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2,351 Whistleblowers Tip Finance Ministry

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2,351 whistleblowers offer tips on embezzlement, other violations
Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun (L)
The Ministry of Finance, says it has so far received 2,351 tips from whistleblowers bordering on cases of embezzlement of government funds, looting of assets and contract inflation, among others.

In a statement signed by Mr Festus Akanbi, the Special Adviser, Media to the Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun said the tips came via text messages, calls, email and forms filled on the ministry’s website.

“We have received 95 feedbacks through our website, www.whistle.finance.gov.ng, 1,550 tips came through calls on 09098067946 and SMS, 412.

“Also, 194 people sent us emails on whistle@finance.gov.ng)

He said that out of the 2,351 tips, the office was currently following up on 154, it deemed actionable.

“Some of the tip include: contract inflation and conversion of government assets to personal use, ghost workers, payment of unapproved funds and embezzlement of salaries of terminated personnel.

“Also, improper reduction of financial penalties, diversion of funds meant for distribution to a particular group of people, especially farmers and diversion of funds to personal commercial bank accounts to earn interest.

“Further more, we are following up on cases of non-Remittance of pension and NHIS deductions, failure to Implement projects for which funds have been provided, embezzelment of funds received from Donor agencies and violation of TSA regulations by keeping funds in Commercial banks.

” We are also looking into violations of FIRS (VAT) regulation by adjusting Value Added Tax payment, non-procurement of equipment required for Aviation Safety, money laundering and diversion of funds meant for approved projects,” he said.

Akanbi said that top on the Minister’s agenda, as the Chairman of the Whistleblower programme was to investigate illegal sale of government assets, diversion of revenue (IGR), concealed bailout funds, Illegal recruitment and violation of procurement Act.

It will be recalled that late last year, the Federal Government set up the Whistleblower programme to make it easy for the public to give information bordering on violation of financial regulations, mismanagement of public funds and assets and other financial malpractice.

The Federal Government promised any whistleblower whose information leads to the recovery of up to N1 billion Naira, five percent of the amount.

While for any amount between N1 billion and N5 billion, the whistleblower stands to get 4 percent commission. Any amount over N5 billion, will attract 2.5 percent reward.

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Court Rules May 15 on AMCON Takeover of Arik Air

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Arik Air: Court rules on AMCON takeover

A Federal High Court in Lagos has fixed 15 May for ruling on preliminary objections to the takeover of Arik Air Ltd by the Assets Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON).

AMCON had on Feb. 8 announced that it had taken over Arik Air Ltd to “save it from collapse and in the best interest of the general public, workers, creditors and others in the aviation sector.

A lawyer, Mr Oluseye Opasanya (SAN), was appointed as the receiver manager of Arik Air following its takeover by AMCON.

By an ex parte application on Feb. 8, AMCON secured an injunction restraining Arik’s shareholders, directors, creditors, managers, officers, employees, servants, and privies, from interfering with Opasanya’s power to manage the airline.

However, four persons — Sir Joseph Arumemi-Ikhide, Chris Ndule, Dr. Michael Arumemi-Ikhide and Engr. Sangowawa Olubiyi — filed a preliminary objection against the court’s order.

Their preliminary objection was filed through their lawyer, Mr Babajide Koku (SAN).

They accused the lawyer representing AMCON and Opasanya, Prof. Kayinsola Ajayi (SAN), of engaging in “professional misconduct” and urged the court to void all the processes so far filed on behalf of AMCON and Opasanya.

The grounds of their objection was that Ajayi and Opasanya are both lawyers practising in the law firm of Olaniwun Ajayi LP.

Koku argued that by virtue of Rule 17 of Professional Conduct of Legal Practitioners 2007, neither Ajayi nor any other lawyer from the law firm of Olaniwun Ajayi LP could appear in a case where Opasanya is a plaintiff.

Opposing the preliminary objection, Ajayi argued that there was a distinction between Opasanya and the law firm of Olaniwun Ajayi where Opasanya works, adding that no law stops anyone from representing Opasanya.

Besides, Ajayi also filed a preliminary objection challenging the locus standi of the plaintiffs to file the preliminary objection.

