to recruit 10,000 constables for the next six years annually, thereby increasing the housing needs for police officers.”

Baba also said the force remains resolute in following due process based on extant laws in the pursuit of infrastructural development through PPP.

The IGP said the decay in police infrastructure, negative maintenance culture, years of neglect due to poor budgetary allocation, destruction of police facilities resulting from the #EndSARS protests, banditry, Boko Haram/IPOB activities are still being grappled with.

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He, however, said irrespective of thoe challenges, the force is seeking better collaboration with critical stakeholders toward revamping, improving and sustaining a better security architecture for the nation.

The IGP’s comments come days after the federal government, as part of efforts to address housing deficit in the country, launched a portal for the sale of completed houses under the National Housing Programme (NHP).

Babatunde Fashola, minister of works and housing who launched the portal, had said the houses were in one-bedroom, two-bedroom, three-bedroom and duplex categories.

The cost of the buildings ranges between N7 million and N15 million, depending on what a person wants.

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Pastor arrested for kidnapping Imo Catholic Priest

35-year-old pastor Izuchukwu Anoloba and others have been arrested by the police for kidnapping a Catholic priest, Fidelis Ekemgba in Imo state.

Parading the suspects and others, the state Commissioner of Police, Rabiu Hussaini, said that the suspects held the priest for over seven days and made to pay a ransom of N5 million to them.

CP Hussaini disclosed that the pastor was arrested in Lagos following intelligence gathering by men of the anti-kidnapping unit of the command.

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He disclosed that the 45-year-old priest, in charge of St. Peters Catholic parish in Umunohu Amakaohia in the Ihitte/Uboma Local Government Area of the state, was double-crossed and whisked away by his abductors.

Speaking to Journalists, Anoloba, said that he got N1.5m from the ransom the priest paid them.

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He said, “I am a pastor with Apostolic Church of Christ in Lagos. I got N1.5 million from the kidnap of the priest. I never knew I will be arrested. I regret my actions because I am now a disgrace to the body of Christ and my family.”

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Cost-reflective tariffs will solve power sector problems, says FG

The federal government has disclosed that cost-reflective tariffs will solve power sector problems in the country.

This was made known by the special adviser to the president on infrastructure, Ahmad Zakari at the 12th edition of the PwC Nigeria’s annual power and utilities roundtable. 

Zakari at the hybrid event said the cost-reflective policy will improve the power supply in the country.

“With the cost-reflective tariff, everything will fall in place in the power sector. From the government’s perspective as we migrated towards this, we have an understanding that more needs to be done,” Zakari said. 

“For instance, our cost-reflective tariff (CRT) versus allowable tariff (AT) gap reached a peak of N28 gap in 2019, at that rate, between that period and 2021 alone, we would have recorded N1 trillion in tariff shortfall or subsidy.”

He further noted that this was largely responsible for liquidity crunch in the power sector as well as the poor power supply in the country.

Consequently, it has disclosed its plans to re-align its policies, regulations and the activities of the power sector operators as a means of improving electricity supply.

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Zakari also said that there is a need for a holistic review, noting that the first thing is to do is regulatory and policy alignment to eliminate the gap in service-based tariff.

“At this time, DISCOs with the revised economic models will be faced with incentives and penalties that would allow them to be able to achieve optimisation,” he said

“The second phase will now be infrastructure alignment. If the economics of tariff-based works, then infrastructure will be improved.

“As at 2015, at the take-off of the power sector privatization, the gap between CRT and AT was about N15. That figure has reduced to N6.

“The gap has closed from N28, N15 and now N6. Essentially, after the last Multi-Year Tariff Order (MYTO), cost-reflective tariff became N55 and defective tariff that the DISCOs are allowed to charge was N49.

“By January next year, after the review of the MYTO that tariff gap will be eliminated completely. That elimination of the tariff gap will ensure that we optimise and get all of our installed 12Giggawatt of electricity generation capacity delivered.”

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Osun 2022: Ex-Deputy Speaker, Lasun Yussuf picks nomination form, says APC didn’t win guber poll in 2018

The former Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon Yusuf Lasun, has alleged that his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), did not win the 2018 governorship election where incumbent Governor Adegboyega Oyetola emerged the winner.

