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Shock as FG recalls N14.9bn Paris Club refund from Benue

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Gov. Ortom urges warring communities of Bonta, Okpute to embrace peace

…Asian lender says trade wars, debt adding to financial risks***

Hundreds of workers in Benue State on Tuesday expressed shock over the alleged recall of the final tranche of the Paris Club refund earlier paid to the state government.

Two workers were alleged to have slumped as they received the news of the recall of the Paris Club refund.

Governor Samuel Ortom had last Thursday confirmed the receipt of N14.9bn Paris Club refund.

Also on Monday, the governor directed the state ministry of finance to commence the payment of workers’ salary arrears and allowances to pensioners.

The state civil servants are owed seven months’ salary arrears while local government workers are being owed 11 months’ salaries.

But some of the workers, who reacted to the recall of the Paris Club refund on condition of anonymity, accused the Federal Government of deliberate attempt to kill workers in the state.

“Since the governor directed the immediate payment of workers’ arrears on Monday,  we thought we would begin to receive alerts from this (Tuesday) evening only for us to hear the recall of the money.

“I was told that two workers slumped immediately they heard about the recall of the Paris Club refund by the Federal Government but they were later revived.”

Another worker, who spoke to our correspondent, said, “This is unfair. Having raised our hope, this (Federal) Government has dashed our hope.

“I have promised those I owed that I would pay part of the debt on Wednesday; I have also planned to use part of the money to buy books for my children and pay their school fees.”

The Benue State Chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Godwin Anya, expressed shock over the development.

He said, “I don’t know the reason for the recall of the Paris Club loan refund. Everybody has been expecting to be paid because the governor on Monday directed the payment of salary arrears.

“I don’t know the reason for that nonsense; I don’t know where this country is heading to.”

Also reacting to the recall of the Paris Club refund, the Special Adviser to Governor Samuel Ortom on Media and ICT, Tahav Agerzua, described it as a “trajectory of victimisation.”

Agerzua said  it was  strange in accounting parlance to pay money into somebody’s or government’s account  and suddenly withdraw it, describing it as another form of impunity by the All Progressives Congress Federal Government.

“This is not a gift. It is a legitimate right of the government. This is part of a series of moves aimed at subjugating the people. This action has shown clearly that the APC cannot protect the people,” he said.

Tahav further observed that the issue had been politicised, stressing that it was an act of desperation as a result of the party’s failure in the Osun governorship election.

“There is serious anger in the land as a result of recalling of the Paris Club refund by the Federal Government. The people now know who their enemies and oppressors are.

“Benue people should rise up and vote out the APC government,” Tahav said.

When contacted, the Director of Information in the Ministry of Finance, Hassan Dodo, said he could not comment on the matter as he did not have any information relating to the development.

He asked our reporter to write a letter to the finance minister to seek a clarification on the issue.

Meanwhile, the convener of the Middle Belt Movement for Justice and Peace, Joe Bukka, on Tuesday, described the decision of the Federal Government to recall the Paris Club refunds paid to Benue and four other states as “the height of impunity, executive recklessness and a witch-hunt against ordinary Nigerians.”

Apart from Benue, some of the other affected states were Delta, Imo, Benue and Rivers.

Speaking in Makurdi, Bukka insisted that the Federal Government had embarked on a systematic witch-hunt of some state governments probably for political reasons at the detriment of the ordinary Nigerian and civil servants.

He said, “In the first place, it is not the responsibility of the Federal Government to monitor how states disburse and utilise their funds. Moreover, the Paris Club refund was only warehoused by the Federal Government on behalf of the states; it is not a gratification or loan.

“So, the Federal Government lacks the powers to recall the money which belongs to the state from the onset. As far as we are concerned, this is the height of impunity, executive recklessness and a witch-hunt against the ordinary Nigerians who were expecting to get the backlog of their salaries from the fund.

“We just wonder if this Federal Government has the interest of the ordinary people at heart. Just take for instance a state like Benue that has over time been contending with socio-economic and security challenges as a result of the lingering herdsmen killings, and you want to treacherously sit on their legitimate funds.

“No doubt, this directive will cause collateral damage to the socio-economic life of the government and people of the affected states. Hence, it should be reversed without further delay because even if the states fail to transparently appropriate the funds, they would have the people to contend with.

