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Kogi N4.5bn Fraud: SERAP asks Buhari to ‘probe Governor Yahaya Bello Administration.

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The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to order a probe into N4.

5 billion allegedly misused by the Kogi State Government.

Specifically, the civil society organization urged the president to “direct the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice Abubakar Malami, SAN and appropriate anti-corruption agencies to investigate alleged misuse of the N4.5 billion donations, loans and support the Kogi State government obtained from the Federal Government, including N90,720,000 reportedly spent on software to track COVID-19 cases in the state.”

SERAP stated that “if there is relevant and sufficient admissible evidence, anyone suspected to be involved should face prosecution, as appropriate.

In a letter dated 27 March 2021 and signed by SERAP deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare, the organization said: “Directing the Attorney General of the Federation and appropriate anti-corruption agencies as recommended is constitutional, and would be entirely consistent with your promise in your inaugural speech to ‘ensure responsible and accountable governance at all levels of government in the country.’”

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SERAP quoted Buhari as promising in his inaugural speech on 29th May, 2015 that: ‘The Federal Government would not fold its arms and close its eyes to what is going on in the states and local governments. It will ensure that the gross corruption at the local level is checked. For I will not have kept my own trust with the Nigerian people if I allow others abuse theirs under my watch.’”

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SERAP stated: “As you have correctly stated, the obligations of your government to combat corruption in Nigeria extend to all the three tiers of government, namely, the federal, state and local governments.”

The letter, read in part: “Although primarily a matter of concern for Kogi State, the allegations of misuse of COVID-19 funds drawn from the Federal Government have assumed such a proportion as to become a matter of concern to the federation as a whole, and therefore, to your government.

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“SERAP is concerned about growing allegations of corruption and mismanagement of public funds in several of the 36 states of the Federation, and the apparent lack of prompt, thorough, independent and transparent investigations into these allegations, allowing suspected perpetrators to frequently escape justice.

“Taking prompt action to probe the allegations would promote transparency and accountability, serve the common good, peace, order and good government of the federation (which includes Kogi State). It would help to enhance your government’s fight against corruption and contribute hugely to improving the public confidence and trust in your commitment to combat grand corruption.

“We would be grateful if the recommended measures are taken within 14 days of the receipt and/or publication of this letter. If we have not heard from you by then, SERAP shall take all appropriate legal actions to compel your government to comply with our request.

“SERAP also believes that given the history of corruption in Nigeria, especially several unresolved allegations of grand corruption involving many of the 36 state governments, your government cannot and should not look the other way regarding the allegations of misuse of COVID-19 funds involving the Kogi State government. Such allegations in any state of Nigeria are of concern to every Nigerian, and should therefore be of concern to your government.

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“Taking the recommended measures would also show that your government is concerned with the overall well-being of the federation and willing and able to enforce important constitutional principles.

“According to our information, the Kogi State Government in 2020 allegedly spent N90,720,000 on ‘COVID-19 software.’ The software was reportedly approved Governor Yahaya Bello, for tracking COVID-19 cases and prevent the spread of the disease in the state. However, the company that developed the software has reportedly stated that it costs only N300,000.

“The software has reportedly stopped functioning just one year after it was installed. The N90,720,000 spent on COVID-19 software is part of the N4.5 billion donations, loans and support, which Kogi State reportedly obtained from the Federal Government.

“Ensuring the investigation and prosecution of the allegations would also be entirely consistent with the provisions of section 15 subsection (5) of the Nigerian Constitution 1999 [as amended], which requires your government to abolish all corrupt practices and abuse of power, regardless of the state where such practices are taking place.

“Section 15 specifically defines “government” to include the government of the federation, or of any state, or of a local government council or any person who exercises power or authority on its behalf.

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“Similarly, the Attorney-General of the Federation has power, conferred on him by section 174(1)(a) of the Nigerian Constitution, and anti-corruption agencies have the powers to act on the allegations of misuse of the N4.5 billion donations, loans and support by the Kogi State government obtained, including N90,720,000 spent on software to track COVID-19 cases in the state.

“Our requests are brought in the public interest, and in keeping with the requirements of the Nigerian Constitution; the country’s international obligations including under the UN Convention against Corruption, and the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption, as well as your expressed commitment in your inaugural speech on 29th May, 2015 ‘to check gross corruption at the local level.’”

The letter is copied to Mr Malami; Professor Bolaji Owasanoye, Chairman Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC); and Mr Abdulrasheed Bawa, Chairman, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

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Catholic Church Suspends Father Mbaka Over Row With Buhari

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Mbaka was asked to proceed on suspension with effect from May 3 after being summoned by Callistus Valentine Onaga, the diocesan bishop.

The Catholic Diocese of Enugu has suspended Reverend Father Ejike Mbaka from church activities for one month as the controversial priest’s political escapades continue to overshadow his theological obligations on a scale that nurtures unending concerns amongst his senior clerics.

