EFCC KEEPS MUM ON BETA EDU SIX MONTHS AFTER SHE WAS SUSPENDED Several months after her suspension as Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, nothing seems to have happened with the case involving Dr. Betta Edu over allegations of corruption, being investigated by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC. As the anti-graft agency delays to absolve or indict the ex-minister, or make public its findings, there are suspicions that she may be let off the hook, despite the weight of allegations levelled against her, which led to her ouster in January. While Edu has maintained her innocence, EFCC, in a statement by its Head of Media and Publicity, Dele Oyewale, had said it has not absolved any of the suspects facing investigations over allegations of corruption perpetrated at the ministry. It further clarified that it has extended its ongoing discreet investigations to other fraudulent dealings involving the humanitarian ministry and its past and former officials, saying “Investigations are ongoing and advancing steadily. The public is enjoined to ignore any claim to the contrary.” However, investigation by the anti-graft agency has lingered for six straight months, despite overwhelming public interest in the matter. Recall that President Bola Tinubu suspended Edu in January after a leaked memo showed that the former minister indulged in unwholesome financial dealings while serving at the Humanitarian Affairs Ministry. Edu’s case aroused public interest and fierce criticism when the widely circulated memo showed the former minister ordered the transfer of N585.2 million into a private bank account. Tinubu also suspended the social welfare programme and the National Coordinator of the National Social Investment Programme Agency, NSIPA, Halima Shehu, over alleged N37.1 billion fraud in the ministry. Meanwhile, several months ago the Federal High Court Sitting in Lagos ordered another former Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disasters Management and Social Development, Ms Sadia Umar-Farouk, to account for payments of N729 billion to 24.3 million poor Nigerians in six months. The judgment delivered by Justice Deinde Isaac Dipeolu, follows a Freedom of Information suit number: FHC/L/CS/853/2021, brought by the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, SERAP. The former minister was also ordered by the court to provide the list and details of the beneficiaries who received the payments, the number of states covered and the payments per state. “The former minister is compelled by the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act to give information to any person including SERAP. I therefore grant an order of mandamus directing and compelling the minister to provide the spending details of N729 billion to 24.3 million poor Nigerians in 2021.” “Provide SERAP with details of how the beneficiaries have been selected and the mechanisms for the payments to the beneficiaries.” “The minister did not give any reason for the refusal to disclose the details sought by SERAP. SERAP has reeled out the relevant sections of the Freedom of Information Act 2011 that the minister contravened and has in line with sections 20 and 25(1) of the Act prayed this Court for an order of mandamus to direct and compel the minister to provide the information sought,” the judge said. Both Edu and her predecessor, Farouq, are among key serving and former officials that EFCC has interrogated over alleged misappropriation of multi-billion naira social welfare funds meant for vulnerable and poor Nigerians.Efforts to get the EFCC to respond to why it was not forthcoming on the investigation yielded no response.


LAGOS ISSUES 48-HOUR EVICTION NOTICE TO PROPERTY OWNERS BLOCKING DRAINAGE The Lagos State Government has issued a 48-hour vacation notice to squatters and owners of illegal structures along the Gbagada-Bariga drainage channel. The announcement was made by the Commissioner for the Environment and Water Resources, Tokunbo Wahab, via a post on social media platform, X on Sunday. Wahab explained that the drainage channel, which serves to deflood the Bariga, Gbagada, Sholuyi downstream communities, and other environs, has been blocked by squatters and obstructive structures. This blockage has significantly contributed to the recent flooding in the area. “The drainage channel which defloods Bariga, Gbagada, Sholuyi downstream communities and environs, and discharges into System 1 has been taken over by squatters who have constituted nuisance and security risks to the estate, and property owners who deliberately built to obstruct free flow of water in the area,” Wahab stated. “Shanties were erected along the length of the channel, and their activities blocked collectors that are supposed to carry stormwater into the channel, which resulted in the flooding experienced during the week.” Wahab added that following the expiration of the eviction notices, the Lagos State Ministry of Environment and Water Resources will begin the removal of the illegal structures to restore proper drainage and mitigate flooding in the area. This action comes after a 10-hour downpour on Wednesday that caused severe flooding in many parts of Lagos and Ogun states.The heavy rain resulted in the collapse of a two-storey building in Mushin, halted vehicular movement on several roads, and disrupted business and commercial activities. Thousands of residents were affected, and many pupils were unable to attend school.


