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COVID-19: SERAP Asks Court to Compel Govs to Fund Healthcare with Security Votes

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Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has filed a lawsuit asking the Federal High Court, Abuja to “direct and compel 36 state governors to use public funds budgeted for security votes, and life pensions for former governors to fund healthcare facilities and to address the impact of COVID-19 on millions of Nigerians, as well as publish details of spending on COVID-19 in their respective states.”

COVID-19: SERAP Asks Court to Compel Govs to Fund Healthcare with Security Votes

In the suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/757/2020 filed last Friday, SERAP is seeking: “an order for leave to apply for judicial review and an order of mandamus to direct and compel the 36 state governors to disclose how much they have individually collected from the Federal Government as COVID-19 support, from private donations and other sources, as well as details of spending of any such funds and donations.”

SERAP is also seeking: “a declaration that the failure of the 36 state governors to respond in a satisfactory way to SERAP’s requests amount to a fundamental breach of the FoI Act, the 1999 Nigerian Constitution (as amended), and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.”

The suit followed SERAP’s Freedom of Information (FoI) requests dated 25 April 2020, expressing concern that: “many state governors are spending scarce state resources to pay themselves security votes and their predecessors life pensions rather than using public funds to effectively respond to COVID-19 by investing in and improving public healthcare facilities in their states.”

The organization revealed that only two governors—Kaduna State governor, Mr Nasir El-Rufai and Kwara State governor, Mr Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq—responded to its FoI requests. While “governor El-Rufai claimed that the FoI is inapplicable in Kaduna state, governor Abdulrazaq stated that the information requested by SERAP is protected from disclosure by the FoI.”

Governor El-Rufai claimed: “The FoI is binding only on the Federal Government and its agencies, the Federal Capital Territory, and the states that choose to domesticate it. We are therefore not bound to respond to your request using the threat of an FoI Act that is inapplicable in our State.”

Governor El-Rufai also said: “Should you choose to rephrase your request as a citizen or voter in Kaduna, to whom we are accountable under OGP commitments, I will direct the relevant departments of government to respond. Our version of FoI is with the State House of Assembly for domestication.”

Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq in his own response to SERAP said: “the category of the information you requested is protected from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act.”

But SERAP in the suit said: “By a combined reading of the FoI Act, the Nigerian Constitution, and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, which isapplicable throughout the country, governors El-Rufai and Abdulrazaq and other34 governors ought to be compelled to invest in healthcare facilities, and totell Nigerians how they are spending COVID-19 funds and donations in their states.”

The suit filed on behalf of SERAP by its counsel, Kolawole Oluwadare and Atinuke Adejuyigbe read, in part: “The 36 governors have a responsibility to act in the interest of Nigerian citizens and residents in their states under the Code of Conduct for Public Officers [Fifth Schedule Part 1] of the Nigerian Constitution, and Oath of Office of Governor of a State in Seventh Schedule to the Constitution.”

“The crux of SERAP’s argument is better expressed in the following questions: What is the economic benefit of appropriation of security votes and pension to former governors and deputy governors to the citizens of Nigeria during a pandemic? Why should the governors spend so much on a relatively negligible percentage of the population at the expense of the majority of the citizens?”

“The office of a governor is created by Section 176 of the Constitution, and the governors are vested with powers to act as members of the executive pursuant to Section 5[2] and [3] of the Constitution. These statutory functions, among other duties of the governors, are guided by rules including the Oath of Office of Governor of a State.”

“The oath of office of governors is integral to the honest performance of their functions in the public interest. The oath is considered of such importance that Section 185[1] of the Constitution provides that the governors can perform their respective official functions only after taking the oath of office.”

“It can be inferred that appropriation of hundreds of millions of Naira for security votes and payment of pensions to former governors in the face of glaring socio-economic effects of COVID-19 on citizens and residents can only be in the personal interests of the governors and their colleagues, in clear conflict with public interest and well-being and prosperity of the country and its people.”

“Majority of Nigerians continue to live in poverty and without access to basic necessities of life such as healthcare, and clean water, as established by the National Bureau of Statistics in its 2019 Report.”

