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$1.2billion fine hinders Senate from revocking power contract

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$1.2billion fine hinders Senate from revocking power contract
….decries $30million monthly ezpenditure on services not provided

The $1.2billion fine imposed for any defaulting party in the Azura and ACU Gas Power agreement entered into by the Nigerian Government with the two power plants in 2015 has caused the Senate to back out from its plan to revoke the contract.

It therefore resolved to explore legal advice from a team of competent legal luminaries to enable Nigeria review the Azura gas contract in a manner that will not attract the liability of $1.2 billion if it breaches the contract.
The Federal Government had signed the agreement with the Azura and Acu power plants to enable it secure a $237 million loan to finance its 450MW gas project in Edo state for gas supply to Calabar power plant due to inability of Transmission Company of Nigeria ( TCN) to provide the services.

Five years down the line, neither Azura nor ACU has been able to render full services contained in the agreement with Nigeria as the project is draining from the country purse between $30 and $33million monthly for services not fully rendered.

Irked by the worrisome development the senate Committee on Power, contemplated outright revocation of the contract agreement, it however quickly backed out of the plan when it realised fine of about $1.2billion would be drawn from the country’s foreign reserve in the event of any breach.

Senator Suswam who made the explanation as part of presentations in a report from the Senate’s Summit on Power Sector held in January this year said the fine as contained in the agreement.

“The agreement is a take or pay model which is highly disadvantageous to the country because, whether Azura generates the 450mw or not, Nigeria must pay the $30million to it monthly.

“The way out is for the Senate to liaise with the executive and the affected firms for soft landing in the unpopular agreement to avert any breach that would attract the fine of$1.2billion”

Earlier in the report, Suswam explained to the Senate that since the Privatized Power sector as it is presently, is insolvent , government should use its 40% share to get it solvent by way of providing meters for the DISCOs to distribute to electricity consumers .

By so doing this, he explained, the Government be able to surmount the monthly subsidies cum interventions, has been injecting into the sector within the last seven years , totalling N1.5trillion now .

After a heated debate by virtually all senators present, the Senate adopted recommendations made by the Suswam led Committee.

One of which is total review of the Power Privatization carried out in November between 2016 and 2017

The upper legislative chamber also seeks for review of Electric Power Sector Reform Act 2005 in paving way for a new and more dynamic electricity Act that will consolidate all electricity related laws.
They also resolved to consolidate the roles of the regulators and policy makers to bridge existing gaps in the legal and regulatory frameworks and cater to post – Privatization operational issues in the Nigerian power sector.
This they said will boost investors’ confidence and positively impact on the overall outlook of the Nigerian power sector.

It also adopted recommendation on Cost reflective Tariffs which should only be implemented when majority of electricity consumers, have been metered .

As way of bridging the gap in remittances to the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), the Senate urged Ministries, Departments and Agencies of Government (MDAs) to make provision for payment of all outstanding debts and liabilities owed to DISCOs, as well as accommodate budgetary provision for anticipated consumption for the 2021 Appropriation year.
The upper chamber while kicking against the bill on criminalizing estimated billing, called for the immediate removal of the increased custom duties of 35 percent to allow Meter Asset Providers (MAP) clear meters stuck at the port.
According to the Senate, rather than continue to pay for consumption, the Federal Government should consider an intervention that would see to the purchase of customer meters as way of fulfilling its 40 percent shareholding in the Discos.
To nsulate the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission against political interference, the upper chamber resolved that the regulatory body be empowered and enabled to carry out its functions in a way that will guarantee seamless engagements.
It also called on the Federal Government to consider recruiting 320 additional manpower for the Nigeria Electricity Management Services Agency (NEMSA) to carry out technical inspection, testing and certification of all categories of Electrical installation across parts of the country, as well as provide nationwide metering inspection services.
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Legislature

Communal Clashes: Senators Sue for Peace in Benue, Ebonyi

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Worried by the lingering communal Clashes among people of some communities in their States , Senators Abba Moro ( PDP Benue South) and Sam Egwu ( PDP Ebonyi North) , have sued for peace.

The two senators at a joint press conference on Wednesday in Abuja , said the warring communities across the two states should cease fire by allowing the National Boundary Commission to wage in as far as appropriate demarcation of territories are concerned .

The jointly signed press statenent by the Senators reads : ” As the Senators representing Ebonyi North Senatorial District and Benue South Senatorial District, we are here to brief you on recent security concerns that have substantially threatened the peace and development of the people of Ohaukwu and Ado LGAs in our Senatorial Districts.

