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CAN CALLS FOR NATIONWIDE PROTEST AGAINST HERDSMEN KILLINGS

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The Christian Association of Nigeria, has called for a nationwide protest against killings and bloodshed in the country.

The CAN President, Rev. Olasupo Ayokunle, in a statement on Wednesday urged Christians to hold peaceful protests within their church premises on Sunday April 29, 2018.
He made the call against the backdrop of the Tuesday killing of two priests and 17 worshippers at St. Ignatius Catholic Church, Mbalom, Gwer East Local Government Area of Benue State.

 

He said, “CAN urges Christians in Nigeria to hold peaceful protest on the set aside date, in the premises of their churches asking the Federal Government and the security agencies to stop the unending killings and bloodshed in the country.

“Christians are to carry placards with inscriptions meant to address issues about sustained killings, attacks and destruction of their property in Nigeria.

“The inscriptions on placards could read, ‘Enough of bloodshed in Nigeria,’ ‘Enough of unlawful killings in the country’, ‘FG, Release Leah Sharibu from the bondage,’ ‘FG, Stop Herdsmen Killings,’ CAN rejects FG’s poor handling of insecurity.’”

 

The cleric admonished the government to perform its constitutional responsibility of protecting the citizens, noting that no excuse is tenable for the bloodshed, stressing that the perpetrators must be brought to book.

“CAN seizes this medium to appeal to the government of President Muhammadu Buhari to mount different effective plans aimed towards disarming herdsmen across the northern states and in communities where they have been wreaking havoc across the country in national interest,” the statement added.

 

It attributed the continued killings to the failure of the government to mount an effective campaign against the attacks, killings by the herdsmen, noting that there was equally no visible plan to pacify the aggrieved.

“The Association also calls on the heads of the security agencies to wake up to their constitutional role of protecting lives and property across the federation while preventing Nigeria from descending into chaos and lawlessness, “ the CAN President said.

 

He reminded Christians to pray for bereaved families of those attacked by the Boko Haram terrorists, armed herdsmen, and other criminals in the past couple of months across the country.

“CAN reminds Christians across the federation the importance of the forthcoming general elections and the need for them to fully participate this time, by trooping to obtain their voter cards with which to play a role in the emergence of new set of political leaders who could guarantee their security and safety,” the group advised.

Punch Report

 

 

April 26, 2018 |

IN DAMNING REPORT, US SAYS IMPUNITY, MASSIVE CORRUPTION STILL PREVALENT IN NIGERIA

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• Shiite, IPOB extrajudicial killings, Dasuki’s detention cited as rights abuses, violation of rule of law
The United States Department of State has again issued a damning assessment of Nigeria under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari in its 2017 Country Report on Human Rights released last Friday in Washington D.C.
In the 48-page report posted on the website of the State Department, the U.S. government said impunity remained widespread at all levels of government in Nigeria, further noting that the Buhari-led administration lacked transparency.

 

A copy of the report obtained by THISDAY, added that government officials engaged in massive corruption.
Corruption, the report said, was not limited to government officials but very rampant among the security agencies.
The report stated: “Although the law provides criminal penalties for conviction of official corruption, the government did not implement the law effectively, and officials frequently engaged in corrupt practices with impunity.
“Massive, widespread, and pervasive corruption affected all levels of government and the security services.”

 

On the anti-corruption agencies, the report noted that although the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) efforts remained largely focused on low – and mid-level government officials, following the 2015 presidential election both organisations started investigations into and brought indictments against various active and former high-level government officials.

 

It, however, observed that the EFCC often did not observe all due process safeguards and refused to obey court orders granting bail to the former National Security Adviser (NSA), Sambo Dasuki.
“Many of these cases were pending in court. According to both ICPC and EFCC, the delays were the result of a lack of judges and the widespread practice of filing for and granting multiple adjournments.
“EFCC’s arrests and indictments of politicians continued throughout the year, implicating a significant number of opposition political figures and leading to allegations of partisan motivations on the part of the EFCC.

 

“In a case brought by the EFCC, in November a federal court convicted four firms allegedly used by a former aide of former President Goodluck Jonathan of laundering 1.67 billion naira ($$55.3 million) in stolen funds.
“In its pursuit of corruption, the EFCC often did not observe all pertinent due process safeguards. In November, the Economic Community of West African States Court of Justice declared unlawful the arrest and detention in 2015 of former national security adviser, Sambo Dasuki.