IGBO SHARE ANCESTRAL LINKS WITH YORUBA, BUT MANY DON’T KNOW – OONI OF IFE The Ooni of Ife, Adeyeye Ogunwusi, a foremost traditional ruler in Yorubaland, is, no doubt, one of the most talked-about traditional rulers in Nigeria. Last month, he spoke exclusively with PREMIUM TIMES at the Eko Hotel in Lagos on the sidelines of a ceremony announcing the 2024 Africa Fashion Week, billed to be held in London in October. His wife, Aderonke Ogunwusi, is spearheading the event. The Ooni spoke extensively about his upcoming 50th birthday and the 50 legacy projects he has lined up for unveiling as part of the anniversary, his personality, what he misses as an everyday man before becoming the Ooni in 2015, and what he believes to be the shared ancestries of Yoruba and Igbo – two of the three major ethnic groups in Nigeria. Often compared with his predecessor, Oba Okunade Sijuwade, who passed away in 2015, Oba Ogunwusi also addressed the criticism he usually faces over his more liberal social engagements and frolicking with young Nigerian celebrities. PT: You are turning 50 in October. Are there any initiatives to mark the milestone in store? Ooni: I have yet to reach my peak, which is to carve a legacy for myself and impact humanity. So, for me, talking about age, it’s beyond celebration. It’s beyond the usual routine of what is expected from everybody. I want to showcase 50 iconic projects at 50. Those 50 iconic projects are very impactful projects that cut across every sector. A lot of people need to learn what I do. Since I became the Ooni of Ife in the last nine years, God has used me to set up solid and formidable impactful projects worldwide. I want to showcase that to the world so that the world can truly see that you can be on a throne and still be impactful. The things that I’ve done have been so impactful that they have cut across so many strata of different races and ethnicities and even religious beliefs. I want to use that to showcase to the world so they will better understand who I am. A lot of people see me in different lights. It’s like a half-full cup and a half-empty cup. But I have been very focused since I ascended the throne. PT: You appear interested in the indigenous fashion and textile industry? Ooni: One of the impactful projects that God has used me to do is the revolution in the fashion industry and promoting our homemade goods in the textile industry. My queen, Olori Aderonke, who has been very dynamic and resourceful in everything she does, has been able to anchor that programme very well. That is the emergence and manufacturing of Adire textile. We have a hub, which we can do a lot with. That hub has showcased a lot of great things that can come out of our country. We should believe in our country. Our only issue as a nation is patriotism, and we must know that being patriotic will help this nation overcome its downfalls. African Fashion Week, my wife and I started it together—not my idea, our idea—but in terms of support, I can boastfully and humbly say that I have been the only consistent supporter. PT: What endeared you to your wife, Olori Aderonke? Ooni: From day one, I knew I must do something, I mean, projects every year. That has made us stronger as friends and associates and now as husband and wife, I’m very proud of what she does because I like to surround myself with very resourceful people. She’s one of the best and greatest minds—resourceful and rich—I’ve ever encountered. For African Fashion Week, it’s been…


BREAKING: TINUBU RE-ELECTED ECOWAS CHAIRMAN President Bola Tinubu has been re-elected as Chairman of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Authority of Heads of States and Government for a second one-year term. The unanimous decision was made by fellow heads of government at the 65th Ordinary Session held at the State House in Abuja on Sunday. Tinubu’s first term was set to expire on July 9, 2024. During the one year Tinubu’s headship of ECOWAS, the group lost three-member countries – Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger, who now entered into a new Confederation. At the summit, Tinubu appealed to member states to provide financial support in the battle against terrorism in the region. He stressed the need for both political will and substantial financial resources to combat terrorism through the ECOWAS Standby Force (ESF), and urged member states to follow through on commitments made by their defence and finance ministers to stabilize the region. “We must therefore ensure that we meet the expectations and recommendations set forth by our ministers of defence and finance in order to counter the insecurity and stabilise our region.”Member states must make extra commitments on providing resources for stabilising the region,” Tinubu said.