“On Monday the 12th day of April, 2021, alleged herdsmen invaded Umuogudu Akpu Community, Ngbo, in Ohaukwu LGA of Ebonyi State and gruesomely killed over 12 innocent indigenes, burnt/destroyed over 56 houses and kidnapped 5 persons.

” While we were mourning our people and trying to identify the extent of damage, we were surprisingly greeted with a statement by the Governor of Ebonyi State, Dave Umahi, without any form of investigation, that the attack was carried out by Agila people, and not Fulani herdsmen.

” This claim, which has the potential of heightening the tension between the two communities has long been refuted and denied by the Chairman of Ado LGA and the Government of Benue State. The people of Ado LGA who have been victims of herdsmen attacks in recent times couldn’t have hired the same people to carry out an attack on their behalf.

“There have been sustained efforts on our part to finally settle the land dispute and restore lasting peace between Ngbo people in Ohaukwu LGA of Ebonyi State and the Agila people in Ado LGA of Benue State, which have lingered over the years. Motions have been raised on the floor of the Senate, resolutions passed by the Senate and efforts sustained at the State and Federal levels to ensure that lasting peace is restored between the two communities.

“We urge security operatives to move into the affected communities and secure lives and property of the people. We know that both communities have embraced the proposed rebeaconing and delimitation exercise by the National Boundary Commission.

” We therefore urge that the exercise should be carried out with dispatch to finally put to an end all the boundary-related crises in our Senatorial Districts”.

The two federal lawmakers also proffered similar solutions for the Ezza/ Effium crisis .

They said : ” On the Ezza/Effium crisis, which started in Effium community in Ebonyi state and spilled into Ado LGA in Benue State because of the presence of Ezzas/Effiumites in Ado LGA, it is regrettable that the crisis is yet to be contained, leading to the relocation of some Efium and Ezza people to neighboring communities both in Ohaukwu LGA of Ebonyi State and Ado LGA of Benue State, thereby creating apprehension in those neighboring communities.

“The alleged abduction of Five Elders from Odum Community of Ulayi District, Ado LGA before Easter Sunday has heightened the tension between the affected communities. However, the timely intervention of the government to contain the situation has prevented any form of retaliation or reprisal attack. It was resolved that the Traditional Council of Ado Local Government should reach out to the elders and traditional leaders of Ohaukwu LGA to broker more peaceful negotiations and resolution of the matter.

“We therefore call on the Governments of Benue and Ebonyi States to put in greater efforts and in collaboration with relevant Federal Government Agencies to take immediate practical steps to ensure immediate of all adopted persons and restoration of lasting peace between the affected communities.

“We urge our people in the affected communities to please apply restraint, avoid all forms of violence, maintain peaceful coexistence and rest assured that we will do everything within our power and influence to ensure the restoration of lasting peace in the affected communities” .

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Legislature

Gbajabiamila wants anti-graft agencies to partner legislators in anti graft war

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By Aminci Audu

To ensure an effective fight against corruption in Nigeria organise capacity building programs for legislators
speaker of the House of  Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila has urged anti-graft agencies.

Speaking at a workshop organised for House Committee on Anti-Corruption by Konrad Adeneur Stiftung Foundation on Thursday in Abuja tge speaker indicated that Nigerians are desirous of good governance, hence they are looking up to the legislature to serve as agents that would help combat poverty, corruption and other challenges in the country.

The workshop entitled, ‘The Fight Against Corruption: The Role of the Legislature’ Gbajabiamila said the House is working on plans for an anti-corruption legislation and the possibility of establishing special anti-corruption courts.
According to him, the House was also considering strengthening the fight against corruption through increased funding for anti-graft agencies and separation of powers through a constitutional amendment to separate the office of the Minister of Justice from that of the Attorney-General.
“To the anti-graft agencies here present, I wish to also encourage you to organise similar capacity building workshops or to collaborate with the committee on sensitisation programmes to curb or reduce corruption in the country.

