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N9bn allowances: No funds to pay aides –N’Assembly

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The management of the National Assembly and legislatives aides rowed yesterday over the delay in paying severance gratuity and Duty Tour Allowances(DTA), totaling N9 billion, to the workers.

The legislative aides affected were those who worked with the senators and members of the House of Representatives in the last legislature.

But some of them are still in the system having been employed by the current crop of lawmakers.

However, as the legislative aides staged a warning protest at the apex parliamentary complex over the nonpayment of their entitlements, the National Assembly said it had no fund to meet their demand.

Some of the aides, were those who served as senior legislative aides (SLA), legislative aides (LA), personal assistants (PA) and personal secretaries to the lawmakers. It was learnt that there were about 2,500 legislative aides entitled to collect the entitlements, as provided for in the law books guiding the operations and welfare of this category of staff at the end of their service.

Representatives of the aides, after about two hours meeting at the hearing room 1 of the House of Representatives, stormed the central lobby of the National Assembly to protest the delay in paying them off.

However, a detachment of policemen from the National Assembly division immediately intervened and prevented the aggrieved aides from making any public address.

The police team along with other senior security officers of the National Assembly later permitted them to send representatives to the office of the Deputy Clerk of the National Assembly to register their grievances.

Some of the legislative aides sais that their protest was fallout of the refusal of the National Assembly management to pay those that served in the seventh Assembly their severance gratuity and duty tour allowances, which range from N1.5 to N3m per aide, depending on their grade levels and steps.

The aides, who spoke under condition of anonymity, alleged that, based on information at their disposal, the N7 billion meant for the payment was released to the management of the National Assembly by the Federal Ministry of Finance last month.

“Our protest is all about prolonged delay we are experiencing in the payment of our severance allowances by the management of the National Assembly even weeks after the payment of similar allowances to all the 469 federal legislators who served in the seventh Assembly.

“We believe that the protest, though aborted, has sent the needed message to them that we are ready for a showdown with them any time from now if we are not paid the money in this first week of September,” the aggrieved aides said. But an internal circular later issued from the office of the Director, Personal Management of the National Assembly said the money had not been released, contrary to the claim by the aides.

The Acting Director of the department, Mr. Mahmoud Abubakar, who issued the circular on behalf of the Clerk to the National Assembly, Salisu Maikasuwa, said: “I am directed to inform all legislative aides to exercise more patience regarding their payment of severance gratuity and duty tour allowances as the management is making assiduous efforts to get the monies released from the ministry of finance.

“I also urge you to maintain the existing good working relationship between National Assembly management and the legislative aides for an enduring welfare of the legislative aides. I wish to assure you that as soon as the monies are released, payment will commence without delay as all preparations have been concluded”. It was gathered that the meeting of the representatives of the protesting ex-aides with the National Assembly management would continue next week, as yesterday’s meeting ended in a deadlock.

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Deborah Samuel: Gov Tambuwal relaxes curfew

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Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State government has relaxed the 24-hour curfew he imposed on the state capital following violent protest over the arrest of some youths allegedly involved in the killing Deborah Samuel, a 200-level student.

Tambuwal in a statement issued by his Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Isah Bajini, said the revised curfew will now be from dusk to dawn in Sokoto township.

The statement noted that “Sequel to the briefing by the security heads in the State, the State Governor, Rt Hon Aminu Waziri Tambuwal has ordered the relaxation of the 24-hour curfew in force in Sokoto metropolis

“The revised curfew will now be from dusk to dawn in Sokoto township. This is with a view to affording people the window to pursue their legitimate businesses and other means of livelihood.”

Recall that following the lynching of the 200-level student for allegedly insulting Prophet Mohammed, the State’s police command arrested some persons linked to the incident.

However, a large number of Muslim boys who were angered by the arrest, stormed the streets in the State on Saturday, demanding the release of the suspects.

The development, which triggered tension in several parts of the State, made the Governor to impose the curfew.

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Arsonists burn down LG secretariat, Magistrate Court in Anambra

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Suspected arsonists have burnt down Idemili North Local Government secretariat in Ogidi and a Magistrate Court in the area.

Sources said the arsonists entered the premises on Sunday night to perpetuate the act, burning down all files, properties in the secretariat, including the secretariat building.

Videos and pictures circulating online showed that the entire buildings were reduced to rubbles, while vehicles parked inside the Local Government secretariat were also burnt to ashes.

The State Police Command has also confirmed the development, attributing it to unidentified arsonists.

DSP Toochukwu Ikenga, the spokesperson of the State Police Command said: “Yes, the incident was confirmed, and our men were there to restore normalcy.

“Right now, the fire has been put off, and calm has been restored to the area,” Ikenga said.

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National Assembly transmits amended Electoral Act to Buhari

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Senate

The National Assembly has transmitted the amended Electoral Act 2022 to the Presiden Muhammadu Buhari for assent.

The bill was transmitted to the Presidency on Friday.

Sources in the Presidency and the National Assembly confirmed the transmission.

A source in the Presidency, who spoke on the condition of anonymity as he had not been authorised to announce the development officially, said, “Yes, it has been transmitted. But wait till Monday when it may be announced when the President will sign it.”

Another source in the National Assembly said, “It was transmitted on Friday. I needed to confirm it before saying anything.”

It was further learnt that Buhari would sign the amendment ahead of primaries of political parties beginning next week.

The Senate and the House of Representatives had last week passed an amendment to the Act to recognise statutory delegates at primaries, congresses, and conventions of political parties.

The lawmakers particularly amended Section 84(8) of the Act to provide automatic or statutory delegates, ahead of the forthcoming party primaries, from where candidates would emerge for the 2023 general elections.
In March, the National Assembly had passed the bill for the Act while the President signed it into law.

While political parties are close to conducting primaries to elect candidates for the 2023 general elections, the Act did not allow members elected into public offices and executives of the parties, known as statutory delegates, to participate and vote in the conventions, congresses, or meetings of parties.

The chambers had described the omission as “a fundamental error.”

Without the provision by the law, Buhari; the Vice-President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo (SAN); members of the National Assembly, governors and their deputies, members of the State Houses of Assembly, chairmen of local government areas, councillors, executives of political parties, amongst others, would have been disenfranchised.

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