Connect with us

Headlines

FG Gives NIA N4.8bn to Monitor Whatsapp, Phone Calls, Others

Published

on

A total of N4.8 (4,870,350,000) billion has been allocated to the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) to monitor WhatsApp messages, phone calls, text messages, among others.

Of the figure, N1.93 billion was earmarked for “WhatsApp Intercept Solution” and N2.93 billion for “Thuraya Interception Solution” – a communications system used for monitoring voice calls or call-related information, SMS, data traffic, among others.

This was contained in the supplementary budget approved by the National Assembly last Wednesday.

The lawmakers had approved and passed a supplementary budget of N982 billion (982,729,695,343) for the 2021 fiscal year, against the N895 billion proposed by President Muhammadu Buhari – indicating an increase of about N87 billion.

While N123.3 billion was fixed for recurrent (non-debt) expenditure, N895 billion was earmarked for contribution to the Development Fund for Capital Expenditure for the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2021,

Another N45 billion was approved for foreign aid/loans.

This budgetary allocation comes amidst several attempts by the federal government to limit freedom of expression in the country – an act many have described as a means to gag the media.
It comes barely a month after the federal government suspended the operation of Twitter in the country on June 4.

Besides, the National Assembly, particularly lawmakers at the House of Representatives, are in the process of amending several media bills with the aim of “regulating the media.”

Some of these bills include the Nigerian Broadcasting Commission (NBC) Act and the Press Council Act.

The Minister of information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, had in June asked the House of Representatives to include internet broadcasting under the control of the NBC.

He said all online and internet broadcasting entities should be included in section two (c) of the bill – which gives powers to the NBC to “receive, process and consider applications for the establishment, ownership of radio and television stations including…”

“I want to add that internet broadcasting and all online media should be included in the bill,” Mr Mohammed said at a public hearing.

Similar proposals are contained in the Press Council Amendment bill. And the bills, if passed with the recommendation of Mr Mohammed, online media entities will have to get approval from the NBC before operating.

Many have opposed and rejected the proposed amendments, describing the prescriptions as draconian, ill-advised and an attempt to gag the media on all fronts.

In protest of the proposed amendments, major newspapers on Monday, published the same headlines calling on the National Assembly to halt the amendments. It was sponsored by the Nigerian Union of Journalists, Nigerian Guild of Editors and Newspapers’ Proprietors Association of Nigeria.

“Information Blackout: This is what the National Assembly wants to achieve with the NPC and NBC (media) amendment bills,” read the front pages of papers like Punch, Vanguard, the Nation, Daily Sun and the Guardian.

There were also previous attempts to control the social media space via bills introduced by two Niger senators at the Senate.

More details of the budget

In the supplementary budget seen by PREMIUM TIMES, N11.48 billion was also allocated to the Defence Headquarters for the purchase of ammunition and another N15.8 billion for the purchase of vehicles and generators.

While the Nigerian Army headquarters got N37.6 billion for ammunition, N14.8 billion for arms and N 48.6 billion for “vehicle requirement.”

Another N96.5 billion was given to the agency for “payment for purchase of defence equipment”. The equipment was, however, not clearly stated.

In the same vein, the Nigerian Navy was given N36.5 billion for “arms and ammo requirement” and N140.7 billion was allocated to the Nigerian Air Force for “additional aircraft requirement.”

Under the budget of the Department of State Security, a total of N6.5 billion was earmarked for the construction of multipurpose gatehouses and installation of integrated security systems of the National Assembly.

While N1 billion was approved for constitution review, N6.7 billion has been allocated for procurement and installation of new oxygen plants nationwide and repairs of oxygen plants in hospitals in the Federal Capital Territory.

The federal government had said the budget is specifically meant to enhance the capacity of the military and paramilitary agencies to tackle the various security challenges in the country.

The Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, admonished relevant committees of the upper legislative chamber to carry out oversight and ensure that the funds are properly utilised.

Premium Times

Continue Reading
Advertisement

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Headlines

Fani-kayode Did Not Know When I Defected, Umahi Knocks Ex-Minister over Comments

Published

on

Governor of Ebonyi State, Dave Umahi, has countered Former Minister of Aviation, Mr Femi Fani-Kayode’s claim that he contributed to his (Umahi’s) defection to the All Progressives Congress (APC).

“I think he needs to withdraw that statement, he’s my good friend but, it was an insult on my person and the other governors,” Umahi said on Channels Television’s Politics Today on Thursday.

“The man did not know when I moved, but incidentally he visited me and we discussed, and he said he was coming to join me with the other governors to declare.

“How will somebody in the PDP be instrumental to my moving?” Umahi asked.

Continue Reading

Headlines

Fani-Kayode: Spirit of God Inspired Me to Join APC, Instrumental to Defection of Three Govs, Working on Three Others

Published

on

Former Minister of Aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode, on Thursday hinted at the possibility of the governors of Bauchi, Enugu and Oyo States dumping the Peoples Democratic Party and joining him in the All Progressives Congress.

Fani-Kayode gave the hint while speaking to newsmen after he was presented to the President Muhammadu Buhari by the Chairman, Caretaker/Extraordinary National Convention Planning Committee of the APC, Governor Mai Mala Buni, at the Presidential Villa.

In response to another question as to whether he had friends from the PDP following him into the APC, he said, “There are many people. If you ask my friend and brother, Governor Matawalle here, there are many people within the PDP, who do want to come over to the APC. I can tell you that. I was there and very instrumental when Governor Umahi joined the APC.

“I was there and very instrumental when Governor Ayade did the same thing. I was there and very instrumental when my friend and brother governor of Zamfara, Governor Matawale did the same thing.

