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Reps to probe alleged fraud in IPPIS

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House of Representatives has resolved to probe alleged fraud in the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System of the Federal Government.

The irregularities have reportedly led to non-payment of salaries and allowances of some civil servants.

The payment system was introduced by the Federal Government in 2017.

The decision to investigate the IPPIS was made on Tuesday by House Committee on Public Accounts.

This is coming after its engagement with various tertiary institutions and government agencies on their financial audit reports for 2018 and 2019.

The committee said it had observed leakages and sharp practices in the course of grilling those who appeared before it, especially the J. S. Tarkar University of Agriculture, Makurdi, Benue State.

Chairman of the committee, Wole Oke, called for the probe after the lawmakers grilled the Rector, Federal Polytechnic Auchi, Edo State, Dr Zubair Mustapha.

Mustapha had told the committee that salary arrears had accumulated due to anomalies in the IPPIS, saying, “The backlog of salaries is for the people who were not captured by IPPIS.”

Oke said, “That is why we must look into the IPPIS. We were told here that the salaries of personnel of the University of Agriculture, Makurdi (Benue State), went into accounts of staff of Jigawa State.

“IPPIS must be investigated to detect some of the irregularities observed in the system. We have observed some serious irregularities in the system.”

The committee resolved to write the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed; and the Accountant General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris, to explain the anomalies in the federal staff payment system.

Also, the committee summoned the external auditors of the accounts of Auchi Polytechnic over discrepancies in the audited reports of the institution for 2018 and 2019.

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Investigate sources of fake reports about luxury bus hijack, GUO, ALBON tell police

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Luxury bus owners and operators have denied a new report claiming that one of the buses was hijacked and 123 passengers abducted by some gunmen.

The transporters were reacting to what they called the latest in a series of recent fake news that a “fully loaded” Abuja-bound luxury bus belonging to GUO Transport Co Ltd was “intercepted” in Edo by “bandits suspected to be Fulani who kidnapped about 123 passengers on board, hours after departing Owerri.

They asked the police and other security agencies in the country to investigate the sources of such frequent hoax online news reports about the hijack of their vehicles and kidnap of passengers by bandits.

Describing the abduction story which was widely publicised online as a mischievously fabricated falsehood, the Managing Director of GUO, Maduabuchukwu Okeke, disclosed that neither was any of his company’s buses hijacked nor the passengers abducted.

He stated that since the middle of last week when the false report was posted, his company has been inundated with calls and visits by worried members of the travelling public trying to confirm the “news.”

One of the publications went as far as claiming that the bandits were “armed with Ak-47 rifles and machetes.”

The GUO Managing Director recalled that false stories of luxury bus hijack and kidnap of passengers have been recycled several times since banditry became a worrisome issue in the country.

He urged the Department of State Services {DSS}, the police and other law enforcement agencies, to track down the perpetrators who are bent on scaring away innocent long distance road users, putting luxury bus business in jeopardy and causing disaffection among sections of the society.

Okeke debunked the story, saying, “The mischief makers claimed that 123 passengers were abducted. But, what kind of luxury bus can accommodate 123 passengers even with the so called “attachment” seats which are totally prohibited in GUO as a matter of policy. Or, are we talking about pieces of wood here, and not human beings anymore? You do not need to think deep to know that the story is false.”

He stated that if there was any such incident involving GUO buses, the management would have officially issued a statement in addition to a confirmation by the police.

Also speaking on to latest hijack and kidnap hoax, the recently elected National President of Association of Luxury Bus Owners of Nigeria {ALBON}, Nonso Ubajaka, decried the frequent generation of falsehood about his members’ vehicles on the internet.

Ubajaka said he checked with the management of GUO and confirmed that none of their buses was attacked by bandits.

“So, the question is: What is the motive behind the frequent fake news about luxury buses being “intercepted” and occupants abducted by the Fulani? All the transport owners are worried because there seems to be a secret plan to cause fear and disaffection which gives us cause for concern,” he said.

The ALBON President, therefore, echoed the appeal to the law enforcement agencies to swing into action and apprehend the mischief makers before they cause more damage through the internet.

Other luxury bus transporters and members of both ALBON and the bigger amalgam of transport bodies –   Public Transport Owners of Nigeria Association {PTONA}, urged online news readers to disregard such fake news.

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Business

First Bank confirms Otedola highest shareholder

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First Bank of Nigeria (FBN) Holdings Plc has now confirmed billionaire businessman Femi Otedola as having the largest shares in the company.

It has thus written officially to the Nigerian Exchange notifying of the acquisition of substantial shareholdings in the holding company by Otedola.

This is coming after it said the firm had not received a notification of a significant holding by a new investor.

The company’s earlier notice on Friday was interpreted as a denial of any knowledge of a takeover of the company by Otedola, having acquired majority shareholding in the firm.

But the FBN Holdings Plc in another press release dated October 23, 2021 and published on the Exchange website, stated that it received a notification from APT Securities and Funds Limited, that their Client, Mr Otedola Olufemi Peter and his nominee, Calvados Global Services Limited, had acquired a total of 1,818,551,625 units of shares from the company’s issued share capital of 35,895,292,791.

It stated that the equity stake of Otedola and his nominee in the Company is now 5.07per cent.

The letter, read in part: “We refer to our communication to the market dated October 22, 2021 on the above subject matter where we stated that we would inform the public of any substantial acquisition upon receipt of any notification from the shareholder.

“This morning, October 23, 2021, FBN Holdings Plc received a notification from APT Securities and Funds Limited that their client Mr Otedola Olufemi Peter and his nominee Calvados Global Services Limited have acquired a total of 1,818,551,625 units of shares from the company’s issued share capital of 35,895,292,791.”

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As Abuja-Kaduna train resumes, NRC gives passengers Nov 6 for unused tickets

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Train operations on the Abuja-Kaduna route resumed on Saturday, after they were suspended on Thursday following an attack that damaged the rail track.

The Nigerian Railway Corporation has given passengers with unused tickets two weekends ending on November to make use of the tickets or forfeit them.

Two reported attacks on Wednesday night and Thursday morning said to have been executed with the use of explosives led to damage on the rail track.

In one of the attacks, the window of the driver compartment of the train was reportedly shattered. This prompted the corporation to suspend the train ride along the route.

But the NRC restored the train services on Saturday after carrying out adequate repairs on the damaged track and beefing up security along the route.

On Saturday when train services resumed along the route, there was a report of low turnout of passengers.

Some of the passengers, who acknowledged improved armed security presence on the train and along the track said they could not use their pre-purchased tickets as the railway officials claimed they had no order to accept them.

A statement issued by the NRC later said customers would have two weeks (ending November 06) to use tickets for rides scheduled during the period operations were cancelled.

The corporation also asked affected customers to give 48-hour notice before their scheduled trips with the unused tickets.

The statement read in part, “Dear esteemed customers, service has been restored on the Abuja-Kaduna service.

“Customers with unused tickets for the 21st and 22nd of October should kindly contact the customer care unit (customercare@tps.ng and 01 888 7741) for rescheduling.

“Kindly give 48-hour notice ahead of new travel date. This offer is open for the next 2 weeks and will expire on the 6th of November, 2021. We sincerely apologise for any inconvenience.”

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