Detained leader of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu, has asked the United Nations, Governments of the United States of America and United Kingdom to send representatives to witness the seven-count amended charge preferred against him and pending at the Federal High Court, Abuja Division due to continue on the 18th, 19th and 20th of January, 2022.
In June 2021, the IPOB leader was arrested in Kenya and extradited to Nigeria to face treason charges.
He was subsequently arraigned and brought before Binta Nyako, a judge of the Federal High Court in Abuja, who asked him to be remanded at the DSS custody.
Kanu is facing charges bordering on treasonable felony instituted against him at the court in response to his agitation for the Republic of Biafra.
He was granted bail in April 2017 on health grounds but skipped bail after disregarding some of the conditions given to him by the court.
On July 26, Justice Nyako adjourned his trial till October 21, owing to the failure of the Nigerian government to produce him in court.
On August 9, IPOB announced the enforcement of a lockdown every Monday until Kanu was released but later suspended the directive, a few days later.
Ifeanyi Ejiofor, lead counsel to Kanu, in different letters dated January 11 to the UN, US and UK, asked them to send representatives to observe the proceedings of the court on the adjourned dates.
According to Ejiafor, the request “is compelling in the circumstance, to ensure that the whole process of our client’s trial is fair and just in all circumstances”.
The counsel to the IPOB leader also asked the UN, UK and US to prevail on the Nigerian Government to caution its security agents to exhibit a modicum of civility in their operations and refrain from harassing, intimidating and arresting innocent civilians who may throng the court premises on the said dates.
One of the letters read, “We act as barristers and solicitors to Mazi Nnamdi Kanu (hereinafter referred to as, our client). We write this letter to the Secretary-General on behalf of our client and with his consent and authority.
“May we respectfully notify the Secretary-General that criminal proceedings in respect of the 7-count amended charge preferred against our client and pending at the Federal High Court, Abuja Division, are due to continue on the 18th, 19th and 20th of January, 2022.
“In view of the foregoing, may we, gratefully, please, request the Secretary-General to send representative(s) of the United Nations to observe the proceedings of the court on those adjourned dates and on any other date to which further proceedings in the cause may be adjourned until the matter is disposed of.
“The need to ensure that our client is given a fair trial has compelled us to make this request. The instant request is compelling in the circumstance, to ensure that the whole process of our client’s trial is fair and just in all circumstances. It must be remembered that his purported indictment on criminal charges has a political undercurrent. This fact impels all truly democratic institutions of the world, to keep a close, watchful and attentive eye on the whole judicial process that has intervened to determine his culpability.
“The Nigerian Government, clearly, has a profound interest in the criminal charge pending against our client and the outcome of his trial. The said government overreached itself by ensuring that our client was brought back to Nigeria by every means possible. Some leading members of the government have also made certain unsavoury comments about our client. For this reason, we view as compelling the need to invite representatives of true democratic institutions of the world to observe court proceedings in relation to his trial.
“Further, we view the recent extra-judicial comment made by the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in a media chat he had with two journalists about the pending trial of our client with circumspection. We firmly believe that the comment approximates to a taunt. To forestall any undesirable consequence that may eventuate on it, we consider it expedient that truly democratic institutions of the world send representatives to observe proceedings of the trial of our client. We firmly believe that the presence of those representatives in court would make all parties tow the path of honour and rectitude and assure the fair trial of our client.
“In view of the foregoing, and anticipating the indulgence of the Secretary-General, may we then respectfully request the Secretary-General to forward to us the name of at least a representative, to enable us formally notify the court of his expected presence in court on the adjourned dates.
“We also wish to use this opportunity to appeal to the United Nations to prevail on the Nigerian Government to caution her security agents. They should exhibit a modicum of civility in their operations and must refrain from harassing, intimidating and or arresting innocent civilians who may throng the court premises on the 18th, 19th and 20th of January, 2022, in demonstration of their unwavering solidarity to our client. It is on record that these civilians who have remained devoted and steadfast in their commitment and solidarity have conducted themselves peacefully and in the most civil manner.
