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Senate panel orders Perm sec to Produce 55 missing vehicles from Environment ministry

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Senate panel orders Perm sec to Produce 55 missing vehicles from Environment ministry

By Joseph Sunday

The Senate Committee on Public Accounts thursday gave marching orders to the new permanent secretary of the Federal ministry of Environment Abel Olumuyiwa Enitan to produce 55 official vehicles that were not properly accounted for in 2018.

The Committee had queried the Ministry of Environment over the alleged missing 55 vehicles.

The Committee chaired by Senator Mathew Urhoghide relied on the 2018 Auditor General’s Report.

The query reads, ” Audit observed that 55 vehicles were not presented for physical inspection, all efforts to inspect and confirm their existence proved abortive and the exact location of these vehicles could not be ascertained.

“We are aware that some officers take ministry vehicles away with them when going on transfer or retirement.

” The audit further observed that the motor vehicles Logbooks had not been updated, making it difficult to track the movement of these vehicles and track their record of maintenance. It is also noted that some official vehicles carry pdivate plate number and registered number.
Speaking after the hearing by the committee, chairmavehicles Committee  senator Mathew Orhoghide said as the accounting officer of the ministry he should make every effort to recover the 55 missing vehicles.
“The permanent secretary is required to make every effort to account for those vehicles not presented for audit.
He however appreciated the effort of the permanent secretary in trying to extricate the ministry from the infraction.
“One of the things I must tell you is any decision we take here is for the sustainable development  of what the system should be.
“Ministry of environment is our own ministry, if somebody with the responsibility of permanent secretary did not do well it would be disservice to the nation for us to rationalise his actions.
“Let us assume that these vehicles have been taken away, it is our common asset. Permanent secretary should go and produce the vehicles, by the time the presidnt gets it the first time, we want to see really how serious the executive is.
“That is why we have to do things right, if we come and treat you with kids gloves because people have been taking vehicles away, do you want it to continue. No, 
“If you take our annual budget all MDAs purchase of vehicles is enough to create jobs for all the youths, the vehicle are bought every year and they are carted away, it is not you.”
So he said, they would not allow anybody to came and blindfold the committee.

The auditor general Aghughu Adolphus Arhotomhenla had querried the ministry’s Audit that indicated 55 vehicles were not presented for physical inspection.
He said all efforts to inspect them and confirm their existence proved abortive and the location of the vehicles could not be ascertained. “We are aware that some officers take these vehicles away when going on transfer or retirement.”
Explaining further he said, “We further observed that the motor vehicle log book has not been updated, making it difficult to track the movement of these vehicles and tack their record of maintenance.
“It is also noted that some official vehicles carry private plate numbers in place of Government registered number.
“The above anomalies are because of failure on the part of the management to ensure proper record keeping and due process in the ministry.”
The auditor general while justifying the querry quoted financial regulations 2005 which says, “The accounting officer shall be responsible in  ensuring that there are effective control in the use of Government vehicles, for this purpose, you will ensure that the following records are maintained.
“Vehicles control register, exposition, approval for journey register, vehicle log book, vehicle maintainable register.”
He said the essence is to prevent Government vehicles from being diverted for private use, unthorised journey that may be undertaken due to lack of adherence to the internal control system put in place.
In his recommendation he said,
“The permanent secretary should account for the 55vehicles not presented during audit. He should also be sanctioned in accordance with provisions of financial regulation 3129 of the Financial regulation which says, “any officer who violates any other provision for which no sanction is specifically recommended, shall be taken to have committed gross misconduct and shall be disciplined accordingly.”
“What you have presented as your evidence here is just schedule, anybody can type anything and affix, there is no document here that connect us with the vehicles.
“I am not accepting this as evidence. Some of the vehicles don’t have chasis number, it was 2018 and we are in 2021 those vehicles still don’t have chasis number, it is not the issue of locating but that those vehicle probably must have been carried away by officers.”
In his response, the new permanent secretary said the anomaly did not happen under his watch however, he said the vehicles were not prsented to the auditor General at the time the ministry was issued the querry because the list, the register and other documents concerning the vehicles were not available circumstantially to aid the auditors verification. “Presently the list of the vehicles are available for the auditors sighting and verification.
“I want to take this opportunity to invite our esteemed auditor and maybe the committee to set up a sub-committee to come and verify and inspect these vehicles. The comprehensive list of the vehicles are attached on page 50 of our submission and they are available for sighting.
“These are records that can be updated, but the vehicles are there even in State offices they are there. What I am saying on oath is that the vehicles are available for inspection.”
“I can assure you the vehicles are available for verification and sighting, the missing details I will make sure we put them back and come back to the committee and put everything before them. “There is nothing to hide, we ar in an era of transparency and accountability and that is what the ministry is committed to doing at all times. I have given them my words on oath, we will come with all the information to present them before the committee.”

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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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Legislature

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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Legislature

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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