Speaking to newsmen after purchasing his expression of interest and nomination form at the national secretariat of the ruling party, he boasted that nobody born of woman can repeat what they did to him in 2018.

Smarting from his claims that he was rigged out of the party primary in 2018, the former Deputy Speaker alleged that Senator Ovie Omo-Agege was compensated with the Deputy Senate position over the role he played in rigging him out in the 2018 party primary.

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He enumerated the roles he played in mediating the crisis raging between the Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola and the incumbent governor, Gboyega Oyetola, stressing that he is in the race to remedy the collapsing infrastructure in the State of Osun.

“You can quote me anywhere and let me say it for the first time. My party, the APC, did not win the Osun governorship election in 2018,” he quipped without any attempt to explain further.

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Recalling how he was rigged out in the 2018 party primary, he recounted that: “The then governor of Zamfara State who was the Chairman was not in Osun during the primaries. I can say that the Deputy Senate President was compensated with that position because of the role he played in rigging me out of that primary. In this primary, I want to say that nobody born of a woman can repeat what they did to me in 2018 because I was rigged out.”

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BREAKING: PDP national leaders hold closed-door meeting with Orji Kalu

The Chief Whip of the Senate, Senator Orji Kalu, on Thursday afternoon received newly elected officials of the People’s Democratic Party in his Aso Rock, Abuja residence.

The team was led by the National Secretary of the PDP, Senator Samuel Anyanwu alongside other newly elected officials of the party.

Anyanwu, a former Senator and other newly elected officials of the PDP arrived at the residence of the Senator representing Abia North Senatorial District at precisely 12.28pm.

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Anyanwu who wore a navy blue native attire was welcomed by Kalu’s associates and then led straight with his executives to meet the principal officer of the upper chamber.

On sighting one another, both men engaged in pleasantries and embraced each other then proceeded for an indoor meeting.

As the meeting progressed, other executives of the party arrived in turns at Kalu’s residence to join the meeting.

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The visit comes amidst strong talks that the former Abia State governor was being positioned for the 2023 presidency to succeed the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.)

Kalu, a founding member of the PDP, formally joined the ruling All Progressives Congress, In 2016

He contested and won the 2019 Senatorial election.

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Redeemed Church launches online dating site

The Redeemed Christian Church Of God (RCCG), the City of David Parish, has launched an online Christian dating platform for mature singles.

RedeemersConnect.org, an online dating platform for mature singles was created by the City of David Parish.

Parish Pastor Idowu Iluyomade, revealed this at a forum. He said the platform will enable singles to interact and find their life partners.

He further stated that when a single lady or young man registers on the site, the information would still have to be processed before approval.

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On its website, RedeemersConnect states its mission and its modus operandi:

Redeemers Connect is exclusively for Christian singles, widows, widowers and unmarried seniors in the RCCG global family with serious intent to get married within a year or two upon enlisting as a member.

“Our ‘connect to court” matchmaking algorithm has been carefully designed to take your preferences into account. We encourage honest and genuine responses so that we can match your preferences in the most accurate manner.

“We are committed to keeping your profile safe and ensuring that members registered on the site are genuine and active within the church community”.

Intending joiners of the platform must first read the terms and conditions for joining, before uploading personal details.

The site has a disclaimer: “Every registrant must conduct his or her own independent background check before connecting with another registrant on this platform.

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Appeal Court discharges, acquits Akala, 2 others in Oyo on fraud charges

The Court of Appeal sitting in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, on Thursday discharged and acquitted a former governor of the state, Otunba Adebayo Alao-Akala, over N11.5 billion corruption charges levelled against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

The court of appellate jurisdiction also discharged and acquitted two other persons dragged to court with Alao-Akala by the anti-graft agency. They are former deputy Chief Whip of the senate, Senator Ayoola Agboola, who is currently the Chairman of the Advisory Council to Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State; and a business mogul, Mr Femi Babalola.

The second defendant/appellant in the case, Ayoola Agboola, served as Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Matters, when Alao-Akala was the governor between 2007 and 2011, while the third defendant/appellant, Femi Babalola, owns an engineering firm, Pentagon Engineering Services, that executed some contracts during the administration.

