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The tariff payable by electricity consumers may increase by 61.5 per cent any time soon following the latest revelation by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission on Friday that it was waiting for a final approval from the Federal Government before implementing the new rate, The Punch reports. According to NERC, the actual tariff for one kilowatt-hour of power is meant to be N51, as against the current unit cost of N31.58 for which electricity distribution companies are selling the commodity. NERC explained that the actual tariff of N51/KWH was arrived at based on the economic fundamentals considered when carrying out minor tariff reviews, adding that the commission had completed the process for the new tariff but had yet to receive an approval from the Federal Government to announce its implementation. When asked why NERC had mandated the Discos to continue selling power at N31.58/KWH, a development that had plunged the sector into a huge financial deficit, the NERC’s Principal Manager, Tariff and Rates, Aisha Mahmud, denied claims that the regulator forced the Discos to sell power at the reduced price. Power distributors had argued that they were not remitting the amount required of them by the sector because the regulator mandated them to collect far less than the actual unit cost for a kilowatt-hour of electricity. Source: Energy Mix Report

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President Muhammadu Buhari has given the directive that all the 36 state capitals should be connected with rail in the ongoing railway projects. The Minister of Transportation, Mr, Chibuike Amaechi, said on Thursday at the meeting with the Chairman Senate Committee on Local and Foreign Debts, Sen. Shehu Sani. The meeting also attended by the Ministers of Finance; Budget and National Planning; and Power, Works and Housing was in connection with President Buhari’s loan request of 5.5 billion dollars. Amaechi said that the central rail line project connecting several communities of northern and southern Nigeria would be completed in June, next year. According to him, 17 coaches are expected to arrive in November and out of the number, 10 will be deployed to Abuja-Kaduna rail line while the remaining seven will be deployed to the Itakpe-Warri rail line. Amaechi said that part of the money being requested now for approval by the senate was to execute the rail projects covering Kano-Kaduna, and Lagos-Ibadan networks. Sani had earlier advised if Nigeria “must borrow, it must borrow responsibly”. Sani said: “the committee has the mandate to examine the merits and otherwise of the current loan request of 5.5 billion dollars of the president. “If we must bequeath to the future generation a pile of debt, it must be justified with commensurate infrastructural proof of the value of the debt. “The payment plan of this debt will undoubtedly last the length of our lifetimes and possibly beyond. “We must leave behind a legacy that will appease and answer the questions the next generation of Nigerians will ask,” Sani said. Also providing insight into the loan request, the Director-General, Debt Management Office, Mrs Patience Oniha, explained that the loans have sustainable benefits that would live beyond the present generation of Nigerians. “What we should take away is that we are going into projects whose benefits don’t go away. “The roads don’t go away, the schools don’t go away, and the hospitals don’t go away but all that we need to do is to maintain them properly and that is the explanation I want to make on that,” she said..

Gov. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State on Wednesday inaugurated N358 million urban expansion project at Mgbowo in Awgu Local Government Area of the state. The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the State Executive Council approved the urban expansion project of the current administration in line with the campaign promise of the governor. The project is aimed at developing additional satellite towns with a view to decongesting human traffic in the capital city. Ugwuanyi, while inaugurating the project situated at the popular ‘Aki na Ukwa’ Junction on Enugu-Port Harcourt Highway, said when completed, the facility would be a befitting gateway into the capital city from Abia, Imo and Rivers States. He said that the area would be adorned by solar powered street and traffic lights, security posts and dual carriage ways. The governor said that it was his aspiration to open up more urban centres to further attract investments to the state. Ugwuanyi appealed to residents of the area to cooperate with the contractors as they delivered the project. The President-General of Mgbowo Town Union, Mr Tony Udinya said that the project would improve the aesthetics of the community and provide market for the vast agricultural produce from the area. Udinya said that residents of the area were appreciative of the goodwill of the governor to their people, adding that much still needed to be done to bring Mgbowo at par with its peers. “The major problem confronting this community is water. Hence, your intervention in this regard will be highly appreciated. “There is a damn project in Mgbowo that had been abandoned over the years,” he said. Udinya said that it was imperative for the state government to construct a link road to connect all the communities that were the direct beneficiaries of the project. “This project will not only serve Mgbowo, but the entire Awgu and Aninri Local Government Areas. The major constraint we have is the traditional link road that connects the area. “This is where our people and those from Aninri do their farming and the road is deplorable. It will ease the flow of agricultural produce to the market,” he said. Udinya said that the people of the area were thrilled by the move to urbanise the community, adding that they would show their unflinching appreciation in due time. NAN reports that the project has a completion period of six months.

