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Hot Breaking News In Nigeria This Morning, July 16, 2020

1. Senate passes bills to establish City University, Auchi, Maritime University, others

THE Senate Has passed a bill seeking to establish the City University of Technology, Auchi, Edo State. The Bill for the Establishment of the University which is to upgrade the Federal Polytechnic, Auchi to City University of Technology, Auchi to facilitate more access to quality higher technical education, was sponsored by the Chairman, Senate Committee on Customs, Excise and Tariff, Senator Francis Alimikhena, All Progressives Congress, APC, Edo North.

The Bill, City University of Technology Auchi( Est, etc) Bill, 2020( SB.22) was read the third time and passed.

Also yesterday, the Senate passed the bill for the establishment of Nigeria Maritime University, Okerenkoko in Delta State.

The bill seeking to establish the Nigeria Maritime University was sponsored by Senator James Manager, PDP Delta South.

The Bill for the establishment of Federal College of Education, Giwa, Kaduna State was also passed.

The Bill was sponsored by Senator Uba Sani, APC Kaduna Central.

The three bills were passed by the upper chamber following a clause-by-clause consideration of the report of the Senate Committee on Tertiary Institutions and TETFUND as presented by the Chairman, Senator Babba Kaita Ahmed, APC, Katsina North.

While presenting the report, Kaita said that the Federal Polytechnic Auchi was currently running degree programmes in affiliation with Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Anambra with enrollment of over 50, 000 students on full and part time.

He said that upgrading the institution to a federal university would provide training of high skills in the areas of technical and vocational education

The Senate after passing the three bills adjourned till next week Tuesday, July 21, 2020.

2. CBN seeks power to freeze criminals’ accounts, wants Credit Tribunal

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has requested statutory powers to freeze accounts linked to criminals in the country.

The apex bank has also called for the creation of a Credit Tribunal to strengthen credit recovery processes and enforcement of collateral rights.

These positions were advanced, in Abuja, at the Senate Committee Public Hearing on its Bill for an Act to Repeal the Banks and Other Financial Institutions Act (BOFIA) 2004 and re-enact the Banks and Other Financial Institutions Act 2020.

Mr Kofo Salam-Alada, CBN’s Director Legal Services, in his presentation told the lawmakers said that the 2004 BOFIA provided for the CBN Governor “to apply to the court for orders to freeze accounts which are deemed to be linked with criminal and other civil infractions.”

He noted, however, that in the new Bill, which has passed through the First and Second Readings, that provision was omitted, entirely.

“This omission he told the Senate “erodes the powers of the CBN and creates a huge gap in the regulatory and resolution framework. Therefore, we propose that the extant provisions should be reinstated,” Mr Salam-Alada pointed out.

On the Creation of Credit Tribunal, the director defended the position of the CBN, as according to him, such a tribunal would greatly enhance loan recovery in the nation’s banking industry.

“As part of measures to address the role of non-performing loans, we propose the creation of a Credit Tribunal. The overarching objective is to create an efficient regime for the recovery of eligible loans of banks and Other Financial Institutions (OFls) and enforcement of rights over collateral securities,” the director said.

On Dormant Accounts in banks, the CBN called for the inclusion of provisions to improve the administration of such accounts, adding, “such provisions should address such requirements as the criteria for determining dormancy, the processes for managing the funds in dormant accounts and procedure for reclaiming funds by beneficiaries.”

Bank failure resolution

The apex bank called the inclusion in the Bill, statutory powers of the CBN to intervene in the process of managing a failing bank and bringing it back to sound financial health were possible.

The CBN urged a review of the framework for managing failing institutions in line with international standards to properly delineate roles for the agency tasked with managing failing banks and other financial institutions and those with responsibility for resolving banks and other financial institutions whose license has been revoked.

“In other words, the Central Bank of Nigeria does the former as provided in the BOFIA while NDIC is saddled with the latter under the NDIC Act. The global best practice is to have the banking legislation empower the Financial services industry regulator to regulate banks, promote their soundness and stability superintend issuance and revocation of operating licence without recourse to any other institution; while the Deposit insurer is in charge of bank resolution activities after the revocation of the operating licence,” the director said.

Mr Salam-Alada added: “There is a need to expand the options available to the CBN to resolve failing banks and manage the systemic crisis without recourse to the public treasury. In line with international best practices, we recommend the establishment of a resolution fund to pool resources for managing banking sector distress.

“We also recommend the adoption of additional resolution tools such as bail-in (ensuring that losses are absorbed by shareholders and creditors), sale of the business (allowing the resolution authority to sell all or part of the failing bank to a private acquirer) and asset separation (isolating the “bad” assets of the bank in an asset management vehicle for an orderly wind-down, if immediate liquidation is not justified in current market conditions).

“Several new types of licensed institutions have entered the Nigerian Financial Services sector since the enactment of the 1991 Act. These include the non-interest banks, credit bureaux, payment system service providers, among others. There is a compelling need to introduce new provisions in the Bill to address the unique peculiarities of these institutions.”

The Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC) agreed with the position of the CBN on the need to delineate the responsibilities of the two organizations in banking failure resolution.

The Managing Director, Mr Umaru Ibrahim, said that the NDIC which was created from the CBN to protect depositors’ funds would continue to collaborate with the apex bank in ensuring a sound, stable banking sector in the country.

3. Group urged President Buhari to decentralize NDDC

A group under the aegis of Delta Alarnative movement for 2023, has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to scrap the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), the Niger Delta Ministry and set up NDDC offices in all the nine states in the Niger Delta region to forestall the monumental looting going on in the NDDC and the Niger Delta ministry by few individuals.

The group in a press statement signed by Mr.festus Bobi and made available to journalists in Warri stated that since the aim of creating both interventionist agencies have failed, it is now left for the federal government to scrap the agencies and think of how states manage the agencies themselves that would bring the needed development to the region and stop duplication projects and looting

The group said with the current corruption cases against the minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio and the Economic and the Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), it shows that the federal government has failed the people when it promised to fight corruption to a standstill.

Recall that former President Olusegun Obasanjo created the NDDC to bring Development to the Niger Delta region. But ever since the commission was created those put in place to manage it have always mismanaged the funds meant for the Development of the region.

When President Buhari came to power, he promised Nigerians that the agencies would be managed by people with integrity but all the Managing Directors of the Commission have all been charged with an allegation of corruption.

“We want President Buhari to create different agencies in all the nine states of the Niger Delta region where all the allocation will be given directly to the states like we used to have before. In this is the case, each state will be able to hold the managers accountable for monies allocated to them. Each state will be able to hold the people in charge of the allocation responsible for any mismanagement that will occur.

“Let us give an example of the abandoned Koko/Ogheye road in Warri North local government area of Delta State. Let the Federal Government commit one billion naira to reach village along the road and you will be surprised that by the time the road is completed, that place will become like Dubai,” the group stated.

According to the group also, Mr. President has three years to right the wrongs created by previous administrations and have his name written in gold.

The group added that all that Mr. President needed to do was to put the right people in place to man these commissions, noting that with the right people in place the region will achieve the needed Development it has been yearning for all these years.

“Look at the sea Ports in Warri, Burutu, and Sapele today. They are all underutilized.

Mr. President, you have just three years left in your pocket to do something to write your name in gold. Stop making appointments based on political ground. We still have persons like Itse Sagie, Mrs Okonjo Iwiala, Dr. Dere Awosika, Engr Felix Ogbe, Col Abubakar Umar. Pat Utomi, Brother Joe Abekeredemo ,Bismark Rewani, etc. These are people of proven integrity and who are not politicians.

“All Mr. President needed to do is to appoint men and women of integrity into these agencies and he can go to sleep. These men will bring the needed development to the region. Men like Godswill Akpabio are a disgrace to the Niger Delta region and the country.

“When you visit places like Sapele, Warri, Isoko, Ugheli, Koko, Ogbe-Ijoh, Alaja, and other places in Delta State, you will weep for the people because of the level of poverty in these places,” the group added.

The group also called on Chief Comrade Joseph Evah, Hon. Hon Daniel Reyenirju , Hon Pastor pastor Michiel Diden and chief Thomos Ereyetomi Member Representing warri federal constituency and to others rise up to the occasion to avert the looming danger facing the region, stressing that, “What we should remember is that money does not buy power because if it does, former President Goodluck Jonathan would still be in Aso Rock today. But power belongs to God almighty so stealing all the money meant for the development of our land is a sad commentary. Maybe it is the bushes in the region they want to lead. It is only a fool that will want to be more beautiful than the village he or she comes from.

4. Doctors treating COVID-19 patients in Ogun join strike

Resident Doctors from the Olabisi Onabanjo University Teaching Hospital, Sagamu, Ogun State, working at isolation centres in the state, Has joined their Striking Colleagues in the state.

The doctors under the aegis of the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) embarked on an indefinite strike since July 1 but exempted their colleagues treating COVID-19 patients in the isolation centres.

It was gathered that the doctors joined the strike following a directive by NARD OOUTH, Sagamu, asking them to leave their duty posts and join the strike action.

A statement by NARD President and the Secretary, Dr Popoola Mutiu and Dr Osundara Tope, respectively, confirmed the development.

NARD expressed dissatisfaction with the state government on how it is handling the welfare of its members.

The doctors are demanding, among other things, appropriate remuneration for all members in OOUTH with entry-level of CONMESS three-step.

They are also demanding the payment of hazard allowance of 50 per cent of consolidated Basic Salary for all doctors in OOUTH and continued provision of adequate PPE for doctors in OOUTH.

The statement read, “The government seems to be dancing around all the concerns placed before them without any serious commitment.

“We had high hopes of a quick resolution before now but it is unfortunate to see that Ogun State Government is not ready to come to grips with facts and necessity.

