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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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Senators sue AGF, DSS, police for alleged plot to remove Saraki

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Two lawmakers, Senator Rafiu Adebayo and Senator Isa Misau, have sued the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, the police, the Department of State Services, the Senate and seven others in order to stop the attempts to remove Senate President Bukola Saraki.
Senators Adebayo and Misau, who are supporters of Saraki, instituted the fresh court action marked FHC/ABJ/CS/872/2018 before a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja on Monday.
Other defendants in the suit are: the majority and deputy majority leaders of the Senate, the Clerk of the Senate, the Deputy Clerk of the Senate, the Senate President, the Deputy Senate President and the Deputy Minority Leader.
In the originating summons filed on their behalf by Mahmud Magaji (SAN), the plaintiffs want the Federal High Court to determine whether in view of the provisions of Section 50(1) (a) and (2) of the 1999 Constitution, Saraki, who defected to another political party as a result of the division in his former party, can be made to vacate his office other than in accordance with Section 50 of the constitution.
Adebayo and Misau, who represent Kwara South and Bauchi Central senatorial districts respectively, also want the court to determine whether Saraki can be compelled to vacate his office on the grounds that he is not a member of the political party with a majority of senators in the Senate in view of the combined reading of Section 50 of the constitution and Order 3 Rule 8 of the Senate Standing Orders.
The court was also urged to determine whether the Senate President could be said to have vacated his office by virtue of Section 50(2) of the constitution when he had not ceased to be a member of the Senate or the Senate dissolved.
In a motion on notice filed along with the originating summons, the plaintiffs prayed the court for an order of interlocutory injunction restraining all the defendants (except the Senate, Senate President and Deputy Senate President) jointly and severally either by themselves, their agents, servants and privies from unlawfully removing the Senate President pending the hearing and determination of the substantive suit.
They also prayed the court for another order of interlocutory injunction restraining the AGF and the Inspector-General of Police from unlawfully interfering with the lawful legislative duties of the Senate President pending the hearing and determination of their originating summons.
Besides, the plaintiffs asked for an order of interlocutory injunction stopping the IG and the DSS from harassing, intimidating, arresting or detaining the President of the Senate in respect of the lawful exercise of his duties pursuant to Section 50(1) of the constitution and another order directing parties in the case to maintain status quo pending the determination of the substantive matter.
The motion was predicated on seven grounds amongst which were that the agents of the IG and DSS had taken steps to flagrantly breach the provisions of Section 50 by employing their agents to disrupt the plenary of the Senate without recourse to the said provisions.
Another grounds were that the constitutional provision of removal of the Senate President does not empower the AGF, police and DSS to unlawfully interfere with the legislative duties of the Senate by causing a blockade at the premises of the National Assembly complex or using their agents to disrupt the lawful duties of the Senate.
In a 13-paragraph affidavit in support of the motion on notice and deposed to by Senator Isah Misau, he averred that the Senate was a body recognised and established by the 1999 Constitution vested with powers of making laws for the good governance and well-being of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
The deponent averred that the Senate held a plenary sitting between July 24 and 27 and that it was presided over by its President and that at the end of the sitting members adjourned till September 25.
Misau claimed that the All Progressives Congress as a platform for the Senate President had been bedevilled by crises resulting in divisions and factionalisation at the federal, state and local government levels.

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Breaking: Soldiers protest in Borno, engage in shooting spree

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Soldiers of the Special Strike Force deployed in Operation Lafiya Dole have protested against their posting to Marte, a Local Government Area in the Northern part of Borno State, Channels Television is reporting.

The soldiers are part of those deployed in the fight against dreaded sect, Boko Haram.

According to Channels Television, the protesting soldiers were reacting to the news of their latest posting on Sunday evening by firing gunshots into the air at the Maiduguri International Airport in the state capital.

One of the soldiers told Channels Television via a phone interview that they were due for rotation, having spent almost four years at the theatre of operations.

He said they reported for duty in February 2015, stressing that a military circular from the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai, had clearly stated that no soldier should on any account be kept beyond three years in the North East region of the country.

The soldier lamented that out of the over 300 troops who reported, many of them had died in the last three years as a result of ambush or landmines by the Boko Haram insurgents, while some were killed in battle.

The angry soldiers have blocked all entrances to the airport and have insisted on redress.

However, attempts by top military officers of the Theatre Command to appease the irate soldiers could not yield any positive result.

As at the time of filing this report, the military authorities have yet to react to the incident, while the spokesperson for the Theatre Command, Colonel Onyema Nwachukwu, could not be reached.

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EFCC slams Presidency for linking its actions to Saraki’s scripts

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has slammed the Presidency for linking some of its actions, especially the freezing of the account of the Benue State Government, to scripts written by the President of the Senate, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki.

In a statement on Sunday, the EFCC said its actions have nothing to do with Saraki but based on thorough investigation.

The anti-graft commission was responding to an article by the Special Adviser to the President Muhammadu Buhari on Political Matters, Senator Babafemi Ojudu, who said some agencies of the government were working with Saraki to achieve already predetermined ends.

Ojudu, who is based in the Office of the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, now the Acting President, said the EFCC, Department of State Services and the Police were acting Saraki’s scripts.

He also accused former Military President, General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, of having provided the template for Saraki’s script.

He wrote in part in the article: “From the shenanigans at the Benue House of Assembly to the siege on National Assembly, the attack on judges home in the night, the so-called barricade of the Senate President’s house, the laughable kidnap of Boy Dino and ‘his 11 hours on a tree’, the freezing of the Benue and Akwa Ibom accounts all are scripted, produced and acted by Oloye (Saraki) Productions.”

Reacting through its spokesman, Wilson Uwujaren, the EFCC said: “The attention of the EFCC has been drawn to a widely syndicated article by Senator Babafemi Ojudu, Special Adviser to the President on Political Matters entitled, ‘Fifth columnists in our recent history,’ wherein he portrayed the commission as a conscript in the devious plots by Senator Bukola Saraki to undermine the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari.

“The commission takes exception to the attempt to impute false motive to its investigative activities. The recent placement of a ‘Post No Debit Order’ on some accounts in Benue and Akwa Ibom states were the culmination of many months of painstaking investigative activities. To reduce such activities to the level of a stunt in a real or imaginary script by any politician is outrageous.

“It is important to state that the EFCC is not a party to the so-called script by Saraki. Members of the public should disregard the innuendo in Ojudu’s article as it is unfounded.

“The commission calls for circumspection on the part of political leaders, while urging them to seek clarification before making comments on matters they do not know about.”

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