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Lekki shooting: South-West ministers seek probe into military role

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Ministers from the South-West have requested a thorough investigation into the recent shooting incident at Lekki tollgate, Lagos, particularly the role of the military.

This was part of recommendations in their report presented at the Federal Executive Council meeting on Wednesday after visiting to the plaza for on-the-spot assessment.

The ministers were directed by President Muhammadu Buhari to relocate to their home states to douse the tension generated by the #EndSARS protests and aftermath crisis.

Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, spoke on the South-West recommendations in an interview with journalists after the FEC meeting in Abuja.

Apart from Fashola, other South-West ministers in the team are Niyi Adebayo (Ekiti), Rauf Aregbesola (Osun), Sunday Dare (Oyo), Olamilekan Adegbite (Ogun), Olorunnibe Mamora (Lagos) and Tayo Alasodura (Ondo).

Armed soldiers had invaded the protest ground at Lekki tollgate to forcefully disperse the protesters.

The incident sparked outrage within and outside the country.

Fashola said, “We urged that the Federal Government to undertake a thorough investigation into what happened in the Lekki Toll Plaza, particularly the role of the military and ensure that the outcome is made public with a view to achieving closure on the matter.”

They also recommended that the FG should assist in the restoration of Lagos and others affected by the post-#EndSARS protest crisis.

Fashola said, “The highlight of the brief was to make recommendations to the Federal Government to support Lagos State to restore damaged facilities especially those related to the maintenance of law and order and the administration of justice such as police, court buildings and forensic laboratory.

“To also consider supporting the Lagos High Court judges either with the provision of some office accommodation as a temporary relocation when that request is made. Of course, it was hinted during the visit. To also urge the Federal Government to consider short to medium-term support to small and medium businesses who were affected by the looting and arson which took place in Lagos and other parts of the country; to see if something can be done through the Central Bank Intervention Mechanism under the COVID-19 funding or any other related funding mechanism.

“And to also ensure that whatever is approved should also involved the National Economic Council, the platform on which state governors meet, so that other states across the country who were also affected, businesses were damaged can benefit in addition to Lagos residents who may so be supported.”

The ministers urged the government to re-mobilise critical organs and agencies such as National Orientation Agency and formal educational institutions to focus on ethical re-orientation, inculcation of family values into the school curriculum.

They called for a focus on etiquette, local reasoning, critical thinking, solution seeking, empathy, self respect, civic duty and human rights.

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Buhari promises to sign forensics, fraud examiners’ institute bill

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President Muhammadu Buhari

President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday promised to sign a bill seeking formal establishment of the Chartered Institute of Forensics and Certified Fraud Examiners of Nigeria (CIFCFEN).

He spoke at the State House in Abuja after being honoured with Global Integrity and Anti-Corruption Award of Excellence by CIFCFEN.

He was presented with the highest honour of the institute reserved for only African heads of states with impeccable character and unimpeachable ideals by the chairman of the Governing Council CIFCFEN Board of Trustees, Dr Iliyasu Gashinbaki.

Buhari was the first African leader to be bestowed with the award in recognition of his lifetime outstanding commitment to the fight against corruption and selfless service with exceptional integrity.

He directed the anti-corruption agencies to continue partnering with the institute for the benefit of the country.

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He also directed the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning to work with the Institute in areas of providing technical assistance and capacity building to all revenue generating agencies and regulators in the public sector.

He said: ‘’The need for forensic experts arises in educating, preventing, detecting and prosecuting fraudsters, while fraud examination helps mitigate vices like embezzlement, money laundering, misuse and mismanagement of public resources.

‘’Many Nigerians, who are serious about eliminating corruption in our country, will welcome this review of the National Anti-Corruption Strategy midwifed by the Federal Ministry of Justice and the Presidential Advisory Committee on Anti-Corruption in 2017 and supported by our International friends.

‘’This effort by the institute to undertake the review of the national anti-corruption strategy is highly commendable and it has shown the usefulness of partnerships with professional bodies and my administration will continue to partner with the Institute and as well as other private institutions, the academia and other stakeholders in the fight to stop sleaze and mitigate corruption.’’

