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N1.8b: Why We failed to pay SAHCOL ex-Workers’ Severance Benefits- BPE

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N1.8b: Why We failed to pay SAHCOL ex-Workers' Severance Benefits- BPE

The Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) says the compulsory contribution to the Treasury Single Account (TSA) is preventing it from paying N1.8 billion severance packages to the ex-staff of the Skypower Aviation Handling Company Limited (SAHCOL) since 2018.

The bureau’s Director for Post Transaction Management, Mr. Tajudeen Oduniyi, made this known in a letter with reference number: BPE/PTM/NUATE/11/2022/M10.01 in Lagos on Sunday.

Oduniyi said that its contribution to the TSA stopped it from fulfilling the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) reached with the former workers in 2018.

He also said all entreaties to Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, to ensure the release of the funds proved abortive.

The Federal Government in 2015 through its policy had compelled all ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) to contribute 25 percent of their revenues to the TSA.

It would be recalled that government had in the middle of this month, gone ahead to increase the contribution to 40 percent, thereby adding more burdens to the MDAs.

The official said BPE reached an agreement with the former 982 staff of SAHCOL on Nov. 2, 2018, after which it inaugurate a negotiation committee to ensure the implementation of the MoU.

He said the organisation has written to the finance minister for funds to settle the retrenched workers but is still awaiting a reply.

“In light of the foregoing, it has become expedient to update you on our modest efforts to bridge communication gap from the MOU we signed with you on November 2, 2018.

“This is in addition to our Director-General‘s willingness to offer to pay the redundancy as opposed to the stand of the Chairman of SAHCOL.

“Also recall that at the inception of this administration in 2015, all funds of government agencies and MDAs were swept into the Treasury Single Account (TSA), thus disabling us financially. Given this scenario, our only option was to write to the Minister of Finance for funds to settle you, which we did via our memo on May 19, 2022,” he said.

Oduniyi said it had employed several persons to assist on the issue, noting that a visit was paid to a director with the office of the Accountant-General of the Federation on Friday.

He appealed to the workers to show understanding until the issue is resolved.

However, there are strong indications that the workers who had been sacked since 2010 by the new owners of SAHCOL (now Skyway Aviation Handling Company (SAHCO Plc), may cause industrial unrest in the sector.

A former workers who pleaded anonymity told newsmen in Lagos that its members have been mobilised through unions to organise a protest in the sector in November.

“We have waited enough as we were laid off since 2010, so steps have been taken to ensure that we were paid as agreed, but unfortunately, we are yet to be paid.

“The BPE in 2018, after agreeing that we were entitled to several packages, promised to pay us, but four years after this, we are yet to get anything from the bureau.

“They are even asking us to assist them in getting the money out of the Ministry of Finance. How can we do that when we are not the government?” the source said.

 

Economy

LASG Issues Travel Advisory Ahead Of Students Rave Event

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LASG Issues Travel Advisory Ahead Of Students Rave Event

… Says traffic will be restricted between Police Zonal Headquarters, Zone 2 and Onikan Roundabout from 7:00 am*** 

The Lagos State Government has advised Motorists to plan their movement around Mobolaji Johnson Arena, Old Onikan Stadium, Lagos Island ahead of the Students Rave 2023 event scheduled for Friday, 27th January 2023.

As a result of the above rally, the Commissioner for Transportation, Dr. Frederic Oladeinde disclosed that traffic will be restricted between Police Zonal Headquarters, Zone 2 and Onikan Roundabout from 7:00 am on the aforementioned day. He assured that Officers of the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority, (LASTMA) will be available to manage traffic flow.

Explaining the alternative routes, Oladeinde advises Motorists plying Island Club road by Police Headquarters Zone 2, Onikan to go through Ozumba Mbadiwe road inbound Falomo Bridge (Five Cowries Bridge) to link Alfred Rewane and Osborne road to complete their journeys.

In the same vein, Motorists from Bonny Camp according to the diversion plan can access CMS/Marina Bridge after Independence Bridge (Mekunwen Bridge) and loop it down towards Cathedral Church to connect Lagos Island proper through Odunlami Street for their desired destinations,

The Transport Commissioner also advises Motorists to utilize Force road beside Muson Centre to link J.K Randle Avenue (Race Course) or go through Onikan Roundabout to connect JK Randle Avenue/Water Board area to access CMS Bridge by the State House/Old NITEL Building.

He further explained that Water Board inbound Broad Street to Tinubu Square will be available to Motorists, adding that they can equally access Old Defense road/ Ganiyu Smith from Water Board to link Igbosere/Sandgrouse to Simpson Street and connect Third Mainland Bridge to continue their journeys to other parts of the State.

The Transport Commissioner reiterated that Security and Law Enforcement Agencies will be at all strategic junctions and intersections to ensure the safety and security of all road users and the free flow of traffic within the perimeter of the venue and alternative routes outside the venue.

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Economy

Aregbesola: Immigration Produced More than 1.7m Passports in 2022

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Aregbesola: Immigration Produced More than 1.7m Passports in 2022

…Agrees there are human-induced challenges***

Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, said in Abuja on Thursday that the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) produced more than 1.7 million passports in 2022.

Fielding questions at the 64th edition of the State House briefing organised by the Presidential Communications Team, Aregbesola said the figure was a landmark achievement.

He rated the Ministry of Interior and its agencies as having scored above 80 percent in terms of performance.

“By Dec. 31, 2022, we produced more than 1.7 million passports.