The litigation, which started 11 years ago, was concluded by a three-man panel presided over by Justice Jimi Olukayode Bada and had Justices Abba Muhammed and Abdulazeez Waziri as members. The three defendants/appellants were also physically present at the Court of Appeal on Thursday.

Alao-Akala, and two others, had been arraigned by EFCC before an Oyo State High Court, sitting in Ibadan, and preferred 11 count-charge of 11.5billion fraud against the trio in 2012. The charges comprised conspiracy, awarding contract without budgetary provision, obtaining by false pretence, acquiring property with money derived from the illegal act and concealing the ownership of such property, among others.

The EFCC’s counsel, Dr Benedict Ubi, had told the lower court that when Alao-Akala was the governor of Oyo State, he awarded a road contract worth N8.5billion between 2007 and 2009 to Pentagon Engineering Services, alleging further that the firm handled the contract on behalf of the 33 local governments areas of the state without budgetary provision.

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Alao-Akala, he contended, ordered the supply of drilling machines on behalf of the 33 local government areas worth N3.5billion, saying Alao-Akala purportedly conspired with Ayoola to withdraw N2.9 billion from Oyo State Local Government Joint Account.

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Ubi also told the court that Alao-Akala illegally acquired some property on Old Bodija road, Off Rotimi Williams Road in Ibadan, when he was the governor, saying the alleged offences contravened Section 22 (4) of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act and Section 1 (18) of the Advanced Fee Fraud Act.

But Alao-Akala, Agboola and Babalola, filed a no-case submission after the EFCC closed its case before the high court.

However, the trial court presided over by Justice Muniru Owolabi, struck out eight out of the 11 count-charge against Alao-Akala and two others. He then ordered him to enter defence for the remaining three counts, which are counts one, two and five, which are conspiracy, obtaining money by false pretences and award of contract without budgetary provision.

Owolabi, however, discharged the former governor on the charges of acquiring property with money allegedly derived from an illegal act and concealing ownership of such property. The judge said the witnesses called by the prosecutor failed to link evidence to the acquired property, adding that EFCC also failed to prove genuine ownership of the property.

But the defendants, through their lead counsel, Lateef Fagbemi, SAN, appealed the ruling of the lower court that said they had a case to answer. The panel of the Court of Appeal, in their unanimous judgment on Thursday, set aside the ruling of the lower court, on the grounds that the trial court erred by ordering the defendants to enter defence for the three counts because the prosecution led by the EFCC failed to establish a prima facie case against them. Justice Jimi Bada read the judgment for Alao-Akala, while Justices Abba Muhammed and Abdulazeez Waziri read the judgments for Babalola and Agboola respectively.

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The counsel to EFCC, Dr Ubi, however, refused to grant interviews to journalists, who wanted to find out if the anti-graft agency would go to the Supreme Court, saying enquiries should be made at the EFCC headquarters in Abuja.

The lead counsel to Alao-Akala and Babalola, Chief Lateef Fagbemi, SAN, represented by Abiodun Ogunjinmi, told journalists after the judgment: “We really appreciate and we thank God, the Almighty, for giving us a beautiful judgment today. The justice did a marvellous job. This case started in 2012, which was about 11 years ago. It came to an end today. It first started at the high court of justice in Ibadan. But thanks be to God that it ended well. The appellant, Alao-Akala and Babalola were all discharged and acquitted finally.”

The highly-elated Alao-Akala, who wore white clothes to the court also had a brief chat with journalists, saying: “We can always rely on the judiciary. They are the hope for the common man like me. So, we thank God for everything. God has settled everything, and so, let us forget about the number of years the case took.” In the same vein, Femi Babalola, stated: “The judiciary is the last hope of a common man like me. I thank God for today’s judgment and I give all the glory to God, irrespective of the number of years spent on the case.”

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Omicron: Oil market will face weeks of uncertainty – OPEC

Secretary-general, Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), Mohammad Barkindo has stated that the global oil and gas industry will face a significant level of uncertainty in the weeks ahead due to the Omicron COVID-19 variant.

This was stated on Wednesday by Barkindo at the 57th meeting of the joint technical committee (JTC) of the Declaration of Cooperation (DoC).

The meeting was held ahead of the 35th meeting of the joint ministerial monitoring committee (JMMC) and the 23rd OPEC and non-OPEC ministerial meeting scheduled for today, December 2, 2021.