President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday assured stakeholders from the South East that the region will benefit more from roads and coastal rail projects, which are of critical importance to the economy. During an audience with leaders from the region led by the Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu, the President declared that the 2nd Niger Bridge, the East-West Road and the Coastal rail project, are receiving utmost attention from his administration. The President said counterpart funding from the Chinese government would substantially fund these projects, which when completed will improve the welfare, well-being and economy of the people in the region. “I know the Chinese are very competent in handling such projects and we will ensure that we get the money for the projects to take off. “I thank you for articulating your demands and I want to assure that we are doing our best for the country. If we can stop people from stealing, then there will be more resources to put into projects that will create employment for Nigerians,’’ the President said. Responding to allegations of under-representation of Igbos in his government, the President said: “ I gave south-east four substantive ministers in the ministries of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Investment, Science and Technology and Labour. “Seven states in the North got Ministers of State and of the two Ministries headed by your sons, I cannot take any decision on foreign policy and investments without their input,’’ he said. The President also promised the leaders, comprising governors and ministers from the region, the President of Ohaneze, Chief Nnia Nwodo and representatives from the National Assembly, that he will visit states in the zone soon. “I want to assure you that I came into government with a clear conscience and I will also leave with a clear conscience,’’ he said. Earlier, the President of Ohaneze, while articulating the demands of the zone to the President highlighted the issue of state creation, restructuring, federal projects in the South East namely Enugu-Onitsha road, Enugu-Port Harcourt road and Aba-Ikot-Ekpene road, among others. Nwodo also demanded urgent presidential interventions on the Enugu Airport, reticulation of the gas-pipelines in the South East and the standard gauge plan for railway construction. Commending the President’s remarkable achievements on security and the fight against corruption, Nwodo declared: “we are ready to work with you. We are determined to work with you. We know you are a decisive leader and we know God will continue to give you the wisdom to govern Nigeria.’’ Also speaking, Governor Dave Umahi of Ebonyi State expressed satisfaction on the outcome of their discussions with the President on critical issues and topics affecting the region. “You have no hatred for any state. You have treated all states with equality. What one state gets in the north, the other gets in the south,’’ the governor said, referring to budget support facility and stabilisation fund released to states and local governments since the inception of the administration.

The management of Sterling Bank Plc, Lagos has dragged its staff and a teller attached to its Wilmer Branch, Olodi-Apapa area of Lagos, Chidebe Henry Ikenna, 41, before a Lagos Magistrate Court for allegedly stealing the sum of N2 million entrusted in his care by the customers of the Bank to lodge in their accounts. The accused, from Awka North Local Government Area of Anambra State, Southeast Nigeria was ordered arrested by the Divisional Police Officer, DPO in charge of Lion Building Division, CSP Folashade Tanaruno following a complaint by the management of Sterling Bank Plc through Mr Okonugha Sunday Evaristus in charge of security department. Ikenna was arraigned before an Igbosere Magistrate Court on a one count charge of felony to wit, stealing. Police Prosecutor, Inspector Abass Abayomi informed the Court in charge No. C/61/2017 that the accused committed the alleged offence in November, 2016 at the Sterling Bank Plc, Lagos. Abayomi told the Court that the accused betrayed the trust reposed on him by his employer as a teller and stole the sum of N2 million entrusted in his care by the customers of the bank. Abayomi added that the management of the bank got to know about the alleged fraudulent act when some of the customers of the bank lodged a complaint against the accused that anytime they give him money to lodge in their account, they would receive an alert that the money had entered into their accounts but that when they checked the balance, they would not find the money in their accounts. According to him, following the complaints, the management of the bank swung into action and launched investigation into the complaints during which they discovered that the accused had been sending false alerts to the complainants and converting the money they entrusted in his care as a teller to lodge in their accounts to his personal use. Abayomi added that the offence the accused committed was punishable under section 287 of the Criminal Laws of Lagos State, 2015. The accused, however, pleaded not guilty to the alleged crime and Chief Magistrate, A.O. Komolafe granted the accused bail in the sum of N1 million with two sureties in like sum. Komolafe adjourned the case till 14 November, 2017 for mention and ordered that the defendant be remanded at the Ikoyi Prison, pending when he is able to fulfill the bail conditions.

