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$16bn power project: Let Obasanjo face the music

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Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has welcomed “the reported probe by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) of the government of former president Olusegun Obasanjo’s $16bn power project.

SERAP said the move presents an opportunity for the anti-graft agency to show that former heads of state and other high-ranking public officials are not immune from investigation and prosecution for allegations of grand corruption in Nigeria.

“This probe is something, which SERAP has consistently called for. Nigerians have for far too long been denied justice and the opportunity to get to the bottom of why they continue to pay the price for corruption in the electricity sector–staying in darkness, but still made to pay crazy electricity bills.”

According to reports, the EFCC has begun the probe of the $16 billion power project of the administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo.

While some put the exact cost of the project at $16 billion others say it is $13.8 billion. Key contractors and about 18 top public officers allegedly involved in the power project scam during the Obasanjo administration, and those of former Presidents Umaru Yar’Adua and Goodluck Jonathan may also be arrested.

In a statement today by SERAP deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare, the organization said:

“The probe is timely, especially coming at a time of citizens’ frustrations at persistent allegations of corruption and the impacts on their human rights. Investigating allegations of grand corruption and prosecuting former heads of state and other high-ranking officials where such allegations show relevant and sufficient admissible evidence would address the grave travesty that has for many years occurred in the power sector.”

“The EFCC should urgently invite anyone suspected to be involved for questioning. The agency should also expand the probe to cover the alleged squandering of a total of N11 trillion in the power sector between 1999 and 2015, and the unresolved case of the reported missing $12.4 billion oil windfall, allegedly spent between 1988 and 1993 by the government of former military dictator, General Ibrahim Babangida.”

“The EFCC has the full support of Nigerians in its efforts to hold high-ranking public officials to account for grand corruption, and if consistently, fairly and diligently pursued, this probe would contribute to ending impunity for corruption, and to mobilizing and encouraging youth civic engagement in the anti-graft fight in the country. SERAP stands ready to work with the EFCC in pursuing all allegations of grand corruption.”

“SERAP notes that former presidents have routinely faced corruption charges in countries like Iceland, Kyrgyzstan, Brazil, Montenegro, South Korea, Pakistan, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Slovakia, Peru, and Mauritius, and the probe by the EFCC would mean this list would grow even further to include Nigeria.”

“Impunity for grand corruption will continue as long as high-ranking public officials go largely unpunished for their alleged crimes. It is by pursuing these allegations and taking the evidence before the court that the truth will be revealed and justice best served. Addressing impunity in the power sector should be total. This would help to further public perception of fairness and thoroughness.”

“Lack of regular electricity supply in the country had occasioned many other problems, including lack of access to potable water. The failure by successive governments to tell Nigerians the truth about allegations of corruption in the power sector amounts to a failure to ensure that electricity services are progressively made available, on the basis of equality and non-discrimination.”

“In November 2016, SERAP petitioned the former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen, urging him to probe the alleged spending of the $16 billion. In April 2017, SERAP sent President Muhammadu Buhari an open letter, advising him to take allegations of corruption in the power sector to the international criminal courts to ensure that justice is served.”

“SERAP has also called on Mr Buhari to refer the alleged $16 billion spending on electricity between 1999 and 2007 to the EFCC. Mr Buhari subsequently raised questions over the issues, saying that ‘one of the former Heads of State was bragging that he spent more than 15 billion American dollars, not naira, on power. Where is the power? Where is the power?’”

“In August 2017, SERAP published a report, ‘From Darkness to Darkness: How Nigerians are Paying the Price for Corruption in the Electricity Sector’, which revealed how over N11 trillion meant to provide regular electricity supply was allegedly squandered under the governments of former presidents Olusegun Obasanjo, Umaru Musa Yar’Adua and Goodluck Jonathan.”

The report read: “The Obasanjo’s administration spent $10 billion on NIPP with no results in terms of increase in power generation. $13.278,937,409.94 was expended on the power sector in eight years while unfunded commitments amounted to $12 billion.”

