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Probe missing N3.1bn in finance ministry, SERAP tells Buhari

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Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project has written to President Muhammadu Buhari demanding an immediate probe into allegations that over N3bn is missing or diverted from the Federal Ministry of Finance.

The group in a letter to the President asked him to “use his good offices to direct the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami, SAN, and appropriate anti-corruption agencies to investigate the matter.

It said the allegations were documented in the 2018 and 2019 annual audited reports by the Auditor-General of the Federation.

SERAP said, “Anyone suspected to be responsible should face prosecution as appropriate, if there is sufficient admissible evidence, and any missing public funds should be fully recovered.”

The letter dated 24 December 2021 and signed by SERAP Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, stated, “The reports suggest a grave violation of the public trust. As trustee of public funds, the Ministry of Finance ought to ensure strict compliance with transparency and accountability rules and regulations.”

SERAP said, “As a key agency of government, the ministry has a sacred duty to ensure transparency and accountability in the spending of the country’s resources. This implies providing strong leadership in the efforts to curb public sector corruption.

“This leadership is important for the Ministry to enjoy the public trust and confidence essential for its effectiveness and impact.”

SERAP also stated, “The allegations that N3,143,718,976.47 of public funds is missing will also clearly amount to a fundamental breach of national anti-corruption laws and the country’s international anti-corruption obligations including under the UN Convention Against Corruption to which Nigeria is a state party.”

The letter read in part, “Investigating and prosecuting the allegations, and recovering any missing public funds would improve the chances of success of your government’s oft-repeated commitment to fight corruption and end the impunity of perpetrators. It will also serve the public interest.

“According to the report of the Auditor-General for 2018, the Ministry of Finance spent N24,708,090.00 on pre-retirement training but without any document. The consultant hired also failed to quote any price as cost of the training but the Ministry paid N5,670,060.00 to the consultant. Request for payment from the consultant was dated 20 January 2017 while the first payment voucher in his favour was dated 13 January 2017 (7 days before his request).

 

“The ministry also reportedly failed to account for N2,885,772,493.27 released to the Ministry from the Service Wide Vote to take care of estacodes and other allowances for representing the Federal Government in meetings, and contribution to Organization for Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).”

“The money was spent without approval, and any documents. The Auditor-General is concerned that the money may have been mismanaged.”

“The ministry also reportedly awarded a contract on 17th May 2017 for N98,540,500.00 without any document, contrary to the Public Procurement Act. The project was not also budgeted for. There was no evidence of performance of the contract. The ministry also deducted N9,354,809.52 as WHT and VAT but without any evidence of remittance. The Auditor-General wants the money recovered.

“The Ministry also reportedly spent N98,759,299.20 between January and December 2017 without any document, contrary to Financial Regulation 601.

“According to the 2019 report of the Auditor-General, the ministry paid N20,466,744.00 as cash advances to staff of ‘You-Win’ between 8 February and 18 December, 2018 but the Ministry has failed to retire the money.

“The advances were granted for the purchase of store items, repairs and other services that would have been made through the award of contract. Government lost N2,046,674.40 which would have accrued as taxes had these jobs been undertaken through award of contracts. The Auditor-General wants the money recovered.”

“The ministry also reportedly paid N15,471,850.00 to two consultants for capacity building in Kano and Adamawa states but without any supporting document, contrary to paragraph 603 (1) of the Financial Regulations. The Auditor-General is concerned that the money may have been diverted, and wants it recovered.”

“SERAP notes that the consequences of corruption are felt by citizens on a daily basis. Corruption exposes them to additional costs, and undermines economic development of the country, trapping the majority of Nigerians in poverty and depriving them of employment opportunities.”

“We would be grateful if the recommended measures are taken within 14 days of the receipt and/or publication of this letter. If we have not heard from you by then, SERAP shall take all appropriate legal actions to compel your government to comply with our request in the public interest.”

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JUST IN: Air Peace Suspends Flights To South Africa Over Aviation Fuel, Visa Delay

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Air Peace

Citing the increasing cost of aviation fuel and scarcity as well as the delay in the issuance of visa to intending passengers, Air Peace has suspended its flights to South Africa.

The suspension, which takes effects from August 22, is for a period of 60 days, the Airline said in a notice.

Daily Trust reports that domestic airlines had been forced to adjust their schedules over the recurring scarcity of Jet fuel as well as the skyrocketing price of the product.