“The unconscionable allocations to security votes and pensions for former governors are happening at a critical time that Nigeria requires urgent infrastructural development to lift itself out of the quagmire of poverty and underdevelopment in response to the harsh realities of COVID-19 pandemic on the people.”

“The 36 governors ought to be directed and compelled to use the budgets for security votes and life pensions for former governors to improve the healthcare facilities in their respective states, provide palliatives and reliefs, and to address the impact of COVID-19 on citizens and residents of their respective states.”

“The 36 governors ought to be directed and compelled to provide details of palliatives and reliefs that they have provided to the most vulnerable people, including the list of beneficiaries, details of what they are doing to improve testing for COVID-19, isolation centres, as well as ensure safe protective equipment for health workers.”

“The 36 governors ought to be directed and compelled to provide details of what they are doing to ensure full respect for human rights of everyone and access to justice for victims of human rights violations and abuses during and linked to COVID-19, as well as any support they are providing to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to improve its capacity to respond to COVID-19.”

“This suit is of public concern as it bothers on issues of national interest, public welfare and interest, social justice, good governance, transparency and accountability. The right to truth allows Nigerians to gain access to information on what their state governments have done or are doing to cushion the socio-economic effects of COVID-19 on Nigerians.”

No date has been fixed for the hearing of the suit.

 


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Bristow Helicopters Sacks 100 Pilots

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Management of Bristow Helicopters Limited has terminated the appointment of 100 pilots, according to a statement by the company.

Bristow Helicopters Sacks 100 Pilots

The company said the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic necessitated its decision to lay off workers.

While describing the sacking as painful, the airline’s management said the move was inevitable in order to ensure the continuity of its business and delivery of essential services to its clients.

“This decision has not been made lightly, but having considered the state of the business and the very serious constraints caused by the spread of the COVID-19 disease and the downturn in the oil and gas market, the company must now take this painful, but decisive step to ensure the continuity of its business and delivery of essential services to its clients,” the statement partly read.

“One of these measures includes the right-sizing of the business to ensure that the company has the optimal level of personnel to continue the safe delivery of its services to its clients, whilst allowing the appropriate capacity for future growth.

“Accordingly, and with much regret, the company has taken the very difficult decision to release over 100 pilots and engineers (both National and Expatriates) over the next couple of weeks.”

This comes barely 24 hours after Air Peace sacked scores of pilots across its fleet while slashing staff salaries by up to 40 percent.

According to Mr. Stanley Olise, the airline’s spokesman,  the retrenchment, and shedding of workers were not unlinked with the economic devastation wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic.


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SSASCGOC Asks FG to Intervene in FIRS, NIPOST Stamp Duty Crisis

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Senior Staff Association of Statutory Corporations and Government Owned Companies (SSASCGOC), has called on the Federal Government to immediately wade into the brewing crisis between the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) and the Nigeria Postal Service (NIPOST), over the production of stamp duty in the country.

SSASCGOC Asks FG to Intervene in FIRS, NIPOST Stamp Duty Crisis

The union, which insisted it had the responsibilities to protect the interest of all senior staff in Statutory Corporations in the country, including the FIRS, called for a stakeholders meeting between government, SSASCGOC, the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Communication and Digital Economy, and the two agencies concerned.

A statement signed by Ayo  Olorunfemi, general secretary, and made available to newsmen in Abuja, maintained that SSASCGOC would not hesitate to declare full industrial action should the Federal Government failed to convene the stakeholders’ meeting at the expiration of a 21-day ultimatum issued to government.

He said: “As a responsible union, we have called on the Federal Government in the spirit of social dialogue, to convene a stakeholders’ meeting of FIRS, NIPOST, SSASCGOC, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Communication and Digital Economy, to discuss the issue of stamp as it relates to stamp duties.

“Failure to do this, the union shall have no other option than to declare full industrial action. A 21-day ultimatum/notice had been given to federal government already.

“We are calling on President Muhammadu Buhari to intervene in this matter before it degenerates into an avoidable industrial relations crisis, which is capable of embarrassing Nigeria in the committee of nations. “SSASCGOC recognises the power given to FIRS by the law to collect stamp duty, The power given to NIPOST by law to produce the stamp must also be recognized

That is the reason we are saying that stamp, which is the major instrument to demote duties is a legal product owned by NIPOST and should be procured by FIRS to carry out the collection.

