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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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Minimum wage: States’ll go bankrupt if we pay N30,000 – Govs

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Governors of the 36 states of the federation under the auspices of the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) have said states cannot afford to pay the proposed N30,000 minimum wage.

The NGF chairman and Governor of Zamfara State, Abdulaziz Yari, told newsmen that it was impractical to implement the N30,000 minimum without states going into bankruptcy.

He said the only alternative to paying the N30,000 minimum wage was for the Federal Government to accede to the review of the national revenue allocation formula or to downsize workforce.

The governors who met, yesterday in Abuja, have therefore, resolved to put together another committee to meet with President Muhammadu Buhari to work out another formula to address the issue.

The members of the committee to see President Buhari are Akinwunmi Ambode (Lagos), Atiku Bagudu (Kebbi), Simon Lalong (Plateau), Mohammed Abubakar (Bauchi), Udom Emmanuel (Akwa Ibom), Dave Umahi (Ebonyi), Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (Enugu) and Nasir El-Rufai (Kaduna).

President Buhari last week Tuesday received the report of the Tripartite Committee on the Review of National Minimum Wage.

The committee which recommended N30,000 as the new national minimum wage also submitted a draft bill that will be sent to the National Assembly. Organised Labour has given December date as deadline for all processes leading to the implementation of the N30,000 minimum wage else they will embark on another round of strike.

But speaking after an emergency meeting of the NGF, Governor Yari: “We have seen what has been presented to the president by the committee; as a member of the committee, Kebbi governor said the committee did not take our submission of N22,500 because it came late. I am surprised how you can do this without the input of the states, because the states are the key stakeholders in this business. So, a situation whereby our report is not taken or considered by the tripartite committee to present to the president, I don’t know how the committee wants us to work.

“But we still say we want to pay but the issue is the ability to pay. The N18,000 today, when the president assumed office, 27 states were not able to pay; not that they choose not to pay. So, now that you say N30,000, how many of them can pay? We will be bankrupt. As Nigerians, we should look at the issue seriously. While other people are saying that governors are flying private jets and living in affluence, that one is not luxury but compulsory.

“The issue of government overhead cost, if you put it together with personnel cost, it cannot solve this problem. Like Lagos that is paying about N7 billion as salaries, if you say it should pay N30,000, now it will be N13 billion. From our calculation, it is only Lagos State that will be able to pay N30,000. As Nigerians, there is no other country we have and we should be fair to this country.”

Asked the way forward, Yari said: “We will continue to talk with Labour, let them see reasons why governors have difficulties. Some of us have Internally Generated Revenue (IGR). For instance, the money Lagos State is using to pay is not coming from Abuja. They have a way of getting their money from IGR and that is why they can afford to pay. Lagos gets money through VAT. Apart from Lagos, even Rivers cannot afford to pay. So, we have been crying out about this since 2011 but no one will listen. One critical example is that some state ration their salaries while others put everything they earn on the table and ask labour to come and see and ask them to suggest how much should go for capital and personnel cost. Some say 70 percent for personnel cost and 30 percent for capital projects, yet the states cannot pay and they put the remaining as outstanding.

“If you are talking about oil, the price is not what it used to be. From last year to date, it is $20 less from $75 to $55. So where is the money to pay? We should not exploit this matter further. We are leaders today, tomorrow others will be there. So let us look at this matter seriously to see how we can do it properly. It is our primary responsibility to see that everybody is happy.”

When reminded that part of Labour’s grouse was that governors have refused to submit audited account, the NGF chairman said: “We have given the committee audited account of the states to guide them. But if they put the audited account for the past 10-14 years, can you get something out of it? We are going to use the report of the audited committee to make further presentation. It is the same labour that is pushing for the N30,000 that will still turn around to say that the governors did not do any infrastructure. How are we going to achieve that by paying only salaries?”

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Alleged N21.4bn fraud: EFCC re-arraigns ex-NAF chief, Amosu, others

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THE Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on Tuesday re-arraigned a former Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshall Adesola Amosu (retd), for an alleged fraud of N21.4bn.

Amosu, alongside Air Vice Marshall Jacob Adigun and Air Commodore Olugbenga Gbadebo, was re-arraigned before the Federal High Court in Lagos on 13 counts.

