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It’s a campaign of calumny! Obasa dismisses fraud allegations at probe panel

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Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Mudaahiru Obasa, told the panel of enquiry raised by the Assembly on Saturday that the corruption allegations against him by Sahara Reporters were the handiwork of his enemies.

Speaker Obasa said this when he appeared before the 9-man Fact Finding Panel of the House chaired by Hon. Victor Akande (Ojo Constituency 1).

The Speaker explained that all the allegations made by Sahara Reporters in its series of reports were unfounded.

Obasa stressed that the vehicles bought for the members of the House and other expenses made by the House were done with the approval of the House and that of the Fund Management Committee (FMU) of the House headed by him.

“We bought Land Cruisers for Principal Officers of the House. The cars we buy for Principal Officers are always higher than those of other members and we followed the due process in the purchase.

“We went through the Public Procurement Agency (PPA) and others and the vehicles were distributed appropriately.

“It was agreed at the parliamentary meetings on about four occasions and the Clerk of the House is the Secretary.

“Also, it is not true that my wife collects N10 Million monthly from the House. Anyone who says she does should come with proofs and evidences.

“My approval limit as the Speaker of the House is N100 million. Anything above that would have to be approved by the Fund Management Committee. On Prado Jeep that we bought for the members, we followed the due process like we did in that of the Principal Officers,” he explained.

Obasa also debunked an allegation that N258 million was spent for the printing of invitation cards for the inauguration of the 9th Assembly adding that the whole event cost N61 million while N1.1 million was spent to print the invitation cards.

“It is not possible to spend N258 Million to print invitation cards. We are not involved in such a frivolous expenditure,” he added.

Concerning the alleged N80 million expended as estacode for the training of women in Dubai, the Speaker said that wives of 20 lawmakers attended the event and that he was there to declare the event open.

“We gave N4 million to each of the participants for air ticket, hotels, feedings and local travel. Air ticket to Dubai alone is about N2 million. Some of these allegations were raised for a crusade to get the Speaker out of office.

“The House of Assembly is above common standard of excellence and we have to train people, and this comes with a cost. Learning is not cheap and I have never collected N80 Million for estacode at a go before,” he said.

The Speaker defended the purchase of eight Hiace buses for committee works in the Assembly as he explained that it was discovered that the House was spending a lot of money to repair vehicles, which he said was why the House decided to buy the buses and that the buses were there for everybody to see with documents to defend the purchases.

He denied the allegation that he spent N53 million for a trip to the United States of America with his mistress.

“We were invited by the Consular General for a programme in the United States. Later, the programme was postponed, but I had gone ahead. I had to return home and I told others not to bother to come until the postponed dates,” he said.

The Speaker told the committee that it was not possible for him to spend N17 million for cleaning of his guest house as against the allegation made by Sahara Reporters .

“They only remove documents and fly them around to please themselves. All our payments go through certain procedures.

“The expenditure had been there before I became the Speaker. There was no way I could have spent N17 million on cleaning my guest house.

“On the issue of awarding contracts to companies belonging to me, they should come and show evidence of where I awarded contracts to myself,” he said.

Concerning the report that he tricked former governor Akinwunmi Ambode of the state to spend N350 million for hosting a meeting of Conference of Speakers, Obasa said told the committee that this was not possible.

He maintained that such was not possible since Ambode is an accountant, who rose to be the Chief Accountant of the State.

“There was no way I could have tricked Ambode to release such money anyhow. We had a meeting of the Conference of Speakers, who came with three members each and we had subcommittees who were given N2 million each.

“We paid for the tickets of each Speaker, we pay for their hotel accommodation, feeding and souvenirs.

“We also provided local transportation for them. All these allegations are deliberate actions of my enemies to achieve their aims that they could not achieve in the House to remove me as the Speaker of the House, which was why they came up with such reports.

“On N60 Million spent for social influencers, I did not sign such money. I don’t even know the companies they are talking about. The BVN they are flying about is not correct.

“Whatever I have done as a Speaker, all the approvals I gave as Speaker were given based on collective approval of the members of the House,” he said.

The Deputy Speaker of the House, Rt. Hon. Wasiu Eshinlokun-Sanni, who also appeared before the panel denied attending meeting in Dubai as against the report of SaharaReporters.

Also speaking, Chairman of the House Committee on Information and Strategy, Hon. Tunde Braimoh, said that while a media parley was held by the House, he didn’t know how much was spent on the event since different people handled different aspects of the event.

“We provided hospitality for the few the people that came. The event involved other things, there were catering and others that were given to other people to handle.

“It is most uncharitable to say we spent N47.5 Million for social media influencers. We spend money on publicity and public relations.

“We have programmes that we pay for on TVC and LTV 8. We have a magazine that we produce and we print 40,000 copies quarterly and distribute to schools and other places and we pay for the content, design and production,” he said.

The Clerk of the House, Mr. Azeez Sanni also defended the estacode for the trip to the United States of America, saying that it followed the standard procedure, and that the programme was budgeted for under conferences and seminars.

