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House Committee Slams Communications Ministry over Inefficient Budget Preparation

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The House of Representatives Committee on Telecommunications yesterday took a swipe at the Ministry of Communications for its inefficiency in the preparation of the documents on the Ministry’s 2017 Budget performance and 2018 budget projection.

The Committee which was on an oversight visit to the Ministry decline further discussions on the presentation after some of its members discovered many irregularities in figures quoted in the scanty documents meant to explain the performance of last year’s budget as well as the 2018 budgetary projections.

After the Minister, Barrister Adebayo Shittu made his presentation, a member of the Committee, Hon. Anayo Edward faulted his claim that the 2018 revenue projection of One Billion, Three Hundred Million Naira (N1,300,000,000) doubled the revenue projection in the preceding year which was Six Hundred Million Naira (N600,000,000).

The minister had said that “it is projected that revenue generation from sale of forms, spectrum licenses and renewal fees and other sources in 2018 would rise to about N1,300,000,000 (One Billion Three Hundred Million Naira), twice the size of last year because of the envisaged installation of Radio Monitoring Equipment”

Hon. Anayo said it was wrong to say the 2018 revenue projection doubled that of 2017 because the difference between the two figures is more than half. He said such assertion is misleading.

Another member, Hon Abiodun Awoleye pointed out lack of correlation in figures on pages of a document served members while he also criticized non-clarity of some of the figures quoted.

Hon.Kehinde Odeneye queried the ministry for not stating the status of the Rural Telephone Project for which money was appropriated in last year’s budget, adding that the minister did not specify where the projects are located and if they are working.

Two other members were not comfortable with irregularities in figures quoted on pages of another document presented.

Hon Anayo asked the chairman to discontinue the presentation because it is against parliamentary procedure to work on an incorrect or uncompleted document because doing so will be efforts in futility. He urged his colleagues to reject the plea by the Committee chairman, Hon Saheed Fijabi that the Minister should be given the chance to answer questions raised by members.

Hon. Awoleye who specifically pointed that this would not be the first time the Ministry will be making an un-coordinated presentation and submitting incorrect documents to the Committee added that it would be wrong for the Committee to entertain further comments on the presentation. Rather, he supported the suggestion by Hon. Anayo that the Ministry make a re-presentation.

On his own part, Hon. Odeneye said it is amazing that in a few pages documents, almost ten errors were detected. He said it is wrong for members to be making corrections on the document, rather, he said the ministry should correct the documents and re-present them during budget defence at the National Assembly.

Apparently arm-strung by his members’ decisions, the chairman, Hon. Fijabi succumbed to members request for a re-presentation. He said, “I think there would not be any room for the discussion of the document based on irregularities discovered. Like my members have said, I think the ministry has to correct the documents and present it again during the budget defense.

“ As I said earlier, our visit is a basic parliamentary one in furtherance of our duty to look into the books of the ministry. We are here to perform our duty, nobody is here to witch hunt anybody”, he stated.

Admitting the errors and taking full responsibility for the irregularities, Barr. Shittu on behalf of the ministry apologized to the House Committee, saying that there was no justification for the inefficiency.

The minister said, “I want to apologise on behalf of the Ministry. I want to take full responsibility for these mistakes and want to assure you that we will put our house in order.

“I want to assure you that before the end of this week, we must have made necessary corrections present a correct document to the office of the Committee chairman”, he promised.


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NCC Board Chairman Alleges Threat to His life by Agents of DG

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Tonye Jaja, chairman, Governing Board of the Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC), has raised the alarm over alleged threat to his life by agents of John Asein, director general of the agency.

NCC Board Chairman Alleges Threat to His life by Agents of DG

He disclosed that an unnamed member of the NCC Governing Board had threatened his life through phone calls and SMS messages.

The Board Chairman, who made the claim in a statement, titled: “Notification of threats to my life and reputation in the line of duty as chairman of the Governing Board of the Nigerian Copyright Commission,” ‎said the development followed statements he submitted to the Code of Conduct Bureau and the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission as part of ongoing investigations into allegations against Asein. ‎

According to Jaja, Asein is being investigated over alleged conflict of interest and abuse of office, among other offences.

The chairman of the NCC Governing Board also alleged that Asein and his agents have vowed to destroy his reputation through publications in the media.

The statement read: “Yesterday, I received a verbal threat during a telephone call and an SMS from one member of the Governing Board of the Nigerian Copyright (NCC).‎

“In a nutshell, he threatened that he will use online newspapers and other means to disgrace me and rubbish my reputation.

“His annoyance and threats is not an isolated incident, it is part of a coordinated onslaught of threats, publications of propaganda and other acts of reprisal targetted against me in my capacity as the Chairman of the Governing Board of the Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC).

“The persons behind this have gone to the illegal extent of forging certain documents and leaking government official documents to Online newspapers in their desperate attempts at smearing my hard earned reputation.