“In the annals of Nigeria that has not happened before; as I am talking to you, we have more than 200,000 booklets in our store.

“We are not denying the fact that there are human-induced challenges if you look at the number of applications, vis-a-vis the number of passports produced.

“We are above 80 percent in performance; in any way, take it as given that we produced more than 1.7 passports in 2022,’’ Aregbesola said.

The minister said that a presidential directive had been issued with regard to the domestication of passport production.

He said the Ministry of Interior, in collaboration with the NIS, had impanelled a “project steering committee’ with a mandate to actualise the goal.

Aregbesola also said there was a major reformation and digitisation of passport issuance and administration as a temporary electronic passport had been introduced.

“We are digitising the process; my plan was to fully digitise the Ikoyi Registry in Lagos by Dec. 2022 but I could not fully achieve that.

“What does that mean? When this process is concluded, an applicant does not need to bring anything anymore; you complete your process online and by that time, you don’t need an agent.

“There can’t be racketeering. I am on it and I want to guarantee that we will do it before we leave.

“We have also concluded arrangements on the temporary passport issue; we have the passport, but we have some issues with our sister ministry – the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and we are solving it,’’ he said.

According to the minister, the temporary passport will facilitate a return to Nigeria for Nigerians living abroad if they need to get back in emergencies and did not have current passports.

Such Nigerians would return home, carrying their expired passports also, the minister said.

“Much as that won’t be a problem for us to take at our reception desk, some airlines could be difficult.

“I can even tell you that we are discussing with South Africa now; South Africa does not allow the use of expired passports as a nation contrary to International Civil Aviation Orgnanisation (ICAO) regulation.

“ICAO says that every citizen of a nation dead or alive cannot be denied entry to his home; which is logical anyway.

“The last time I treated a file from South Africa through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, they were insisting that if one’s passport is not current, one cannot be taken in or out of South Africa’s space.

“It is their policy; you cannot deny a nation its national policies and programmes.

“To avoid that, we introduced what is called temporary electronic passport; it is a one-way passport to return home,’’ Aregbesola explained.

He said that under the temporary passport regime, citizens who had the data pages of their expired passports could take them to Nigeria’s embassies to get the temporary electronic passport after paying the appropriate fees.

“The temporary electronic passports are almost exactly the same as their expired passports.

“It does not have more than one page to take you home; when you hold the electronic passport, you cannot go anywhere but home.

“We are still in negotiation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs,’’ Aregbesola said.

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Economy

Court Again adjourns, for report of settlement in suit against Dana Air MD

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Court Again adjourns, for report of settlement in suit against Dana Air MD

…Ranesh still shuns Court*** 

 A Federal High Court, Abuja has fixed May 31 for report of settlement in a suit filed by the office of Attorney-General of Federation (AGF) against Managing Director (MD), Dana Air, Hathiramani Ranesh.

Justice Obiora Egwuatu fixed the date on Wednesday following an oral application for adjournment by counsel to the AGF, M. Okeya.

Though the prosecution counsel was in court when the matter was called, neither Mr Ranesh nor his lawyer was in court.

The suit, marked FHC/ABJ/CR/101/21 which was number 10 on the day’s cause list, was for the arraignment of Ranesh and two others.

Upon resuming the hearing in the case, Okeya told Justice Egwuatu that the parties in the suit were exploring settlement options.

The lawyer, who informed that a sister case was also before a Lagos court, said the matter would be coming up later in the year.

She, however, sought a longer date for a report on the outcome of settlement and the judge consequently adjourned the case until May 31 for a report.

Egwuatu had, on Oct. 13, 2022, adjourned the matter until Jan. 25 for arraignment of the defendants following the absence of Mr Ranesh and the prosecution lawyer in court.

However, Ranesh’s counsel, Ade Adedeji, SAN, was in court and he hinted that the prosecution and the defence were exploring reconciliation.

It is incisive that since the commencement of the matter, Dana Air MD had not been present in court.

On June 30, 2021, when the matter came up, while other defendants were in court, Ranesh was absent.

Adedeji had told the court that the absence of his client in court was to the knowledge of the prosecution.

When the matter was called, Adedeji, said he was in court to represent Ranesh after they were served with the notice of arraignment.

The lawyer had told the court that his client was not in the country.

“The charge before this honourable court is a serious matter.

“We came in from Lagos just to come and explain to your lordship the circumstances that informed our acceptance of service without knowing that the date is coming so soon.

“We didn’t know before we accepted it. We have an option not to accept this but as officers in the temple of justice, we felt we are under obligation to accept on his (Ranesh’s) behalf.

“But to the knowledge of counsel to the prosecution, the principal defendant is not in the country which was made known to the prosecution.

“It is on the basis of these circumstances that we shall be appealing to your lordship for an adjournment my lord to enable the defendant appear before this honourable court,” he had said.

Counsel to the AGF, Wilson Michelangelo, did not oppose the request for an adjournment, and the judge fixed Oct. 13, 2021, for arraignment of the suspects.

On Oct. 13, 2021, when the matter came up, Justice Egwuatu was said to be on an official engagement in Lagos State and the matter could not proceed.

Although the counsel who appeared for the AGF, Moshood A., and lawyer to the defendant, Adedeji, SAN, were in court, Mr Ranesh was not.

Consequently, the court then fixed Feb. 15, 2022, for the arraignment of Mr Ranesh and two other defendants in the matter and on the adjourned date, the case was also fixed for May 26, 2022, for arraignment.

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