“We did not buy 11 buses, we bought eight Hiace buses for committee assignments.

“The cost exceeded N100 million and it was approved by the Management Committee of the House. It was also approved by the Public Procurement Agency and the Ministerial Tenders Board and we got a Certificate of Compliance for the purchase.

“The buses are in place at the car park. We have budgetary provision for the vehicles.

“The women trip to Dubai was also approved for in the budget. The Speaker was there, the wife of the Deputy Speaker was there and wives of 17 other lawmakers. Each participant got money for air fare, local transportation and others,” he said.

Sanni also cleared the air on N258 million for printing of invitation card, saying that the money for the whole event was N61 Million and that only N1.1 million was spent for the printing of the programme for the event.

He confirmed that 80 cars were bought in 11 months for the 8th and 9th assemblies.

“We bought 40 Corolla Cars back-up vehicles for the 8th Assembly.

“The purchase was approved by the Management Committee led by the Speaker with Hon. Olumuyiwa Jimoh, Saka Fafunmi, Hon. David Setonji and others as members.

“In the 9th Assembly, we bought Toyota Prado for members and this was approved by the Funds Management Committee headed by the Speaker.

“The issue of the vehicle was discussed at the various parliamentary meetings and it was unanimously agreed by the members.

“We bought 36 Prado Jeeps for members and it went through the PPA and we have Compliance Certificate for the purchase.

“We also bought six Land Cruisers for the Principal Officers approved by the FMC and PPA with Certificate of Compliance.

“On women empowerment programmes. We raised a submission for the programme and it was recognised by the Assembly budget. It was not paid into the account of the wife of the Speaker. The facility manager has no relationship with the Speaker of the House,” he said.

The Clerk of the House, however said that some documents might have been released to SaharaReporters “through some disgruntled staffers of the House.

“We have been taking steps on that and we have transferred some staff.

“The files go through many tables and there is no doubt that some devilish staffers take pictures of some of these documents and send to these people.

“The staff have taken oaths and this attracts dismissal. Unofficial disclosure of information attracts dismissal in the civil service,” he stated.

Two officials of Zenith Bank; Mr. John Olorundare, Chief Compliance Officer, Mr. John Olorundare, Zonal Head of Alausa, Mr. Sanni Idowu Awe also appeared before the panel.

The bank officials stated that an individual could only have one BVN.

They confirmed that different account names could not be used for one BVN and that Speaker Obasa had only six accounts with Zenith Bank.

According to them, only two of the accounts are operational; one savings and current, while the rest are dormant.

Present at the meeting were other members of the committee including Hon. Yinka Ogundimu (Agege 2), Hon. Gbolahan Yishawu (Eti Osa 2), Hon. Lukmon Olumoh (Ajeromi Ifelodun 1) and Hon. Ajani Owolabi (Lagos Mainland 1).

Others are Hon. Mojisola Alli-Macaulay (Amuwo Odofin 1), Hon. Rotimi Olowo (Shomolu 1) and Hon. Akeem Shokunle (Oshodi/Isolo 1).

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Rivers: Tensions Grow As Wike, Fubara’s Supporters Clash, Baby Hurt

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A baby was reportedly tear-gassed and became unconscious on Wednesday as supporters of the Rivers State Governor, Siminalayi Fubara, clashed with the loyalists of ex-governor Nyesom Wike in the Obio/Akpor Local Government Area of the state.

It was gathered that the clash happened during a government medical outreach in the Eliozu community, Obio/Akpor LGA.

Eyewitnesses told our correspondent that trouble started when officials of the state Ministry of Health were carrying out a medical outreach for women at the Eliozu Health Centre.

It was gathered that no sooner had the programme started than some supporters allegedly loyal to the factional Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Martin Amaewhule, arrived at the venue to find out the reason for the gathering.

The venue is said to be near the residence of Amaewhule, who is the leader of the 27 lawmakers loyal to Wike.

But supporters of the Caretaker Committee Chairman of Obio/Akpor LGA, Chijioke Ihunwo, loyal to Fubara, who were at the venue allegedly stopped them from accessing the venue, leading to a heated argument and subsequent clash.

Following the fisticuffs, stones were pelted from several directions, as the medical outreach was disrupted abruptly.

A few minutes later, a team of anti-riot policemen arrived at the scene, firing teargas to disperse the opposing groups and quell the situation from getting out of hand.

It was gathered that a child was tear-gassed during the mayhem and became unconscious.

The situation led to the relocation of the medical outreach to a state-owned medical facility at the Waterlines axis of Port Harcourt where the programme was launched.

Reacting to the incident, the Obio/Akpor CTC Chairman, Chijioke Ihunwo, accused Amaewhule, of leading policemen to disrupt the outreach.

Ihunwo stated, “This morning there was an incident at the Eliozu Health Centre where the former Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Martin Amaewhule, led some security men to disrupt a programme by the Ministry of Health.

