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Senate panel threatens Auditor General office with zero 2021 allocation

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Senate panel threatens Auditor General office with zero 2021 allocation

Senate Committee on Public Accounts (SPAC) yesterday threatened the Office of the Auditor General of the Federation with zero 2021 allocation if it fails to return to its office for the purpose of documenting it’s liabilities for the 2020 fiscal year.

The committee expressed concern that the Auditor general’s office was having liabilities and yet having unutilised allocation in the 2020 budget.

The chairman of the committee Senator Matthew Urhoghide who gave the directive to Auditor General of the Federation Mr. Adolphus Aghughu said he cannot say he has money and the same time owing.
“Go and pay all your debts, let us see what you have otherwise the office would be made to pay same to the federation account by the year ending December 31st 2020 if found wanting.”
This was sequel to observations by the committee members that a large portion of monies released to the Auditor General have not been utilised especially for its overhead and capital projects.
The Senate committee members wondered if the Office of the Auditor General of the federation deserved to be allocated funds for 2021 when that of 2020 was lying dormant.
Findings by the panel according Senator Urhoghide reads in part: “Now we are through with the overhead, Capital is the same thing, all your money is still with you. Monitoring and evaluation you have, N4m the money is still there; purchase of generator sets, N7.9m you still have a balance of N7.9m; Five cabinet and cupboard N808,000 it is still there, you did not use it.

“Purchase of firefighting equipment  N2.5m you still have N2.5m; servicing of forensic lab, equipment, so and so forth, N6.1m you still have N6.1m, these are monies released to you,” Urhoghide wondered.
The Committee Chairman  continued: “Do you know why we are asking this questions, we are doing appropriation for you, you will need to ascertain if you really need the resources.
“If all the monies allocated to you are not utilized and, this is already November, whether you like it or not, the account of this year will close by 31st of December, Anything in personnel and overhead not utilized will go back, how can we now as a committee defend this that the budget given to you to renovate your offices in Lagos and other States, you did not utilized it, it shows clearly that you do not need it,” Chairman of the committee, Senator Urhoghide stated.

In closing his remark, Urhoghide said  “All your liabilities and commitments, go and put them in place, you cannot say I have money and you are owing, go and pay all your debts, let us see what you have, he admonished the office of the Auditor General of the Federation.

Reacting to the development, Senator Ibrahim Danbaba Sokoto South Senatorial District said “As an accountant I am embarrassed with this kind of thing,” wondering how the office can be able to checkmate corruption in other institutions of government when it cannot carry out basic duties to strengthen its personnel and office to effectively audit government agencies.
Danbaba wondered what would be the justification for the AuGF to be further allocated any revenue in the 2021 budget especially as it is seeking a N4.6bn budgetary allocation for the 2031 fiscal year.

His words: “What is even bothering me is that, you are asking for N4. 6bn and you are struggling to spend just N16m, honestly, it does not make sense. I am terribly disappointed, all of you are professional accountants, it is a disappointment. I am supposed to be one of you but I am terribly disappointed in you, all of you.

On his part, Senator Suleiman Abdul-Kwari said that the none utilization of the funds allocated for purposes that would advance the operations of the AuGF was capable of threatening the Office structure and by extension national asset.

Senator Kwari said : “We bought Security and Exchange Commission when I was a commissioner of Finance and Admin for SEC and I know how much we spent to renovate their building.

This small sum of allocated for renovation, I think the building will be under threat of decay which is also not good for the investment of government”


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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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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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