Justice Ayo Emmanuel of the Federal High Court sitting in Ibadan, capital of Oyo State has sentenced the former Director-General of the Institute of Agricultural, Research and Training (IAR&T), Professor Benjamen Ogunmodede to 40 years in prison without an option of fine for mismanaging funds meant for the payment of salaries and execution of projects in the institution. Two other staff of the institution Zacheus Tejumola and Adenekan Clement were also jailed. They were arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in 2011 on 16-count charge bordering on conspiracy, unlawful conversion, stealing of school subvention, among others. They were accused of diverting and spending without due process, the sum of N177 million out of a subvention of N600m released by the Federal Government for the school. Justice Emmanuel ruled that each of the convicted persons would spend four years for each of the charges they were found guilty, adding however that they would spend the jail term concurrently. In their response, the convicted persons claimed that a huge part of the amount was used to bribe members of the House of Representatives and some staff of the Federal Ministry of Finance who facilitated the release of the fund for the research institute. But Justice Emmanuel ruled that Ogunmodede and others were clearly guilty of the charges preferred against them. He said that bribery and money laundering were illegal activities that had been prohibited in the country and that they were punishable under the law. The judge said that the sentence would serve as deterrent to people in public positions. EFCC lead counsel, Nkereuwem Anana, said the judgement was an indication that the war against corruption was being won in the country, saying that the judgement would send a strong message to others who are mismanaging or embezzling public funds. Counsel to Ogunmodede, Tunde Olupona, said that the legal team would review the ruling and Justice Ayo Emmanuel of the Federal High Court sitting in Ibadan, capital of Oyo State has sentenced the former Director-General of the Institute of Agricultural, Research and Training (IAR&T), Professor Benjamen Ogunmodede to 40 years in prison without an option of fine for mismanaging funds meant for the payment of salaries and execution of projects in the institution. Two other staff of the institution Zacheus Tejumola and Adenekan Clement were also jailed. They were arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in 2011 on 16-count charge bordering on conspiracy, unlawful conversion, stealing of school subvention, among others. They were accused of diverting and spending without due process, the sum of N177 million out of a subvention of N600m released by the Federal Government for the school. Justice Emmanuel ruled that each of the convicted persons would spend four years for each of the charges they were found guilty, adding however that they would spend the jail term concurrently. In their response, the convicted persons claimed that a huge part of the amount was used to bribe members of the House of Representatives and some staff of the Federal Ministry of Finance who facilitated the release of the fund for the research institute. But Justice Emmanuel ruled that Ogunmodede and others were clearly guilty of the charges preferred against them. He said that bribery and money laundering were illegal activities that had been prohibited in the country and that they were punishable under the law. The judge said that the sentence would serve as deterrent to people in public positions. EFCC lead counsel, Nkereuwem Anana, said the judgement was an indication that the war against corruption was being won in the country, saying that the judgement would send a strong message to others who are mismanaging or embezzling public funds. Counsel to Ogunmodede, Tunde Olupona, said that the legal team would review the ruling and

