FG dismisses Transparency International (TI) verdict on Nigeria
Federal Government, yesterday, dismissed the recent verdict on Nigeria by Transparency International (TI), which said the country dropped five places in the 2022 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI).
It boasted that some of the government’s legacy projects have been facilitated with funds known as Abacha loot, hitherto stolen and stashed abroad by a former Nigerian leader but returned to the country.
This came against the backdrop of reports that Nigeria scored 24 out of 100 points while ranking 150 among 180 countries on the 2022 Corruption Perception Index released by TI, a development which has continued to stoke concern by citizens.
Although the country maintained its previous year’s (2021) score of 24 out of 100 points, however, there was a change in rank from 154 to 150, as some other countries performed more poorly in 2022.
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Fielding questions, Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, downplayed the rating, saying the Nigerian government’s fight against corruption is not at the whims and caprices of the global agency.
The minister spoke after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting, presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
He said: “We are not really worried or bothered about rating of the TI, because we know that everything we do is to ensure that we fight corruption the best way we know how to. If TI is not seeing this, then I think it has to change its template. But, again, we’re not fighting corruption to impress TI.
“We are not fighting corruption because we want to impress Transparency International or any organisation whatsoever. We’re fighting corruption because we believe if we do not fight corruption, there’ll be no growth, either in terms of the economy or even political.”
The minister added: “Therefore, what we do and what we’re putting in place to fight corruption is not because we want to be rated by anybody. I can assure you that we do not know what template TI is using. Whatever template it is using, it is clearly oblivious of what this administration is doing to fight corruption.
“Corruption fighting is not just by how many people have you arrested? How many people have you tried? How many people have you convicted? Of course, even in that respect, we have a very impressive record.”
Naira scarcity: CBN begins allocation of more cash to banks
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) yesterday began cash allocation to banks to ease the scarcity.
A director confirmed the development to The Nation.
The source said the CBN felt the pains of Nigerians as the cash crunch bit harder.
“We also have family members who were affected by the lack of cash.”
Labour, which last week gave a seven-day ultimatum to the government to end the naira crisis, directed workers to stay off work and picket CBN offices in state capitals from Wednesday.
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The Supreme Court on March 3 ordered that the old and new N1000 and N500 notes should remain legal tender till December 31.
The CBN hesitated before beginning limited compliance with the order as cash scarcity persisted.
The governors that took the Federal Government to court threatened to initiate contempt proceedings against Attorney-General of the Federation Abubakar Malami and CBN Governor Godwin Emefiele.
The NLC lamented that its member could no longer pay transportation fares to work or for basic needs.
The CBN may have moved to forestall the likely economic consequences of a major strike.
Some bank staff confirmed to our correspondent that they got enough cash from the CBN to meet customers’ demands.
It was learnt that the old denominations were released late afternoon and early evening.
Bank sources said with the quantity of cash they had yesterday, customers can now withdraw as much as N100,000 for individuals and N500,000 for corporate bodies over the counter from today.
Disbursements from Automated Teller Machines (ATMs), however, remain uncertain.
It was unclear whether banks outside Abuja also now have enough cash.
Also yesterday, the House of Representatives asked the CBN to direct banks to immediately overhaul their online/electronic banking platforms for efficiency.
Adopting a motion at plenary, the House expressed concern about the difficulties in carrying our banking operations.
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A lawmaker, Sergius Ose Ogun, said many Nigerians have lost money to the inefficiency of the online/internet banking platforms.
He said Section 2 of the CBN Act saddles it with the duty of promoting a sound financial system in Nigeria.
Ogun said: “In the wake of the recent naira redesign and cash withdrawal limit policy of the CBN, there has been an increase in the use of online and electronic banking services to carry out monetary transactions across the country.
“The use of online or internet banking services by Nigerians in the past three months or thereabouts has been characterised by varying degrees of hitches ranging from unsuccessful electronic bank transfers, Point of Sale (POS) service failure and a host of others.
“The ineffectiveness or difficulty in using internet banking services across the online banking platforms of most banks has brought untold hardship, suffering and difficulties on Nigerians in the past three months.
