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Workers Day: Edo civil servants get N40,000 minimum wage

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*Wants Buhari to declare emergency on food security
*Okowa assures on payment of pension arrears
*Diri approves 100% increase for Bayelsa retirees’ gratuity
*We’re hungry, on tight rope, C-River workers tell Ayade

Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State on Sunday announced a new minimum wage of N40,000 for the state civil servants.
Obaseki, in his address to mark the Workers Day, also said to avoid cases of pensioners being owed, his administration had keyed into the contributory pension scheme, just as he said his administration had paid all pension arrears and would soon commence the next stage which is the various adjustments that had been made in the past.
He said: “We are not a government that runs away from our responsibilities; we will look for a way out to clear all the gratuities. We have cleared all the pension arrears and we will now focus on all the adjustments. I have directed that all the harmonised amounts we have agreed upon, we will begin payment by May this year.
“The purchasing power of an average worker continues to decrease. I want to appeal to the Federal Government to declare a state of emergency on food security, if this is not done, we cannot predict what will happen next.
“For optimum performance of our workers, we have resolved to do an upward review of the salary of workers of Edo State, so the Edo State government has now resolved to increase the minimum wage of Edo State civil servants to N40,000 per month.”
Earlier in their speeches, the two workers’ unions, the Nigeria Labour Congress and the Trade Union Congress, applauded the governor for the development of infrastructure in the state.
Acting state Chairman of NLC, Odion Olaye, called on the state government to equip members of the vigilante, who have been providing security and also called for proper funding of the state-owned tertiary institutions by reviewing the ratio 65 per cent:35 per cent subvention and appealed to the state House of Assembly to vote in favour of local government autonomy and autonomy to judicial workers in the on-going review of the 1999 constitution besides appealing for the reconstruction of dilapidated public schools where students still learn without chairs and roofs.

Okowa assures on payment of pension arrears

Also, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State, said his administration was raising funds to offset some of the backlog of pension arrears of those who retired from the state civil service.
Okowa who was represented by the Secretary to State Government, Chief Patrick Ukah, said a number of projects were on going to ensure that he finished strong by May 2023, adding that measures would be taken to address the issue of soaring house rent in Asaba.
On the crisis in the Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria, ASCSN, leadership in the state, the governor said the state government would provide valuable advice in order to have peace, unity and harmony within the workforce.
Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, state chairman, Goodluck Ofobruku, called on the government to urgently intervene in the soaring rents workers were being made to pay in Asaba.
Ofobruku, however, commended Governor Okowa for paying attention to the welfare of workers through his labour friendly policies.
In his remarks, the state Head of Service, Mr. Reginald Bayoko praised workers in the state for their resourcefulness, enjoining them to use the 2022 May Day celebration to reflect and reaffirm their commitment to service of their fatherland.

Diri approves 100% increase for Bayelsa retirees’ gratuity

In Yenagoa, Governor Douye Diri of Bayelsa State, has approved additional N200 million for the payment of pensioners’ gratuity for the month of May.
Diri, who gave the approval Sunday at this year’s Workers Day celebration while responding to the demands of labour leadership in the state, assured retirees that N400 million would be made available this month to accommodate a sizeable number of pensioners in view of the backlog of arrears.
He said: “I am not unaware of the long queue for pensioners’ gratuity monthly. As you are aware, we are treating the backlog of payment of gratuity.
“Therefore, for the month of February, we have looked at the figure and have come up with an addition. Monthly, we release N200 million for pension and gratuities. This month, we will add an additional N200 million. In other words, N400 million will be made available for the payment of pensions and gratuities.”
Appreciating workers in the state for their support and the existing harmonious industrial relationship with his administration, he noted that his government had prioritised workers welfare to enhance productivity.
Diri also approved a number of the workers requests, which include implementation of the annual step increment as well as the release of funds for conduct of the 2022 promotion exercise for both at the state and local government levels.
He also approved the financial implementation of 2021 promotion exercise for workers and directed the relevant government officials to negotiate with labour to come up with feasible recommendations as soon as possible.