“The Federal Government must realise that this move will deepen the animosity of the people of the states like Benue towards the APC-led Federal Government because they will be hurt the more and obviously unhappy.”

In the meantime, trade conflicts, rising debt and the potential impact from rising interest rates in the U.S. will likely dampen growth in the coming year, the Asian Development Bank said Wednesday in an update of its regional economic outlook report.

The Manila, Philippines-based regional lender said Wednesday that it expects economic growth to remain at a robust 6.0 percent in 2018 but to slip to 5.8 percent next year.

It cited looming financial and trade shocks as the biggest sources of potential trouble. If the U.S. economy shows signs of overheating, interest rate hikes by the Federal Reserve could disrupt currency markets and other capital flows, leading to problems with bad loans.

Overly high housing prices also are risks for China, Hong Kong, Malaysia and South Korea, it said.

But it said the bigger threat comes from potential damage to supply chains caused by trade conflicts, especially between the U.S. and China.

President Donald Trump pushed ahead Monday with higher tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese imports after earlier

In a conflict stemming from U.S. complaints Beijing steals or pressures foreign companies to hand over technology, Trump went ahead Monday with a tax hike on $200 billion of Chinese imports. Beijing retaliated by imposing penalties on $60 billion of U.S. goods.

That move will likely shave 0.5 percentage points off of China’s growth and 0.1 percentage points off of growth in the U.S., the report said.

It said further expansion would cause still more pain across the region, though while the U.S. trade deficit with China might shrink, the deficit with Asia overall would not decline so much because other countries would likely exporting more to make up the difference.

China and the United States had earlier imposed 25 percent tariffs on $50 billion of each other’s goods. Combined, the tariffs now cover nearly half the goods and services China sells America and nearly 60 percent of what the United States sells China.

“Prolonged trade conflict can damage confidence and deter investment,” the ADB report said. It said the impact would be large both regional and globally, especially if it expands to include autos and auto trade.

“Estimates of impacts do not fully capture possible disruption to production units as overseas business networks are severed and investment plans are cancelled amid a reallocation of global production,” it said.

Punch with additional report from ABC

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Edo Assembly Impeaches Deputy Governor, Shauibu

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Edo Assembly Impeaches Deputy Governor, Shauibu

The impeachment followed the adoption of the recommendation of a seven-man judicial panel led by retired Justice Stephen Omonua.

At plenary in Benin, the Majority leader of the house, Charity Aiguobarueghian said the report of the 7-man panel presented to the house found Shauibu culpable of disclosure of government secrets.

Aiguobarueghian further disclosed that though the panel was unable to establish the case of perjury against the deputy governor, it made two findings and one recommendation upon which the decision to impeach the deputy governor was anchored.

According to him, “the seven-man judicial panel of inquiry recommended that the deputy governor be impeached on the ground of disclosure of government secrets.’’

During voting on the motion, 18 out of 19 members present at plenary voted for the impeachment of the deputy governor while one abstained from the headcount and voting process.

The Clerk of the House, Yahaya Omogbai conducted a head count of the lawmakers who voted for and against the impeachment of Shaibu.

The clerk said with the figure, the house stated that it met 2/3 (16 members of the House was needed to carry out the impeachment).

The assembly thereafter upheld and approved the recommendation of the seven-man panel and thereafter impeached the deputy governor.

The speaker, Blessing Agbebaku directed the Clerk of the House, Yahaya Omogbai to forward copies of the impeachment to Gov. Godwin Obaseki for assent.

The Edo House of Assembly on Monday impeached the Deputy Governor, Mr Philip Shaibu.

The impeachment followed the adoption of the recommendation of a seven-man judicial panel led by retired Justice Stephen Omonua.

At plenary in Benin, the Majority leader of the house, Charity Aiguobarueghian said the report of the 7-man panel presented to the house found Shauibu culpable of disclosure of government secrets.

Aiguobarueghian further disclosed that though the panel was unable to establish the case of perjury against the deputy governor, it made two findings and one recommendation upon which the decision to impeach the deputy governor was anchored.

According to him, “the seven-man judicial panel of inquiry recommended that the deputy governor be impeached on ground of disclosure of government secrets.’’