He argued that they were not parties in the suit in question which AMCON and Opasanya filed against Arik and the Inspector-General of Police, describing them as interlopers, who should not be heard.

He, therefore, urged the court to dismiss their preliminary objection.

After hearing both preliminary objections on Friday, Justice Mohammed Idris, adjourned until May 15 for ruling.

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Up, up Rides the Naira

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Naira waxes stronger against Dollar

The Naira on Friday in Lagos consolidated its position against the dollar at the parallel market, ending the week stronger.

The Nigerian currency on Friday afternoon exchanged between N380 (buying rate) and N390 (selling rate), stronger than N400 recorded on Thursday, while the pound sterling and Euro closed at N490 and N430.

At the Bureau De Change (BDC) window, the Naira was sold at N399 to the dollar, while the pound sterling and the Euro were sold at N500 and N400.

The Nigerian currency appreciated at the interbank market, closing at N307 to the dollar, from N308 posted on Thursday.

Traders at the market said liquidity boost at the interbank market by the CBN was fast forcing the rate down at the market.

Meanwhile, Alhaji Aminu Gwadabe, the President of the Association of Bureau De Change Operators of Nigeria (ABCON), said CBN-licenced BDCs would incur regulatory losses of N130 million this week.

Gwadabe told NAN that the losses were coming from CBN’s disparity in applicable exchange rates among players in the market.

According to him, the public has refused to buy foreign exchange from BDCs for invisibles such as medicals, school fees, personal and business travel allowances at a rate above N375 to the dollar.

The financial expert urged the CBN to promptly address the issue.

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Trump Health Care Bill Dead, Obamacare Lives

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Trump Health Care Act dead, Obamacare lives on
Speaker of US House of Reps Paul Ryan: Trump Health Care Act dead, Obamacare lives on
The U.S. House of Representatives shelved a vote scheduled for Friday afternoon to bury Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare and replace with President Donald Trump’s American Health Care Act.

News reports said the Republican dominated lower house shelved the vote because the party couldn’t find the votes needed to send it on to the Senate.

The House vote was first set for Thursday, scrapped, rescheduled for Friday and scrapped again following a tumultuous 24 hours that saw President Donald Trump and his party mount a final push to get the replacement package for the Affordable Care Act through the lower chamber.

In the end, though, hesitant conservatives could not talk themselves into voting for the AHCA.

“This bill is dead,” one GOP lawmaker said.

Donald Trump: wants Obamacare repealed today by all means
Donald Trump: wants Obamacare repealed today by all means
“We came up short,” House Speaker Paul Ryan said at a news conference after the vote was cancelled. “I won’t sugarcoat this — this is a disappointing day for us.”

Earlier, Ryan visited Trump at the White House to assess the situation and the president told him to pull the proposal. Several Republicans have said the president is finished negotiating on the matter and might now just leave the ACA on the books as the healthcare law of the land.

Trump, Ryan and other GOP leaders must now decide what to do about former President Barack Obama’s signature law, which the party has pledged to repeal since the day it was enacted seven years ago.

“We just pulled it,” Trump told Washington Post reporter Robert Costa. “I don’t blame Paul [Ryan].”

“When it explodes they [Democrats will] come to us and we make one beautiful deal,” the president added.

GOP aides told The Washington Post and The New York Times earlier that Ryan told Trump the House didn’t have the necessary 215 votes to pass the AHCA.

White House spokesman Sean Spicer said during his daily press briefing earlier that the vote would go forth.

“We’re gonna continue to work with the speaker and the leadership there to see where the votes are and we’re getting closer and closer,” he said.

The vote was set for late afternoon Friday after four hours of floor debate. Under House rules, amendments cannot be added to the bill once it reaches the floor, meaning the language in the final draft couldn’t be changed unless the vote was canceled.

It remains possible that another vote will be scheduled and another push for the required votes will happen, but that’s up to GOP leadership and Trump.

Friday, Republicans walked away from the bill when the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office released an updated report saying amendments drafted to earn GOP support would cost billions more without increasing coverage. Hardline conservatives balked at the cost, while moderates said the bill wouldn’t improve access to care or reduce insurance premiums.

