The News Hour

News . NR NEWS HOUR 2

Buhari’s letter not clear on transfer of power to Osinbajo: Report; President Muhammadu Buhari’s letter (dated 7th May, 2017) to the Senate; Reactions after Saraki read Buhari’s letter; Alleged bribery: DSS presents video evidence on Hon.  Lawan; N11bn Stolen Oil: Tanker Drivers Debunk Allegation Of Sabotage; Ifeanyi Ubah sues DSS seeking release from detention; N3 Billion loot: How we broke into Ex-NNPC boss, Yakubu’s house – EFCC tells court; NASS Increases 2017 Budget by N143bn . . .

Buhari’s letter not clear on transfer of power to Osinbajo: Report

Reports say that last minute maneuvering by the Senate leadership on Tuesday saved President Muhammadu Muhammadu’s letter (transmitted to the Senate on his transfer of power to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo as Acting President of Nigeria) from being returned to him. The letter was the official communication to the Senate informing the Senators of his medical leave to the United Kingdom which the wordings were faulted by the Senators as a letter with ‘defective content‘.

Saraki reads letter

However, the timely intervention of the Senate leader who advised his colleagues to ignore the wordings which described the new role of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo as that of the Coordinating Vice President and rather rely on provisions of section 145 of 1999 Constitution (as amended) which accords him the statutory position of an Acting President. The Senate faulted some parts of the letter by the President, saying that in line with the Constitution, Osinbajo cannot be described as Coordinating Vice President, but Acting President when the President is away or absent.

Following the maneuvering, the Senate averted what would have been a serious constitutional crisis in the Red Chamber following the reading of the letter from President Muhammadu Buhari by Senate President Bukola Saraki.

The President had on Sunday evening departed the country for the United Kingdom for continuation of his treatment for an undisclosed ailment, making it the fourth medical vacation to the United Kingdom the President would be undertaking since he was inaugurated as President May 29, 2015.

President Muhammadu Buhari’s letter (dated 7th May, 2017) to the Senate

Buhari . letter to Senate

“In compliance with section 145 {1) of the 1999 constitution as amended. I wish to inform the distinguished Senate that I will be away for a scheduled medical follow up with my doctors in London. The length of my stay will be determined by the doctor’s advice.

While I am away the vice president will coordinate the activities of the government. Please accept, the distinguished senate president, the assurances of my highest consideration.”

 –  Muhammadu Buhari GCFR

President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria

Reactions after Saraki read Buhari’s letter

Shortly after Senate President Saraki read the letter, Senator Mao Ohuabunwa (PDP, Abia North) raised a point of order objecting to some sections of the letter which he described as vague and ambiguous against the backdrop that the letter did not indicate properly the person to be in charge of the country in his absence.

According to Sen. Ohuabunwa, there was no provisions in Section 145 of the 1999 constitution( as Amended) that says coordinating authority in the President’s absence, adding that the President in his letter would have been very clear in explaining the roles of who should take over by saying that Vice President Yemi Osinbajo should be in acting capacity and not the use of the word, coordinate.

Mao Ohuabunwa

He said:

“Whenever the President transmits to the President of the Senate and the speaker of the House of Representatives a written declaration that he is proceeding on vacation or is otherwise that he is unable to discharge the functions of his office until he transmits to them the written declaration to the contrary, such function shall be discharged by the vice president as acting president.”

Sen. Ohuabunwa (photoabove) continued saying,” Mr. President, I don’t think in our constitution we have anything like coordinating president or coordinating vice president. Is either you are a vice president or you are acting president and any letter should be unambiguous and very clear. “So, I am saying that this letter really does not convey anything because coordinating has no space on any place in our constitution.

We have been having letters like this you tell us is the acting president and we know who to deal with as a Senate. This is the highest legislative body of any country and if you are sending us a letter, it should be direct, unambiguous. So, I am saying that this letter for me is not right and maybe should be sent back.”

Ahmad Lawan

Responding, the Senate Leader, Senator Ahmad Lawan, APC, Yobe North who took a swipe at the position of his colleague, Sen. Ohuabunwa, however asked his colleagues to jettison the position of the former, against the backdrop that as a Senate, there were very serious issues to discuss which includes the 2017 Appropriation Bill.