“The Federal Government then budgeted a whopping N16 billion for the various reforms under Liyel Imoke (2003 to 2007) which went down the drains as it failed to generate the needed amount of electricity or meet the set goals. Imoke was alleged to have personally collected the sum of $7.8 million for the execution of the contract for the construction of the Jos-Yola Transmission Line, which was never executed. There were documented/reported allegations of corruption against Imoke that fizzled-out shortly thereafter.”

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Don’t break govt seals on properties sealed for breaking laws- LASG

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The Lagos State Government says it will sanction property owners and developers that break the government’s seals on their properties sealed for breaching various physical planning laws.

Dr Idris Salako, the state Commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban Development, made the assertion at the ongoing Special Enforcement Operations, saying that the state would no longer tolerate such infractions.

Salako, in a statement signed by the Ministry’s Spokesman, Mr Mukaila Sanusi, gave the warning while directing the resealing of a commercial building on Lugard Avenue, Ikoyi, for various infractions of the construction code.

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He said that some unscrupulous developers were in the habit of breaking the government’s seals to continue construction overnight, thereby putting structures and people’s lives at risk.

“Those who are in the habit of breaking government seals should desist from such acts or face the full wrath of the law,” Salako said.

He advised developers to always secure Planning Permit from the Lagos State Physical Planning Permit Authority (LASPPPA) and notify the Lagos State Building Control Agency (LASBCA), prior to the commencement of any construction works.

The commissioner advised Lagos residents to support the government’s effort to curb the menace of illegal, and unapproved development, as he supervised the sealing of 52 additional unapproved structures in different parts of the state.

“Forty-one of these structures were sealed on Festac Link Road in Amuwo Odofin Local Government Area.

“The remaining 11 structures were sealed in Ikoyi-Obalende Local Council Development Area and Eti-Osa Local Government Area, in locations such as Awolowo Road, Igbo Efon and Ikate Elegushi.

“I urge all Lagos people to be part of the vanguard to checkmate the menace of illegal building construction, by tipping-off the authorities when you discover any illegal development.

“It has been observed that some developers build overnight in order to circumvent procedure,” the commissioner said.

Other team members on the enforcement operation included the Special Adviser to the Governor on Urban Development, Mr Ganiyu Ayuba; Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Mr Foluso Dipe; General Manager, LASBCA, Mrs Biola Kosegbe; operatives of LASPPPA and the Special Operations Team of the Governor’s Office.

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JUST IN: Fire guts CBN branch in Gombe

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A raging inferno on Friday gutted a section of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Gombe branch destroying the office of the Branch Controller.

When the Nation visited the scene of the fire incident, the CBN staff were seen running for safety.

Our source say a number of staff members were injured in the incident but did not disclosed their identity even as he begged for anonimity.

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We also gathered that some of the injured staff and those who inhaled carbon monoxide have been rushed to the Federal Teaching Hospital Gombe for medical attention.

However, our source said the inferno did not extend to the vault and other important areas.

“So far no life was lost but due to the smoke, some were taken to the Federal Teaching Hospital Gombe for resuscitation. It majorly the office of the controller that was affected destroying documents but it didn’t extend to the vault,” the source stated.

Meanwhile a tweet by the Central Bank of Nigeria has denied loss of lives adding that the incident was caused by electrical fault.

“Today, a minor fire incident was reported at our Gombe branch. The fire which started from an electrical fault and partially destroyed some furniture in the Branch Controller’s office, was promptly put out. There was no injury and no record or other asset of the Bank was affected,” said the tweet

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NIS arrests kidnap suspect, murderer in Oyo

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The Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), Oyo State Command, on Friday arrested a 29-year-old, suspect, Lekan Raheem over alleged kidnapping and murder.

NIS Public Relations Officer (PRO), Olufemi Adetunji, disclosed this to newsmen at the Command’s office, Agodi-Gate, Ibadan, while handing over the suspect to the Oyo State Police Command.

Adetunji said that the suspect was arrested based on a tip-off from the Okada riders within the vicinity of the command’s office that the suspect has duped some of their members in time past.

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He added that the suspect was arrested based on this and later confessed to some other crimes.

“The suspect confessed that he not only involved in duping but also in Kidnapping and selling of human parts to ritualists.

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