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Tribunal Nullifies Akpabio’s Petition, Upholds Ekpenyong’s Victory

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The National Assembly Election Petitions Tribunal sitting in Uyo has upheld the victory of Senator Christopher Ekpenyong, who represents Ikot Ekpene Senatorial District in the Senate, in the February 23 election.

Delivering judgment, the Chairman of the three-member panel, Justice W.O. Akanbi, held that Ekpenyong, a member of the Peoples Democratic Party was duly elected by majority votes cast during the senatorial election.

However, one out of the three judges ruled contrary to his two colleagues in the panel.

The panel through a majority decision dismissed the petition filed by Senator Godswill Akpabio of the All Progressives Congress challenging the declaration of Ekpenyong by the Independent National Electoral Commission as the winner of the said election.

Describing the petition as “lacking merit”, the panel noted that the petitioner failed to prove that he won the said election as well as failed to present convincing evidence of noncompliance with Electoral Act as raised in his petition.

NAN reports that Akpabio had alleged that INEC, in collaboration with some PDP chieftains in the senatorial district, wrongfully declared Ekpenyong and his party, the PDP, winner of the poll, having scored 118,215 as against Akpabio’s 83,158.

He said result sheets from Akwa Ibom INEC office showed he won the election.

(NAN)

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See Reasons Senate’s Establishing Agency for Repentant Boko Haram Members

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The Senate on Thursday started work on a bill for a law seeking the establishment of a national agency for education and rehabilitation of repentant Boko Haram insurgents.

When it eventually becomes a law, it will ensure de-radicalisation of repentant Boko Haram militants and other insurgents.

The bill, which was sponsored by the All Progressives Congress member representing Yobe East Senatorial District, and former governor of Yobe State, Senator  Ibrahim Gaidam, passed the first reading on Thursday.

It was supported by the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs.

Reading the bill, Geidam, who is from the same state with the President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, said the document titled, “National agency for the education, rehabilitation, de-radicalisation and integration of repentant insurgents in Nigeria,” would ensure that repentant insurgents were fully integrated into society.

The proposed agency, according to the legislation, would provide educational opportunities for the insurgents.

It will also rehabilitate,  de-radicalise and integrate the repentant insurgents in the country.  The proposed agency, according to the bill, will provide recreational sports and fine arts programmes for the repentant insurgents.

The bill also states that the agency will be able to gain a greater understanding of both the immediate needs for combating Boko Haram, as well as tool for counter-radicalisation in the future, by maintaining open lines of communication.

The proposed agency will also provide vocational rehabilitation facilities for the repentant terrorists to learn carpentry, clay shaping, pottery and the like.

The bill adds that repentant insurgents will make use of art through drawings, guided by professional art therapists in their art. rehabilitation.

The main aims of the bill are to “provide avenue for rehabilitating, de-radicalising, educating and reintegrating the defectors, repentant and detained members of the insurgent group Boko Haram to make them useful members of the society.

“Provide avenue for reconciliation and promote national security. Provide an-open-door and encouragement for other members of the group who are still engaged in the insurgency to abandon the group, especially in the face of the military pressure.

“Give the government an opportunity to derive insider-information about the insurgent group for greater understanding of the group and its inner workings.

“Gain greater understanding of the insurgents will enable government to address the immediate concerns of violence and study the needs of de-radicalization effort to improve the process of de-radicalization.

“Help disintegrate the violent and poisonous ideology that the group spreads as the programme will enable some convicted or suspected terrorists to express remorse over their actions.

“Make them repent and recant their violent ideology and re-enter mainstream politics, religion and society.”

Recall that the military established a rehabilitating centre in Gombe State for repentant Boko Haram terrorists.

The centre, it was reported,  had trained and rehabilitated over 1,000 insurgents since its inception over three years ago.

The Borno State Government had also revealed that about 1,400 repentant Boko Haram suspects had been released by the military and rehabilitated into society.

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Just In: Police Nab Suspected Killer of Aso Rock Director

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Preliminary investigation into the suspected murder of Laetitia Naankang Dagan ‘f’, an Assistant Director with the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, by the Criminal Investigation Department of the FCT Police Command led to the arrest of one Edirin Ohonre ‘m’ who is suspected to have conspired with others now at large to perpetrate the crime.