NUJ CONDEMNS ABDUCTION OF KADUNA JOURNALISTS, OTHERS The Nigeria Union of Journalists, NUJ, Kaduna State Council, has in strong terms condemned the abduction of its members on Saturday at about 10:30 pm in the state. This was contained in a joint statement issued by the Council’s Chairman Asma’u Halilu and the Secretary, Gambo Sanga, issued in Kaduna on Sunday. According to the statement, “NUJ has received with shock, the brazen and barbaric attack by suspected kidnappers. ”The attack resulted in the abduction of the Kaduna State Correspondents of The Nation Newspaper and the BluePrint Newspaper, alongside their families last night at their residences in Danhono area, a Kaduna suburb, in Chikun LGA. “We strongly condemn the ugly incident and appeal to the security agencies in the state to swing into action with a view to rescuing the journalists and their families from the kidnappers’ den.” The statement expressed dismay over the unfortunate abduction of the innocent journalists alongside their wives and children. It added, “We implore the government at all levels to intensify efforts towards guaranteeing the security of lives and property of the citizens at all times. ”The ugly phenomenon of kidnapping in Kaduna and environs is now resurfacing and must be checked to avert the experiences of the recent past. “The Kaduna State Council of NUJ, however, enjoined all practicing journalists in the state to be vigilant in their daily activities while also praying for the safe return of their abducted colleagues and their families.”


JOB LOSSES AS 16 MULTINATIONALS EXIT NIGERIA IN THREE YEARS As Nigeria battles an economic crisis sparked by the government’s twin policies of petrol subsidy removal and unification of FX windows, United Kingdom-based Diageo joined about 15 other multinational companies that have exited the country in the past three years. Diageo is the latest to announce its departure on Tuesday, June 11 when it said it will sell its 58.02% stake in Guinness Nigeria to Tolaram. Diageo joins others like Kimberly-Clark, manufacturers of Huggies and Kotex brands of diapers; US-based Procter and Gamble (P&G); GlaxoSmithKline (GSK); Unilever and Sanofi-Aventi Nigeria, who are either exiting completely or reducing their exposure in a country facing its worst cost-of-living crisis in decades. Unilever Nigeria announced its exit from the home care and skin cleansing markets in Nigeria in November 2023, saying it did so “to find a more sustainable and profitable business model.”Procter & Gamble was the last to announce its exit from the country the same year.Similar reasons given by these and other companies include high energy costs, currency depreciation, insecurity etc. The Federal Government itself acknowledged these challenges in an interview granted by Minister of Finance, Wale Edun on Channels Television’s Sunday Politics programme, where he said “lack of a liquid foreign exchange market was the major reason why some multinational companies exited Nigeria,” explaining that the inability of the exiting multinationals to access foreign exchange was a major impediment to their operations in the country. Weighing-in, the Director-General of Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association, NECA, Adewale Oyerinde, disclosed that at least 15 multinationals have either divested or partially closed operations in the country in the last three years. Oyerinde, in his assessment, stated: “Over 15 organisations, with a combined value-chain staff strength of over 20,000 employees, have either divested or partially closed operations,” lamenting that this has “dire consequences not only for organised businesses but also for labour, government revenue and the households; massive job losses across sectors, which would continue to create insecurity challenges”. Oyerinde added, “When NECA examined the exit of prominent companies like