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Non-audit of 801 MDAs since 2017 shocks reps

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The House of Representatives has expressed grave concern over the inability of the office of the Auditor General of the Federation to carry out the audit of 801 federal agencies and parastatals as well as foreign missions across the world, since 2017.

The lawmakers expressed the concern during the investigative hearing held at the instance of the Wole Oke-led House Committee on Public Accounts.

It thus resolved to summon the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha; Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed; Director General of the Budget Office of the Federation, Ben Akabueze; Accountant General of the Federation; Ahmed Idris; Head of Service of the Federation, Folashade Yemi-Esan; and Chairman, Federal Civil Service Commission.

The lawmakers also expressed displeasure over the non-provision of required funds for the recruitment of 611 new personnel needed to bridge the manpower shortfall in the office of the Auditor General of the Federation despite obtaining waiver from the Head of Service of the Federation since 2017.

Oke said, “A very critical professional body is being under-funded. Even in fund allocation for the budget, the Director General of the Budget Office has deliberately underfunded the Office of the Auditor General so that he won’t be able to discharge its duties and uncover all the illegal criminal activities and looting going on in the country.

“On what basis would you be funding agencies that have no value to the economy at the detriment of the Auditor General’s office?

“From the presentation of the Auditor General, it is understaffed; he needs over 600 workers.

“It will interest you that the entire Zamfara State has just on staff. One staff in Zamfara State. How do we run a country like this?

“Even in the 2020 budget, the Auditor General is struggling. Its funds are yet to be released to him 100 per cent.

“There are critical activities of the office of the Auditor General aside from financial auditing. We have programmes’ auditing; we have project auditing; value for money, but the Auditor General is unable to do all these. It’s underfunded.

 “So we’ve resolved to invite the Minister of Finance, the Director of Budget Office, the Accountant General of the Federation, Head of Service and Chairman of the Federal Civil Service Commission to cause appearance before this committee.”
He also said, “There’s no government that has put in place programmes for youth empowerment, training and development, but funds allocated for these programmes. Can the Auditor General trace and track them without personnel, without equipment, so as to ensure value for money?

“Personnel of agencies that you asked Auditor General to go and audit earn better than the personnel of Auditor General to the extent that Nigerian youths are not even interested in going to work with the Auditor General. They prefer to go to the NCC, paramilitary agencies, CBN, FIRS, just because working with Auditor General’s office you cannot earn a living wage.”

To this end, the committee mandated the Accountant General of the Federation to release with immediate effect all the funds required for the exercise before the end of 2020 fiscal year.

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Updated: Chadian President Idriss Deby dies, son takes over

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Chadian President Idris Derby has died at the age of 68.

He was said to have died while visiting troops on the frontline of a fight against northern rebels, the army said on Tuesday, the day after Deby was declared the winner of a presidential election.

Reuters reported that Deby’s son, Mahamat Kaka, was named interim president by a transitional council of military officers, spokesman Azem Bermendao Agouna, said in a broadcast on state television.

The late Chadian leader came to power in a rebellion in 1990 and was one of Africa’s longest-ruling leaders.

According to the report, Deby and his army have been seen as a reliable Western ally in a turbulent region afflicted by jihadists. His campaign said on Monday he was joining troops on the frontline after rebels based across the northern frontier in Libya advanced hundreds of km (miles) south toward the capital N’Djamena. L1N2MC20E

The exact cause of death was not yet clear but a European diplomatic source said he had been killed.

“A call to dialogue and peace is launched to all Chadians in the country and abroad in order to continue to build Chad together,” Bermendao said, surrounded by several officers.

“The National Council of Transition reassures the Chadian people that all measures have been taken to guarantee peace, security and the republican order,” he said.

Deby, whose opponents accused him of repressive rule, pushed through a new constitution in 2018 that would have allowed him to stay in power until 2033 – even as it re-instated term limits.

He took the title of “Marshal” last year and said before last week’s election: “I know in advance that I will win, as I have done for the last 30 years.”

He was dealing with mounting public discontent over his management of Chad’s oil wealth and crackdowns on opponents.

But in the election results announced on Monday, Deby was credited with 79 per cent of the vote, handing him a sixth term in office. Several leading opposition figures boycotted the poll.