“Our members are no longer at ease with the disposition of the government. Our matters are not hard rocks difficult for Ogun State Government to deliquesce.”

Special Adviser to the Governor on Public Communications, Remmy Hazzan, said the development was beyond the state “since the industrial action is nationwide.”

Hazzan, however, said the government “is already making efforts to get the doctors to work at the isolation centres in order not to put lives of the patients in danger.

5. Magu gets bail as FG suspends 12 EFCC directors

Suspended Acting Chairman of the Economic & Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Ibrahim Magu, was granted bail by the Justice Ayo Salami-led Presidential panel investigating allegations levelled against him by the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN.

Magu’s lawyer, Mr. Wahab Shittu, who confirmed this said no terms were given for his release.

Prior to his release, Shittu had complained that his client had not appeared before by the panel for days. Shittu said in a letter submitted to the panel earlier yesterday that his client last appeared before it about a week ago.

The Inspector-General of Police, IGP Mohammed Adamu, had also told the suspended EFCC chairman that the police had no hand in his detention, following a letter written to him by one of Magu’s lawyers, Tosun Ojaomo, asking for bail for his client.

This is even as the AGF, Abubakar Malami, SAN, wrote the acting chairman of the anti-graft commission, Mohammed Umar, on Tuesday, notifying him of the suspension of 12 directors of the agency.

Magu was arrested on July 6 over allegations of failure to properly account for loot recovered under his watch between May 2015 and May 2020.

He was later moved to Area 10, Force Criminal Investigation Department (FCID) in Abuja, where he had spent nights since his arrest.

Magu’s release confirmed

Also confirming his release, one of his lawyers, Tosin Ojaomo, said on Channels TV programme, ‘Politics Today’, that if the Justice Ayo Salami panel eventually found Magu not culpable of the allegations against him, he should be reinstated by President Muhammadu Buhari.

Also speaking on the programme, Mr. Femi Adesina, Special Adviser Media to the President said though he was not a lawyer to determine if the panel was justified in detaining Magu for 10 days, the panel might have taken measures to ensure that relevant documents needed in connection with the investigations were not tampererd with.

He noted that before Magu was invited, the panel had sat for weeks over the allegations of corruption and determined there was need for the suspended acting chairman to appear before it.

‘’It is against this backdrop that President Muhammadu Buhari gave the panel the mandate to invite Mr. Magu to answer to the allegations against him,’’ Adesina said.

‘Magu not brought before panel since last Thursday’

According to Shittu, Magu has not been brought before the panel between last Thursday and Tuesday.

He said his client was taken to the venue of the panel’s sitting on the days listed only to wait from 9am to 9pm before being taken back into custody. He said the clarification became necessary after it was reported that Magu was grilled by the panel on Monday.

The letter read: “The allegation that our client was grilled by the Panel on Monday, 13th July, 2020, as reported above is complete falsehood.

“The correct position was that our client and his counsel (Mr. Wahab Shittu) arrived the venue of the ongoing Investigations on Monday, July 13, 2020 by 9am.

“Our client and his counsel were kept at the waiting room of the venue of the sittings unattended to from 9am to 9pm when our client was taken back to custody.

“This followed the same pattern on Thursday and Friday last week when our client waited for 12 hours without being called upon by the panel to partake in the proceedings.

“Witnesses called by the panel were interrogated without the participation of our client or his counsel in the proceedings. This was also the pattern on Tuesday, July 14, 2020. Our client chose to wait patiently on the panel.”

He’s yet to see allegations against him — Lawyer

Shittu said the suspended EFCC boss was yet to officially receive a copy of the allegations against him, and requested the panel to ask the inspector-general of police to release him from custody to enable him prepare properly for his defence.

On Magu requesting to be released, so he could attend to his health, Shittu said: “Our client is spending the 9th day in custody without being given copy of the allegations against him to enable him formally respond to same.

“Our client is ready to formally respond to allegations and furnish documentary evidence in support if served with the copy of the allegations.

“Our client respectfully demands the following:

A copy of the report of the Presidential Audit Committee;

A copy of the memo of HAGF to the President on our client;

Individual Petitions submitted to the Panel against our client.

“Our client observes that rather being afforded copies of the allegations against him, some of these allegations are flying round on social media platforms with prejudicial consequences.

“Our client requests that these allegations be formally served on him to enable him respond to same immediately.

“Our client observes that the Panel has issued official statement to the effect that it did not authorize the detention of our client.

“We request the Panel to recommend to the Inspector-General of Police in whose custody our client is to release him from custody to enable him adequately prepare his defence and attend to his failing health. We plead with the authorities to release our client from custody.”

Shittu also denied all allegations against Magu, including the said attempt to “spirit” him away from custody, adding that the charges were “trumped-up allegations designed to tarnish his image and rubbish the credibility and image of EFCC which had been stellar and outstanding under our client’s watch.

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