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We will restore peace, stability before leaving office, Buhari vows

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President Muhammadu Buhari has said his administration will not relent in its quest to restore peace and stability in the country.

Buhari said this on Monday during the 58th anniversary of the Nigeria Air Force (NAF) in Kano.

He said his administration’s investment in the air force had helped to “turn the tide” against terrorists.

He promised that he would continue to give necessary and sufficient support to the NAF in the battle against insecurity from non-state actors.

“The huge investment in the Nigeria Air Force has helped to turn the tide against terrorist and non-state actors in our nation,” he said.

“In furtherance of our drive to continue to do more to support the air force. Rest assured that our government is willing to do even more to ensure the provision of requisite support and the encouragement to overcome various security challenges.

“This government will not rest until peace and stability is fully restored in the nation. I, therefore, urge you all to remain steadfast, committed and resolute.

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States lose battle over LG funds’ management

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The 36 Governors lost on Monday in their opposition to Federal Government’s efforts to monitor their handling of Local governments’ funds.

 Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court in Abuja dismissed a suit filed to that effect by the 36 states, through their Attorneys General and the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF).

The States, in the suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/563/2019, challenged the legality of the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) Guidelines, which came into effect on June 1, 2019.

The NFIU 2019 guidelines required among others,  that the States/Local Governments Joint Accounts should be used only for receiving funds and subsequently transferring them to Local government accounts only.

The NFIU claimed that the guidelines, which also limit daily cash withdrawal from the State/LG joint account to N500,000 are intended  to reduce “crime vulnerabilities created by cash withdrawal from local government funds throughout Nigeria effective from June 1, 2019.”

Listed as defendants in the suit are the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), the NFIU and the Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE).

They argued among others that  the NFIU guidelines: known as “the  NFIU Enforcement and Guidelines to Reduce Crime Vulnerabilities Crafted by Cash Withdrawal From Local Government Funds Throughout Nigeria,” particularly provisions 1 to 6  and the penalties prescribed  are ultra vires the power of the NFIU under Sections 3 (1) and 23(2) (a) of the Nigerian Financial Intelligent Unit Act, 2018 and therefore unconstitutional.

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In the judgement on Monday, Justice Ekwo held that he is unable to see where the guidelines contradict the provisions of sections 7(1), (6) (a) and (b) of the Constitution.

The judge added that the guidelines also did not conflict with the provision of Section 162(6) of the Constitution, which creates the State Joint Local Government Account,  into which allocations to the Local Government Councils of the state from the Federation Account and from the government of the state are paid.

He said that the guidelines did not contradict Section 162(8) of the constitution which prescribed that the amount standing to the credit of the local government council of the state shall be distributed among the local government councils of that state on such terms and in such manner as may be prescribed by the House of Assembly of the state.

Justice Ekwo added that the provisions of the NFIU guidelines also do not contradict the provisions of the 4th Schedule to the 1999 Constitution which prescribes the functions of a Local Government Council.

Noting that “ duty of the court is limited to expounding the law and not expanding it,” the judge said: “On the whole, I see the provisions of the guidelines of the 2nd defendant as seeking to direct the monitoring of accounts, transfers and any other means of payment or transfer of funds of local government councils as provided for in Section 3 (1) (r) of the Act of the NFIU.

“It only limits cash withdrawal made from any Local Government Account anywhere in the country to amount not exceeding N500,000.00 (Five Hundred Thousand Naira) per day.

“Any amount higher than that can be done using other methods of banking transaction save cash.

“Unless it can be shown that there is any provision of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) which these provisions of the 2nd defendant’s guidelines have contradicted or conflicted directly and practically, then the issue of unconstitutionality cannot be said to arise.”

Justice Ekwo said he found that there was no provision in the NFIU’s guidelines that has contravened the provisions of Sections 7(1), (6) (a) and (b), 162 (6), (7) and (8), and the 4th Schedule to the 1999 Constitution (as amended).

“I also find that the case of the plaintiffs has not been established and I so hold.

“I find, in the end, that the case of the plaintiffs lacks merit and ought to be dismissed and it is hereby dismissed,” the judge said.

Earlier, Justice Ekwo struck out the name of the NGF as a co-plaintiff in the suit on the grounds that it lacked the locus standi to file the suit.

THE NATION

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