This was a revelation in a press statement signed and released on Wednesday by the Police Public Relations Officer, DSP Anjuguri Manzah of the FCT Police Command.

The statement said the suspect, who is currently under interrogation, is assisting the team of police detectives with information that will lead to the arrest of the other suspects connected to the crime, that are now at large.

While commiserating with the family, friends and colleagues of the deceased on the unfortunate incident, the FCT Police Command is assuring members of the public that it has deployed relevant investigative tools to unravel the circumstances surrounding the victim’s unfortunate death and ensure the arrest and prosecution of suspects behind the heinous act.

The Command is urging members of the public to disregard insinuations making the rounds in some social media platforms, and also wish to appeal to the members of the public to desist from preempting the ongoing police investigation.

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Again, Customs CG Fails to Appear Before Senate Panel

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The Comptroller General of the Nigerian Customs Service, Hameed Ali, has failed to appear before the Senate Committee on Public Accounts despite several summons.

Asides previous invitation over the Customs audit report, Mr Ali was again summoned by the committee last week following an indictment of the Customs by the auditor-general’s report.

The report stated that the Nigerian Customs Service and the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) violated the Pension Reform Act 2014 which requires them to remit five per cent of their contributory pension to the National Pension Commission (PenCom).

The report by the auditor-general had among other things called on the accountant-general to “provide his investment ledger meant for the funds,” explain the reason the two agencies failed to comply with the provisions of the act while also sanctioning them as due.

Last week, the Accountant General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris, explained on behalf of the two.

“The noncompliance of the remittance of 5 per cent of the contributory pension (by the custom service, for instance) was as a result of insufficient funds. Also, I wish to state, as funding improves, the service will comply accordingly,” he said last week.

There was however, no representative from the Customs – hence the reason they were summoned again.

Reacting to his non-appearance, the chairman of the committee, Matthew Urhoghide, said the panel will “do a letter to the CG Customs that we are going to hold him responsible for the testimony given by the Accountant General.”

“His deliberate refusal to appear, (we) will take it that the accusations are correct and (we) are going to hold him responsible,” he said.

Ecology fund

Meanwhile, the panel on February 13 also queried the Central Bank of Nigeria and the office of the Accountant General Federation for deducting N596 billion from the Federation Account and transferring it to the ecological fund between 1999 and December 2015.

The Secretary General of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, was also summoned over matter.

Habiba Lawal, permanent secretary of the Office Ecological fund, located in the Office of the SGF, appeared before the committee on behalf of the SGF.

She explained that over the years, from 1984, there have been several ratios for allocations to the ecological fund from the federation account.

But presently, she explained, the ratio from the federation account is: federal government 1 per cent, state government 0.72 per cent, local government 0.60 per cent, a total of 2.32 per cent.

She said the allocations to state and local governments do not come directly to the ecological fund office but is shared directly at Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC) every month.

Speaking on how accruals to the federal government are spent, she said “the only thing the ecological fund office knows is what is in 1 per cent accruable to the federal government – of which our office is part of”.

“Within the one per cent meant for the federal government, the act setting up NEMA, gives them 20 per cent of the accruable of monthly basis from the ecological fund to NEMA to discharge it’s functions in addition to whatever appropriation they are given from the National Assembly.

“Also, the national agency for the great green wall also had an act that gives them 15 per cent of federal share from the ecological fund.

“The third layer which is new is the North East Development Commission which will start taking from the month of January and they will take 10 per cent of the federal government share of the ecological fund,” she said.

Ms Lawal also told the panel that the federal government’s allocation is not housed in the ecological fund office, but in the CBN under the custody of the office of the Accountant General of the Federation and the office of the Minister of Finance.

“So what comes to the ecological fund office in SGF’s office is the fund meant for the specific projects the president has approved. So if the president says the road from that door to that door should be done by the office of the ecological fund at the cost of N10.

“That approval is what I will send to the minister of finance who will process and send to the account general and then the SGF’s ecological fund account in CBN also will then be credited with the project funds. The ecological fund office cannot answer for the whole federation funds because it is not in our custody and our job is to implement these projects.”

The representatives of the office of the accountant general who appeared before the panel, requested for more time to prepare the necessary documents.

They were given two weeks by the committee.

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