Mbaka was asked to proceed on suspension with effect from May 3 after being summoned by Callistus Valentine Onaga, the diocesan bishop.

Onaga called Mbaka in following his repeated clashes with President Muhammadu Buhari and warned that his conduct was smearing the church’s image, the largest of any Christian organisation worldwide, church officials familiar with the matter told The Gazette.

SaharaReporters had reported last Wednesday Mbaka’s criticism of the Muhammadu Buhari regime over its inaction on the widespread killings across the nation.

Speaking at the Adoration Ministry in Enugu, Mbaka said it is wrong for Buhari to maintain grave silence despite the incessant killings in the country.

He accused the government of being behind several killings across the country and tagging separatists groups as terrorists rather than focus on getting them good jobs.

The cleric also frowned on the activities of herders that destroy the farmland of people without any repercussion.

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He said Buhari had failed Nigeria woefully and that he should resign now. Mbaka also called for the President’s impeachment.

Following his suspension, Mbaka returned to his ministry that lies north of the outskirts of Enugu city centre, where he subsequently incited his members against the bishop, sources said.

Mbaka’s followers claimed without evidence that he was kidnapped by Mr Onaga and handed over to the State Security Service. They subsequently marched on the premises of the bishop on Wednesday morning, looting and destroying assets therein.

The mob also descended on the Holy Ghost Cathedral, again looting and destroying items in the building. The members also went to town to allege that the SSS had arrested Mr Mbaka — generating widespread media reports despite lacking requisite corroboration.

A spokesman for the SSS denied taking Mr Mbaka into custody or coming in any contacts with him when reached by The Gazette, contrary to his followers’ rumours.

A spokesman for the diocese did not immediately return a request seeking comments. Mbaka’s line was switched off when dialled by The Gazette on Wednesday night.

Before falling out with Buhari recently, Mr Mbaka was an ardent supporter of the President. He endorsed his campaign in 2015 and claimed his blessings played a role in its success.

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But as Buhari’s regime failed to tackle acute poverty and insecurity, Mr Mbaka said he was compelled to speak up and distance himself from his regime, describing it as evil and satanic and calling on the President himself to vacate office.

Church sources said Mbaka’s latest suspension was being viewed as significant for its undertone, but not the first time the fiery priest would face administrative action.

“We know people will link this to his confrontation with Buhari, but he was once demoted from a parish priest to a deputy under a parish priest,” a church official told TheGazette. “He had also been transferred from bigger parishes to smaller ones for his frequent infractions in the past.”

Still, church officials admitted Mbaka’s Adoration Ministry has been a cash cow for the Enugu Diocese, even though it was built by Mr Mbaka and not directly under its control.

“The real problem is the Diocese has been financially dependent on Mbaka, collecting his millions,” a source said, adding that some of the senior clerics themselves have also been in bed with politicians whom Mr Mbaka has long railed against.

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I will leave no stone unturned to better the life of my people, RT. Hon. Momoh Jimoh Lawal

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A Peoples Democratic Party, PDP chieftain and former speaker of kogi state house of assembly, Rt.

Hon. MJ Lawal who represented the good people of Okene II state constituency in the state assembly has once again intervened in the poor state of educational infrastructure in kogi central.

Hon. Momoh Jimoh Lawal is a well grounded grassroots mobilizer of the PDP in kogi state and he is known for his philanthropy across the senatorial district. Recently, some students of Government Day Secondary School, Iruvucheba had approached him to solicit for his support to help renovate a classroom to enable the WAEC candidates sit for their exams giving the dilapidated and poor conditions of their classrooms.

The kogi central political icon after receiving the call took it up on himself to erect four (4) blocks of classrooms and two (2) office buildings to enable the students sit for their examinations.

In a quiet ceremony, Rt. Hon. MJ Lawal handed over the newly completed buildings to the principal of the school, Mall. Ohiare J.Z

While speaking at the handing over ceremony, Hon. MJ Lawal noted that education is the bedrock of any society seeking the path of progress and development. He equally stated that he’d never leave any stone unturned to see that he better the life of his people especially in the areas of education and empowerment.

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Recall that some months ago, Hon. MJ Lawal had built, commissioned and handed over some block of classrooms and learning materials to Lennon memorial college, Ageva.

For the political icon, RT. Hon. MJ Lawal, giving back to the society is a mandate he can never go against.

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Kano Hisbah sacks official found in hotel room with married woman

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The Kano State Hisbah Board, in its effort to ensure transparency as well as guide against immortality, has sacked a top official allegedly found with a married woman in a hotel room in Sabon Gari area of the state.

The Hisbah Public Relations Officer, Lawal Fagge, confirmed the sacking of the official

It will be recalled early in the year, an official of the command (name withheld) was allegedly found in a questionable manner with the married woman.

The report gathered that the decision taken on Tuesday followed a report by a committee set up by the board to unravel the circumstances surrounding the incident.

It was, however, discovered that before the incident, the official was said to be at the forefront of arresting prostitutes and other wayward girls.

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