President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday queried the Ministry of Finance over alleged diversion of foreign loans obtained for rail projects by the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan.
Specifically, the President is seeking clarification on alleged diversion of a substantial part of a $1.005bn loan obtained from the Chinese Exim Bank for the construction of a standard gauge rail line linking Lagos to Kano.
The funds were said to have been moved elsewhere.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, said this in a statement made available to journalists in Abuja.
Shehu said Buhari’s query followed the visit of the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Transport, Alhaji Mohammed Bashar, who briefed the President on the ministry’s activities at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The President was reported to have described as disappointing to find that foreign loans obtained in line with signed agreements were moved from one project to another.
“I hope that due process was followed before such diversions were carried out. Taking money from one project to another has to be done properly,” the President warned.
Bashar was said to have informed the President that only $400m of the $1.005bn loan remained with the finance ministry. Thus, the remaining amount in the ministry is $605m (N119.16bn).
The President regretted that government had over the years failed to meet its counterpart funding obligations on some projects, leading to such projects being either uncompleted or abandoned.
He added that there was a clear need to “streamline, harmonise and prioritise ongoing projects in the transportation sector.”
Bashar also briefed the President on other challenges facing the transport and maritime sectors, such as encroachment on railway land, lack of security on inland waterways and the confused nature of agreements between the Nigeria Ports Authority and ports concessionaires.
He later told State House correspondents that the ministry would meet the December deadline for the completion of the Abuja-Kaduna rail track.
He said, “The rehabilitation programme of the old gauge lines, as you are aware, we have completed the Lagos-Kano and it is operational. Twice a week, people move from Lagos to Kano and back to Lagos.
“We have also recently commenced operation from Kano to Port Harcourt, and Port Harcourt to Gombe and from Gombe upwards we have some challenges.
“With regard to Abuja-Kaduna, track has been completely laid and we are now waiting for locomotives to arrive, which have been ordered and paid for. Our belief is that we will meet the deadline of December, 2015.”
Fire guts documents, furniture, others at Nigerian National Assembly
he management of the National Assembly has confirmed the fire outbreak at the new wing of the House of Representatives on Thursday evening.
The incident happened at a storeroom in the lower chamber’s section of the complex in Abuja.
Passers-by around 6pm who noticed smoke coming out from a store on the second floor of the New Building, House of Reps Wing of the Complex, raised the alarm.
The wing houses the offices of the lawmakers, committee rooms, banks and other private businesses.
The office of the Speaker, Deputy Speaker and principal officers are on the fourth floor.
Firefighters from the Federal Fire Service within the premises and other first responders rushed to the scene.
The inferno was later put out by the firefighters and other responders.
Agada Rawlings, Director, National Assembly Information in his reaction to the Incident in a late-night statement, said that the situation was immediately brought under control.
He said the fire was suspected to have resulted from an electrical fault which was noticed by one of the staff members working with the Clerk of the House of Representatives.
He said the employee quickly alerted the Federal Fire Service Unit in the complex.
Rawlings explained that the fire was put out with the assistance of staff members on duty who immediately broke into the affected office and used fire extinguishers before the arrival of the fire service officer.
He said; “There was a fire incident this evening (Thursday) in one of the Janitors, located on the 2nd floor, Room 227 in the new-wing, of the House of Representatives, suspected to have resulted from an electrical fault which was noticed by one of the Staff to the Clerk, House of Representatives, who promptly alerted the Federal Fire Service Unit stationed in the National Assembly Complex.
“Consequently, the combined prompt efforts curtained the fire to the affected office only and power supply to the wing put off to enable a full assessment and investigations into the incident.
“It is expected that after due assessment by the fire service and the Estate and works directorates, normalcy in the New Wings, housing all principal officers of the House of Representatives and Honourable members offices will be restored immediately.
“Management wishes to commend the prompt response/actions by the first responders particularly, National Assembly staff and the Fire Service Unit in helping to curtain the fire outbreak.”
El-Rufai writes Buhari, says terrorists creating ‘parallel’ govt in Kaduna
Terrorists are consolidating their grip on communities in Kaduna with a parallel government and permanent operational base, according to Governor Nasir El-Rufai in a memo to President Muhammadu Buhari.
El-Rufai in the memo, warned the president of the terrorists’ consolidation in a late July memo, according to online platform, Premium Times.