“This will surely assist the committee to broaden its know-how on anti-corruption matters,’’ he said.
He encouraged the lawmakers to make maximum use of the opportunity to participate and to increase their knowledge.
The speaker expressed the optimism that at the end of the workshop, its aims and objectives would have been realised by helping the lawmakers to come up with legislation that would stand the test of time.
The Chairman of the Committee on Anti-corruption, Rep. Shehu Garba (APC-Kaduna) indicated that the workshop was to help the committee to effectively discharge its duties.
Garba, represented by the Deputy Chairman, Rep. Bagos Dachung (PDP-Plateau) said that the importance of capacity building in human life cannot be overemphasised.
He said that the target was to broaden the knowledge of the participants.
“We all know the dynamics of corruption; hence we need to try every available means to tackle it.
“This capacity building for lawmakers on Anti-Corruption is a crucial component of this 9th House of Representatives Legislative Agenda on Anti-Corruption.
“At the inaugural meeting of the Committee, an ad hoc committee was set up to design a work plan to assist it in the discharge of its mandate, and one of the proposals from the ad hoc committee was to collaborate and seek support from organisations of like minds in order to tackle the menace anti-corruption.

“We all know the crucial role the parliament has to play in the fight against corruption and to be able to do so, she needs not only to be well informed but also to be well-armed,’’ he said.
Prof. Suleiman Abubakar, Director-General, National Institute of Legislative and Democratic Studies stressed the need for a change of narrative of the legislature.
According to him, there is a need to change the narrative that the parliament aims to undermine the strength of anti-graft agencies.
“The legislature is doing so much to assist the anti-graft agencies in achieving their mandate through oversight activities and other processes of the National Assembly.
“It rests on those agencies to work well with the National Assembly by ensuring that those procedures are carried out appropriately and Legislature performs its role, especially in oversight which is key and cumbersome.
“Not only by cooperating but also canvassing for the National Assembly to get all the support it needs and requires to perform its duties,’’ he said.

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Investigate alleged human rights abuses in Taraba, Senate asks IGP

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Senate has asked Acting Inspector-General of Police (I-GP) Usman Alkali and the Police Service Commission (PSC) to investigate the alleged violation of human rights by police in Taraba.
The upper chamber also urged them to investigate the officer, the Commissioner of Police in Taraba, who allegedly authorised the unlawful arrest and detention of 14 residents in the state without bail.
These resolutions were sequel to a Point of Order raised by Sen. Emmanuel Bwacha (PDP-Taraba) at the plenary on Wednesday.
Other resolutions by the senate included the directive on the National Judicial Commission (NJC) in collaboration with their state counterpart to investigate the acting Chief Registrar of Taraba High Court, Bartholomew Kaigama, over judicial abuse.


Raising on Orders 42 and 52 of Senate’s Standing Rules, Bwacha, who is the Senate Deputy Minority Leader, raised concerns over continuous abuse of human rights and violation of Nigerian citizens with impunity by some institutions within Taraba.
“These are very visible institutions, individuals in the judiciary and of course in the police.
“The Senate is worried that Nigerians are yet to forget in a hurry the danger that involved this country by our youths, originating from the EndSARS demonstration.
“That the Taraba judiciary has been on strike to press home their demand for independence of the judiciary and, so the state judiciary has been on strike for quite some time now.
“I am concerned that 14 members of my senatorial district were on April 23, bundled out of their domain and taken to Jalingo, detained in a police cell and all entreaties to get them on bail fell on deaf ears.
According to him, the alleged offence made against them was actually a quarrel between them or an exchange of unpleasant words between them and a younger brother of the state governor.
“It is common knowledge that the Nigerian Constitution demands in a matter of this nature, the suspect shall be charged to court within 24 hours, will be released on bail and can be seen in Sections 35(4) and (5A)of the 1999 Constitution as amended.
“In spite of the bail application served on the police on April 29, that was exactly one week after they had been detained, the police now hurriedly went to see a judicial officer.
“I think the Chief Registrar of the state judiciary or high court, one Bartholomew Kaigama, who issued a warrant of detention without hearing out the accused.
“From the police cell, they were taken straight to prison. This is judicial rascality of a monumental proportion and it is condemnable.
“It is unwarranted and must be investigated and whoever is found trying to drag the name of the judiciary into the mud must be punished accordingly,” he said.
Supporting the motion, Senate Deputy Chief Whip, Sen. Sabi Abdullahi, said that the matter was quite unfortunate.
“Unfortunate in the sense that if this is true, it shows clearly that some people are using the privilege of their own power to oppress young people, who perhaps have said something negative.
“These issues that are presented here may require further investigation.
“If this is true, it clearly shows one of the reasons people are opposed to the idea of state police where a governor will have unfettered power to do and undo.

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