Barkindo recalled that the World Health Organisation (WHO) had designated it a “variant of concern” prompting stock market and oil market declines after the announcement was made.

He said that scientists fear the emerging strain could be more transmissible and have higher resistance to vaccines.

He added that the news of the development has resulted in governments re-imposing restrictions and travel bans.

“New cases of the variant are being reported in various parts of the world with each passing hour, thus we will need to remain vigilant in assessing the impacts of this latest chapter in the pandemic, as especially it relates to our demand scenarios,” Barkindo said.

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According to the OPEC chief, steady progress has been made on the global economic recovery.

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He, however, underscored the need to remain attentive to the prevailing uncertainties and shifting conditions, including those related to the new Omicron COVID-19 variant.

Quoting from the recently-released world oil outlook, Barkindo said that in terms of the global economy, the 2021 and 2022 gross domestic product (GDP) growth forecasts stand at 5.6 percent and 4.2 percent, respectively, unchanged from last month.

“In spite of the steady progress that has been made on the economic recovery, we do expect significant levels of uncertainty in the weeks ahead, which could slow down the growth momentum,” he said.

“In addition to closely monitoring the evolving impacts of the Omicron mutation, other factors to consider will be the pace of vaccine rollouts worldwide, the uneven pace of economic growth across global regions, supply chain disruptions and tight labour markets with potentially longer-lasting effects on inflation, as well as high debt levels in both the government and private sectors.”

As far as demand is concerned, Barkindo said that OPEC still foresees world oil demand increasing by 5.7 mb/d in 2021, revised lower by 0.16 mb/d from last month, mainly due to slower-than-anticipated demand from China and India during Q321.

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In 2022, he noted that world oil demand is anticipated to increase by 4.2 mb/d, unchanged from last month while world total demand in 2021 is now pegged at 96.4 mb/d and at 100.6 mb/d in 2022, surpassing pre-pandemic levels.

Barkindo lamented that COVID-19 cases continue to rise in other regions, particularly in Europe, adding that the subsequent restrictions and lockdowns result in decreased consumption of transport fuels.

In addition to pandemic-related concerns, he stated that other demand-related uncertainties include trade tensions, ongoing supply chain backlogs, potential adverse weather conditions and evolving energy policy changes.

“In terms of the supply-side, non-OPEC supply in 2021 is expected to grow by 0.7 mb/d to average 63.6 mb/d, unchanged from last month. For 2022, non-OPEC supply growth is forecast at 3.0 mb/d for an average of 66.7 mb/d, also unchanged from last month,” he added.

“Additionally, we continue to monitor the ramifications of the announcement made last week regarding the coordinated total release of up to 70 million barrels of oil from the strategic reserves of major consuming countries.”

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Ondo assembly confirms 14 commissioner-nominees

The Ondo State House of Assembly on Thursday screened and confirmed the list of 14 commissioner-nominees forwarded to it by the State Governor, Mr Rotimi Akeredolu.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that a letter signed by Secretary to the State Government, Catherine Oladunni-Odu, had earlier been sent to the assembly for the screening exercise.

The nominees had appeared before the selection committee of the house for the screening.

The Deputy Speaker, Samuel Aderoboye, who presented the report of the committee at the plenary observed that the 14 nominees had been screened and found competent to serve as commissioners in the state.

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Aderoboye requested that the nominees be called to step forward for confirmation of their appointments.

The nominees were thereafter called outside for ratification of their appointments through a voice vote by a majority of the lawmakers at the plenary.

The Speaker, Bamidele Oleyelogun, who spoke after the confirmation congratulated the new commissioners, who he said were appointed on the basis of their track records.

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Oleyelogun urged them to work with Gov. Akeredolu to enhance the delivery of dividends of democracy to the people of the state.

A commissioner-nominee, Pastor Femi Agagu, who spoke on behalf of his colleagues pledged to join hands with the governor to impact positively on the lives of the people.

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Agagu said they would work with the present administration, add value to the instrumentality of governance and promise not to disappoint the legislative arm of government and the entire people of the state.