The terrorists belonging to Ansaru for short, are believed to have moved to Birnin Gwari in Kaduna State in 2012 when they broke away from Boko Haram.
In the memo, the governor laid bare how the terrorists have infiltrated and dominated communities and formed “a parallel governing authority,” exercising control over social and economic activities and dispensation of justice in the area.
He said the terrorists had advanced in their plans to make Kaduna forest areas their “permanent operational base” for the North-west region, citing a “series of intelligence reports.”
“Observed movement patterns and intercepted communications of migrating terrorists have shown a clear interest in setting up a base, with the stretches of forest area between Kaduna and Niger states strongly considered,” he wrote.
Law banning political activities
As the political activities towards the 2023 general elections pick up steam, the terrorists, El-Rufai told Buhari, have promulgated a law to ban residents from participating.
“The insurgents enacted a law in the District, banning all forms of political activity or campaign ahead of the 2023 elections, especially in Madobiya and Kazage villages,” the governor wrote.
The Ansaru terrorists are known to have an extremist ideological posture against democracy and secular authorities.
In 2021, the census enumeration exercise could only hold in two of the 11 wards that form Birnin Gwari due to the threat of armed banditry and terrorism, officials in both Kaduna State government and the population commission had said.
The ban on political activities, the governor said, followed a recent wedding ceremony involving the terrorists.
“According to actionable intelligence, members of the Jama’atu Ansarul Musulmina Fi’biladis Sudan (aka Ansaru) are hibernating in Kuyello district of Birnin Gwari LGA, which recently conducted a nuptial ceremony during which they married two yet-to-be-identified female residents of Kuyello village,” Mr El-Rufai wrote.
“The ceremony was attended by various Ansaru members and witnessed by residents of the area. After the marital rites, insurgents in attendance reportedly conveyed the brides to the dreaded Kuduru forest, in the same District.”
In the area of adjudicating disputes, Mr El-Rufai said the terrorists “fined one Mu’azu Ibrahim, a resident of Kuyello community, the sum of One Million Naira for selling plots of land without the consent of the owners.”
In addition, with the government becoming removed from rural communities, leaving them at the mercy of violent criminals, terrorists, Mr El-Rufai suggested, are manning the ungoverned space and extracting revenues from the people.
“Multiple reports also exist of bandits and terrorists exacting protection levies and similar taxes from farmers and communities, in return for permission to cultivate their fields,” the governor said.
Terrorism researchers say that revenues from taxes and levies forced on ungoverned spaces – created by the failure or limited capacity of the government – are a major source of financing and sustenance for terrorists.
Like the Kaduna situation described by El-Rufai, ISWAP terrorists based on the Lake Chad islands are also extracting huge revenues from the fishing activities and pastoralists operating in the area.
El-Rufai, when contacted, said he would not comment on this story because his correspondence was supposed to be confidential communication to the president.
In 2016, he wrote a similar confidential letter to the president, warning that the Buhari administration was losing momentum just about a year after coming to power
Soludo suspends LG Chairman over alleged killing of wife
Anambra State governor, Prof. Chukwuma Soludo has suspended the transition committee chairman of Nnewi North Local Government Area, Hon Mbazulike Iloka.
Iloka, who is popularly known as Mba Mba, was suspended over the circumstances surrounding his wife’s death last Sunday morning.
Iloka’s wife, Chidiebere, was said to have slumped and died on Sunday morning, after serving her husband breakfast.
But those who know the coupe insisted that Iloka may have killed his wife, as he has a record of consistently battering her.
Signs of violence was also found on her body, while a huge wound on her head aroused suspicion, leading to public outcry over her death.
In a letter of suspension, which was signed by Anambra State Commissioner for Local Government, Chieftaincy and Community Affair, Tony Collins Nwabunwanne, the chairman was asked to hand over to the head of Local Government administration, to avoid interfering in investigation.
The letter read: “Following the sad news of the death of your wife, late Mrs Chidiebere Iloka on 7th August 2022, there have been a massive outcry over the circumstances leading to her death, including alleged possible homicide.
“While you are presumed innocent until the completion of investigations, it has become imperative that you step aside to allow unfettered investigation and justice.
“Consequently, you are directed to step aside and to hand over the affairs of the local government to the head of local government administration, not later that 12th August 2022, until further notice.”
Iloka has only recently been appointed chairman of the local government. He has only been in office for about a week before his eventual removal.
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