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.
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.
Super Eagles to Play Tunisia As AFCON 2021 Enters Knockout Stage
The Super Eagles of Nigeria will face the Carthage Eagles of Tunisia in the ongoing African Cup of Nations (AFCON) round of 16 fixtures.
The mouth-watering clash was announced on Thursday night following Tunisia’s 1-0 loss to the Gambia — which consigned the North Africans to qualify as one of four best third-placed teams in the group stage.
Nigeria had finished top of Group D after winning all three of its group stage matches.
The tie against Tunisia is expected to be a repeat of the bronze medal match at AFCON 2019 in Egypt where Odion Ighalo’s goal confirmed the Super Eagles’ third place.
It is also a reunion for Austin Eguavoen, Super Eagles interim coach, who faced Tunisia at the quarter-finals stage at AFCON 2006 in Egypt. Nigeria won 6-5 on penalties after a 1-1 draw to advance into the semi-finals.
In other pairings, Cameroon, AFCON hosts, will face Comoros, tournament debutants, while Burkina Faso will play the Gambia, another debutant nation.
Two giants will also clash as Ivory Coast will slug it out with the Pharaohs of Egypt in a repeat of the 2006 AFCON final. Egypt, the then hosts, had won the clash 4-2 on penalties after a 0-0 draw to deny the star-studded Ivorian team.
The round of 16 ties will begin on Sunday, January 23, with Nigeria’s tie against Tunisia one of two matches for the day.
AFCON ROUND OF 16 FIXTURES
- Nigeria vs Tunisia
- Ivory Coast vs Egypt
- Burkina Faso vs Gabon
- Morocco vs Malawi
- Senegal vs Cape Verde
- Cameron vs Comoros
- Mali vs Equatorial Guinea
- Guinea vs Gambia
IPOB Faults Army, Says We Have No Camps in Ihiala, Criminals Not IPOB Members
The Indigenous People of Biafra has said that it does not have any camp in Lilu, Ihiala in Anambra State. The group claimed that they were not militants or criminals, hence do not operate in hidden camps.
The army, had, on Tuesday, through its spokesman, said it dislodged the camps of IPOB and Eastern Security Networks in Lilu, Ihiala.
However, in a statement on Wednesday, the IPOB Media and Publicity Secretary, Emma Powerful, said that the security agencies only unleashed cruelty on the people living in those communities claiming they were members of IPOB and ESN.
Powerful stated that if criminals take refuge in any community in Biafra land, that doesn’t make them IPOB members or ESN operatives.
He said, “We have also not said there are no more criminal gangs in Biafra land just like every other country even in the advanced western nations. But we won’t accept the tagging of every criminal element found in Biafra as an IPOB member or ESN operative.
“Recall that some of these criminals were already mentioned by IPOB leadership sometime during a broadcast. These hoodlums were a creation of wicked politicians in their desperation to discredit IPOB and ESN.”
The group claimed that the Nigeria Army, Police and DSS keeps dishing out falsehoods against IPOB and ESN by tagging those criminals they arrested as IPOB and ESN members.
It said the so-called camp where these said criminals were arrested does not belong to ESN, “They should stop lying against us,” Powerful said.
The statement further reads, “In Orsumoghu, Nnewi South, Lilu Orsumenyi of Ihiala LGA of Anambra State these criminals whose names are Emmanuel aka (Obereagu), Innocent Obiekee from Isingwu Orsumoghu, Izuchukwu from Amaduru Orsumoghu, Ofordie aka Baby, are the ones impersonating ESN/IPOB members using ESN name to commit crimes against the people of these communities they are not ESN members, the communities involved should use their vigilante group and stop them, ESN will help them too.
“In Orlu, Imo State, these criminals whose names are Agu, 50, Vice, Ojoo are the ones impersonating ESN/IPOB members to demonise IPOB and ESN members, they are sponsored by Hope Uzodinma and his co-travellers and traitors to demonise IPOB and ESN members in Imo State.
“They and their gang are collecting illegal levies at the Eke-Ututu market in the name of ESN when they are neither ESN operatives nor IPOB family members.
“The people are collecting proceeds from innocent communities. Collecting N5,000 from Orlu people in the name of ESN. These names mentioned or listed in this press statement have been declared Persona Non-Grata in Biafraland and they remain so. People must stop giving them money they are not ESN operatives and not IPOB volunteers.
“They have been kidnapping people, snatching cars and raping our women in our territory. IPOB volunteers and ESN operatives have also been making efforts to apprehend these agents of sorrow. We cannot watch these beasts created and sponsored by Hope Uzodinma, his masters in Miyeti Allah and their co-travellers destroy Biafra land.
The statement continues, “Again, ESN does not write letters to people or make calls to people requesting funds, funds for what we ask? IPOB and ESN have no dealings with such evil activities of these criminals who are now on the ESN watchlist. Be warned and stop giving them money in the name of ESN or IPOB volunteers.”
Eguavoen Will Only Earn Bonus, Won’t Earn Salary, Says NFF
Interim coach Austin Eguavoen will be entitled to only win bonuses as the Super Eagles gaffer at the ongoing Africa Cup of Nations tournament in Cameroon, PUNCH Sports Extra reports.
Eguavoen was appointed on a short-term deal after the Nigeria Football Federation sacked Gernot Rohr in December.
Rohr was Nigeria’s longest-serving manager after taking charge in August 2016, but had his contract terminated after leading the Eagles to the 2022 World Cup qualifying play-offs and sealing a spot at the Nations Cup in Cameroon.
The Franco-German also led Nigeria to the 2018 World Cup and guided the team to third-place at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt.
“Eguavoen is on the payroll of the NFF and he won’t be entitled to salary for the role he is playing as an interim coach of the team,” President of the NFF Amaju Pinnick stated recently on Arise TV.
“He will be entitled to the winning bonuses as the team progress at the tournament.”
Eguavoen has already won his opening two group games at the tournament which has sealed their place in the round of 16 in the competition