GSK, Sanofi, Procter & Gamble, Nampak, and others, who had been doing business in Nigeria for decades and were huge employers of labour, it was worried about the ripple effect on the broader business ecosystem. “Within the value chain, numerous enterprises serve as suppliers to these major corporations, and their sustainability is significantly compromised when the primary businesses they cater to face extinction. “The survival prospects of these secondary businesses are at stake, and their employees are also at risk, as the departure of the main clients could lead to their demise. The crisis within the value chain deserves more attention than it currently receives”. Other sectoral group leaders and analysts maintain that the continuous exit of multinational firms would dampen Nigeria’s $1trn GDP target of President Bola Tinubu’s administration. The President had, at the 29th Nigeria Economic Summit in Abuja, told business leaders and Nigerians that Nigeria’s economy can grow to $1 trillion by 2026. Analysts believe the persistent exit of multinational companies from the country is set to impact negatively on this target. Data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) revealed that the performance of the GDP in the first quarter of 2024 was driven mainly by the services sector, which recorded a growth of 4.32 per cent and contributed 58.04 per cent to the aggregate GDP, whereas the nominal GDP growth of the manufacturing sector in the first quarter of 2024 was recorded at 8.21 per cent (year-on-year), 9.64 per cent points lower than the figure recorded in the corresponding period of 2023. Real GDP growth in the manufacturing sector in the first quarter of 2024, on its part, was 1.49 per cent (year-on-year),…


APC LAWMAKER BOOED, LABELLED ‘THIEF’ BY CONSTITUENTS OVER ‘POOR REPRESENTATION’ A viral video shows a large crowd of constituents from the Edu/Patigi/Moro Federal constituency in Kwara State expressing their disapproval and booing their Representative, Hon. Ahmed Saba. The incident occurred during his visit to the district on Tuesday, where he was participating in the All Progressives Congress (APC) council primary election for the Edu local government area. An eyewitness who spoke to SaharaReporters said the people were enraged because the lawmaker allegedly wanted to impose Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRasaq’s preferred candidate on them, so they vehemently rejected it. “The Honourable Member representing Edu/Patigi/Moro Federal constituency Hon. Ahmed Saba (Ajia Shonga) was disgraced in his ward, Edu Local Government as the APC primary was going on because they were trying to impose their candidate on the people,” the eyewitness told SaharaReporters. The candidate reportedly preferred by the governor is Alhaji Abdullahi Bello Ndamugoro but SaharaReporters learnt that the people of the constituency rejected him because they believed the candidate would also fail them like his godfather. The video of the incident which surfaced online shows constituents from Shonga, the hometown of Hon. Ahmed Saba, shouting “Ole” (a term meaning “thief”) as they forcibly escorted him out of the area, expressing their discontent and displeasure with his representation. The eyewitness said: “He (the lawmaker) failed his constituency woefully. Stakeholders, including Hon. Mohammed Baba Ibrahim and Alhaji Bello (Teaching Service Commission – TESCOM Chairman), attempted to impose Ndamugoro, claiming they were acting on the governor’s directives. “However, the masses refused, leading to a disruption of the primary process. As a result, no primary election was held in Edu Local Government Area, and the consensus arrangement was rendered null and void.”“The event exposed deep-seated resentment against the imposition of candidates, highlighting the need for a more inclusive and representative selection process,” the witness added.