The three were first arraigned in June 2016 alongside eight firms before Justice Mohammed Idris.

Their re-arraignment before Justice C.J. Aneke on Tuesday followed the elevation of Justice Idris to the Court of Appeal.

As a result of Justice Idris’ elevation, Amosu’s trial, which has lasted over two years in court, is starting afresh before Justice Aneke.

As the case starts afresh, the EFCC has amended the charge sheet by dropping the names of the eight firms, which were joined as defendants in the earlier charge sheet.

Justice Aneke directed that the amended charges be read to Amosu, Adigun and Gbadebo.

They pleaded not guilty to the charges.

In the first count, the EFCC alleged that the defendants conspired among themselves “to covert a total sum of N21,467,634,707.43, property of the Nigerian Air Force, which sum you reasonably ought to have known forms part of proceeds of your unlawful activities, to wit: criminal breach of trust.”

The prosecuting counsel for the EFCC, Rotimi Oyedepo, said the defendants committed the offence on March 5, 2014, adding that they violated Section 18(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011.

After they pleaded not guilty, Justice Aneke allowed them to continue with the bail granted them in 2016 by Justice Idris.

He adjourned till Wednesday (today) for continuation of trial.

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Royal City College of Education matriculates 120 students for degree programs

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…The institution has the material and human resources to run Degree Courses – Prof. Bandele

Ekiti State University on Saturday 10th November, 2018 matriculated one hundred and twenty students into different degree courses in their Sandwich Program with Royal City College of Education, Iyesin Ota in Ogun State for 2018/2019 academic sessions. Performing the ceremony, EKSU Vice Chancellor, Prof. Samuel Oye Bandele, urged the students to be committed to their studies. He also encouraged them to eschew acts that are inimical to their academic progress.

He further reiterated the premium academic excellence in Ekiti State University, “I hereby assure all matriculating students that the University will give you a quality education deserving of any tertiary institution in the country. I want to reiterate that committed and hard working students would complete his or her course at the record time or time stipulated for the programme. As I assure that the tradition now obtainable in Ekiti State University is for graduates to collect their certificates during the convocation day, you should strive on your own part to meet up with the demands of your academic responsibility”.

According to Prof. Bandele, “the secret of success lies in their strong desire to always maintain high academic standards and moral probity. Therefore, for you to fit in as members of this academic community, you are expected to abide by the provisions of the oath you sworn to for the avoidance of doubt, you should not engage in any activity that can bring your names and that of the University into disrepute. At this juncture, let me emphasize that under no circumstance should you be involved in examination malpractice, cultism, drug-abuse and other anti-social behaviours that may likely jeopardize your career in the University”.

Royal City College of Education is the pioneer Christian College of Education in Nigeria, founded by Bishop Dr. Tom Samson of Christ Royal Family International Church. Over the years, the College has churned out several NCE holders who are gainfully employed in various institutions as professional teachers.

He said “today is very historic in the history of Ekiti State University, I want to say emphatically that one institution that has blazed the trail in Teacher’s education is Royal City College of Education, when we came in and saw the environment, we were so encouraged that an individual proprietor can put up this kind of beautiful structures and conducive environment for learning, then there is still hope for this our country. I sincerely congratulate this Institution and we are happy to Matriculate our first set of students here today; I can see future here, I can see brightness just as I said in my very short remark, I see progress here and by the grace of God in the next four or five years we will be back to convocate our first set of graduates from Royal City College of Education.

“I want to say very emphatically that in our University we don’t compromise standard, before we came here at all, the Senate of EKSU have sent several committee members made up of top Professors to come and evaluate the facilities, if they did not meet up with our standard in terms of equipment and quality lecturers we won’t be here today and my coming here personally is to attest to the fact that this College have the resources that is sufficient enough to run a degree program. There are adequate infrastructural and human resources to run the program and we are happy about it”, he concludes.

However, the elated Bishop (Dr.) Tom Samson, while fielding questions from newsmen said, “Education without Christ amounts to vanity and that in Christ Royal Family, the core value of the ministry is to impact the society through affordable and quality education laced with the fear of God right from the formative years to higher education. To bring up students that will go into the larger society prepared to change the world and discharge their assignments with the fear of God”.

Royal City College of Education is now fully accredited in partnership with Ekiti State University to run Degree Courses in Education.

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