During voting on the motion, 18 out of 19 members present at plenary voted for the impeachment of the deputy governor while one abstained from the headcount and voting process.

The Clerk of the House, Yahaya Omogbai conducted a head count of the lawmakers who voted for and against the impeachment of Shaibu.

The clerk said with the figure, the house stated that it met 2/3 (16 members of the House was needed to carry out the impeachment).

The assembly thereafter upheld and approved the recommendation of the seven-man panel and thereafter impeached the deputy governor.

The speaker, Blessing Agbebaku directed the Clerk of the House, Yahaya Omogbai to forward copies of the impeachment to Gov. Godwin Obaseki for assent.

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Court Remands Emefiele In EFCC Custody As Trial Begins April 11

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Emefiele: CBN disbursed N12.65bn as agriculture intervention since January; N1.09 trillion since 2015

An Ikeja Special Offences Court on Monday remanded the embattled former Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Godwin Emefiele, for alleged abuse of office and fraud to the tune of $4.5 billion and N2.8 billion.
It was reported that Justice Rahman Oshodi remanded Emefiele in the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) custody while his co-defendant, Henry  Isioma-Omoile, was remanded in the Ikoyi custodial centre.
Oshodi remanded the defendants pending the determination of their bail applications on April 11.
The judge adjourned the case until April 11 for the determination of bail application and commencement of trial.
Earlier, EFCC arraigned Emefiele on a 23-count charge bordering on abuse of office, accepting gratifications, corrupt demand, receiving property fraudulently obtained and conferring corrupt advantage, while his co-defendant was arraigned on a three-count charge bordering on acceptance of gift by agents.
The defendants, however, pleaded not guilty to the charge.
EFCC counsel, Mr Rotimi Oyedepo (SAN) had asked the court for a trial date following the defendants’ not guilty pleas.
Oyedepo also informed the court that the prosecution would be asking for a closed section for some of its witnesses who were willing to come to court to testify but scared for their lives.

Counsel to the two defendants, Mr Abdulakeem Labi-Lawal, had in their bail applications, urged the court to grant them bail on self-recognizance and liberal terms pending the determination of the case.
Labi-Lawal, in a 35-paragraph affidavit, said that the first defendant (Emefiele) complied with the bail application given to him by Justice Hamza Muazu in his ongoing fraud trial in Abuja.
He added that the charges against the first defendant were bailable.
“Though the first defendant was granted administrative bail by the prosecuting authority, he is seeking bail based on self-recognizance, and he is ready to attend trial.
“The court should also take into consideration the status of the first defendant as he was the former CBN governor of the country,” the counsel said.
The defence counsel further said that Emefiele religiously presented himself before Justice Hamza Muazu in Abuja to answer allegations before him.
According to the counsel, the first defendant was not at flight risk as he was the first person to arrive in court.
He also prayed the court to grant bail to  Emefiele on liberal terms
Labi-Lawal also moved a bail application for the second defendant and urged the court to grant him bail on liberal terms.
Prosecution counsel, Oyedepo, did not oppose the bail applications.
Oyedepo, however, urged the court to exercise its discretion judiciously in granting bail to the defendants.
In one of the charges, EFCC  alleged that Emefiele abused the authority of his office as CBN  governor by allocating foreign exchange in the aggregate sum of $2.2 billion without bids, the act which was prejudiced to the rights of Nigerians.
It also alleged that the ex-CBN governor corruptly accepted an aggregate sum of  $26.5 million from NIPCO Plc through Donatone Ltd.
The commission also accused Emefiele of receiving the sum of $400,000 from Source Computer Ltd. on account of the approval of a “contract” in favour of the said company by CBN.
The anti-graft also alleged that Emefiele used his position as the governor of CBN  to confer corrupt advance on his associate, Limelight Multidimensional Services Ltd. by approving payment of an aggregate sum of N900 million to the company.
Emefiele was also alleged to have used his position as the CBN governor to confer a corrupt advantage on Comec Support Services  Ltd. by approving the sum of N149 million to the company.
EFCC also alleged that the former CBN governor used his position to confer a corrupt advantage on  Andswin Resources and Solutions Ltd. by approving payment of the sum of N398 million to the company.
EFCC also accused Emefiele’s co-defendant (Isioma-Omoile) of giving the sum of $100,000 to the governor as a gift reward for allocation of foreign exchange.
According to the prosecution, the alleged offences violate Sections 8, 10, and 19 of the Corrupt Practices And Other Related Offences Act of 2000, Sections 65, 73, and 328 of the Criminal Laws of Lagos State 2011.