 

“A court ordered him released on bail in a case brought by the EFCC for the alleged diversion of 13.6 billion naira ($$443.2 million) intended to purchase military material during the Jonathan administration. Despite the court order, he remained in detention,” said the report.
In support of the claim that impunity remains the order of the day in Nigeria, the report further noted that government did not often take steps to prosecute officials who perpetuated impunity whether in the security forces or elsewhere in government.

 

It, however, acknowledged that government did take steps to investigate such impunity but failed to bring to book those who violated the law.
The report cited various instances including the atrocities allegedly committed in the North-east by members of the Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF) and the refusal to bring to justice military men who killed members of the Shia group Islamic Movement of Nigeria in 2015 in circumstances adjudged to be extrajudicial.
“As of November, the government had not adequately investigated or held police or military personnel accountable for extrajudicial killings of supporters of the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra,” the report added.

 

Excerpts from the report added: “Authorities generally did not hold police, military, or other security force personnel accountable for the use of excessive or deadly force or for the deaths of persons in custody.
“State and federal panels of inquiry investigating suspicious deaths generally did not make their findings public.
“In August, the acting president (Yemi Osinbajo) convened a civilian-led presidential investigative panel to review compliance of the armed forces with human rights obligations and rules of engagement. As of November, the panel had not issued a report.”

 

The state department report stated that respect for human rights generally remained appalling in Nigeria.
The report identified the following as the most significant human rights abuses: extrajudicial and arbitrary killings; disappearances and arbitrary detentions; torture, particularly in detention facilities, including sexual exploitation and abuse; use of children by some security elements, looting, and destruction of property; civilian detentions in military facilities, often based on flimsy evidence; denial of fair public trial; executive influence on the judiciary; infringement on citizens’ privacy rights; restrictions on freedoms of speech, press, assembly, and movement; official corruption; lack of accountability in cases involving violence against women and children, including female genital mutilation/cutting and sexual exploitation of children; trafficking in persons; early and forced marriages; criminalisation of status and same-sex sexual conduct based on sexual orientation and gender identity; and forced and bonded labour.

 

Speaking during the official release of the report, the acting Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labour of the US Department of State, Mr. Michael Kozak, said the 2017 report marked the 42nd year that the U.S. has published the country-specific annual Human Rights Reports.
He said the law requires the U.S. executive to produce the report every year.
According to him, “This goes back to the 1970s when Congress said to the Executive Branch, ‘When we’re making decisions about foreign assistance and security assistance and trade agreements and all of that, we’d really like to know: what is the human rights situation in the countries that we’re dealing with’.”

 

He said the U.S. did not produce the report to pass judgment “on other countries, or to name and shame”.
“It’s to fulfil a statutory responsibility to our Congress to try to produce the most accurate description of what we find is going on in other countries so that they can use that in making decisions,” he explained.
Efforts to get the Minister of Information and Culture, Mr. Lai Mohammed, to react to the report proved abortive as his phone was switched off.

Thisday Report

April 25, 2018 |

Policemen on illegal duty shoot two wedding guests

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There was pandemonium in Anara, in the Isiala Mbano Local Government Area of Imo State on Sunday as two policemen allegedly shot two persons during a traditional wedding.
The development, our correspondent learnt, made guests to abandon the ceremony and run for dear life.
The two policemen, whose identities had yet to be ascertained as of press time, were said to have escorted two prominent persons to the event.

 

Our correspondent gathered that the trigger-policemen were whisked away by members of the bride’s family who prevented a mob from attacking them.
PUNCH Metro learnt on Monday that the policemen, who were said to be at large, did not get the approval of the state Commissioner of Police to be at the occasion.
A witness, who identified himself only as Ugo, said the cops had first shot into the air before mistakenly firing at guests.

 

He said, “The policemen were shooting into the air to impress their bosses, who were spraying money at the party.
“One of the cops was using one hand to shot into the air with his AK-47 rifle. He lost control of the gun and shot in the direction of people.
“Two persons were injured. While one was shot in the hand and waist, the other person’s hand was shattered by bullets. They later became unconscious and were taken to the Emergency Unit of the Imo State University Teaching Hospital, Orlu.

