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BREAKING: Supreme Court frees Saraki, dismisses assets declaration charges

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The Supreme Court on Friday finally laid to rest the trial of a Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, on assets declaration and sundry charges instituted against him before the Code of Conduct Tribunal.

A five-man panel of the apex court led by Justice Dattijo Muhammad unanimously upheld Saraki’s appeal, by dismissing the remnant three counts, declaring the evidence led by the prosecution as hearsay.

The Danladi Umar-led CCT had, in June last year, terminated the trial upon an application by Saraki, by dismissing the entire 18 counts preferred against the Senate President.

The CCT’s decision was based on the grounds that the prosecution, with its four witnesses and 49 exhibits tendered, only led hearsay evidence which could not be the basis to link Saraki to the 18 counts preferred against him.

However, the Court of Appeal in Abuja ruling on December 12, 2017, in an appeal filed by the Federal Government against the decision of the CCT, restored three out of the dismissed 18 counts and ordered Saraki to return to the CCT to defend the three charges.

While Saraki had appealed to the Supreme Court against the part of the Court of Appeal’s decision restoring three of the 18 counts, the Federal Government had cross-appealed against the part of the decision affirming the tribunal’s dismissal of the rest of the 15 counts.

However, in its lead judgment on Friday, Justice Centus Nweze upheld Saraki’s appeal and dismissed the Federal Government’s appeal.
Justice Nweze agreed with the CCT that the evidence led by the prosecution at the tribunal was entirely hearsay.

He held that the Court of Appeal was wrong to have restored three out the 18 counts earlier dismissed by the CCT when it agreed that the evidence led by the prosecution was hearsay but went ahead to isolate three of the counts as having been proved.

Justice Nweze quoted a part of the Court of Appeal’s judgment where it held that “the prosecution failed to call those who have direct knowledge of the facts sought to be proved, to testify”.

Faulting the Court of Appeal’s turn around to restore three of the counts based on the evidence it had declared as hearsay, Justice Nweze said was “equivalent to judicial equivalent of a forensic somersault”.

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Delta govt lauds US-based group for rehabilitating hospital

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…As Association Awards scholarships to indigent undergraduates

The Delta State Government has commended sons and daughters of the Ubulu Uku, in the diaspora in the Aniocha South area of the state for their support to the government’s developmental efforts in making life more meaningful to the people of the area.

The government’s commendation came in the wake of successful inauguration and connection to national grid, of a 33kva transformer worth over N10 million for the smooth running of the General Hospital Ubulu-Uku and a scholarship award to indigent undergraduates from the community by the Ubulu Uku USA Association based in the United States of America (USA).

President of the Association, Mr. Mike Eboka, said his group was deeply worried at the sorry state of the hospital which has not been functioning maximally for some time hence the decision of the Ubulu Uku USA to intervene.

He lamented that referrals to the hospital has been on steady decline as the hospital could hardly attend to patients due incessant blackout, a development that made the Ubulu Uku Association in the United States of America to decide to lift the hospital with the provision of the transformer.

This Mr. Eboka assured would lessen the burden posed to the management of the hospital and the people of the community who have had to seek medical services far away from their settlement.

Medical Director of the hospital, Dr. Patrick Ekeruche thanked the Ubulu Uku USA for the gesture saying the state government was happy and appreciated the public spirit of the Union in collaborating with the state even when members are based outside the country.

He said the provision of electricity transformer would help improve the services rendered by the hospital as the prevailing power outage was almost turning the health facility moribund

Dr. Ekeruche urged other Community Associations to emulate the kind gestures of Ubulu Uku USA and explore ways of partnering with the state government to deliver services to the people as government alone could not meeting all the developmental needs of the people.

Meanwhile, the Union has also declared Miss Nancy Odinakachukwu from Akpama Quarters in Ogbe part of Ubulu Uku, Aniocha South Local Government Area of Delta State, as the receipt winner of this year’s annual Ubulu Uku Union, USA (UUU USA) Incorporation sponsored educational scholarship award.

It announced the undergraduate as the award recipient after the final screening at the last general conference call of the association held recently

As a recipient of the Scholarship, Miss Odinakachukwu will be receiving a sum of One hundred thousand Naira, every year for four year duration of the undergraduate course, but not exceeding six years depending on the course of study.

Confirming Miss Odinakachukwu as the winner, the UUU USA President, Mr. Eboka said “I am happy to announce the selection of Ms. Nancy Odinakachukwu from Akpama Quarters in Ubulu-Uku as our Scholarship Award recipient with a Major in Nursing at the University of Benin. As directed in our call, I have personally called to congratulate her”.

“We will be presenting her officially with an award certificate and additional funding and eligibility requirements to ensure all criteria are being met for the scholarship award program. We are working to update this scholarship information as well as our successful electrification project at our Government General Hospital on our web site in the next few days”.

“We are also planning to share this information with the various social media’s in our community. On behalf of the UUU USA project team and the entire membership of Ubulu-Uku USA, please help us congratulate Ms. Nancy Odinakachukwu as our scholarship recipient. Her phone number will be provided in due cause for those who may wish to congratulate her directly. More information will be provided during our upcoming Columbus Convention”, Mr Eboka said.

Recall that Ubulu Uku, USA, a non-profit organisation and an umbrella body of Ubulu Uku people residing in the United States of America had in early March this year, offered scholarship awards to two deserving Ubulu Uku students.