“If nothing is done by the CBN and the banks to address these difficulties or ineffectiveness, Nigerians will continue to suffer untold hardships and loss of monies to unsuccessful electronic bank transactions.”
Keyamo seeks arrest of Peter Obi over alleged incitement
Minister of State, Labour and Employment, Mr Festus Keyamo (SAN) has petitioned the Department of State Services, demanding the arrest and prosecution of the Labour Party presidential and vice presidential candidates, Peter Obi and Datti Baba-Ahmed, respectively, for allegedly making comments capable of causing rebellion.
In the petition addressed to the Director-General DSS and dated March 23, the minister who is chief spokesperson for the All Progressives Congress, APC, Presidential Campaign Council, PCC, said in a post-election period such as this, there was a need to soothe frayed nerves, lower the temperature and begin the healing process.
“The President-elect, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, issued a statement to this effect a few days ago.
“However, it appears the presidentila and vice-presidential candidates of the Labour Party, Mr Peter Obi and Datti Baba-Ahmed are not prepared to toe this conciliatory path for the sake of peace and national cohesion, whilst exercising their rights to pursue duly laid down constitutional means of addressing their grievances,” he stated.
Keyamo noted that since the declaration of the presidential election results, the duo have been hopping from one media house to the other making incendiary comments and claims about the declaration of the President-elect by the Independent National Electoral Commission INEC.
According to him, “These comments and claims are made, not just within the boundaries of exercising their rights to freedom of speech and the freedom to air their grievances publicly, but they have since crossed the line to call for the outright truncation of democracy by insisting on the adoption of other processes outside the contemplation of our Constitution.
“In some cases, their privies have even called for the establishment of an Interim Government.
“The latest of such are the comments made by Datti Baba-Ahmed on behalf of himself and Mr. Peter Obi on Channels TV on Wednesday, March 22, wherein he threatened that if the President-elect was sworn in on May 29, it would ‘signal the end of democracy’.
“Posing as an accuser, a judge and a jury all by himself, he unilaterally declared the duly elected President-elect as ‘unconstitutional’ and, in a subliminal manner, threatened mayhem if the President-elect was sworn in on May 29.
“I also have it on good authority that Mr. Peter Obi and Datti Baba-Ahmed have camped some youths in a popular hotel in Abuja with the sole aim of instructing them to push out inciting messages everyday on social media in order to cause panic and fear within the federation and to incite people to riot and social unrest.
“It is noteworthy that Peter Obi and Datti Baba-Ahmed have submitted elections petitions to the courts for adjudication, but their conducts and utterances amount to a subversion of the processes they have instituted in court and a subversion of our Constitution and the laid-down processes for addressing disputes and grievances.
“These conduct and utterances are a build-up to something more sinister and it is important you rein them in now!
“In the circumstance, I submit this petition in my personal capacity as a patriotic Nigerian to invite/arrest, interrogate and after investigation, if necessary, charge both individuals to court for their conduct which amounts to incitement and treasonable felony.”
President-elect Tinubu travels out to rest – Aide
President-elect, Bola Tinubu, has travelled abroad to rest and plan his transition programme ahead of May 29, 2023 inauguration.
His spokesman, Tunde Rahman, disclosed this in a statement on Wednesday.
He also urged the media to stop publishing unsubstantiated claims about Tinubu.
There were reports that Tinubu travelled abroad for a medical check-up.
But Rahman in a statement said Tinubu decided to take a break after the hectic campaign and the election to rest.
The statement read in part, “After a very exhaustive campaign and election season, President-elect, Asíwájú Bola Tinubu, has travelled abroad to rest and plan his transition programme ahead of May 29, 2023 inauguration.
“The President-elect left the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Ikeja for Europe on Tuesday night.
“The President-elect decided to take a break after the hectic campaign and election season to rest in Paris and London, preparatory to going to Saudi Arabia for Umrah (Lesser Hajj) and the Ramadan Fasting that begins Thursday,” he said.
He noted that while away, Tinubu will use the opportunity to plan his transition programme.
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