 

“The youths wanted to lynch the policemen, but the bride’s family intervened. They were also prevented from vandalising the two cars of the men who brought them to the wedding.”
The victims were identified as Ikechukwu Onwudiwe of Umunchi, in the Isiala Mbano LGA, and Uzochukwu Ogbuhuruzo of Ezumuoha, in the same LGA.
When our correspondent visited the victims at the hospital, they were prevented from speaking to our correspondent. Nurses were seen attending to them.

An aged woman, who was later discovered to be the mother of one of the men, was seen crying and rolling on the ground, while some persons believed to be the victim’s children consoled her.
The state Police Public Relations Officer, Andrew Enwerem, said the Commissioner of Police, Chris Ezike, had ordered investigation into the matter.
Enwerem noted that the policemen came from Ekiti State and ran away from the scene after the atmosphere became charged as violent youths attempted to mob them.

Punch Report

April 17, 2018 |

Bribe: Police arrest, detain five SARS operatives in Lagos

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The Lagos State Police Command has arrested five operatives of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad for allegedly harassing a businessman in the state for bribe after seizing his company documents.
The state Police Public Relations Officer, SP Chike Oti, said the men were attached to the Ipakodo base of SARS.
The culprits, according to him, are Inspector Taiwo Omojope, Inspector Arigidi Ebibor, Sergeant Rotimi Adesoba, Sergeant Olalekan Olakunle and Sergeant Friday Oni.

 

PUNCH Metro had reported that the businessman, Immanuel Ibe-Anyanwu, had gone to a Zenith Bank branch at Ago-Palace Way, Okota, for a transaction when he was approached by one of the cops who took him to where their operational vehicle was parked.
The victim had alleged that after searching his car and perusing his documents without finding anything incriminating, the policemen ordered him to enter the vehicle and take them to his office in the Ikoyi area of the state.

 

After some arguments, a resident was said to have mediated, urging the policemen to release the 37-year-old.
The cops were alleged to have demanded money from him, as they turned down a telephone call from the police command headquarters.
Ibe-Anyanwu was said to have sneaked into the toilet of the bank on the pretext of going to withdraw money for the cops.
The policemen reportedly removed the number plate of his car after waiting for about two hours.
The victim said he was forced to enter his car and speed off after bank workers asked him to leave the premises.

 

The state Commissioner of Police, Edgal Imohimi, was reported to have ordered that the policemen be identified and arrested.
The police spokesperson, Oti, had said preliminary investigation showed that the team was led by one Inspector Jude Akhoyemta of SARS, Ikeja.
But on Tuesday, he absolved Akhoyemta of complicity in the crime, saying the culprits were from the Ipakodo base of SARS

 

He said, “In line with the directive of the Commissioner of Police, the command wishes to inform the public that further enquiry into the allegation of harassment of one Immanuel Ibe-Anyanwu by SARS operatives at Ago-Palace Way, Okota, has revealed the true identities of the policemen involved in the highly regrettable incident.
“The men, numbering five, are from the Ipakodo base of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad and not the Ikeja unit as previously reported.
“The names of the policemen are Inspector Taiwo Omojope, Inspector Arigidi Ebibor, Sergeant Rotimi Adesoba, Sergeant Olalekan Olakunle and Sergeant Friday Oni.

 

“They are currently undergoing interrogation at the command’s X-Squad Section and will be marched before an adjudicating officer at the Police Provost Department for the commencement of their orderly room trial.”
Meanwhile, a group, Network on Police Reform in Nigeria, has commended the police for swiftly acting on the allegations.

 

The National Coordinator of the group, Okechukwu Nwanguma, in a statement on Tuesday, said, “…rights abuses breed public resentment for the police and corrode public trust and support.”
He said with deterrent punishments, the police would regain the confidence of Nigerians.

Punch Report

April 11, 2018 |

Drama as bribe-seeking SARS men keep Lagos businessman in toilet

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A businessman, Immanuel Ibe-Anyanwu, created a sensation on Monday after calling for help on Facebook while in the toilet of a Zenith Bank branch at Ago Palace-Way, Okota, Lagos State.
Ibe-Anyanwu claimed that some operatives of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad were waiting outside the bank to extort money from him.

 

The 37-year-old, in the post, claimed that the policemen had seized his company documents.
While urging his friends and other readers to share the post, he said his phone battery was running low.
The post had been shared by over 400 social media users in five hours, as many Nigerians rallied support for him.
The victim, who later spoke to PUNCH Metro on the telephone, said he stayed in the toilet for over two hours.
He claimed that the operatives, who waited patiently for him, later removed the number plate of his car in a desperate bid to extort money from him.

 

Narrating his ordeal, he said, “I was coming out of the banking hall after a transaction around 2pm on Monday when a man in mufti approached me. He said he was a policeman. I asked for his ID card, which he showed me. He told me to follow him to where their vehicle was parked.
“They were seven in number in a mini-bus. They were all armed, except the driver. Immediately we got there, he told his colleagues that I was trying to snatch his ID card from him. I was shocked. I wanted to explain, but they asked me to shut up.

 

“They went through my company documents. They saw that the address of my company was at Ikoyi and asked what I was doing at Okota. I told them that I came for a banking transaction. They asked why I didn’t do it at Ikoyi and I replied that I lived in Okota and that I left my house late and wanted to do the transaction before going to the office.
“They asked what we do in my company and I told them. They asked what I was doing before I opened the company. They said I should open my car for a search. which they did; they didn’t find anything there. They said I should enter their vehicle so that I could take them to my office at Ikoyi to confirm that I worked there. They said they know the street, but they don’t know my company.”

 

The victim said he suggested that they meet with his landlady or speak with his office workers on the telephone, but the policemen refused.
He noted that he called the spokesperson for the Lagos State Police Command, SP Chike Oti, who asked to speak with the operatives.
Ibe-Anyanwu said after he handed over the phone to the officials, they cut off the call and seized the phone.
He explained that a resident later mediated and asked the policemen to release him.

 

“They said because of the man that begged for me they would release me. They called me aside and asked me to arrange some money for them. I told them that I needed my phone to arrange the money. They returned my phone.
“I went into the bank and sneaked into the toilet where I wrote the Facebook post. I called the police spokesperson again to inform him that they had just released my phone and were demanding money. He told me not to give them anything. He said he had mobilised some officers and they were coming to rescue me.

 

“I was in the toilet till 4pm and thought by then they would have left; but they stayed. Later, the bank workers asked me to leave their premises. By then, my phone battery was flat and I could not call anybody. By the time I peeped outside, I saw they had removed my car’s number plate,” he added.
The businessman said he had “swiftly” entered the car and turned on the ignition to leave the premises when the policemen surfaced and blocked his path with their vehicle.
He explained that he refused their call to wind down the glass, adding that a crowd gathered around the scene.
Ibe-Anyanwu said the policemen dropped his number plate and drove out to wait for him outside the bank.

“The bank asked me to leave their premises. I was confused. I decided to risk it and speed out. That was how I escaped. Although I can recognise them, they don’t have any name tag. They only had their crested guns with SARS jacket,” he added.
The state Police Public Relations Officer, Oti, in a statement, said the policemen had been identified.
He added that the state Commissioner of Police, Edgal Imohimi, had ordered their arrest and trial.
He said, “On sighting the X-Squad personnel of the command, the erring policemen hurriedly left the scene in a manner suggestive that they were on an illegal duty.

 

“The Lagos CP directed the Officer-in-Charge of the X-Squad Section to fish out the policemen within two hours. That directive was actualised with the identification of the policemen involved. They were led in that inglorious duty by one Inspector Jude Akhoyemta, attached to FSARS Ikeja. The CP has ordered their arrest and as soon as that is done, the public will be notified.”

Punch Report

April 10, 2018 |

Injuries found on woman, daughter allegedly killed by Danish spouse – Police

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The Lagos State Police Command says marks of violence were found on the bodies of the late Nigerian singer, Zainab Nielsen, aka Alizee, and her daughter, Petra.
The command on Sunday said the artiste’s younger sister had reported to the facility manager of Bellasta Tower, Banana Island, Lagos, where the family resided, that Zainab was being assaulted by her Danish husband, Peter Nielsen.
The 13-year-old girl, Gift, who lived with the family, reportedly told the manager, Mr. Kunle Kukoyi, that she heard her elder sister cried around 4am.

 

The manager was said to have reported to the police at the Ikoyi division.
PUNCH Metro learnt that a police team, mobilised to the residence around 11am on April 5, when the incident happened, found Zainab and her four-year-old daughter dead.
Our correspondent had reported that the Danish was arrested for the murder while the state police command had written to his embassy, notifying it of investigations into the case.
The command’s spokesperson, SP Chike Oti, on Sunday said investigations indicated that the suspect assaulted the deceased.

 

He said, “On April 5, 2018, around 11am, the police received a complaint from the Facility Manager of Bellasta Tower, Banana Island, Mr. Kunle Kukoyi, that around 7am of April 5, 2018, he was informed by 13-year-old Gift that she heard her elder sister, late Mrs. Zainab Nielsen, 37, crying in the early hours of the morning as she was being manhandled by her husband, one Mr. Peter Nielsen, a 53-year old citizen of Denmark.
“The little girl estimated the time she heard her sister’s cry to be 3.45am. Based on the report, the command mobilised its crime scene detectives to the location, with medics from the Britannia Hospital, Lekki Phase I, Lagos. Together, they went to Flat 17, Block 4, apartment of the Nielsens.”

 

Oti said examination carried out by a doctor on the bodies of Zainab and her daughter found in the kitchen, confirmed that they were dead.
He said preliminary investigation conducted at the scene revealed that the violence that led to the death started in the couple’s bedroom but the bodies were dragged to the kitchen.

 

“On a closer examination, visible marks of violence were seen on the bodies. The corpses were photographed and taken to the Lagos Island General Hospital for autopsy.
“Meanwhile, letters have been sent to the Embassy of Denmark informing it that the Lagos State Police Command is investigating Mr. Peter Nielsen for an alleged case of murder. Further development will be duly communicated to the public,” he added.

Punch Report

April 9, 2018 |

Eight-year-old girl with holes in the heart needs N20m for treatment

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While some of her mates are in school learning and playing, eight-year-old pupil of Bethel Nursery and Primary School (ECWA) in Ilorin, Asmau Abdulsalam, writhes in pains.
Her hope of becoming a medical doctor appears threatened as she oftentimes does not attend school on account of frequent ill-health.
Her mother, Zainab, said she initially was feeling hot and was vomiting, which made them to take her to a private hospital for medicare.

 

According to her, she was initially suspected to be suffering from malaria and was then treated but further diagnosis proved that she has holes in the heart.
According to her, it has not been easy for her and her husband, Mamud, to take care of Asmau more-so with two other children.
Zainab, who said she and her husband are civil servants in Kwara State and hail from Lafiagi in Edu Local Government Area of the state, said they had sold all their property and life savings to treat Asmau.

 

She said, “We have spent the proceeds of our land and other property for her treatment. I appeal to Nigerians to assist us. She used to feel hot. When they gave her treatment in the hospital, after three weeks, she was still not responding well. She was believed to be suffering from malaria and they gave her injection. But later, they discovered that there was a problem with her heart. We did the scan which confirmed it.”
According to a medical report from the University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital, signed by Consultant paediatric cardiologist, Dr. M.B. Abdulkadir, the girl was diagnosed with holes in the heart (centricular septal defect + patent ductus arterosus).

 

Abdulkadir said Asmau requires an open heart surgery to close the holes in her heart so as to live a normal life.
“Unfortunately, this procedure cannot be performed in this hospital currently and she has to be referred to India.”
Asmau’s father pleaded with the Federal Government, Kwara State
Government, the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, other members of the National and state assemblies as well as groups, organisations, corporate bodies and philanthropists to come to the aid of the ailing girl.
According to him, N20m is required for the primary and secondary operations, flight tickets, logistics and after treatment rehabilitation.

 

“It has not been easy, we are poor civil servants in Kwara State. Asmau is in Primary Three. She has not been attending school regularly. Sometimes they will call us that she is sick again and that she is vomiting and we will take her to the hospital again.
“I have sold all my belongings to treat my child. I just appeal to Nigerians to assist this child and donate money so that she can be treated for her to live a normal life. About N20m is need for the first and second operations, logistics, and to take care of her after the operation.”

Punch Report

April 7, 2018 |

NHIS BOSS IN ANOTHER CONTROVERSY, IGNORES TSA, MOVES TO INVEST N25BN IN FGN BONDS

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• Yusuf: Those complaining are corrupt
• Denies yield meant to stockpile funds for Buhari’s re-election bid
The Executive Secretary of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), Prof. Usman Yusuf, is embroiled in yet another controversy following his decision to invest at least N25 billion of the scheme’s funds in government securities through Cowry Asset Management Limited.
This is even as the Minister of Finance Kemi Adeosun and her counterpart in the health ministry, Prof. Isaac Adewole, according to documents seen by THISDAY, have both warned against the investment, saying it is in violation of the government’s Treasury Single Account (TSA) policy.

 

The TSA policy requires all federal ministries, departments and agencies to domicile their funds in the TSA with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), except where the agency is granted exemption by the federal government.
But Yusuf, who was suspended by Adewole last year over corruption allegations and nepotism, but was reinstated by President Muhammadu Buhari without recourse to his minister, has said the health minister gave his approval for the investment to be made.
According to a letter seen by THISDAY with reference number NHIS/ES/262 and titled: “Re: Urgent Need for the NHIS to Invest Its Residual Funds,” which was addressed to the managing director of Cowry Asset Management, the NHIS boss appointed the firm as its asset manager/financial adviser to advise the scheme on investments in FGN bonds.

 

The letter said: “By this letter, I am formally engaging Cowry Asset Management Limited to be the scheme’s Asset Manager/Financial Adviser, and authorising it to advise the scheme on investing in Federal Government securities.”
It also quoted an approval given by the health minister, vide letter Ref Nos: HMH/ABJ/032/X/465 dated August 18, 2017, for the NHIS to start investing its residual funds in bonds.
However, Yusuf was silent on a counter letter with Ref Nos: HMH/ABJ/312/11/82 dated August 29, 2017, titled: “Re: Approval to Commence Investment of NHIS Residual Funds in Securities,” where the minister asked him not to proceed with the investment, citing a violation of federal government’s TSA policy.

 

“This is to inform you that the Honourable Minister of Finance has advised against the proposal to invest NHIS residual funds in securities. The approval of such investment, she stated, will be an indirect violation of the government’s Treasury Single Accounts (TSA) policy,” the minister’s August 29 letter stated.
The minister’s letter further added that “because of the above, the Central Bank of Nigeria has been advised to pay Treasury Bill rates on any residual balance held in the TSA with the CBN for investment trust”.
“You are therefore directed to stop all actions and processes on the investment of NHIS residual funds in securities with immediate effect and approach the CBN to facilitate the payment of interest on residual funds,” the letter added.

 

One inside source hinted that the trigger for the “urgent” need to invest NHIS residual funds stemmed from the House of Representatives Committee on Health’s visit to the organisation, as well as concerns that the NHIS boss allegedly wants to use it as an avenue to deploy the yield from the investment into Buhari’s electioneering funds.
The source stated that when the House committee had visited the NHIS for its oversight functions, it recommended that the scheme invested its residual funds in securities, but the then acting executive secretary, Mallam Attahiru, had turned down the suggestion, citing the directive from the health minister in his letter of August 29.
The source further added, however, that “the committee members were not impressed and expressed their disappointment”.

 

This much was corroborated in the letter written by Yusuf appointing Cowry Asset Management as its asset manager/financial adviser.
“In August 2017, members of the House committee conducted an oversight visit to the scheme and discovered that it had not been investing its funds, despite the continuing depletion of the fund and poor cash backing from the federal government.
“It, therefore, recommended the urgent need to invest the funds it does not immediately require,” the source disclosed.
According to the source, based on Yusuf’s insistence on going ahead with the investment, Cowry Asset Management had in a letter dated March 5, 2018 and signed by Nathan Nwokoro and Okwudili Egwu, written to the executive secretary, requesting the NHIS to invest the sum of N25 billion.

 

The letter read in part: “That all funds more than the expected 12 months obligations of N62.5 billion so invested in Long-Term FGN securities to serve as your growing reserves with periodic significant coupon payments into the scheme.
“Given your current financial standing, invest N25 billion immediately to take advantage of the current attractive yields in the market.”
Cowry Asset, in the said letter, listed the FGN Bonds to be purchased as 14.2 MAR -14—2024 for N5 billion, 12.5 JAN – 22-2026, for N5 billion, 16.2884- MAR-17-2027 for N5 billion, 10.00-JUL- 23-2-30 for N5 billion and 12.1493- JUL-18-2034 for N5 billion.

 

Upon receipt of the letter of March 5, the executive secretary equally approved the request on the same day. He wrote: “GM CMD, Approved,” and appended his signature accordingly.
On the same day, yet another letter was written by Cowry Asset Management with the title: “Indicative Offer to Sell FGN Bonds.” The letter contained amongst other investment instructions, the account details of Cowry Assets Management domiciled with Access Bank Plc.
But a former management staff of the NHIS, who pleaded anonymity, informed THISDAY that the NHIS executive secretary did not have such powers to invest NHIS Funds to the tune of N25 billion, noting that it required the input of the scheme’s governing council and final approval by the health minister.

 

“The NHIS Act requires that for any investment up to N10 billion, the board of the NHIS has to make a recommendation to the Minister of Health for approval, so even the board does not have such a mandate. If you ask me, I think it is criminal to embark on such a venture,” he stated.
Another source noted that the approval given by the NHIS boss was carried out to act quickly before the inauguration of the board of the NHIS on March 7, 2018.
“You can see from the dates that the letter was sent in on March 5, 2018, by Cowry Asset Management and it was also approved on the same day, while the board was inaugurated on March 7, 2018.

 

“If the executive secretary is sincere with his dealings in the NHIS, why didn’t he wait for the inauguration of the board which was some days away?
“Instead, he hurriedly approved not even with the input of the Policy and Planning Department of NHIS.
“Let us say his actions were in the interest of the NHIS, doesn’t the NHIS have a management team? How can an individual wake up and accord himself such rights and privileges?” he wondered.
According to the source, prior to the go-ahead given to asset management firm, the executive secretary had sought the support of the scheme’s head of audit, Mr. John Okon, a general manager, who was earlier suspended alongside the executive secretary.

 

“The executive secretary approached the head of the audit and told him they needed to raise money for the elections and hence the need for the long-term investment.
“But Okon refused on the grounds that during the seven months he was on suspension, the APC government did nothing for him,” the source further alleged.
He said owing to the lack of cooperation, Okon was redeployed from the audit department and replaced with one Shehu Ademu, an assistant general manager, who the source added, was not qualified to hold the position.
“The executive secretary redeployed Okon from the audit department and he was replaced by his crony Shehu Ademu, who is an assistant general manager and not qualified to hold such a sensitive position.”
When Okon was contacted by THISDAY, he said as a civil servant, he was not authorised to grant interviews to the press.

 

A senior staff of the health ministry also told THISDAY that the decision on the long-term investment of government funds without the requisite approval from the supervisory ministry showed “we are an unserious people in this country”.
“In the history of the NHIS, before the commencement of the TSA policy, the highest NHIS has ever invested its funds is 12 months,” he added.
Also, sources in the NHIS confided in THISDAY that since his resumption of duty on February 6, 2018, following his recall from suspension, the executive secretary has refused to append his signature to any document except he had initiated it.

 

“It is such a terrible situation at the NHIS as it stands, the morale of the staff is quite low,” said the sources.
When THISDAY reached out to Yusuf, he sighted NHIS Act, Part IV, Section 4, as the reason for the investment, noting that the action was not only right but was done to stem corruption in the system.
Section 4 of Part IV of the NHIS Act states: “The Scheme shall invest any money not immediately required by it in Federal Government Securities or in such other securities as the Council may, with the approval of the Minister, from time to time, determine.”

 

The characteristically abrasive Yusuf said those reporting him to the press were corrupt Nigerians who wanted the status quo to remain, adding that his mandate in the NHIS remains to sanitise the system and grow the scheme.
“As I speak now, we have not invested a single penny since I came on board because I wanted to know all the things they did in the past and stop it.
“That’s exactly what I am doing. They won’t have the time to do all the nonsense they did in the past. Every penny will be taken back into the scheme.

