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Amaechi asks panel to probe ALL contracts awarded by NPA under Hadiza

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Rotimi Amaechi, minister of transportation, on Monday inaugurated an 11-member investigative panel to probe the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) over all contracts awarded since 2016 when Hadiza Bala Usman became managing director.

On Thursday, President Muhammadu Buhari suspended Bala Usman as managing director of NPA and approved the setting up of a panel of inquiry based on Amaechi’s recommendation.

Denying the allegation of non- remittance, Bala Usman insisted that the purported failure of the NPA to remit an outstanding balance of N165.32 billion from 2017 to 2018 was a misrepresentation of facts.

She said that contrary to the figures given by the budget office as outstanding operating surplus, the NPA had remitted all that was due to the consolidated revenue fund (CFR)— as stipulated in the fiscal responsibility act of 2007.

Only Bala Usman, who had been having a cold battle with Amaechi, was asked to step aside, effectively suggesting that she, and not the management, is the target of the investigation.

She was nominated as NPA MD in 2016 by Amaechi.  At the time, she was serving as the chief of staff to the Nasir el-Rufai, governor of Kaduna state.

Amaechi tasked the members of the panel to accurately examine procurement processes in the NPA from 2016 to date.

The terms of reference of the panel include examining and investigating the administrative policies and strategies adopted by the managing director of NPA and confirming compliance with extant laws and rules from 2016 to date.

“Examine and investigate issues leading to the termination of pilotage and other contracts of Nigerian Ports Authority and confirm compliance with the terms of the respective contracts, court rulings and presidential directives,” the transportation minister added.

“Examine and investigate compliance with the communication channel as obtained in the public service.

“Examine and investigate the procurement of contracts from 2016 to date. Come up with suggestions and advice that would strengthen the operations of Nigerian Ports Authority and forestall such occurrences in future.”

The panel, which is headed by Auwal Suleiman, director of maritime services, transportation ministry, has six members from the office of the head of the civil service of the federation (OHCSF) and the remaining five from the ministry of transportation.

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JUST IN: Old naira: IMF asks FG, CBN to extend February 10 deadline

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The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has called for the extension of the February 10 deadline to phase out the old naira notes.

The International monetary body made the call just after the Supreme Court had restrained the Federal Government and Central Bank of Nigeria(CBN) from enforcing the deadline.

The IMF, in a statement in Abuja on Wednesday by Laraba Bonet, said the plea was on the hardship Nigerians were exposed to over the issue.

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It said: “in light of hardships caused by disruptions to trade and payments due to the shortage of new bank notes available to the public, in spite of measures introduced by the CBN to mitigate the challenges in the banknote swap process, the IMF encourages the CBN to consider extending the deadline should problems persist  in the next few days leading up to the February 10, 2023 deadline”.

The IMF is the first international financial organisation to openly call for extension of the deadline for the deposit of old Naira notes.

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Cash crunch: Protesters defy police in Abeokuta, make bonfires on major roads

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Residents of Abeokuta, Ogun State, took to the streets on Tuesday protesting the scarcity of cash and the attendant pains.

Major streets affected by the protests are Aladesanmi, Fajol and Somorin in Obantoko area of Abeokuta as the protesters made bonfires and chanted anti-CBN songs
The Sapon branch of First Bank was also vandalised and the protesters tried to set it ablaze.
Ogun Police spokesman, Abimbola Oyeyemi, confirmed the protest, saying police officers were on the ground to monitor the situation and prevent the destruction of property and loss of lives.
He said some group of boys were involved in the crisis.
The police later came to disperse the protesters but they regrouped as soon as the operatives withdrew from the scene.
The situation affected vehicular movement as motorists and pedestrians ran in different directions to avert being caught up in the chaotic situation.

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Court frees Diezani associate Omokore of $1.6bn fraud

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An Abuja federal high court on Tuesday discharged and acquitted Jide Omokore, chairman of Atlantic Energy Drilling Concepts Nigeria Limited, of $1.6bn fraud allegations.

Omokore, an associate of former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke, was arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) with Victor Briggs, Abiye Membere, and David Mbanefo on a 15-count charge on July 4, 2016.

They were accused of fraudulently diverting the $1.6bn said to be part of proceeds of sales of petroleum products belonging to the Federal Government.

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