Senate leader said, “Mr. President, let me say that the point of order raised by my colleague and the explanation that subsequently follows shouldn’t have been and my reasons are simple. “I still rely on the first paragraph of that letter which Mr. President wrote to this senate and read by the president of the Senate and I will read section (145) which reads: whenever the President transmits to the president of the Senate and the speaker of the House of Representatives a written declaration but he is proceeding on vacation. . . “ Àny other word in this letter or indeed anywhere else is irrelevant. I therefore feel that Mr. President has done what the constitution requires him to do and I urge this senate not to go ahead to discuss this because it’s not an issue. We have the budget and so many other serious issues for us to discuss and Nigerians are waiting.”

In his remarks, Senate President Bukola Saraki who noted that there was no issue there in what was raised, however ruled Sen. Mao Ohuabunwa out of Order. Saraki said, “I think it is a very clear issue and what should be guided by is the constitution and I think that it is clear, the letter has referred to the constitution and there’s no ambiguity in the constitution. So, I don’t think there’s any issue there. Let me first rule you out of order senator Mao.”

Alleged bribery: DSS presents video evidence on Hon.  Lawan

The DSS on Tuesday presented a video evidence at the FCT High Court, Lugbe, where Mr Femi Otedola was seen giving out a parcel to Hon. Farouq Lawan. NAN reports that the request was made when Awomolo led the DSS Prosecutor, Mr David Ojataha, Principal Officer in-charge of Technical Operations, DSS in evidence. The video, revealing an exchange of parcel, lasted for almost three minutes.

Farouq Lawan

“The video I just played are those of Mr Femi Otedola and Hon. Farouq Lawan where there was an exchange of parcel at Otedola’s house in Aso drive, Abuja,” said Awomolo.

Justice Angela Otaruku granted the request of the prosecuting counsel, Mr  Adegboyega Awomolo (SAN), to play the video as evidence of Hon. Lawan collecting the said bribe from Otedola. The DSS prosecutor told the court that he was saddled with the responsibility of recording the video by the DSS because of his background as an Electronic and Telecommunication Engineer.

Mr Mike Ozekhome, the defendant’s counsel, while cross examining the DSS prosecutor, said that the device used in playing the CD had no imprint of time and event in the video. Ozekhome said that there was nothing to show that the defendant was there to receive bribe.

N11bn Stolen Oil: Tanker Drivers Debunk Allegation Of Sabotage

Tanker Drivers on Monday denied rumors alleging that they were part of any economic sabotage. In a statement signed by the national PTD chairman, Comrade Salimon Oladiti, they insisted that the claim is baseless and untrue. According to the statement, leadership of the Petroleum Tanker Drivers wishes to categorically deny the allegation of Chief Ifeanyi Uba or any other individual, inciting the tanker Drivers to cause any economic sabotage.  The allegation is baseless, unfounded and totally untrue.

Petrol Tankers

In the statement, the Tanker Drivers Union said, inter alia:

“Our responsibility as a Trade Union is solely to promote, project and protect the job security and welfare of workers most especially the petroleum tanker drivers in Nigeria.

We have no further relationship with any capitalist/employer beyond the precinct of promoting, projecting and protecting the security of jobs and welfare of our members,”

 – Tankers Drivers Union

The union stressed that it unequivocally supports the on-going war against corruption by the current government and that any capitalist/employer found culpable of stealing, diversion or embezzlement of government funds should be appropriately dealt with in accordance with the law.

Ifeanyi Ubah sues DSS seeking release from detention

The Chairman and Managing Director of Capital Oil and Gas Limited, Chief Ifeanyi Ubah, has sued the DSS before the Federal High Court in Lagos over what he termed unlawful detention by the security agency.

Ubah’s lawyer, Mrs. Ifeoma Esom, who appeared before Justice Mohammed Idris on Tuesday with an ex parte application, claimed that her client had been in detention since May 6.

Ifeanyi Ubah 3

She urged the judge to order the DSS to release Chief Ubah to prevent the security agency from coercing him to accede to “whatever conditions they impose on him in exchange for his freedom.” Upon hearing the ex parte application on Tuesday, Justice Idris ordered the DSS to bring Ubah before him on May 12, 2017, to show cause why the businessman should not be released unconditionally.

