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Fraud: Financial Reporting Council in N66m rent scandal

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Fraud: Financial Reporting Council in N66m rent scandal
*** used 64 vouchers to collect N28 million 
 

Senate panel on Public Accounts has unravelled a fraud in the payment of a two years rent to the tune of N66 by Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria without occupying the property.
Also,  the Committee chaired by Senator Mathew Urhoghide also uncovered another fraud by the agency when it used 64 vouchers to siphon N28 million. 
These fraudulent payments using government’s fund occured during the tenure of Jim Obazee as Executive Secretary of the Council. 
Obazee as the Execuive Secretary then was the principal actor in the controversial exit of Pastor Enoch Adeboye as the General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church God, RCCG, Nigeria.
The Council is responsible for setting and promoting compliance with standards for accounting, financial reporting and auditing in Nigeria, under which it created its controversial Code of Corporate Governance.
The breakdown of the N66 million showed that the FRA paid N42 million for rent and N23.4 million as legal fee. 
The query reads in part, “It was observed that, on 21/11/16 the sum of N42 million  was paid as rent to Japaul Oil and Maritime Services for an office space at Japaul Building. N23.4 million was paid to SolaOluseyi & Co, as legal and agency fee for the office space, making a total of N66 million for two years ending 1/1/2019. 
“The Council is yet to move into the building, twenty (20) months running with 4 months to its expiration. This anomaly was due to the failure of the Executive Secretary to exercise due diligence in the application of public funds by ensuring that value is received for money expended. 
“The Council carried out expenditure of such magnitude and yet fail to receive value. The whooping sum of money was paid for rent by the Council, yet failed to occupy the building, this amounts to waste of government resources. 

But,  the Finance Reporting Council in its written response said, “Upon the acquisition of the office accommodation at the Japaul House, there was need to give the property a face-lift including partitioning befitting of an office. However, there was change of Executive Secretary in 2017, which slowed the process of award of contract. Secondly, the Landlord was not willing to renew the tenancy agreement after the expiration of the current agreement. 
“The Management further remarked that, theCouncil is taking steps to utilize the building and secure a further lease from the Landlord. Auditor’s evaluation.”
It was further gathered that the former Executive Secretary has an interest in that particular building paid for by the Financial Reporting Council. 

Also in yet another query which reads, “During the audit, it was observed that sixty four (64) payment vouchers for the sum of N28,765,842.11 (Twenty eight million, seven hundred and sixty five thousand, eight hundred and forty two naira, eleven kobo) were raised and paid without the Internal Audit stamps and dates, in contravention with the provisions of extant laws and regulations.

” This infraction was due to the failure of the Executive Secretary to strictly comply with the provisions of law and laid down procedures aimed at the strengthening the internal control system in government agencies. Payments arising from vouchers not preaudited cannot be accepted as judicious charge against public funds.”

The Chairman of the Committee however ordered the former Executive Secretary to return N94 million fraudulently collected to Federation Account.

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Legislature

Kogi Rainstorm: Senate wants NEMA to supply relief materials to affected areas

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Kogi Rainstorm: Senate wants NEMA to supply relief materials to affected areas

The Senate on Tuesday mandated its Committee on Special Duties to liaise with the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) to urgently supply relief and rehabilitation materials to Olamaboro communities of Kogi affected by rainstorm.
This, the upper chamber said was with a view to mitigating the sufferings of the victims.
The resolution was sequel to a Point of Order raised by Sen. Isah Jibrin (APC-Kogi) during plenary
The motion was titled “Urgent need for rehabilitation of communities affected by rainstorm in Olamaboro Local Government Area of Kogi”.
The upper chamber also mandated the Committee on Poverty Alleviation and Social Investment Programme (SIP), to liaise with the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development to provide minimal seed capitals for the victims in the affected communities.
This, the Senate said was to help in facilitating their various economic activities. 

Senator Jibrin while moving the motion expressed worry that with the commencement of the rains, over 200 residential buildings had been destroyed across many communities in the LGA in a rainstorm, following a heavy downpour on April 9.
“Apart from destruction of residential buildings, the devastating rainstorm also ravaged crops, farmlands, schools, worship houses, clinics and businesses in several communities in the LGA.He expressed the concern that many victims of the disaster sustained varying degrees of injury and are receiving medical attention at various health centres within the LGA and neighbouring LGAs.Hence he said, the disaster has created a serious humanitarian crisis as families are rendered homeless and their means of livelihood and properties woxth millions of naira destroyed by the rainstorm, thereby creating a situation of internal displacement.
He listed the major affected communities to inlude Ogugu Central, Ogane~0forachi, Emodida, Iyono, Emagaba No.1, Emenega, Emonoja-Aludu, Eegahimotu and Adupi Emoriko in Ogugu Dtstrict. In addition to many others within Okpo and Imane communities.

