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NASS Clerk faces trial as Police establish forgery in Senate rules

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The Police appear to have established a case of forgery of the Senate Standing Orders 2015 which paved the way for the June 9, 2015 emergence of Dr. Bukola Saraki as Senate President and Chief Ike Ekweremadu as Deputy Senate President.

There were indications on Satursday that the police might charge the  Clerk to the National Assembly, Alhaji Salisu Maikasuwa to  court  for the alleged forgery of the Standing Orders.

Maikasuwa may be arraigned with some staff of the National Assembly suspected of having played one role or the other in the drafting of the rules.

But the fate of Ekweremadu who was one of those quizzed by the Police in the course of their investigation into the matter was unknown last night.

Police sources declined to discuss his fate.

Already, the case file has been sent to the Federal Ministry of Justice for advice and prosecution.

 

Investigation in Abuja showed that the Police, acting on a petition by six Senators, believed that the Senate Standing Orders 2015 was forged.

According to findings, the Police team, led by Deputy Inspector-General Danazumi Job Doma, discovered many anomalies in the said Senate Standing Orders.

The   Police findings include the followings:

*The Senate Standing Orders 2007(as amended) was still in force when the 7th Senate wound up.

*There was no time the 7th Senate amended the Standing Orders or any subsisting motion as shown in the Senate Standing Orders 2015

* The Senate Standing Orders 2015 was strange and a violation of Paragraph 110 of the Senate Standing Orders 2007(as amended)

*All the principal officers of the 7th Senate interviewed admitted that the Senate Standing Orders 2007(as amended) was not reviewed before their tenure ended.

* A clear case of forgery, manipulation, and tampering has been established.

* Those connected with the forgery should be immediately prosecuted.

A top police source said: “We have concluded our investigation and recommended the Clerk to the National Assembly and a few others for trial.

“The Clerk presided over the election of some Principal Officers of the Senate on June 9 with a forged Standing Orders 2015 when he ought to know better.

“As I am talking to you, we have sent the investigation file to the Federal Ministry of Justice for Legal Advice and prosecution.”

The police source said the Senate Standing Orders 2015 was not in compliance with Paragraph 110 (1) of the Senate Standing Orders 2007 (as amended).

The source added: “The National Assembly management claimed that it has the prerogative to set the rules for the election of a new set of Principal Officers since the 8th Senate was yet to be inaugurated.

“They said since nature abhors vacuum, they did nothing wrong with the Senate Standing Orders 2015.

“But when we asked them why they refused to use Senate Standing Orders 2007as the case with the 8th Senate, they were not too convincing.”

Paragraph 110(1) of the Senate Standing Orders 2007 (as amended) says: ” Any Senator desiring to amend any part of the Rules or adding any new clause shall give notice of such amendments in writing to the President of the Senate giving details of the proposed amendments.

“The President of the Senate shall within seven working days of the receipt of the notice, cause the amendments to be printed and circulated to members. Thereafter, it shall be printed in the Order Paper of the Senate.

“The Mover or Movers of the amendments shall be allowed to explain in detail the proposed amendments. Thereafter, the Senate shall decide by simple majority votes whether the amendments should be considered or rejected.

“If the decision is to consider the amendments, then another date shall be set aside by the Rules and Business Committee whereby opportunity would be given to Senators to further propose amendments but must strictly be confined to the original amendments. “Two-third majority shall decide the amendments and such amendments shall form part of the Rules of the Senate.”

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Governors, Labour kick as NNPC presents N3tr subsidy bill to FEC

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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.

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Gunmen kidnap Ex-President Jonathan’s cousin in Bayelsa

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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.

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FEC okays proposed amendments to 2022 budget

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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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