“Now, if you don’t mind me mentioning names, somebody like the governor of Enugu State, the governor of Oyo State, and of course, my good friend, the governor of Bauchi State, great friends of mine, and I sincerely hope that they too may end up coming in this direction.

“But whether they do or not, the most important thing is that we work together as a people, as a country, and move our country together and fight and kill the terrorists and put to shame the foreign elements and I emphasize that word, foreign elements, that want us to end up fighting one another in this country and turning our country into a massive refugee camp.

“I don’t want to hurt anybody’s feelings, but I’ve made a choice, I believe I’ve been led by the Spirit of God and I will fight for what I believe is right within this party as I would anyway. I will never give up on my core values and principles.”

Fani-Kayode also claimed that his decision was inspired by God and the positive changes he has noticed in the ruling party.

Asked why he chose the APC, he said, “Why not? The point is that I felt that this was the appropriate time to do the right thing, to put Nigeria first, and to appreciate the efforts that have been made. Particularly in the last couple of years in terms of security, fighting insurgency, fighting terrorism, and most importantly, is the appreciation of the fact that we must remain one as a nation, build bridges, work together to move the country forward.

“The efforts of the governor of Yobe State, the governor of Zamfara State, and several others, including the governor of Kogi and several others in their respective states and in moving this country forward and helping Mr. President move this country forward, cannot be ignored.

“We need to appreciate the fact that when we see that there are good things that are happening, we appreciate those good things. It’s not always negative and when the time is right, we change direction to join forces and join hands to move the country forward.

In his remarks, the Caretaker Committee, Chairman of the APC, Mai Mala Buni said, “We just received him and in appreciation and understanding of Mr. President’s vision, and magnanimity.”

Asked how the President received the new party member, he said, “He received him very well and, you know, Mr. President is a magnanimous leader, who shares his vision with anybody who is looking towards greater Nigeria. So, he’s happy and he received him very well, he commended his courage.”

When contacted, the National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Kola Ologbondiyan said, “We wish Chief Fani-Kayode luck in his new political adventure.”

The Punch

Continue Reading

Headlines

We’ll Reveal Sponsors of Terrorism at the Right Time – EFCC Chair, Bawa

Published

on

The Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Abdulrasheed Bawa, on Thursday, said Nigerians will know the identities of terrorism financiers in the country at the right time.

He spoke on as a guest on Channels Television’s ‘Politics Today’ current affairs programme monitored by The PUNCH.

Bawa, who collapsed during an official function at the Aso Rock Villa earlier on Thursday, also said he had seen his doctor and “everything about me is okay, except for the fact that I’m a bit dehydrated and I need to take a lot of water”.

The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), had on February 16, 2021, named 41-year-old Bawa as the fourth chairman of EFCC following the corruption allegations levelled against embattled ex-acting EFCC chair, Ibrahim Magu, and his subsequent suspension.

The EFCC was established in the early 2000s during the administration of the then President Olusegun Obasanjo to combat economic and financial crimes like advance fee fraud (419), money laundering, terrorism financing and miscellaneous offences.

On Monday, the United Arab Emirates named and prosecuted six Nigerians and 32 others for allegedly financing terrorism.

Nigerians on the UAE’s terrorism list include Abdurrahaman Ado Musa, Salihu Yusuf Adamu, Bashir Ali Yusuf, Muhammed Ibrahim Isa, Ibrahim Ali Alhassan and Surajo Abubakar Muhammad.

The Nigerians were said to have transferred up to $800,000 in favour of Boko Haram between 2015 and 2016.

The six persons were said to have been tried and sentenced to at least 10 years in jail in the UAE.

Also in March 2021, presidential aide, Garba Shehu, had said the Nigerian Government arrested 400 Bureau De Change operators for allegedly funding Boko Haram insurgency in the country.

He had said the Nigerians were transferring money to the sect from the United Arab Emirates.

Asked specifically on the television programme on Thursday to reveal the people financing terror and unleashing mayhem on Nigerians in the last 12 years, the EFCC chairman replied the interviewer, “If you are my adviser, will you advise me to come on national television to tell the whole world regarding matters of sensitive national security issue? Certainly, not. But what I want to assure is the fact that we are working tirelessly with other sister agencies to ensure that this country is free of terrorism.”

When further asked whether it was appropriate for the government to conceal the identities of terror financiers whose activities have led to the killing of thousands of innocent lives, Bawa said, “Of course, transparency is one of the bedrock(s) of this administration, of course, I am not a spokesman for this administration, but I believe that at the right time Nigerians will get to know those that are financing terrorism in this country and beyond as well.

“These are issues that are beyond the borders of this country and of course we are working tirelessly with our partners overseas as well as other sister agencies at home. We are working, it is not something we should come out to say that these are the modus operandi that we are adopting.”

Terrorism financing has become a concerning issue in Nigeria in the last few years as some unnamed politicians have been fingered of complicity with the marauders.

This newspaper had earlier reported that a former Navy Commodore, Kunle Olawunmi, said that Boko Haram terrorists mentioned names of current governors, senators and Aso Rock officials as sponsors during interrogation but the President has demonstrated an unwillingness to go after the high-profile politicians for reasons best known to him.

Last September, a former deputy governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Obadiah Mailafia, also claimed that a serving northern governor was a Boko Haram leader and moneybag.

For over a decade, the Boko Haram terror group had killed thousands of Nigerians in the North-East, especially in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa States. The Nigerian Army and the Presidency had at several times claimed the group had been ‘technically defeated’ and ‘weakened’ but the bloodthirsty terrorist faction continues to strike with daring effrontery and crude savagery.

The Punch

Continue Reading