But added to this, according to Air Peace, was delay by the South African authorities to issue visa to prospective passengers which was said to be affecting the load factor on Air Peace’s flight to Johannesburg.

Air Peace in the notice expressed optimism that the issues which warranted the suspension would have been addressed before October.

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It said, “We hereby inform the flying public that effective from August 22, 2022, our Johannesburg flight operations will be suspended till October 8, 2022.

“This development is regretted but has become inevitable due to the delayed issuance of South African visas to travellers, worsening forex crunch and the increasing cost of aviation fuel as well as its scarcity.

“However, having informed the South African High Commission in Lagos of the effects of the difficulty in getting SA visas by Nigerians, which consequence is the abysmally low passenger loads on our flights to and from Johannesburg, we believe that the situation will have improved within the next 60 days. Hence, our willingness to resume operations on the October 8, 2022.

“Passengers whose flights are affected have the option of rescheduling to fly before August 22, 2022 or from October 9, 2022. Passengers can also request a refund…

“We apologise for the inconveniences caused and will keep the public updated while we hope the situation improves.”

Daily Trust

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Davido, Tuface, Ned Nwoko, others on alert as Ferrari recalls nearly every car

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Super-rich Nigerians and celebrities who drive Ferrari will have to surrender their Italian luxury sports car to the manufacturer to fix a major problem.

Ferrari has discovered a big stopping problem, with 19 of its models dating back to 2005 reportedly at risk of a potential brake failure, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Some of those known to have the super luxury car in Nigeria are singer Davido; former Arsenal and Super Eagles sensational striker Kanu Nwankwo; rapper and billionaire daughter DJ Cuppy; Ned Nwoko with his Nollywood wife, Reginal Daniels, and another famous ex-Super Eagles player Obafemi Martins.

MotorTrend, an online auto journal, on Monday reported the NHTSA filing as indicating that the issue had to do with the brake fluid reservoir cap which “may not vent properly, creating a vacuum inside the brake fluid reservoir, and resulting in a brake fluid leak that may lead to a partial or total loss of brake function.”

According to the NHTSA recall report, a whopping 23,555 Ferraris are implicated and will need to be serviced.

Owners are expected to receive messages from Ferrari with instructions for proactive repairs before September 24, 2022.

Considering the average price of a Ferrari is at least hundreds of thousand dollars, some quick math proves billions of dollars worth of Ferraris are potentially defective.

The report said Ferrari would replace the brake fluid reservoir cap and update the software in the affected vehicles to provide for a different warning message if the vehicle should lose sufficient brake fluid.

In the meantime, if your Ferrari flashes a “low Brake Fluid” warning, NHTSA directs you to pull off of the road as soon as it is safe to do so and have the car immediately towed to a Ferrari service centre.

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Buhari overrules NNPC, approves Seplat’s acquisition of ExxonMobil’s $1.3bn assets

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President Muhammadu Buhari has approved acquisition of ExxonMobil shares in the United States by Seplat Energy Offshore Limited.

Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, in a statement on Monday said his Buhari granted the approved as Minister of Petroleum Resources, and in consonance with the country’s drive for Foreign Direct Investment in the energy sector.

He said Exxon Mobil had entered into a landmark Sale and Purchase Agreement with Seplat Energy to acquire the entire share capital of Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited from Exxon Mobil Corporation, Mobil Development Nigeria Inc, and Mobil Exploration Nigeria Inc, both registered in Delaware, USA.

There had been opposition from the NNPC Ltd, and the Akwa Ibom State Government which hosts most of the assets earlier on the transaction but the ministerial approval puts this to rest.

Adesina added that the President had given ministerial consent to the deal, considering the extensive benefits of the transaction to the Nigerian Energy sector and the larger economy.

He said the President, in commitment to investment drive in light of the Petroleum Industry Act, granted consent to the Share Sales Agreement, as requested by the parties to the transaction, and directed that the approval be conveyed to all the parties involved.

The presidential spokesman said Exxon Mobil/Seplat would carry out operatorship of all the oil mining licenses in the related shallow water assets towards production optimization to support Nigeria’s OPEC quota in the short term as well as ensure accelerated development and monetization of the gas resources in the assets for the Nigerian economy.

Adesina said President Buhari also directed that all environmental and abandonment liabilities be adequately mitigated by Exxon Mobil and Seplat.

The deal worth about $1.3bn will take a 40 per cent stake in four OMLs, including over 90 shallow-water and onshore platforms and 300 producing wells.

 

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