“SSASCGOC has responsibilities towards the protection of the interest of all senior staff of statutory corporations in Nigeria, including FIRS as pronounced by the NIC judgements of 17th December 2019 and May 2020.”

                                                                                      


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KAS Print Rolls out Initiatives Using Canon Equipment & Training for COVID-19 Response in Nigeria

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Canon Central and North Africa (CCNA) a leader in imaging solutions, is proud to support and highlight its partners making a special effort to support vulnerable people through the COVID-19 crisis. Today, CCNA would like to put a spotlight on KAS Print in Nigeria, as they find innovative ways to assist brave healthcare workers and public safety efforts in Africa’s most populous nation during the coronavirus pandemic.

Nigeria is home to over 200 million people, many without the financial means to protect themselves from the novel dangers of the COVID-19 pandemic.

On the 27th of February 2020, Nigeria confirmed its first case and after one hundred days (June 6th), the country had officially registered 11,844 confirmed cases and 333 deaths on a curve that is still expected to rise, especially if the virus reaches the vulnerable refugee populations of the country’s northeast.

Stay-at-home orders have increased financial pressure on many, while the sharp drop in the oil price has put a strain on the Nigerian economy as a whole.

To fight the virus head-on, KAS Print have created protective face shields made of laser cut and shaped transparent acrylic. Covering the entire face, the shield protects the mouth, nose, and eyes from the droplets that carry the virus, while giving a full field of vision and adequate airflow for user comfort.

The design also offers personalised labels, printed on the Canon Colorado UV Gel Printer, to reinforce health and safety messages alongside company or sponsor branding.

KAS Print has already produced more than 100,000 protective face shields, which have received approval from the relevant regulatory authorities, and plans to produce more than one million by the end of 2020.

As the number of cases in Nigeria continues to rise, it is essential that this kind of personal protective equipment (PPE) is made available.

The protective face shield is just one of the three essential products in the COVID-19 PPE kit box. Produced by KAS Print, the kit is designed for distribution in hospitals, companies and government entities, to help reduce the spread of the virus between workers, customers, and visitors.

Every kit box contains a face shield, a face mask for additional protection of the mouth and nose, and liquid sanitiser for the hands, covering all four key areas of the body in one kit. The PPE kit box itself, is cut and creased using a flatbed cutter and personalised with instructions printed on the Canon C10000 and Colorado.

“COVID-19 is an unprecedented global crisis and personal protective equipment (PPE) is central to the solution in all affected nations. In order to slow the spread of the virus in Nigeria, it is essential that we make more PPE available through initiatives like those of KAS Print,” says Ben Gossage, B2B Sales and Marketing Director at CCNA.

“KAS Print has been a loyal customer of Canon and we are especially proud that our printing solutions can be used to support their worthy efforts. We will need many more stories like this to protect the vulnerable through these challenging times.”

The collaboration between Canon and KAS is based on multi-sector knowledge, secure data management, and value-added solutions that foster customer-focused innovation.

These skills have been influential in KAS Print’s crisis response for schools and public health campaigns.

Using the Canon Colorado and C10000, the company has produced awareness leaflets, signage, and floor instruction for retail, hospitals, government offices, and other public spaces. Educating and reminding the public to stay vigilant are fundamental elements of this health emergency and, in Nigeria, KAS Print is playing a key role in that space.

The nature of this pandemic is forcing us to re-think many aspects of our lives related to human contact and sharing of objects that could transmit the virus.

For schools in Nigeria, the sharing of textbooks between numerous children is commonplace and represents a key challenge in the efforts to maintain education while safely social distancing.

KAS Print has launched a campaign in several schools to print individual and personalised school books for every student, helping to protect the education process and entire neighbourhoods from the spread of the disease.

“We have found in Canon a trusted partner that shares our values and is committed to helping us successfully anticipate our customers’ needs. The equipment and training we have received from Canon certainly contributed to our various initiatives during the COVID-19 crisis in Nigeria,” says Ademola Kasumu, Managing Director and CEO at KAS Print.

“We hope for a quick resolution to the crisis in Nigeria and around the world, and appreciate the support of international partners like Canon in our local efforts to slow the spread of the virus here in Nigeria.”


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