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NAGAFF Vows to Stop Kwankwaso from Taking Over NNPP

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NNPP Accuses INEC Of Taking Sides In Its Internal Crisis

…Votes N150m take off professional fees for lawyers to begin litigation warfare!

Members of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) will vehemently resist the taking over of the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP) by the group noted to be loyal to Senator Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso.

It would be recalled that the NNPP was originally founded by the National Association of Government-Approved Freight Forwarders NAGAFF, largely to provide a credible platform for maritime industry stakeholders to make a national impact within the nation’s political space.

It. would also be recalled that the former Governor of Kano, Senator Kwankwaso latched on the NNPP, after his effort to run as the flag bearer of another political party was dimmed by former Vice President Atiku Abubakar who emerged as the PDP presidential candidate.

NNPP inaugurates 2023 Presidential Campaign Council, Aniebonam remains BoT Chairman

Alhaji Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso

Presently, a statement issued by the NNPP National Publicity Secretary, Dr. Clement Iwegbuna, lamented that what started as a child’s play is becoming a reality with the body language and actions of Senator Kwankwaso to highjack NNPP from the original owners, the members of  NAGAFF.

In a swift move, the president of NAGAFF, leading the pack of resourceful young freight forwarders said the original are poised to match money for money and contact for contact to retrieve NNPP from the people tagged ungrateful.

The statement revealed that the sum of N150,000,000 has been contributed as a take-off professional fee for the lawyers to take on the serial litigations upcoming.

NAGAFF accused Kwankwaso of court abuse with the institution of a court case involving INEC at Kano State High Court. “And so what does it take someone who held the position of minister of defence and member of the national assembly of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to know that it is out of jurisdiction to do so.

NNPP is a national party and INEC is a federal commission. “Let Nigerians be told that there is a new order in Nigeria judiciary at the moment. If Senator Kwankwaso likes let him, Elder Buba Galadima and all of them who are the former members of the National Working Committee led by Alhaji Abbah Kawu who was alleged not to be able to write a statement at the state police command, Abuja when he reported a case against Mr Phillip Oyana the Zonal Secretary North Central of New Nigeria Peoples Party.

“Our young, vibrant and informed lawyers shall meet him and his cohorts in court. Once again we hold no malice against any person. All members of NNPP and NAGAFF are children of God and always ready to show love to all manner of people who may come our way,” the statement further said.

The statement directed and appealed to all members of NAGAFF and NNPP to keep the peace of the society and be law abiding and respectful to the constitution of Nigeria.

“Regret to note that Senator Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso had avoidably prided himself to have brought NNPP to relevance and recognition. Tell the American marine that trash for the fact that Senator Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso forgot to note that NNPP is as old as People’s Democratic Party of Nigeria spanning over 24 years in existence. He joined less than 2yrs ago.

“We consider Senator Kwankwaso as someone who is avoidably arrogant and proud for no good reasons. This is because NNPP provided him the opportunity to contest the Presidency of Nigeria 2023 with great men like the current president of Nigeria, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar (PDP) and Mr. Peter Obi of the Labour Party

“Let it be on record that if NNPP were not winning elections for the period under review it would have been deregistered like the one he facilitated which was called Alliance National Party. As a matter of fact, the current headquarters of NNPP in Abuja is the same office used by the defunct Alliance National  Party whose chairman was one Moshood.

“We also know that the current executive Gov of Kano Alhaji Abbah Kabir who was shortchanged in the previous elections took advantage of us as children of God to be protected and today those evil men could not stop him from becoming the Gov of Kano State.

“Therefore senator RABIU MUSA Kwankwaso should be taught the principles of humility and gratefulness to people who have been nice to him.

“In all of these, he may wish to distance himself from elder Buba Galadima if he wants to make headway in politics. The former President, Gen. Buhari did realise and distanced himself to combine with Asiwaju B. A. Tinubu, the grand master to become the President of Nigeria.,” advised.

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