Contributing, Sen. Yakubu Oseni called on the Federal Government to provide succor to the  affected communities by coming to their aid

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Nigeria can no longer Pretend, there are firearms in wrong Hands – Senator Bamidele

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Nigeria can no longer Pretend, there are firearms in wrong Hands – Senator Bamidele

By Joseph Sunday

The chairman Joint committee on Justice and Human Rights said the committee is trying to amend the act in a way that Nigeria can have a one stop shop in the maritime sector.

Senator Opeyemi stated this during the presentation of the Exclusive Economic zone Act amendment Bill and the Fire Arms amendment Bill by stakeholders.

The chairman told journalists that Nigeria cannot pretend, it has arms and ammunition in wrong hands.
“Stiffer punishment should be served as sanction to anyone in possession of fire arms without license.”

He said section 33(4) can take care of any lacuna in the act that has to do with management and ownership of our mineral resources. He posited that an amendment Bill can alter the constitution to provide for any additional property or minerals not covered by the constitution.

In another development, Senator Opeyemi Bamidele called on state Governors and other stakeholders to do the needful in the interest of the public by granting independence to the judiciary in their states. He said “no body stands to lose anything “
The national assembly has granted the judiciary independence at the Federal level through the passage of necessary laws.

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Insecurity: Nigeria under siege, Senate raises the alarm

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Insecurity: Nigeria under siege, Senate raises the alarm

The Senate has raised the alarm that Nigeria is presently under siege from murderous non – state actors, whose activities are threatening the cooperate existence of the country.

To make the matter more scary records from the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Africa (UNREC), indicated that out of 500 million Illegal weapons circulating in West Africa, 350 million, which represents 70%, are domiciled in Nigeria for evil activities of criminally minded people .

Senator Uba Sani (APC Kaduna Central), Made the frightening submissions at the public hearing organised by the Senate Joint Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, Navy and Marine Transport on Firearms Act 2004 ( Amendment) Bill 2021 and Exclusive Economic Zones Act 2010 ( Repeal and Re – Enactment) Bill 2021.

He said the country needs to urgently address the worrisome situation.

Sani the sponsor of the Firearms (Amendment) Bill lamented that proliferation of illegal arms and ammunition in the country with little or no control by relevant authorities has profound implications for collective survival of Nigerians and Nigeria.

He said, “We are gathered here to deal with a matter that has profound implications for our collective survival.

“We are under siege from murderous non – state actors. They have been acquiring arms illegally, maiming our people and threatening the continued existence of our dear Nation. 

“We either take measures to deny them of the oxygen that sustains their nefarious activities, or we watch helplessly as they overrun us and our country.”

The main aim of the proposed amendments to the Firearms Act, he explained, is to curtail the proliferation of illegal arms and bring the existing law in line with global best practices.

He lamented that “The United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Africa (UNREC), recently reported that the proliferation of illicit small arms and light weapons (SALW) in Nigeria, has reached an alarming proportion.

“Analysts estimate that out of the 500 million weapons circulating in West Africa, 350 million, which represents 70% of such weapons, can be found in Nigeria.

“A pointer to this effect can be cited with the incidence of January 31st , 2017, when the Nigeria Customs Service confirmed the interception and seizure of 661 Pump Action Riffles imported from China into our country.

“More recently in Benue State, a local militia had the temerity to kill an Army Captain and 11 Soldiers not to talk of reign of terror in Owerri, Imo State by Gunmen who launched coordinated attacks on the Police headquarters and Correctional Centre .

“Something must be done urgently to curtail arms proliferation, the very reason for the proposed amendment bill on  the existing Firearms Act”, he said .

He listed the five major objectives of the amendment bill to include imposition of stiffer penalties for offences under the Act .

One of such penalties is the one under section 27 (sub section 1c), which proposed increase of fine from N1,000 to N1million .

Representative of Chief of Air Staff, Air Vice Marshall Oladayo Amao, in his submission, objected to the N1million proposed fine on illegal possession of firearms arguing for its upward review to N2million.

Earlier in his opening remarks, the Chairman of the joint Commitee, Senator Micheal Opeyemi Bamidele (APC Ekiti Central), said the purpose of the two bills were to further strengthen the Nigerian extant laws against illegal firearms possession and proliferation as well as making provisions of the Act on Exclusive Economic Zone to be in line with global practices as far as protection of the Nation’s territorial sea or waters are concerned.

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