OBLA: GRANDSTANDING OF A FUGITIVE IN PURPORTED FIGHT AGAINST CORRUPTION – BMO The Buhari Media Organisation (BMO) has descended heavily on a former appointee of the government, Okoi Obono-Obla, describing him as an empty vessel that makes most noise. In a press release by the General Manager of the group, Oluseye Adebayo, BMO says: “We are witnessing a season in which some shameless public officials who were in the previous government and enthusiastically took part in its decisions and actions who now are turning round to disown and castigate their past. One of them is Mr. Okoi Obono-Obla. Prio to his appointment, Obla was a lawyer in the office of A.A Malami, SAN where he practised law as the Head of Chamber. He was also a member of the defunct Congress for Progressive Change (CPC). After the success of the APC in the 2015 presidential election and the subsequent appointment of Malami as the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, the minister nominated Obla for appointment as a Special Adviser to serve in the office of the Attorney General on matters of prosecution, given his background as a lawyer. He continued in that role until his appointment by the then Acting President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo SAN in August, 2017, as the chairman of the Presidential Investigation Panel for the Recovery of federal government property. He was at a point rejected by the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as a board member of the National Communications Commission. For clarity, this Panel was constituted on the authority of the recovery of Public Property Act of 1984 and intended to enhance the anti-corruption initiatives of the administration. The Acting President who appointed Obla made clear what the panel was meant to address in line with its enabling law. However, as will be seen later in this write-up, Obla’s hunger for power and intoxication with it soon surfaced as he began to carry out activities using the instrumentality of the panel that are ultra vires the mandate he was entrusted with. He began to see himself beyond the ad-hoc nature of the powers of the panel and usurping the mandate of substantive government agencies with adequate processes, protocol and man-power to conduct investigation and properly carry out prosecution. He single-handedly designed the structure of the panel and culled personnel from the police, creating offices such as director of operations similar to what obtained in the EFCC, and even to the extent of having a cell to confine arrested individuals. He created and attached himself and office directly to the presidency as evident on a letter headed paper he had printed for his new office without any administrative approval. It was these and other procedural excesses of his that caught the attention of the office of the vice president, his appointor to write series of letters drawing his attention and cautioning his activities. It is noteworthy that Obla disregarded these letters and refused to heed the calls contained in them. It was clear to the office of the vice president that Obla at this juncture did not only derail from the mandate for which the panel was set-up but also constituted himself as unruly and insubordinate of the appointing authority. Several correspondences from the Deputy Chief of Staff, DCOS drawing Obla’s attention to the mandate of this panel and how far from it he had derailed were not addressed or were just disregarded. Obla continued to carry out his duties in violation of his statutory mandate and in disregard to several warnings. Premium Times had reported these matters in detail as follow: ‘However, just two months into its establishment, the panel was deemed to have derailed and hence, was cautioned. On October 20,…


WHY I UNVEILED TREE OF FAITH, HOPE, LOVE AT OJUKWU UNIVERSITY – CARDINAL ARINZE The Prefect Emeritus of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, His Eminence Francis Cardinal Arinze, has said that connecting Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University (COOU) Igbariam, Anambra State to fully global attraction, promotion and recognition spiritually was behind his unveiling of trees of faith, hope, love and, blessings at the University. He said trees are symbols of regeneration, transformation, and the continuous cycle of life, noting that both trees and family are places of safety, often, because of the protection that trees give. Cardinal Arinze stated this when he kicked started the planting of one million trees at the University’s administrative block, on Thursday, aimed at cushioning the effects of climate change as well as forstalling the future hazardous damages the change may cause. Cardinal Arinze who planted four different symbolic trees, using 1st Corinthians Chapter 13 verse 13 and gave the names of the symbolic trees as Faith, Hope, Love, and Blessing, prayed for God’s abundant blessings upon the Management of the institution, staff, and the entire students, asking God to make the trees a great shelter where love, hope, faith and blessing would be received, shared, deployed, utilized and practicalized. He equally prayed that the trees would attract promotion and global recognition to the University. He commended the University management committee of the project, led by the Varsity’s Acting Vice Chancellor, Prof Kate Azuka Omenugha for keying into Governor Chukwukuma Soludo’s vision of