We are hungry, C/River workers tell Ayade

In Calabar, the organised labour in Cross River State comprising the NLC and the TUC disclosed that civil servants in the state were very hungry and on a tight rope, urging Governor Ben Ayade to remember his “food on the table” mantra and fulfill the agreements they had so far signed to make life easy for workers across the state.
Labour also commended the governor for providing N200 million for the payment of gratuities while appealing that the money be increased and released on a monthly basis in view of the humongous gratuity liability.
Addressing workers at the U. J Esuene Sports Stadium, Calabar, NLC chairman, Ben Ukpebi, said: “Workers Day provides an opportunity for appraisal of existing relationship between government and workers.
“It is on this premise that we use this occasion to remind government of pending unresolved issues as stated in the MoU between Cross River State government and organised labour .
“These include but not limited to the following: That the failure to implement promotion of deserving Civil Servant from 2016 till date is worrisome.
“That the contract for supply of computers to workers should be terminate and committee set up to ascertain the outstanding liabilities.
“The full implementation of minimum wage for workers is still pending, we pray the governor to do the needful. That the balance of 27.5percent to teachers is yet to be implemented amongst others.”
Ukpebi urged Nigerian workers, civil society and labour to join hands with NLC/TUC to continue to tackle the consequences of labour politics and quest for good governance.
On his part TUC chairman in the state, Monday Ogbodum, while lauding Governor Ayade for releasing N200 million for payment of gratuities, reminded him that workers were hungry and hanging on tight rope as so many of the agreements reached between organised labour and government were yet to be fulfilled.
Ogbodum recalled that on the issue of annual incremental step which was to take effect from January, 2022, government has failed and refused to implement it and same goes for the payrolling of the newly employed staff, who were verified here in the stadium and witnessed by the governor himself.

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Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia returns as high court judge four years after her dismissal

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Four years after Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia was dismissed as a judge of the federal high court, the National Judicial Council (NJC) has reinstated her.

Her reinstatement is coming three years after the court had cleared her of corruption preferred against her that led to the dismissal.

This is contained in a December 5 circular sent to all judges of the federal high court.

According to the circular signed by John Tsoho, chief judge of the federal high court, the reinstatement takes immediate effect.

It stated, “Your Lordships are by this circular letter notified that at the meeting of the National Judicial Council held on the 1st of December, 2022, the council reinstated the Hon. Justice R. N. Ofili-Ajumogobia as a judicial officer.

“The reinstatement takes instant effect and there shall be consequential posting.”

The chief registrar of the court as well as the director of library and deputy director of finance and accounts were copied in the memo.

In 2016, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had arraigned the judge on charges bordering on money laundering and breach of public trust.

However, Hakeem Oshodi, judge of a Lagos high court, struck out corruption charges against her.

In his ruling in April 2019, Oshodi struck out the 31 counts bordering on alleged perversion of the course of justice, unlawful enrichment and forgery on the grounds that the court lacked jurisdiction to hear the suit.

The charges were filed by the EFCC against Ofili-Ajumogobia and Godwin Obla.

In 2018, the NJC dismissed Ofili-Ajumogobia from the service of the Federal Judicial Service Commission (FJSC) on the grounds of alleged judicial misconduct.

Dissatisfied, she instituted a suit before Inyang Ekwo, judge of an Abuja federal high court, challenging the process adopted by the fact-finding committee of the NJC that recommended her dismissal.

She prayed the court to declare her dismissal unconstitutional, null and void.

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Hijab circular: MURIC expresses appreciation to Tinubu, Sanwo-Olu

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MURIC Director, Professor Ishaq Akintola

The Lagos State Government earlier this week issued an official circular which formally approved the use of Hijab in all Lagos schools.

Newsbreak.ng reports that this was sequel to the appeal made recently by an Islamic human rights organisation, the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), to the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Ahmed Tinubu, to intervene in the hijab affair in Lagos State.

It would be recalled that last week, MURIC appealed to Tinubu, a former governor of Lagos State, to wade into the delay in the enforcement of the Supreme Court judgement on hijab in Lagos State schools.

Consequently, MURIC has expressed gratitude to Tinubu, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu and others for ‘their role in facilitating’ the issuance of the circular.

The statement signed by MURIC’s Director, Prof.  Ishaq Akintola, partly reads: “MURIC expresses profound appreciation to Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu for rising to the occasion.

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“We also thank the Governor of Lagos State, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, for giving the final approval.  Both the Head of Service, Mr. Hakeem Okunola and the Commissioner of Education, Mrs. Folasade Adefisayo, for their constructive engagement which eventually led to the fruitful outcome.