“It is also on record that, notwithstanding the fact that these civilians have always been peaceful in their conduct and show of solidarity, the security agents have continued to harass intimidate and arrest them. Many of these persons so arrested are still languishing in various detention facilities in Nigeria.
“While thanking the Secretary-General for the expeditious attention accorded to this request, may the Secretary-General accept the assurance of our highest regards.”
Governors, Labour kick as NNPC presents N3tr subsidy bill to FEC
The controversies surrounding continued payment of fuel subsidy may not have ended as the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) Limited, yesterday, presented a bill of N3 trillion for deliberations at the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting chaired by President Muhammadu Buhari.
According to the Minister of Finance Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, N3 trillion is the amount required to continue to subsidise petroleum products for the 18 months extension recently approved by the Presidency.
Ahmed, who broke the news to State House correspondents, explained that FEC considered the request so as to make additional funding provisions that will enable government meet incremental fuel subsidy payment in the 2022 budget.
According to her, only N443 billion is currently available in the 2022 budget meant to accommodate subsidy from January to June.
Buttressing the position of the government, she said with current realities on ground, especially the poverty rate on the part of Nigerians, the NNPC presented a request for N3 trillion to the Ministry of Finance for 2022.
“What this means is that we have to make incremental provision of N2.557 trillion to be able to meet subsidy requirement, which is averaging about N270 billion per month.
“In 2021, the actual under-recovery that has been charged to the Federation was N1.2 trillion, which means an average of N100 billion, but in 2022, because of the increased crude oil price per barrel in the global market, now at $80 per barrel, and also because an NNPC’s assessment shows that the country is consuming 65.7 million litres per day, we will end up with an incremental cost of N3 trillion in 2022.
“Having taken into account the current realities; increased hardship in the population, heightened inflation and also that measures needed to be taken to enable a smoother exit from the fuel subsidy regime are not yet in place, it was agreed by Council that it is desirable to exit fuel subsidy at a conducive time.”
She revealed that the Council directed the ministry to approach the National Assembly for an amendment to the fiscal framework, including the budget.
BUT the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) and the leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) have blamed the NNPC for the mismanagement of the proceeds accruing from oil.
They have also resolved to enter into working partnership to investigate consumption and distribution figures released by NNPC regarding petroleum products. The NGF disclosed this, yesterday, at its meeting with labour leaders, led by NLC President, Comrade Ayuba Wabba, to deliberate on the fuel subsidy removal issue.
A statement by NGF’s media adviser, AbdulRazaque Bello Barkindo, disclosed that “both parties agreed that the lacuna in the subsidy removal agenda was hidden in the untruths bandied by the administrators of the subsidy, particularly the NNPC, which both groups identify to be at the forefront of the mismanagement of the proceeds that accrued therein.”
Delivering his opening remarks at the meeting, which was also attended by the Trade Union Congress (TUC) president and a host of other leaders of organised labour in the country, NGF chairman and governor of Ekiti State, Kayode Fayemi, argued that the nation’s economy is at the precipice and that it has become necessary for the two groups to carefully verify all NNPC’s estimates, to ensure that whatever action is taken on subsidy will be to the benefit of the people and not a few wealthy individuals and their cronies.
The NGF chairman, who led a delegation of governors Simon Bako Lalong of Plateau State and Godwin Obaseki of Edo State, to the meeting, stressed that governors cannot ignore the economics of petroleum, arguing that all the countries surrounding Nigeria, including Niger, Mali, Cameroun and Ghana have their fuel pump price at the equivalent of a U.S. dollar.
“Nigeria has a pump price that is far less than a dollar and is uncomfortable with the removal of subsidy until the challenge of what the NNPC is telling the country is confronted frontally.