“The Office of the Inspector-General of Police is currently investigating one of such incidences.

“All this smear campaign is because I ‎was invited by the Code of Conduct Bureau and the ICPC as part of their investigation of Mr John Asein the Director-General of the Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC) whom they are investigating for allegations of conflict of interest and abuse of office, etc.

“‎As a responsible and law-abiding citizen,  who could not disobey the invitation of the ICPC and the Code of Conduct Bureau, I went to the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and deposed to an affidavit to confirm the veracity of the written and oral statements that I submitted to the Code of Conduct Bureau.

“Instead of these persons to apply the same steps of going before the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) or any other court of Justice in Nigeria to swear an affidavit and oath on the pain of perjury, in support of any statements they are making, they have resorted to peddling fake news, falsehood and false, unsubstantiated allegations through the pages of online newspapers and other social media platforms.

“In recent times, their anger and onslaught has intensified because their attempts to “kill” and “bury” the investigations proved abortive considering that the ICPC, the EFCC and the Code of Conduct Bureau continued with the investigations which they had previously in an online newspaper described as the petition against Mr. John Asein as jokers.’”

The Governing Board Chairman added that anybody who is sincerely interested in knowing and verifying the truth of the allegations against Asein can make Freedom of Information requests to the Department of State Services, ‎Chairman of the ICPC,‎ Chairman of the Code of Conduct Bureau, Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and Inspector-General of Police through the Assistant Inspector General of Police in Charge of the Federal Investigations Bureau.

 


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Health Plus Accuses Foreign Firm of Attempt to Fraudulently Takeover Business

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Health Plus, a pharmaceutical company, has accused Alta Semper Capital, a foreign private equity firm (PEF), of a fraudulent attempt to take over its business.

Health Plus Accuses Foreign Firm of Attempt to Fraudulently Takeover Business

In a rejoinder to a press release earlier issued by the PEF, Health Plus dismissed the appointment of Chidi Okoro as chief transformation officer and the claim that Olubukunola Adewunmi George, chief executive officer, remains a director and shareholder

Health Plus stated that it entered into a five-year partnership with Alta Semper Capital in 2018 to inject fresh capital to further grow the business.

George, the rejoinder stated, was prepared to give PEF a controlling stake in order for them to realise their investment.

However, it added, PEF started working of schemes aimed at taking over the business after seeing the vastness of the Nigerian market.

PEF, according to Health Plus, deliberately starved the company of funds, neglected its obligations to the business, appointed Okoro as CTO and was running the company in utter disregard for George’s wishes.

The Chairman of the Board of Directors was said to have resigned two days ago while another director resigned five weeks ago over the debilitating effect of the impasse on the company.

The rejoinder stated that George had, in May 2020, instituted a suit at the Federal High Court (FHC/L/CS/609/2020) seeking to stop HealthPlus Africa Holdings Limited (the investment vehicle used by Alta Semper Capital and which they control) and their nominee directors from continuing to run and manage the company with disregard to her interests as a member of the Company.

After being served the court summons, PEF appealed for a mediation of the crisis outside court, a process frustrated after three meetings in three months.

Alta Semper thereafter filed an arbitration claim in England.

“Alta Semper’s latest actions, including the arbitration claim that it has now filed, constitute a serious affront to the authority of the Court seised of the suit, a desecration of the integrity of the Nigerian judicial system and a gross violation of Nigeria’s extant legislation.

“The General Public, the Pharmacists Council of Nigeria, our Staff, loyal Customers, Vendors, Landlords, Bankers and all Stakeholders are advised to totally disregard and ignore the earlier unauthorised Press Release from those who have no real stake in the Company, its employees or Nigeria.

“Mrs. Bukky George remains the Founder & CEO of the Company and is focused on preserving and growing this national treasure,” the rejoinder read.

 

 

 


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Labour Vows to Shut Down Airports, Banks, Others from Today

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Organised Labour in Lagos State has said all sectors would be shut from Monday.

Labour Vows to Shut Down Airports, Banks, Others from Today

Amaechi Asogwuni, deputy vice president, Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), spoke at a news conference on Sunday, said airports, banks, and offices would not be allowed to function.

“No airport will be in operation in Nigeria; banks are not expected to function, so no business owners should risk himself, for Nigerian workers have taken that decision”, NAN quoted him as saying.

“We are the workers and we are withdrawing our services; we have the right to do so because protests are our constitutional right. And I believe we will enforce it; schools shall remain closed until this action ends.”

The labour leader appealed to Nigerians to join the protest.

He reminded them that it was part of their quota to democracy.

On the increase in petrol price, Asogwuni said the federal government should have engaged the organised labour and other stakeholders.

“The government did not do that at a time it ought to; it failed in its duty to engage labour before time. On the issue of electricity, the government had earlier had an interaction with labour in Kano and we discouraged it from proceeding.”


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