“Equally worthy of mention are those who were involved in high-level diplomatic consultations behind the scene in the past 48 hours towards resolving the impasse. This resulted in treating the matter with military dispatch and the emergence of the circular within 24 hours. We are very grateful to them.

“MURIC congratulates the Muslim lawyers Association of Nigeria (MULAN), the Lagos Muslim Community and the entire Muslim Ummah who have shared our concerns over the years for the issuance of this historic circular.

“With this new development, MURIC pledges to double its pursuance of the presidential ambition of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu as well as the second tenure goal of Governor Sanwo-Olu. We call on all Islamic organisations in the country and all lovers of good governance to join hands with us in ensuring that these two goals become fait accompli.”

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FG losing $64m daily to oil thieves, inaugurates investigative panel

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Worried about Nigeria’s continued loss of revenue to oil thieves put at $64m daily, the Federal Government on Tuesday inaugurated an investigative panel to unravel those behind the criminal act and bring them to book.

The National Security Adviser, Major General Babagana Monguno (retd) disclosed this in Abuja as he inaugurated a nine-member Special Investigative Panel (SIP) on oil theft with a mandate to unravel individuals, organisations and groups involved in the Niger Delta region.

He said, “Some sources put the figure of daily crude oil losses at 800,000 bpd. This translates to a loss of income of about $64 million daily at the rate of $80 per barrel. Consequently, it is projected that if this trend continues unchecked and these figures keep fluctuating, it will result in a revenue shortfall of approximately $23bn in 2023.

”This translates to a loss of about N10 trillion when calculated at N445 to $1 exchange rate. This menace assumed a more worrisome dimension with recent discovery of illegal pipeline connection through which Trans Escravos pipeline was siphoned for several years.”

Monguno also said that recent interventions by the security agencies had revealed massive illicit platforms of stealing, ranging from marine evacuations via vessels, and load-outs from illegal operations platforms.

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The panel, according to the NSA, is expected to commence its assignment with immediate effect and submit its report on or before February 21, 2023.

He said Nigeria had consistently failed to meet its daily production quota of about two million barrels per day as provided by the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) due to oil theft orchestrated by unscrupulous elements.

He added that Nigeria’s current crude production struggled to meet even one million barrels per day.

He said the oil and revenue losses were a major threat to the economy, constraining the present administration to revert to less popular monetary and fiscal policies to address revenue side constraints with dire implications.

He noted that the security operations in the region brought to the fore, “a pathetic pattern of organised criminal enterprise of economic sabotage orchestrated by unpatriotic private individuals/groups, local and international companies, leaders and communities that had shortchanged the economy and portrayed the Administration in bad light.

He said the government had been briefed on the dwindling economic fortunes including, inability to replenish foreign reserves and reduction in revenue thereby, affecting accruals into the Federation Account.

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The NSA said, “With the scale of the theft and losses and the alleged complicity of regulatory agencies/officials and security personnel as well as the involvement of international collaborators, the enterprise is deeply entrenched and would be extremely difficult to exterminate without very stern and decisive action by the government.”

The panel has Major General Barry T Ndiomu (retd.) as chairman and Mr David Attah as secretary.

Other members are Mr. Erobiri Uchena, Mrs. Donu-Kogbora, Colonel B.A. Oguntayo (retd.), DIG Zaki Ahmed (retd), Dr Orji Ogbonnaya Orji, Mr. MO Ijere, Rear Admiral Atiku Abdulkadir (retd.), DIG Maigari Abbati Dikko (retd) and, Patrick Okonjo.

According to Monguno, nobody involved in the crime should be spared, whether serving or retired.

“We must fish them out and I guarantee you that they will be taken care of appropriately,” he said.

He rolled out the terms of reference as, to ascertain the circumstances surrounding the illegal insertion into the Trans-Escravos Pipeline (TEP) around Yokri area in Burutu local government area of Bayelsa State; establish the ramifications of crude oil theft/losses in Nigeria; ascertain the causative factors immediate and remote, of crude oil/theft/losses in the country; ascertain the extent of crude oil theft/losses in the country; with the widest possible amplitude identify persons/entities whether public, private or foreign, involved in the criminal enterprise; establish the level of culpability of identified persons/entities in the enterprise; examine the specific roles of Regulatory Agencies; Security Agencies, Tiers/Arms of Government and International Oil Companies (IOCs) in aiding and abetting the criminal enterprise; among others.

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