Former First Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan, has appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to intervene to stop the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), from a “witch-hunt”. A statement issued by her media aide, Mr Belema Meshack-Hart, on Monday in Abuja, quoted Mrs. Jonathan as saying that the EFCC was prosecuting a plot to destroy her family. Meshack-Hart said that the vindictive disposition of EFCC was portraying the organisation as an agency for revenge. Mrs. Jonathan, according to Meshack-Hart, specifically accused Ibrahim Magu, EFCC’s boss, of bias and intimidation. He said that the EFCC boss was “spreading barefaced falsehood and propaganda against Mrs Jonathan in the name of investigations”. Meshack-Hart accused the EFCC of “unjustified witch-hunt”, saying that no other former first lady had faced “such brazen intimidation in the history of this country”. Quoting Mrs Jonathan, Meshack-Hart said: “For almost three years, the EFCC has beamed its searchlight on me and my family members, including my siblings and parents, as well as my Foundation and Non-Governmental Organisation. “As a tradition, every First Lady in this country has had one pet project or the other, with which they sought to intervene in the lives of the less privileged.’’ Mrs. Jonathan explained that she started her NGO in Bayelsa State 11 years ago, when her husband was the Governor of that State. She said that she has over the years, touched the lives of many Nigerians in different ways. According to her media aide, “it is surprising that while other First ladies and their pet projects were left alone, it is only her activities and that of her NGOs that are being subjected to indefinite probe and microscopic scrutiny. EFCC has maliciously linked Mrs. Jonathan to all kinds of fake possessions and properties around the country, he said. “It has come to a point where all the magnificent edifices in Abuja, Yenagoa or Port Harcourt are presented to the media as belonging to Mrs. Patience Jonathan. She has been accused of owning several plots of land in many cities across the country, including places she has never visited. “The most astonishing of all is that her close relatives are being victimized and their personal properties are being investigated,” the statement stated. It urged Buhari to intervene on the matter to ensure justice for the former first family and also ensure that the EFCC’s actions were not interpreted as part of a larger plot to disgrace his (Buhari)’s predecessor. Efforts to speak with EFCC spokesman, Wilson Uwujaren, were not successful, but a senior official of the commission, rejected suggestions that the outfit was out on a witch hunt. “We are not out on a witch hunt; we are not targeting anyone or family for a witch hunt; it is not only Mrs. Jonathan that is being investigated. Many people are answering questions in various places. “Those found guilty will be charged before a competent court of law; those who have nothing to hide should have no fear because we shall not victimise anyone that is innocent,” the source told NAN, craving anonymity. (NAN)

The Niger State Emergency Management Agency (NSEMA) has confirmed the death of 22 persons in a boat mishap around Mahuta community in Agwara Local Government Area of the state. Malam Hussaini Ibrahim, the Public Relations Officer of the agency, confirmed the incident in Minna on Wednesday. He said the deceased were traveling on Tuesday from Yauri in Kebbi and Mage around Kontagora area to Manhuta in Niger. Ibrahim said that seven of the travelers were, however, rescued. According to him, the victims were traveling to Mahuta following information that a divine stone, with an islamic inscription was found there, when their boat capsised. “Some of the survivors said the boat hit a log of wood inside the river and capsized,” he said. He said the bodies of the deceased were deposited at the General Hospital in Yauri.

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) last week arraigned the Deputy Managing Director of BGL plc, Chibundo Edozien, in a Wuse Chief Magistrates’ Court for conspiring with some staff of the company to defraud the investing public. The accused person, of Plot 417 Tigris Crescent, Maitama, Abuja, was docked on charges of criminal conspiracy, breach of trust and cheating. Edozien also appeared in court on behalf of M/S BGL plc, its asset management and securities limited subsidiaries. The prosecutor, Moshood Adeyemi, told the court that Edozien conspired with the company along with one Albert Okumagba, now at large. He alleged that the accused also conspired with some other staff and cheated one Mahmoud Usman and four others. Adeyemi further alleged that the accused cheated UN Staff Thrift and Credit Cooperative Society of Anambra, Abuja Office, among others, who filed complaints against the defendant before the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The prosecutor said the offences contravened the Penal Code. Edozien, however, pleaded not guilty to the charges. The defence counsel, Mr K.B Asunogie, made a bail application for Edozien, stressing that the matter had been on since 2015 and he had been honouring invitations all through the inquiry. He added that his client was on administrative bail and never breached it, urging the court to grant bail in the most liberal terms. The prosecutor, however, said if bail was granted, it should be with conditions that would ensure the defendant’s appearance for his trial. He also said the police detained and granted the defendant administrative bail, not the SEC. The Magistrate, Chinyere Nwecheonwu, however, granted the accused bail in N1 million with one surety in like sum. She said the surety must be a civil servant of Grade Level 12 and the office address must be verified by the prosecutor and the court registrar. She added that the surety must present original appointment letter and promotion letter before the court and adjourned the case till Nov. 6 for hearing.

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