The association had, in an official statement jointly signed by their President, Mr. Mike Eboka and Secretary General, Mr. Michael Ejogo stated that the Union will be sponsoring scholarship awards to two deserving students who have duly gained admissions to any Federal or State University in Nigeria for the academic period which will commence September, 2018.

The group stated “the two scholarships awards will be for 4 years for a regular Bachelor’s degree course or 5 to 6 years for a course which requires more than 4 years to obtain a degree”.

They further pointed out that the scholarship has become necessary following the importance and great values a good University education can offer.

On the purpose of the scholarship award, the Union said the scheme was designed to assist underprivileged (low income and first generation) sons & daughters of Ubulu-Uku to continue their educational pursuits in any federal/state University in Nigeria. They however, pointed out that opportunities are only given to families, in which neither parent holds a bachelor’s degree.

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Why we can’t release Dasuki, says FG

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Abubakar Malami, attorney-general of the federation (AGF), says the federal government cannot release Sambo Dasuki, former national security adviser (NSA), because the allegation against him is a matter of public interest.

The attorney-general in a Voice of America, Hausa, interview obtained by Premium Times, said Dasuki’s right is not important more than over 100,000 people he was “instrumental to their death”.

He said the mismanagement of funds meant for the military under the former NSA led to the deaths of many and maintained that the issue affects an entire nation; so the discussion should not be about a single person’s rights.

On Tuesday, the federal high court in Abuja served a warrant of release of Dasuki on the director-general of the Department of State Services (DSS) and the attorney-general of the federation and minister of justice.

Malami said the government could resort to appealing the court order if it wants to. “What I want you to know is that issues concerning law and order under Muhammadu Buhari are sacrosanct and obeying court order is compulsory.

“However you should also know that there is a general consensus world over that where the dispute is only between individuals, then you can consider the issue based on the instant situation. But if the dispute is about an issue that affects an entire nation, then you have to remember that government is about the people not for only an individual.

“So, you have to look at it from this perspective. If the issue about an individual coincides with that which affects the people of a nation and you are now saying the government did not obey a court order that infringes on a single person’s rights. Remember we are talking about a person who was instrumental to the deaths of over 100,000 people. Are you saying that the right of one person is more important than that of 100,000 who lost their lives?

“Reports have shown that there was massive mismanagement of funds meant for military hardware which the military could not access and that led to the death of many, embezzlement of the fund and because of that many people have lost their lives. Obeying the court is not the issue per say.

“Are we going to take the issue of an individual more important than that of the people? The government’s main responsibility is for and about the people. The essence of governance is to better the lives of its people. So you have to weigh it based on that; the rights of an individual or the rights of the people.”

DSS operatives arrested Dasuki in 2015 for “illegal possession of firearms” and diversion $2.1 billion from his office while he held sway as the NSA.

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Senate approves N348bn subsidy payments to Oando, Capital Oil, 72 others

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The Senate on Wednesday gave approval for the payment of outstanding subsidy claims to the tune of N348 billion to Oando, Total, Honey Well, Capital Oil, Conoil, A.A. Rano, and 68 other petroleum marketers.

The approval is sequel to a letter on Promissory Note Programme and a Bond Issuance to Settle Inherited Local Debts and Contractual Obligations to Petroleum Marketers sent by President Muhammadu Buhari to clear up outstanding liabilities, debts, interest accrued and forex differential from previous government.

While 55 oil marketers will receive N275,750,415,108, 19 others will get N73,452,639,866.

The Chairman Senate Committee on Petroleum (Downstream), Senator Kabiru Marafa, presented the interim report while stressing that continuous delay of the approval of the promissory note request will affect the liquidity of the oil marketing companies and undermine their crucial role in the development of the economy.

Other resolutions approved by the red chamber include continuous engagement with the Ministry of Finance, oil marketing companies, Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) and other stakeholders.

Marafa in his presentation said the marketers claimed N670,497,543,15, as of June 30, 2017, but the PPPRA verified and approved the sum of N429,054,203,228 to the Federal Ministry of Finance.

But the verified figure approved by the Federal Executive Council was reduced by Presidential Initiative on Continuous Audit (PICA) to N407,255,263,288 after a several verification processes.

The report read: “This issue including The determination of the terminal date of the subsidy programme amount paid to the OMCs and the interest accrued from 30th June, 2017 to date will be taken up and resolved in the final report. This committee will be submitting to the Senate in due course. This submission should be able to reconcile and bring to the conclusion all issues in respect of petroleum subsidy programme implementation and payments;

“Further verification needs to be made to ascerTain the discrepancies between the OMCs and the recommendations for payment made by FMoF (PICA);

“In this respect, Thye Committee is of the opinion that interim payments should be effected to the OMCs pending full verification of PICA recommendaTions and updating on the full implication of interest accruals from 30th June 2017 to date.

“The Government’s inability to pay the OMCs as at 30th June, 2017 has further increased its liability since the interest continued running till date, hence, the need for further work by the Committee to compile and update the level of indebtedness and its interest accruals;

“However, in view of the fact that the service of the OMCs is very important to the economic development of the country and closely tied to National security, paying the marketers would stem the threat of fuel scarcity, increase economic activities and promote a more harmonious working relationship between the Government and OMCs”.

The following are the amount approved for some of the oil marketers: Aiteo N4,988,199,360; Conoil N5,588,285,132; Forte Oil N15,480,445,907; Bovas N5,953,684,258; Capital Oil N8,339,052,402; Mobil N8,282,363,478; MRS Oil and Gas N20,948,270,002; Oando N14,972,585,600; Total N21,569,996,843, among others.

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