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UNCOVERED: NISER’s N135m Payments into Private Accounts in 13 Instalments

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An anti-corruption coalition group, Centre for Peace, Transparency and Accountability (CPTA), has uncovered a series of “suspicious and instalmental illegal” payments into private accounts at the Nigerian Institute of Social and Economic Research (NISER).

It is therefore asking the agency to answer clarify the “misappropriation of funds in its operations over the years, amounting to millions of naira”.

A letter by Comrade Patrick Ogheneyero, Executive Director of CPTA, to Folarin Gbadebo-Smith, the Director-General of NISER, seen by FIJ, wondered why some expenditures by NISER do not only contravene the extant financial regulation of the Federal Government but are also “considered antithetical to the anti-corruption crusade of the present administration and therefore frustrates President Muhammadu Buhari’s fight against corruption in Nigeria”.

For instance, NISER was accused of unlawfully paying huge amounts of money into the bank accounts of some individuals namely: Odekunle Sunday Olukolade, Ojeleye Olatunji Emmanuel, Oladeji Abubakar, Akintunde Olumuyiwa, Aderinola Ogundele, Feyitimi Kunle and Adeoti John Olatunji.

“Records before the Civil Society Special Committee in uncovering allegations of corrupt practices in MDAS reveal a worrisome trend of corruption that is associated with the mode of transaction of the Nigerian Institute of Social and Economic Research, stretching as far back as 2015,” read a part of the letter.

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“Firstly, concern has been raised regarding the sum of N85million paid in six instalments into the private accounts of six individuals in the month of December 2019, with descriptions that reads ‘Accessing of fund for N-Power project by the state Government’. Amongst the recipients, Odekunle Sunday Olukolade was said to have been paid the highest amount, being N23 million, while Ojeleye Olatunji Emmanuel received the least amount, which was N5million.”

Ogheneyero observed that the 2019 Appropriation Act did not reflect any budgetary allocation for such expenditures from NISER, thereby raising a question of financial irregularities.

Aside all these, there were also allegations that NISER paid public funds into private accounts in 2019.

“Records before us show that in May 2019, about the sum of Fifty Million, Eight Hundred and Ninety-Eight Thousand, Three Hundred and Thirty-Six Naira Thirty-Two Kobo (N50,898,336.32) was paid in seven instalments, with questionable uniform payments of the sum of N7,634,400.00 and N5,000,000.00 made to Odekunle Sunday Olukolade and Oladeji Abubakar for what the agency tagged ‘Payment for data collection and fieldwork supervision in the various states (Stage 2)’ and ‘DTA and Transportation and Official Trip’ respectively.”

They also established that “N10million paid to the above-mentioned persons in two instalments of N5million was done so in sheer contravention of The Federal Government E-payment Circular Ref. No. TRY/A8/B8/2008 dated 22nd October 2008 that stipulates that individual benefit/claim should be affected through their personal bank accounts. Executives of agencies must note that there is always a suspicion of the possibility of foul play.”

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On the grounds of the Freedom of Information Act signed by ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, the CPTA asked NISER to provide clarifications on the funds allegedly misappropriated so that Nigerians can have a balanced perspective about public offices.

“It is imperative that we get clarification from NISER in order to have a balanced perspective as Nigerians deserve accountability and probity from those entrusted with public offices,” Ogheneyero wrote.

“This request is predicated on the Freedom of Information Act, as it will afford us the opportunity to articulate our position in our proposed press conference and other relevant civil actions in support of President Muhammadu Buhari’s anti-corruption posture and accordingly inform, balance perspective of the over 85 Civil Society Organizations under our coalition who are calling for a joint public action against you and all those involved.”

NISER is a Federal Government-controlled body directly under the National Planning Commission (NPC). As of the time of going to press, NISER still hasn’t responded to CPTA.

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BREAKING: Benue Murdered soldiers for burial today

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Remains of 12 Soldiers who were killed by Bonta Militias in Konshisha local government area of Benue State, have arrived the Military cemetery in Wurukum Makurdi, Benue State capital for burial.