“We need a partnership with the NLC to confront the challenges of what the NNPC is about, because there is a lot of fraud in the consumption and distribution figures that the country is getting and we can only move forward if the NLC engages all those who are knowledgeable in the field like PENGASSAN to conduct a thorough research into the sector before any further action is taken on subsidy,” Fayemi said.
He added that only about eight states are benefitting directly from the subsidy while all the others have to contend with the situation on their own.
Commenting, Obaseki warned that the country has a choice of continuing to behave “like Father Christmas (Santa Claus) or take concrete actions on a problem that is permanently with us rather than throwing away N3 trillion on subsidy.”
The Plateau governor, who like Obaseki, joined the meeting virtually, recalled that the NGF had spent three years on this matter. He stated: “We must find options and create opportunities that address the hardships that stare our people in the face.”
The unionists, according to the statement, argued that the conflicting figures that always came from managers of the petroleum sector had always tended towards inefficiency, which have remained, and to organised labour, completely objectionable.
Wabba and TUC president, Quadri Olaleye, wondered why the subsidy issue had always been shrouded in secrecy on the part of government.
Also, NLC National Deputy President, Comrade Bello Ismail, has advised the Federal Government against any attempt to increase the pump price of petroleum products during the tenure of this administration that would terminate in 2023.
Ismail, who addressed Kaduna State workers on the outcome of the suspension by the Federal Government of its initial plan to hike the pump price of petrol, said labour would continue to watch any action of the Buhari administration and ensure it did not increase pump price of fuel in future.
MEANWHILE, the Presidency, yesterday, reiterated the concerns of the Organised Private Sector (OPS) that Nigeria would have to pay a price to continue subsidising petrol, adding that the country may be left with no other choice than to continue borrowing to shoulder its fiscal overhead.
The President’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, said this when he featured on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily programme yesterday. He said petrol is not deregulated by the Federal Government, as the price is sold at between N162 and N165/litre at filling stations, far lower than the actual cost of the commodity.
In June 2021, the Group Managing Director of NNPC, Mele Kyari, stated that petrol price should be more than N280/litre, while the commodity had been subsidised and sold at N162/litre since last year.
Gunmen kidnap Ex-President Jonathan’s cousin in Bayelsa
Former President Goodluck Jonathan’s cousin, Jephthah Robert, has been abducted by gunmen at his residence in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State capital.
It was learnt that the abductors had yet to contact the family since his kidnap on Monday.
The police spokesman in Bayelsa State, SP Asinim Butswat, who confirmed the abduction, said they were intensifying efforts to rescue the victim and arrest the abductors.
Though the detail of the abduction was sketchy, the rate of kidnappings in Bayelsa State has been on the increase recently.
Just last Monday, the state Commissioner for Trade and Investment, Federal Otokito, regained freedom after spending five days in the kidnappers’ den.
He was said to have been kidnapped by the cartel operating illegal refineries in his community for trying to obstruct their operations.
FEC okays proposed amendments to 2022 budget
The Federal Executive Council has approved a proposed amendment to the 2022 budget following the initial adjustments made by the National Assembly to the proposal submitted by President Muhammadu Buhari in 2021.
The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, said the approved amendments to be transmitted to the National Assembly would request to repeal clauses 10 and 11 concerning the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit operations in the 2022 budget and as well restore what the lawmakers had deleted amounting to N103bn.
She said: “Clause 10 is referring to a provision that has been made that will enable the EFCC and NFIU be able to take 10% of whatever collections that they recover.
“We’re asking for that to be repealed because this is in direct contrast to the Acts of these two agencies and also it is in contravention of the Fiscal Responsibility Act and the Finance Act 2021.
“Clause 11, on the other hand, is a provision that has been made that says that the Nigeria embassies and missions are now authorized by this Appropriation Act to expend funds allocated to them under Capital Components without the need to seek approval of the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
She said FEC also ratified an instrument on diplomatic relations between Nigeria and South Africa with the coming of Africa’s Continental Free Trade Agreement.
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