Western countries have seen Deby as an ally in the fight against Islamist extremist groups, including Boko Haram in the Lake Chad Basin and groups linked to al Qaeda and Islamic State in the Sahel.

His death is a blow to France, which had based its Sahel counter-terrorism operations in the Chadian capital, N’Djamena.

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Senate probes CCT Chairman, Umar, over alleged assault

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The Senate on Tuesday commenced investigation into alleged assault by the Chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal, Danladi Umar on a guard, Clement Sagwak, at Banex Plaza, Wuse 2, Abuja.

The incident occurred on March 29, 2021.

Sagwak had also forwarded his petition to the National Human Rights Commission to probe the incident.

Senator Istifanus Gyang (Plateau North) submitted a petition on the incident to the Senate on behalf of his constituent, Sagwak.

Sagwak, had in his petition dated April 9 2021 and signed by his lawyer, Samuel Ihensekhien, accused the CCT chairman of abuse of power, assault, torture, and ‘xenophobia’.

A five-minute video that went viral captured Umar and the guard having an altercation at the plaza.

Sagwak, 22, and an employee of Jul Reliable Guards Services Limited, told the Senate he was attacked by Umar last month.

He said he was assaulted by Umar and a policeman attached to him after he informed him (Umar) that his car was not properly parked.

 

He said the CCT boss slapped him several times and forced him to kneel down in the presence of everybody while undergoing his lawful activities.

He asked the Senate to investigate the incident and ensure justice.

Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, referred the petition to the Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions to report back to plenary in four weeks.

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Governors agree to implement autonomy for assemblies, judiciary in May

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State governors under the Nigeria Governors’ Forum have agreed to implement autonomy for legislature and judiciary, with effect from May.

This coincides with the Senate through its Chairman for the Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, Senator Opeyemi Bamidele saying autonomy for judiciary is non-negotiable.

Chairman of the NGF, Dr Kayode Fayemi, who is also Ekiti State governor, said the decision to implement the autonomy next month was reached in a meeting attended by federal lawmakers, representatives of the judiciary and legislative workers, and the Chief of Staff to the President, Ibrahim Gambari.

The Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) is on strike to protest the government’s failure to implement autonomy for the judiciary.

President Muhammadu Buhari had signed an order to that effect in May 2020, but the gazetting of the order was suspended after the President met with governors — triggering reports that the governors were frustrating the move.

Fayemi said the governors never objected to full autonomy for the state assemblies and judiciary, adding that “the issue is about implementation.”

“There has been no objection from governors on judicial and legislative autonomies. As a matter of fact, it would not have passed if governors were not in support in the first instance, in the state assemblies,” he said.

“But we don’t just want to agree to something on paper without working out the modalities for implementation. Thankfully, the meeting we have just emerged from, with the chief of staff to the president chairing, has worked out the modalities to the satisfaction of all parties.

“As soon as the final document that is being cleaned up emerges, that is preparatory to implementation. We’re not going to put a timeframe in the air, but it will be implemented as soon as possible, definitely no later than the end of May 2021.”

He urged the striking judiciary and legislative workers should return to work.

Fayemi said, “I think we are basically at a position where, whether you speak to the conference of speakers’ chairperson or you speak to me or you speak to the representative of the judiciary or you speak to the solicitor-general of the federation, you will hear that we’re speaking with one voice on the implementation.

”And no later than May, you will start seeing the implementation of the agreement that we’ve reached.”

Also speaking to journalists on the issue on Monday, Bamidele said it was laughable to be grappling with judicial autonomy at this stage of the nation’s development.

He said, “We cannot continue to call on the judiciary to give peace a chance when we know the conditions under which they work cannot guarantee a passionate and enhanced delivery of justice. We are talking about judicial reforms; we are talking about the need for justice sector reforms.

“This is central and crucial to the independence of the judiciary in this country. We must not be left behind by the rest of the civilized world. Nobody stands to lose anything by granting independence to judiciary at the state level since it has been done at the national level.

“The fact that workers and staff of federal judiciary are joining the protest is only in solidarity with their colleagues at the state levels. It is a union matter and we do not have a control over it. We are hereby calling on the State Governors to do the needful because the independence of the judiciary is non- negotiable.

“No democracy can survive without being founded on the rule of law and independent judiciary.”

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