“A few minutes later, some policemen came and started beating up our women, shooting tear gas at pregnant women who were at the Health Centre.

“We want to say that Obio/Akpor Local Government Area will not be under siege. We want to call on the President, Bola Tinubu that the Inspector General of Police and the Minister of the FCT are tarnishing the image of your government.

“We are calling on you to rein them in so that Rivers State can have peace. Let the FCT Minister concentrate on his job in Abuja and leave our dear governor alone.”

When contacted, the spokesperson for the state police command, Grace Iringe-Koko, confirmed the incident.

Iringe-Koko, in a short message to our correspondent, said the police responded to a distress call over the scenario, adding that the investigation was ongoing.

She stated, “A distress call was received from the health centre in the Eliozu community today, 24th July 2024, where supporters of two separate political factions were engaged in a fight.

“The police responded by sending operatives to the scene to restore law and order.

“The police deployed anti-riot tactics, including the use of canisters, to disperse the crowds. An investigation into the matter has been initiated.”

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Protest: Nnamdi Kanu, Diaspora Voting Make List As Organizers Unveil 15 Demands

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Organizers of the planned nationwide protest, scheduled for August 1 to August 10, have unveiled their key demands from President Bola Tinubu’s government.

The nation’s economic situation has propelled citizens, particularly the youths, to plan a mass protest nationwide.

Despite efforts by the government to quell the move, the youths are insisting on embarking on the protest in the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Abuja.

Former presidential candidate of the African Action Congress, AAC, Omoyele Sowore, who is one of the organizers of the movement, forwarded the demands to our correspondent on Wednesday.

The looming protest titled, “Days of Rage”, “EndBadGovernance” is aimed at drawing the attention of the Federal Government to the economic situation of the country.

Among other things, the intending protesters want the FG to return the fuel subsidy, address issues in the power sector, release the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, Nnamdi Kanu from the custody of the Department of State Services, DSS, and allow for diaspora voting during general elections

According to Sowore, Nigerians are asking the FG to “Scrap the 1999 constitution and replace it with a people-made Constitution for the Federal Republic of Nigeria through a sovereign National Conference followed by a National Referendum.

“Toss the Senate arm of the Nigerian legislative system. Keep the House of Representatives and make lawmaking a part-time endeavour.

“Pay Nigerian workers a minimum wage of nothing less than N250,000 monthly.

“Invest heavily in education and give Nigerian students grants not loans. Aggressively pursue free and compulsory education for children across Nigeria.

“Release Mazi Nnamdi Kanu unconditionally and demilitarize the South East. All ENDSARS and political detainees must also be released and compensated.

“Rationalize public owned enterprises sold to government officials and cronies.

“Reinstate a corruption-free subsidy regime to reduce hunger, starvation and multidimensional poverty.

“Probe past and present Nigerian leaders, who have looted the treasury, recover their loot and deposit it in a special account to fund education, healthcare and infrastructure.

They are also demanding the “Restructuring of Nigeria to accommodate Nigeria’s diversity, resources control, decentralization and regional development.

“End banditry, terrorism and violent crimes. Reform security agencies to stop continuous human rights violations.

“Establishment of a special energy immediately to drive massive corruption-free power sector development.

“Immediate reconstitution of the electoral body, INEC to remove corrupt individuals and partisan hacks appointed to manipulate elections.

“Massive investment in public works and industrialization will help employ Nigeria’s teaming youths.

“Massive shake-ups in the Nigerian judiciary to remove cabals of corrupt generations of judges and judicial officers that continue denying citizens access to real justice.

“Diaspora voting”.

Meanwhile, President Bola Tinubu on Tuesday appealed to Nigerians to shelve the planned protest, urging youths to keep faith and believe in the ability of his administration to transform Nigeria.

 

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Stop Demarketing Dangote Refinery, Indigenous Companies – MAN Cautions FG

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The Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) has cautioned the Federal Government from demarketing local industries.

The Association also called for caution from major actors, government agencies, and regulators in the oil and gas sector of the economy regarding the Federal Government-Dangote Refinery saga.

MAN Director General, Segun Ajayi-Kadir, said government agencies that provide regulatory oversight functions should promote an enabling business environment for local investments to thrive.

He said no regulatory agency should cast a shadow over a homegrown investment like the Dangote Refinery.

According to him, the allegations of poor quality, and monopolistic tendencies levelled against Dangote Refinery by the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA) were unsubstantiated.

Ajayi-Kadir stressed that local investors in Nigeria, particularly the Dangote Industries Limited (DIL) play a vital role in driving economic growth, paying taxes, creating jobs and fostering development within the country. As such, these investors must be protected and given the necessary support to thrive in this business environment.

He said a business colossus like Alhaji Aliko Dangote, with investments in diverse sectors of the economy and across the Continent of Africa, should be accorded all needed support to grow and invest in more sectors and positively impact the well-being of the people.

 

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