making Anambra a clean, green, livable, and prosperous state in Nigeria. Receiving the Cardinal the Acting Vice Chancellor of COOU, Prof Kate Omenugha, expressed gratitude to God for the gift of His Eminence Francis Cardinal Arinze and for using him to bless and plant the trees which opened the doors for further planting, saying that they would takeoff with a Climate Action Summit billed to hold on 17th July 2024, and that COOU’s 5-Year Strategic Roadmap for Tree Planting and Climate Action 2024-2029 would be launched, adding that their target was to plant 1 million trees in the next 5 years. In an interview, the Chairman of COOU’s Climate Change and Tree Planting Committee, Professor Kingsley Nwozor noted that the Varsity had suffered severely from Climate Change and had serious damages that caused millions of naira to be fixed, stating that the roofs of some Faculties, departments were blown away by wind ocassioned by Climate Change. ‘It has affected everything here. More grasses and weeds are growing rapidly instead of trees, we are painting and repainting our buildings almost every two years. We are the worst hit. If you look around you you will see what I’m talking about. We are going to checkmate it using trees. We are targeting to plant at least 700 hundred trees at Administrative Block. We will develop VC’s orchard. ‘It is going be on both sides, back and corners of the building. These and more are what we are planning to do to put an end to these natural disasters. We are partnering with credible agencies and partners. Public-spirited individuals are keying into this noble initiative. We thank our Vice Chancellor, Professor Kate Omenugha, fair for mooting the idea. She brought the idea and we are developing and leveraging it. ‘We are going to ensure that cover all our roads with trees that offer shelter. The scorching sun had done a lot of harm to the Institution. The heat has caused us so much and we are doing everything humanly possible to arrest the situation.‘The Cardinal planted the tree of Faith, Love, Hope and Blessing. They are symbolic. We have Iroko, Oak trees, and others,’ the Chairman concluded.


FORMER NATIONAL ASSEMBLY MEMBERS SUE FOR PEACE IN RIVERS STATE Former members of the National Assembly from Rivers State have urged the political leaders in the state to uphold the rule of law and prioritize peace over personal interests. The ex-lawmakers, who served in both the Senate and the House of Representatives at different times including the 3rd Republic, made the appeal during a media briefing after meeting with Governor Siminalayi Fubara in Port Harcourt. A former House of Representatives member for Khana/Gokana, Bernard Mikko read the group’s communique. He rejected calls for a state of emergency and the attempt to disrespect the constitutional terms of elected council chairmen. “Regardless of our political affiliations, we stand united in our unwavering belief and conviction that the unity, peace, and progress of Rivers State are paramount and non-negotiable,” Mikko stated. “We reaffirm our absolute commitment to the rule of law, a cornerstone of democracy that ensures no one, including the government, is above the law. We uphold this fundamental principle, which safeguards justice, equality, and accountability for all. “We emphasise that the tenure of local government councils must be respected in accordance with the constitution.” “We believe that the calls for a state of emergency are unwarranted and have every confidence in the government’s ability to address any challenges that may arise. We trust in their capacity to maintain peace and stability in Rivers State.” The ex-lawmakers, however, commended Governor Similarly Fubara for his effect in promoting peace and development of the state. “We reject all attempts to undermine the progress of Rivers State for personal gain and urge the people to reject and oppose such efforts. “We commend Governor Sim Fubara’s efforts to promote peace and development and urge all Nigerians to support his initiatives. “We urge all well-meaning Nigerians to support Governor Sim Fubara’s mandate, which has been affirmed by the Supreme Court of the land, without fear, favour, or distraction.” The former lawmakers said their opinion on the Rivers State Political crisis became necessary because silence is no longer golden as the situation is threatening the peace and development of the state. “This is one of those times in the life of our beloved state when silence is no longer golden. We cannot in good conscience continue to play the ostrich when our hard-earned democracy, including the peace and stability of a State that has been built on the blood of heroes, are threatened. We are deeply troubled by the anxiety, hysteria in our state. “We recognize that the peace and stability of Rivers State, a vital economic hub of our nation, are under siege,” Mikko said. Those in attendance include their leader, Senator John Azuta Mbata, Senator Ngoji Denton West, Honourable Bernard Mikko, Jeffreys Owor, Adokiye Young-Harry, and Daemi Kunaiyi-Akpanah. Others are, Honourables Christopher Berewari, Paworiso Samuel-Horsefall, Christopher Chuama, Randoff Iwo Brown and Agolia Aboko.Some of those who signed the communique but were not present at the media briefing include Sentors Lee Maeba, Adawari Pepple, Bennett Birabi, and Honourable Austin Opara, a former Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives.