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Clark to EFCC: Probe all former governors over corruption

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Clark to EFCC: Probe all former governors over corruption
• Chief Edwin Clark

Elder statesman, Chief Edwin Clark, has called on the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to investigate former state governors and other politicians who may have looted the Treasury in office.

This is contained in an open letter he wrote to the chairman of the commission, Mr. Olanipekun Olukoyede, made available to the media on Tuesday.

Noting that the many cases against some of the former governors and other politicians appeared to have been abandoned by the commission, he urged the EFCC to revive them, saying that corruption will never end if it is treated with levity.

“I also wish to advise you that all former governors who served the country and some who looted their state treasury, as it is alleged in Yahaya Bello’s case, should be investigated by your commission with rapidity to enable Mr President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to carry out his anti-corruption crusade,” he said.

Clark called on the former Kogi State governor, now being sought by the EFCC over corruption allegations, Yahaya Bello, to turn himself in court rather than engaging in procedural issues.

The elder statesman wrote: “Mr Chairman, I am prompted to address this letter to you after seeing you on the television courageously and forthrightly speaking on behalf of your commission (EFCC) on the former Governor of Kogi State, His Excellency Yahaya Bello’s case, which is already pending in the Federal High Court Abuja, and as usual, some unpatriotic and misguided Nigerians have criticised you, branding your appearance on the television as media propaganda.

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“I totally disagree with them, and you are on the right path.

“I sincerely appeal to my handsome and attractive son, Yahaya Bello, to surrender himself to the court with dignity and stop engaging in pursuing procedural issues that some Nigerian lawyers are manipulating in the media.

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“The offence allegedly committed by him is bailable.

“The real issue is that Yahaya Bello paid some amount of money to the American School, which was paid with the Kogi State Government’s fund, to the sum of $845,852. It is also true that the American School has refunded $760,910 to the EFCC, which demanded it.

“It must be noted that the issue of bench warrant has always been an instrument used by Nigerian Courts to draw the attention of high-profile Government officials to the fact that no one is above the law. It is not new to the court and Yahaya Bello’s case should not be treated differently.

“At this juncture, Nigerians should ask themselves if corruption is a monster that must be defeated. Otherwise, we are in big trouble.

“As our Former President, Muhammadu Buhari used to say, ‘If we do not kill corruption, corruption will kill us.’

“Again, I appeal to the Nigerian public to support the new Chairman of EFCC in his crusade against corruption,” he said.

Congratulating Olukayode on his appointment, the leader of the Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) expressed the hope that he will perform his duties “effectively, impeccably, fairly, justly, and without any discrimination, political victimisation or witch-hunting of political opponents and have the courage and ability to confront the so-called sacred cows in our society.”

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He added that: “The level of corruption in the public service and even in private business has reached such an alarming scale. It has become a recognised part of our daily lives.

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“While the Ministers, Permanent Secretaries, and Directors in a Ministry carry out corruption and abuse of office on a large scale at a higher level, the lower ranks in the Ministry, even including the clerks and messengers, are also involved in minor ways of corruption by hiding files and documents and asking for money before releasing them.

“A new trend has now increased the temple of corruption. It is ridiculous to say that some of the officers and assistants have increased the level of corruption in the public service. Some of those in the Presidency, Ministers offices, President of the Senate, and so on, demand money, particularly in dollars before allowing you to see their principals.

“Corruption and abuse of office, which unfortunately have become our way of life, can only be reduced if there is political will on the part of the government to prosecute all those found corrupt as emergency cases and give an accelerated hearing, or if the federal government should create a special court for a period of time to treat high-profile corrupt cases and not allow such corrupt cases to be announced over the media and no further action taken.

“We discovered with dismay that when President Muhamadu Buhari took over office, he could not eradicate corruption but allowed corruption to flourish both in the Presidency, including some members of his family, and the whole setup in the country.”

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Clark prayed to God to give the anti-graft boss the “strength, courage, determination, ability, and wisdom to carry out this very important natural assignment to eradicate corruption in our society,” he added. (Nigerian Tribune)

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Minister hails NCDMB, Nedogas Strategic Partnership, lists benefits of Gas Gathering Facility

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The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources (Gas), Rt. Hon. Ekperikpe Ekpo, has commended the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB) and Nedogas Development Company Limited for initiating and successfully executing the 300 million standard cubic feet (MMscf) Kwale Gas Gathering (KGG) Facility and Nedogas Plant in Umusam community, Delta State.

Speaking at the formal commissioning of the two projects on Thursday, the Minister said the outcome of the strategic collaboration between the two companies represents “a significant advancement in the country’s efforts to promote sustainability, energy efficiency, and economic expansion.”

According to him, “The NCDMB and Nedogas Limited, of which Xenergy Limited is a part, deserve praise for their tireless work and steadfast dedication to this admirable cause,” and that the collaboration serves as evidence of the effectiveness of our local content policy, which seeks to increase the involvement of Nigerian businesses in the oil and gas industry while promoting local knowledge and capability.”  

He said the country’s capacity to extract and use natural gas resources has been significantly boosted with the completion of Nedogas Plant, which will increase domestic supply and export potential, while generating jobs, “fostering industrial expansion, and ensuring energy security.”

The Kwale Gas Gathering Facility, he pointed out, solves a persistent environmental issue as it captures associated gas that would otherwise be vented and thus turn a potentially waste product into a useful resource. The ‘Decade of Gas’ plan of the Federal Government, he observed, is being promoted in the two projects of Nedogas.

In concluding, he enjoined all to note that “It is essential that we keep enhancing the collaborations amongst all parties involved as we progress,” while assuring that “The Ministry of Petroleum Resources (Gas) is still dedicated to helping programs that improve local content, promote investments, develop capacity, and give Nigerians opportunity.”    

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In his Strategic Partner Remark, the Executive Secretary, NCDMB, Engr. Felix Omatsola Ogbe, said the achievement recorded by the Board and Nedogas represents “a triumph of partnership and shared vision” and “confirms that the Government, the private sector and local communities can collaborate effectively to bring value to the economy.”

He assured that “NCDMB remains committed to fostering such collaborations and creating an enabling environment for investments” and that the Board is equally proud of strategic projects it is developing in partnership with other chain investors in the last 10 years. These, he noted, “are geared towards actualising Federal Government’s policy direction.”

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According to the Executive Secretary, the KGG Facility and Nedogas Plant are not only infrastructural achievements but also serve as catalysts for local content development and job creation, among other things.

“Looking ahead,” he reaffirmed, “NCDMB will continue to support similar initiatives that promote local content, drive economic growth, and improve the quality of life of Nigerians.”

The Delta State Governor, Rt. Hon. Sheriff Francis Oborevwori, represented by his Deputy, Chief Monday John Onyeme, expressed happiness that his State is playing host to such an important project which would address the energy needs of Nigerians.  

He said the economic importance of the KGG Facility andNedogas Plant would be best appreciated if placed within the context of the energy crisis in the country. Citing World Bank statistics, he stated that power supply is so poor that companies spend as much as $29 billion yearly to remain in business, and that “the country is ranked as the lowest in terms of access to electricity globally.

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For his part, the Commission Chief Executive (CCE), NigerianUpstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC), Engr. Gbenga Komolafe, said the inauguration of the cutting-edge Facility and Plant represents a pivotal milestone for NCDMB and Nedogas.

According to the CCE, represented by Chief OgunnubiOlusegun, Regional Coordinator of the Commission, “By pushing the boundaries of energy production capacity, you are setting a commendable standard for others to aspire to.”

Earlier in his Welcome Address, the Chairman of Nedogas, Mr. Emeka C. Ene, expressed appreciation to partners in the two projects that had contributed to the success being celebrated at the commissioning ceremony. He was particularly impressed with NCDMB’s strategic capacity development initiatives under successive Managements, from Engr. Simbi Wabote to Engr. Felix Omatsola Ogbe.

He said the KGG Facility and Nedogas Plant “align perfectly with the ‘Decade of Gas’ initiative which the Federal Government has continued to promote, noting that the location of the KGG hub, being close to the Delta State Industrial Park, would significantly enhance economic activities and development of the State.

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The location, he explained, is also strategic as the Facility would serve as a home, a collection point, to gas from different operating fields. According to him, “All the stranded gas in the area is to be harnessed for the benefit of the people.”

On the wider significance of the KGG Facility, he noted that “This is a modular plant; it can be replicated 10 times over,” and that similar facilities need to be developed to deal with the 140 flare sites in the oil-producing areas.

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Key Project Drivers, as the company explains in its official brochure, are Stranded Gas, Proximity to Market, Evacuation Pipeline, Gas Development and Socio-economic Benefits. In regard to the first above the company states, “Natural gas stranded in OML [oil mining lease] 56 (Kwale area) due to absence of evacuation pipeline,” while noting under Gas Development that “A unique gas development opportunity exists for cluster members using shared facilities to leverage on gas network.”        

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Bill proposing return to regional govt to be presented to Tinubu Friday

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Tinubu to receive bill on regional government next week
President Bola Tinubu

President Bola Tinubu will, on Friday, receive a draft bill seeking a return to a regional system of government for Nigeria.

The proposed legislation authored by a chieftain of the Yoruba socio-cultural association, Afenifere, Akin Fapohunda, and titled, “A Bill for an Act to substitute the annexure to Decree 24 of 1999 with New Governance Model for the Federal Republic of Nigeria’, seeks among others, new extant laws to be cited as “The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria New Governance Model for Nigeria Act 2024.

The bill was disowned by the House of Representatives last week as its spokesman, Akin Rotimi, and the Chairman, Committee on Rules and Business said it has not been listed for deliberation in the ongoing moves to review the 1999 Constitution (as amended).

However, Fapohunda told our correspondent on Thursday that the bill would be transmitted to the President on Friday.

“I’m submitting my letter (draft bill) today but I will wait for seven days before releasing it to the public,” he told our correspondent.

Meanwhile, Fapohunda who also represents the Coalition of Indigenous Ethnic Nationalities told The PUNCH that the organisation is proposing the division of the country into eight geo-political regions with approximate interim boundaries.

The proposed regions. according to Fapohunda. include the southern region to be made up of Akwa-Ibom, Bayelsa, and Cross Rivers States and “Optional inclusions of the Annang, Effik, Ekoi, Ibibio, Oro Ohaji/Egbema in Southern Imo, the Adonia, Efemia, Ijaw, Ogoni, Bini, Ishan, Isoko, Urhobo and the Ijaw-speaking people in Northern Ondo State with land contiguity.”

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He continued, “The South Eastern region consists of Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu, and Imo States. The Western region comprises Lagos, Ogun, Ondo, Osun, Oyo, and Ekiti States, incorporating the Yoruba-speaking people in Kogi and the Igbomina people in Kwara State. Additional options would be the Itsekiri people of Delta State and Akoko-Edo people of Edo State to make their respective choices.”

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Others include the Mid-Western Region “Made up of Edo and Delta States, possibly incorporating the Anioma people and the Eastern Middle Belt Region comprising Northern Cross River, Southern Kaduna, Southern Borno, Adamawa, Benue, Kogi, Plateau, Nasarawa and Taraba States.”

The Western Middle Belt Region comprises Southern Kebbi, parts of Kwara and Niger States while the North Eastern Region will be made up of parts of Borno, Gombe, Bauchi, Jigawa, and Yobe States.

The North Western Region, according to the Afenifere chieftain, comprises Kaduna, parts of Kebbi, Kano, Katsina, Sokoto and Zamfara States.

Fapohunda said the coalition envisaged a two-tier government, federal and regions, adding that the latter would be at liberty to manage her affairs, “Including the creation of sub-entities, based on the stipulations that are agreed upon and embedded in their respective constitutions.”

In its proposed governance stipulations, CIEN stated that “In the quest for re-configuration and downsizing, an option to consider might be to retain the present boundaries of the 36 States, as would have been adjusted, but to creatively downgrade the paraphernalia of political administration as follows:

“To introduce a new regional government framework with executive and legislative functions and bodies with the headship title of Premier.

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“In the new dispensation, the present States (for example the six in the Western region) would be converted to provinces. Governance at this level shall be by Provincial Councils that integrate executive and legislative functions, with Chairman and Support Specialist Administrative Officers. The regions shall be at liberty to create provinces, subject to viability and self-sustainability.

“The present Local Government Areas are to be transformed into divisions, with divisional managers and specialist administrative officers; to operate as socio-economic development institutions. The new provinces shall also be at liberty to create divisions, subject to viability and self-sustainability.”

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The coalition also proposed a new constitution to embody novelties including freedom of the regions to “Create, merge and or re-configure their sub-political units and may adopt provinces, divisions or districts as may suit their circumstances without interference from any other authority.

“Regions and sub-regional entities are to be reconfigured such as would reduce the cost of public and civil service administration to less than 20 to 30 per cent of generated revenue.

“In drafting their Constitutions, the peoples of the respective regional territories will take a cue and also dismantle any arrangement or configuration that will favour the politicians and the political class; with a focus on freeing resources for true development.

“A uni-camera federal legislature comprising members that are elected at the discretion of the regions for which they would be representatives at Abuja.

“Decentralization of federal power in favour of not more than 10 regions on which there is a general national consensus, rather than the presently unwieldy number of 36 States. These old States are inconsequential indeed in being a viable unit of a truly federal system of government.”

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In all, the coalition proposes that the Federal Government “Shall comprise not more than nine Ministries and Ministers,” adding that “The very big United States has just 15 Cabinet Ministers, while Nigeria is not even up to just a State of Texas or New York.”

The group is also advocating a return to the parliamentary mode system of government “Built-in statutory rotation of headship among the regions.”

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Ex-Kogi Gov Bello’s trial for alleged N80.2Bn graft stalled again, to appear in court June 27

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Follow AGF’s advice, submit to EFCC – Group tells Yahaya Bello
Former Governor of Kogi State, Yahaya Bello

The arraignment of former Kogi State Governor Yahaya Bello for alleged N80.2 billion fraud slated for Thursday was stalled again as the case was adjourned to June 27 based on requests from both counsels in the case.

Bello, who was expected in court on Thursday, before Justice Emeka Nwite at the Federal High Court Abuja on a 19-count charge, was absent.

According to the EFCC, through the counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo (SAN), the court had previously adjourned the case on May 10 with the expectation that Bello would be present for arraignment today.

However, Bello’s lawyer, Adeola Adedipe (SAN), argued there was a misunderstanding.

He claimed the lead prosecutor, Kemi Pinheiro (SAN), had suggested to his colleague, Aliyu AbdulWahab, of postponing the arraignment to June 27 for convenience sake during an informal meeting outside of court.

Adedipe stated that he was surprised to find EFCC lead counsel, absent from the court today.

“They (EFCC) agreed that junior counsel would be sent to court today to formally pick a date. And the registry can confirm this.

“Kemi Pinhero, SAN, has been calling us to say today is not convenient,” Adedipe said, accusing the prosecution of attempting to “ambush” him.

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The EFCC prosecutor, Rotimi Oyedepo (SAN), countered by saying the defense team was misrepresenting the situation. He argued that holding an unofficial meeting was not a valid reason for Bello’s absence and called for an apology to the court.

“Assuming without conceding that there was a conversation between the counsel for Bello and the prosecution (outside the court), to have this matter adjourned, the fundamental issue today is compliance with the order of my lord; to with, the appearance of the defendant,” he said.

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According to Adedipe, Yahaya Bello was prepared to appear today as originally scheduled.

“Under 266 ACJA there are instances when defendants don’t need to come and this is one of them.

“We came here to pick a date. Of what use will the defendant coming here be? It is the prosecuting counsel that approached us, we did not approach them. We have nothing to hide,” Adedipe argued.

After hearing the arguments from both sides, the judge acknowledged the confusion and accepted the defense team’s apology.

“I am minded to take the apology on the ground that the defendant is making a fresh undertaking that the defendant (Bello) will be produced on June 27.

“The matter is adjourned to June 27 for arraignment,” the judge ruled.

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