In an affidavit filed in support of the application, the Secretary of Capital Oil and Gas Limited,George Oranuba, claimed that the DSS arrested his boss on account of allegations levelled against him by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation and the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria. According to Oranuba, the issue had become a subject of litigation and was already before the court. Oranuba, however, said despite the subsisting suit, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and the DSS still invited Ubah for questioning.

The DSS claimed that the said petroleum products, belonging to NNPC Retail, stored in the Capital Oil farm in Lagos, went missing under controversial circumstances. However, the company secretary, Oranuba, said the agreement leading to the keeping of the petroleum product with Capital Oil, allowed “conversion and diversion of IT products by operators as long as the operator is prepared to re-deliver the products within seven days of demand by the owner of the product or to pay a penalty for non-re-delivery.”

According to him, failure to re-deliver did not amount to a crime but is a mere breach of contract, which can be remedied by payment of a penalty to the owner. “The agreement expressly states that any penalty due for non-re-delivery is to be treated as a debt and I verily believe that law enforcement agencies are not allowed to operate as debt collectors,” he said.

Oranuba claimed that NNPC is indebted to Capital Oil and Gas Limited in “excess of N13bn yet the company did not call law enforcement agencies to collect the debt, despite the length of time NNPC has held on to the money.”

Nigerianeye

N3 Billion loot: How we broke into Ex-NNPC boss, Yakubu’s house – EFCC tells court

The EFCC on Tuesday narrated before the Federal High Court in Abuja, how an iron-bender in Kaduna State helped it to gain access into the house where the ex-GMD of NNPC (2012-2014), Mr. Andrew Yakubu, allegedly stashed about N3billion in a fire-proof-safe.

Andrew Yakubu NNPC loot 2

The witness said: “. . . Immediately on arrival, the said house was identified. A search warrant was obtained which the team executed on February 3. The house caretaker came and identified himself as Mr. Bitrus Yakubu. He told us that he is a brother to the defendant.

As a usual procedure, we asked him to search us. When we demanded for key to the apartment, he told us that he does not have it. He called one iron-bender who came with breaking tools to help us open the door . . . We further discovered another door inside which we also unlocked with the iron-bender . . . We asked Mr. Bitrus the owner of the safe and he said it belongs to his brother, Engr. Andrew Yakubu.

We moved the safe outside the apartment along with Bitrus and further searched the apartment and discovered a white Excel CPU component in the same place . . . When the first panel was opened, we discovered foreign currencies . . . The money counted was $97, 72, 800.00, as well as £74, 000”.

Andrew Yakubu NNPC loot

The trial was adjourned till May 24. Mr. Yakubu is answering to six-count charge preferred against him by the EFCC. The court earlier granted him bail to the sum of N300million with two sureties in the like sum.

NASS Increases 2017 Budget by N143bn

The National Assembly has increased the size of the 2017 budget proposed by the Presidency by N143 billion, from N7.298 trillion to N7.441 trillion. Earlier, the Senate and the House of Representatives had laid the harmonized report of the 2017 Appropriation Bill at their respective plenary sessions on Tuesday.

Lawmakers in both chambers of the legislative branch of government increased statutory transfers to N434.4 billion from N419.02 billion, while the amount proposed for debt service was increased to N1.841 trillion from N1.66 trillion.

NASS 2

The sinking fund for maturing bonds was retained at N177.4 billion, while non-debt recurrent expenditure was increased to N2.99 trillion from N2.98 trillion, as contained in the budget proposal.

President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, said the budget would be passed on Thursday. He added that the electronic copies of the budget bill will be sent to lawmakers on Tuesday, while hard copies will be distributed on Wednesday.

The Senate President said, inter alia: “We will use all of tomorrow to study and hopefully pass it on Thursday. Let me congratulate the Appropriation Committee, because we have seen history being made. This is the first time the Appropriation Committee is laying the budget with the details . . . ”

Briefing newsmen after plenary, the Senate spokesman, Sen. Aliyu Sabi-Abdullahi, said the submission of the harmonized version of the budget in both chambers has eliminated any further delays.

Sen. Sabi-Abdullahi said: “Remember I once said the two committees were working to harmonise their reports. The report that was laid at the Senate is the exact report that will be laid in the House of Representatives. The key take away today is the fact that we did not just lay the report, we laid the report along with the details of the budget.

I think this is unprecedented because to the best of our knowledge, from 1999 to date, it has not happened . . . ” the spokesman said.

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