NAN reports that the newly confirmed nominees include: Fatai Olotu, Dr Julianah Osadahun, Mrs Bamidele Ademola Olateju, Adefarati Adegboyega, Dele Ologun and Mr Sunday Adekunle Akinwalere.

Others were Engr. Razak Obe, Dr Banji Ajaka, Pastor Emmanuel Igbasan, Mrs Yetunde Adeyanju, Pastor, and Wale Akinlosotu.

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Nigeria has a spending problem, says BudgIT

Chief Executive Officer of BudgIT, a civic tech non-profit organisation, Gabriel Okeowo has disclosed that Nigeria has a spending problem.

This is coming on the heels of findings by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission(ICPC) that 257 projects amounting to N20.138 billion were duplicated in the 2021 budget.

Reacting to this on Sunrise Daily, a Channels Television programme, on Thursday, Okeowo said it is time for critical stakeholders to come to terms with the “expenditure inefficiency problem”.

He also tasked the ministry of finance to allow for transparency in tracking government spending in every fiscal year.

He added that managing the country’s revenue is the first step towards decimating corruption.

It is high time that we began to realise that we do not only have a revenue problem, we also have expenditure inefficiency problem,” he said.

“The same way the nation came to term that we have a revenue problem. We have been shouting that before now but it was just about a year ago that the critical stakeholders of the government are now agreeing that we have a revenue problem.

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“We need to first establish that we have an expenditure inefficiency problem, and then when we establish that, we should also establish that our way out is not to spend more.

“What happens to managing the resources we have effectively? That is where we need to start from. And what we need to do is that the budget office, the ministry of finance still have a lot of work to do.

“If there is a department within the ministry that is looking into the efficiency of government spending. They need to put that information out.”

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2022 budget: Buhari transmits Finance bill to Reps

President Muhammadu Buhari, Thursday, sent Finance bill 2021 to the House of Representatives.

In a letter titled “Transmission of the Finance Bill 2021 to the National Assembly for Consideration and Passage I to Law in Support of the 2022 Budget”, dated November 24, 2021 addressed to and read by Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila at the plenary, the President said the bill was necessary to support the implementation of the 2022 national budget expected to be passed by the national assembly before the end of the year.

The letter read thus: “Pursuant to Sections 68 and 59 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), I formally request that the Finance Bill, 2021 be considered by the House of Representatives, for passage into law.

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“The Finance Bill, 2021 seeks to support the implementation of the 2022 Federal Budget of Economic Growth and Sustainability by proposing key reforms to specific taxation, customs, excise, fiscal and other relevant laws.

“Specifically, this Bill provides for: Enhance Domestic Revenue Mobilisation efforts to increase tax and non-tax revenues;

“Tax Administration and Legislative Drafting Reforms, particularly to support the ongoing automation reforms by the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS),

“Accelerate International Taxation Reforms to enhance the taxation Of non-resident individuals and companies that nevertheless derive Profits from Nigeria,

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“Implement Financial Sector Reforms to support ongoing capital market reforms relating to Securities Lending Transactions, Real Estate Investment Trusts, Unit Trust Schemes and the recapitalisation of Insurance Companies; and

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“Prioritize Critical Public Financial Management Reforms regarding the FIRS’ vital role in coordinating tax administration as well as the enforcement of key fiscal rules under the 1999 Constitution, Finance (Control & Management) Act and other relevant laws.

“1 trust that this Bill will be favourably considered by the National Assembly, for passage into law so that it may provide fiscal support necessary for the implementation of the 2022 Federal Budget.

“Please accept, Right Honourable Speaker, the assurances of my highest consideration.”

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Omicron: AU reacts to travel bans imposed on African countries

Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Moussa Mahamat has stated that the travel restrictions that trailed the emergence of the Omicron COVID-19 variant is an injustice against the continent.

This was stated by Mahamat during a news conference at the UN headquarters in New York on Wednesday.

Omicron — labelled a “variant of concern” — was detected by South African authorities and subsequently reported to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Subsequently, several countries in the developed world imposed a travel ban on South Africa and its neighboring countries.

The Canadian government also banned travellers from Nigeria and nine other African countries.

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Mahamat described the development as stigmatisation that could not be justified scientifically or logically.

“They are condemning a country (South Africa) for having been transparent because its experts have worked tirelessly to inform the international community of the emergence of new variants,” he said.