The 12 military personnel including one captain and 11 soldiers were ambushed at Bonta last Monday and killed by the militias.

At time of filling this report, the state Governor, Samuel Ortom, top government officials as well as military top bras have arrived the venue waiting for the commencement of the burial rites

Details later …

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If They Like, Let Them Kidnap My Son, I Will Never Pay Ransom To Bandits – El-Rufai Vows

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Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai has made his stance on paying ransom to bandits clear.
He said he will never pay ransom to bandits even if they kidnap his family members.
The governor said this in a radio chat on Friday in Kaduna to corroborate his government’s policy of not negotiating with bandits.
Mr El-Rufai had said bandits are at war with Nigeria and there is no other way to approach the current insurgency but for security forces to take the war to the bandits and recover forests where they are occupying.
In his current remarks on Friday, Mr El-Rufai said he had warned his family members to be careful to avoid being abducted. He said he also told them he would never pay a ransom for their freedom, should any of them get into the hands of bandits.
“I mean it and I will say it again here. Even if my son is kidnapped, I will rather pray for him to make heaven instead, because I won’t pay any ransom.”
Speaking on efforts of his government in securing the release of the students kidnapped at the Federal College of Forestry Mechanisation, Kaduna, in March, the governor said the government would keep exploring other ways to get them back to their families but stressed that the government is “absolutely not paying ransom.”
He said the state government will keep exploring those other means until the students are released.
Mr El-Rufai has been under pressure from the parents of the students, other concerned persons and groups to negotiate with the bandits for the release of the students.
The state governments of Katsina, Niger and Zamfara were believed to have negotiated with the abductors for the release of hundreds of students kidnapped from schools in the states.
The federal government too was also believed to have negotiated with the abductors of students from a girls’ school in Dapchi, Yobe State in an incident in which the terrorist-kidnappers withheld one of the students, Leah Sharibu, allegedly because she refused to renounce her faith, one of their conditions for the release of the students.
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Imo attacks: Uzodima is incompetent and weakly looking for who to blame.

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A former Imo State Governor, Rochas Okorocha on Thursday berated the incumbent Governor, Hope Uzodimma over his comment on the recent gunmen attacks on the Police Command headquarters and the Correctional headquarters in the State which led to the burning of over fifty cars and escape of over 1800 inmates in the facilities.

Uzodimma had in the wake of the attacks, while featuring on Politics Today, a Channels Television programme blamed the attacks on aggrieved politicians whom he said were sponsoring the gunmen.

According to the Governor, the objective of the aggrieved politicians was to destablise the All Progressives Congress administration under his leadership.

But Okorocha who spoke with Journalists in Jos on Thursday after attending a burial ceremony of Mrs Felicia Kaneng accused the Governor of conjuring up false narrative to cover up his “incompetence and weakness in managing the affairs of Imo state”.

“I don’t think any sane politician can ask anyone to go and attack the police headquarters or Correctional facility.

I think he should stop politicizing everything. When somebody wants to escape from his own weakness in managing the state affairs, he will blame politicians. Which politicians?”, Okorocha querried.

The Senator who represents Imo West in the National Assembly insisted that the attacks on police stations and a correctional facility in Imo State were products of national poverty and injustice going in Nigeria.
He added that what happened in Imo state could have been avoided if Governor Hope Uzodimma had consulted him for guidance and advice as a former Governor on how he was able to manage all the different groups operating in the State without any problem during his administration.

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The Senator said:
“When I was Governor, there was peace in Imo state. All the security outfits by whatever name they were called were on including IPOB, and because we applied wisdom,the peace was sustained .

“He (Governor Hope Uzodimma) should face the challenge of leadership and consultations at this time is very important because if the Governor had consulted me and asked how I was able to handle IPOB during my tenure or the issue of kidnapping and agitations by various groups and other challenges, I would have told him how we did it and there was peace in Imo.

“But this idea of bringing the army, airforce and so on as a response can aggravate things.”

Okorocha maintained that dialogue and not confrontation remains the only solution to the problem of insecurity and other challenges facing Nigeria

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