The CBO said the AHCA’s amendments would decrease the federal deficit by $150 billion in a decade. The original bill was projected to cut the deficit by $337 billion. The CBO said the amendments would also not increase coverage, meaning there would still be 24 million fewer people with healthcare by 2026 if signed into law.

The CBO also said the amended AHCA’s impact on health insurance premiums would be about the same as the original version. The CBO estimated average premiums for individual plans would increase up to 20 percent over the next two years, but by 2026, premiums would be 10 percent lower than they would be under the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare.

In short, the CBO said the AHCA’s amendments did little other than cost the federal government more money.

“CBO estimates that enacting H.R. 1628, with the proposed amendments, would save $186 billion less over that period,” the CBO said in a statement.

“The legislation’s impact on health insurance premiums would be approximately the same as estimated for the previous version.”

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180,000 Free Houses For the Poor Nigerians

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Affordable houses for Nigerians in sight
Affordable houses for Nigerians in sight
More than 180,000 modern houses are to be provided free in all the 36 states of the country, according to an NGO — Africa National Development Programme (ANDP).

The two-bedroom houses to be situated in an estate or scattered in different locations will have facilities such as schools, police stations, markets and hospitals.

The ANDP, a subsidiary of World National Development Initiative, said the houses mainly for the poor would be given out free.

The Africa Director of ANDP, Dr Samson Omojuyigbe, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that the project would cost N2.8 trillion.

Omojuyigbe said the 180,000 houses would be distributed equitably at 5,000 houses per state at a cost of N78 billion.

He noted that because of the economic situation in the country many people were incapacitated in getting shelter and lack basic necessities of life.

“ANDP as an NGO is investing huge amount of resources to provide the facilities free of charge to citizens of Africa because of the economic situation.

“We believe we should provide houses free for the less privileged instead of providing relief materials to displaced persons as is in vogue and end it there.

“We are constructing 5, 000 units of modern two-bedroom houses in each state of the federation.

“The plight of the poor and the grinding poverty they face daily are the innate concerns of the ANDP,’’ Omojuyigbe said.

The director-general noted that it was obvious that the various governments at all levels in Africa could not provide everything, including shelter for the people.

He said: “Based on the circumstances they have found themselves and the less and less resources available to governments at all levels, it is obvious they cannot provide everything for the people.

“Good-spirited individuals and organisations with the right heart must come to the rescue of the people if we must secure the future and provide a decent lifestyle for the coming generations.

“The project is a sole initiative of ANDP and will not cost the state governments any fund beyond moral support and the provision of an enabling environment conducive to the successful implementation of this effort.

“Our organisation is interested in alleviating poverty on the African soil’’.

Omojuyigbe described poverty as a complex phenomenon indicative of man’s inability to feed, provide shelter for the family and himself and function effectively in a given economic environment.

He, however, allayed the fear that distribution of the houses might be influenced in some quarters, saying “the consideration of beneficiaries will be devoid of bureaucratic bottleneck.

“It will be on the basis of scientifically-proven method of distribution to the rightful members of the society who deserve to own a house free of charge.

“No interference of any sort will be accommodated as the sponsors expect that this be done with the fear of God and the acceptance of all right thinking members of the society.’’

Omojuyigbe also disclosed that two states in the South-East – Enugu and Ebonyi – and two other states in South-South — Akwa Ibom and Cross-River had provided land for the project.

The director-general said the ground breaking for the project had been performed at Ikpa Nkanya in Cross River on a 250-hectare land provided by the government.

He said Kaduna, Kano, Jigawa and Adamawa had promised to provide land in scattered locations for the project.

“Some states are trying to perfect the Certificate of Occupancy (Cof O) of the land,’’ Omojuyigbe said, urging the media to partner with ANDP in monitoring and reporting stages of work at the various sites.

ANDP, headquartered in Abuja, is currently working in 50 countries in Africa.

It works with the less-privileged, indigent and excluded people in Africa, promoting values and commitment to civil society, institutions and governments with the aim of achieving structural changes to eradicate injustice and poverty.

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