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“It hasn’t been scientifically proven that these types of measures are able to deal with this type of issue. It’s clearly, as you say, an expression rather of a form of injustice. It’s immoral to condemn Africa in that way.

“We are a world, a global world and when facing an enemy like the virus, like COVID-19, humankind as a whole must go hand in hand to fight the virus because a man’s life is man’s life.”

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Mahamat said African leaders need to be “collectively outraged” about the development.

“Our message to the world as a whole is that we need to keep a cool head. We need to follow the well-being of humankind as a whole,” he added

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WHO: Omicron COVID variant now in 23 countries

The World Health Organisation has disclosed that cases of the Omicron COVID variant have been reported in at least 23 countries.

Omicron — labelled a “variant of concern” — was detected by South African authorities and subsequently reported to the WHO.

WHO director-general, Tedros Ghebreyesus while speaking on Wednesday during a virtual briefing in Geneva said the number of cases is expected to grow.

“WHO takes this development extremely seriously, and so should every country,” he said.

“But it should not surprise us. This is what viruses do. And it’s what this virus will continue to do, as long as we allow it to continue spreading.”

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He said experts were learning more about the variant, “but there’s still more to learn about its effect on transmission, severity of disease, and the effectiveness of tests, therapeutics and vaccines”.

The WHO DG urged countries to take “rational, proportional risk-reduction measures,” including those aimed at delaying or reducing spread, such as screening passengers or implementing quarantines for international travellers.

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He, however, said travel bans would not prevent the international spread of Omicron, adding that they place a heavy burden on lives and livelihoods.

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Ghebreyesus warned that the current “toxic mix” of low vaccine coverage and low testing is a recipe for breeding and amplifying variants.

“We need to use the tools we already have to prevent transmission and save lives from Delta,” he said

“And if we do that, we will also prevent transmission and save lives from Omicron. But if countries and individuals don’t do what they need to do to stop transmission of Delta, they won’t stop Omicron either.”

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ISWAP abducts 15 passengers in Borno, allegedly move them into Sambisa

The Islamic State of West African Province (ISWAP) terrorists group have reportedly abducted 15 passengers in Borno state.

According to Daily Trust, a source said the passengers were abducted in Damboa Local Government Area of the state after the insurgents struck near Gumsuri village in Damboa.

The eyewitness said some staff of an International Non-Governmental Organisations are among the victims, and they were allegedly forcefully taken to Sambisa forest.

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The victims are mostly young people who left Damboa town for Adamawa on Wednesday December 1. The insurgents reportedly mounted a checkpoint and were reportedly dressed in military camouflage.

“It is unfortunate that the insurgents continue their nefarious activities on the fringe of Sambisa forests, we have received reports that ISWAP kidnapped at least 15 persons (passengers) near Gumsuri village while allowing two others to go.

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“They are desperate to recruit more people into their criminal activities. They deceived people because they dressed in military attire’s. It is sad and shocking,” the security source said.

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Black Axe, Eiye cult clash claims six lives in Ondo

Six persons have been slain in the Okitipupa village, the capital of Ondo State’s Okitipupa Local Government Area.

The cult conflict, which was claimed to have begun last Wednesday, had caused the community to lose sleep.

Meanwhile, monarchs in the council area, in concert with security officials, placed a seven-hour curfew on the village in an effort to halt the heinous practice.

According to Oba Micheal Obatuga, Jegun of Idepe, Okitipupa, the traditional rulers and other stakeholders agreed on the imposition, which he stated must be observed between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.

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While urging locals to summon their children and wards who were involved in such heinous deeds, the monarch said that the perpetrators of the atrocities carried out the attacks primarily at night on motorbikes.

On his part, the Chairman of Okitipupa Local Government, Igbekele Akinrinwa, said the community leaders and traditional leaders had been involved in a series of meetings over the disturbing development.

“We have spoken with all the security agencies and they are on ground to arrest anyone found in the act,” he said.

The Police Public Relations Officer in the state, DSP Funmilayo Odunlami, who had earlier confirmed the incident, stated that no one had been arrested in connection with the incident.

Odunlami maintained that investigations and series of meetings with the traditional rulers are ongoing as part of moves to stop cult-related activities in the area.

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