 

“I am in NHIS to do the right thing. And I will do it transparently. I will follow what the NHIS Act says. Corruption will no longer be condoned in this scheme,” he said.
On concerns that the yield on the investment was not meant to stockpile funds for Buhari’s re-election bid, as speculated, the NHIS boss said: “This is not the Jonathan era. They think Buhari will do that nonsense?
“Where we come from we are brought up well. NHIS money is blood money, and it is meant to serve our people.
“Billions have been stolen. Now I am here as the chief executive officer. I will grow the scheme for our people. Every penny that comes in as an investment will be shown to the world, not all the nonsense they did in the past.”

 

Asked if the health ministry was in support of the investment since the NHIS Act specifies so, he said the minister does not have to be in support, as what mattered was the NHIS Act, which is the legal document establishing the scheme.
“Besides, the ministry gave its approval and we have a board which we are currently discussing this decision with.”
According to him, anybody saying otherwise was lying. “They don’t know who they are dealing with. The money will be invested, returns will be shown to the entire world and the scheme will be grown for our people,” he added.
The head of the NHIS Union, Abdulrazaq Omomeji, told THISDAY that the governing council of NHIS was looking at the entire issues in the organisation, adding that the union should be given the chance to see how they can resolve the matter.

Thisday Report

 

April 5, 2018 |

Herdsmen attack Enugu community

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Tension rose high in Enugu yesterday after Fulani herdsmen attacked Okpanku community in Aniri Local Government Area of Enugu State and inflicted machete cuts on a security guard.
Daily Sun gathered that the incident, which occurred on Easter Monday, has raised the security antennae in the community as youths are preparing to go all out for reprisal attack.

 

According to community sources, “the Fulani herdsmen were walking pass the community with their cattle, when, suddenly, the herders entered the compound of one Eric Ogudu and started plucking mangos.
“The security guard in that compound (name withheld) tried to stop them, but they refused and in the ensuing tiff, they gave him several machete cuts on his arms and shoulder.

 

“The guard started shouting ‘Fulani people don kill me ooo’. Immediately, the attention of the people were drawn and the villagers came and pursued them,” a source disclosed.
The herders reportedly ran into the bush. It was further gathered that the owner of the compound, Eric, has already made a statement to the police at Aniri Divisional Headquarters in Okpanku, while a team of policemen had been deployed to the community to calm the youths, who are bent on fishing out the herdsmen who carried out the attack.

Daily Sun Report

April 4, 2018 |

Man poses as drink seller to rob in Lagos traffic

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Operatives of the Lagos State Task Force on Environment and Special Offences (Enforcement) Unit have arrested a man allegedly notorious for robbing motorists held in traffic in the Oshodi area of Lagos State.
The suspect, Kayode Oluwole, 27, allegedly disguised as a drink seller and attacked unsuspecting motorists who wanted to patronise him.
The police said whenever the gimmick failed, the suspect usually resorted to force, using a hammer to break car glasses and robbing owners of their phones and other valuables.

 

Luck, however, ran out on him on Saturday after he allegedly broke the side screen of a Toyota Corolla and snatched two phones and a bag containing valuables from a woman.
The task force Chairman, SP Olayinka Egbeyemi, in a statement on Monday, said the suspect was apprehended by officials of the agency at Oshodi.
He said, “Immediately the suspect was arrested and every item stolen recovered, the owner was called on the telephone to pick up her bag and the two phones at the task force office. The suspect usually pretended as a drink seller.”

 

Egbeyemi added that the Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Edgal Imohimi, had directed that the suspect be charged to court.
Oluwole, who hails from Abeokuta, Ogun State, reportedly confessed to the crime in his statement to the police.
“I used the hammer to break the woman’s vehicle side screen because she refused to surrender her bag and two phones when I attacked her in the traffic,” he added.

 

The woman, Mrs. Hadizatu Jiddah, commended the operatives for prompt action which led to the suspect’s arrest and the recovery of her valuables.
The Head, Public Affairs Unit of the task force, Taofiq Adebayo, said the state Commissioner of Police had directed the agency to embark on strict enforcement of the Lagos State Road Traffic Law 2012.
He said, “The CP warned motorists, particularly those around Pen Cinema, Agege, Dopemu, Ile-zik, Oshodi, Mile 2, Berger, Igando and Lasu-Iba Road areas, to stop driving against traffic or causing obstructions to other road users.”

Punch Report

April 3, 2018 |
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