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

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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.

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Adeleke Wins As Court Strikes Out Ineligibility Suit

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Justice Obiora Egwuatu of a Federal High Court in Abuja on Thursday struck out a suit seeking nullification of submission of name of Ademola Jackson Nurudeen Adeleke as the governorship candidate of the People’s Democratic Party in the recent July 16 election.

The judge struck down the suit on the ground that the plaintiff lacked locus standi to institute the case.

The plaintiff in the suit, Awoyemi Oluwatayo Lukman had dragged the Independent National Electoral Commission, PDP and Adeleke before the court seeking order to void and set aside the submission of Adeleke’s name to INEC on ground of alleged unlawful action.

The grouse of the plaintiff was that Adeleke’s name was hurriedly submitted by PDP on March 11 as against between March 14 to 18 as contained in the INEC guidelines.

Adeleke’s name having not been submitted within the period fixed by INEC, the plaintiff asked the court to declare the submission, illegal, unlawful, null and void and be set aside.

He claimed that INEC must be bound by its official guidelines and that anything done outside the guidelines is against the provisions of the Electoral Act 2022.

However, in his judgment, Justice Obiora Egwuatu struck out the suit on the ground that the said Awoyemi Oluwatayo Lukman lacked locus standi to have instituted the case.

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Falconets Beat Canada 3-1, Set to Meet Holland in Quarter Final

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Nigeria’s U-20 girls, Falconets, set a World Cup group stage perfect record for themselves after beating Canada 3-1 in Alajuela on Thursday morning to finish with a perfect nine points out of nine in Group C.

Head Coach, Chris Musa, said before the encounter that his girls would seek to win even as a quarter-final ticket was already in the bag, in order to sustain their winning mentality following hard-fought victories over France and Korea Republic.

That was exactly what the Falconets did.
Africa’s best team conceded their first goal of the competition in an accidental manner, following goalkeeper Omini Oyono’s poor management of a backpass from Jumoke Alani that granted Kala Novak a fortuitous goal in less than two minutes.

“It was great for us to come back from that setback, and also conceding first in the tournament. We showed character and spirit, and that would be huge for us going forward in the competition,” Musa said after the match.

Midfield impresario Esther Onyenezide, whose vicious curling shot earned all three points against Korea Republic to send the Falconets into the last eight on Monday morning, scored from the penalty spot in the 24th minute to pull the Falconets level. Defender Mia Pante had handled the ball from a Blessing Okpe shot in the box.

The Falconets looked composed and surefooted in the middle with the return of Deborah Abiodun, who sat out the encounter with the Koreans, and Chiamaka Okwuchukwu also played an inspired game after starting for the first time in the tournament. Her firm header from a Blessing Okpe cross in the 15th minute missed narrowly.

Onyenezide shot Nigeria ahead, also from the spot, in the 32nd minute minute, after Simi Awujo’s dangerous play against Mercy Idoko, as the latter went for a header from Rofiat Imuran’s inswinger, was penalised.

In the added time of first period, Idoko came close to scoring her first goal of the tournament, but her touch from another Imuran inswinger kissed the upright.

In the second half, the Falconets added pace and brilliant use of space to their game, and it was no surprise when Imuran, again with a visionary cross, set up substitute Chioma Olise for Nigeria’s third goal.

Their imperial campaign in the group stage earns the Falconets a quarter-final date with the Netherlands in Alajuela as from 1am on Monday (Nigeria time).

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Supporters Throng Obasanjo’s Residence As Tinubu Visits Former President

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Scores of supporters of the All Progressives Congress in Ogun State, Wednesday, stormed the residence of former President, Olusegun Obasanjo, in Abeokuta as the presidential candidate of the APC, Bola Tinubu visited the former President.

Tinubu arrived at the Penthouse of the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library, Oke- Mosan, Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, in his chopper at about 1:09pm in company of some party leaders.

He was received by Governor Dapo Abiodun, former Governor Gbenga Daniel, his predecessor, Segun Osoba, and other Ogun State government functionaries.

They have all gone into a meeting with the president.

The meeting was believed to be in connection with ambition of Tinubu in the coming elections.

Our correspondent reports that the duo had not been seen together since 2015 when he escorted the then APC candidate, the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), to Obasanjo’s residence.

He was also at the 78th birthday of the former President held at Abeokuta in March, 2015.

The two of them have since kept their distances as Obasanjo withdrew his support for Buhari and the APC, which he supported to power by tearing his card as a member of the Peoples Democratic Party.

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