Group asks President Buhari to probe ‘missing N106bn in 149 MDAs’

By PAUL ADAJI, Abuja – Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari to direct the relevant officers to conduct an investigation into how N106billion (about $259million) got missing some 149 ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs). Specifically, SERAP, in a letter dated 17 April 2021 and signed by its deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare, asked President Buha“direct the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice Mr Abubakar Malami, SAN, and appropriate anti-corruption agencies to investigate allegations that N106bn of public funds are missing from 149 ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs), as documented in the 2018 annual audited report by the Auditor-General of the Federation.” SERAP said: “Anyone suspected to be responsible should face prosecution as appropriate, if there is sufficient admissible evidence, and any missing public funds should be fully recovered.” SERAP also urges him “to direct Mrs Zainab Ahmed, Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning to create a system of public announcements to name and shame the indicted 149 MDAs, including those that reportedly failed to remit over N55bn of their revenue; awarded contracts of over N18bn for services not rendered; and spent over N23bn without any supporting documents.” In the letter, also made available to FRONTVIEW AFRICA in Abuja today, the organisation said: “The reported missing public funds reflect the failure of the indicted MDAs to ensure strict compliance with transparency and accountability rules and regulations, and the failure of leadership of the MDAs to foster institutions that uphold the rule of law and human rights.” According to SERAP, “Recovering the alleged missing public funds would reduce the pressure on the Federal Government to borrow more money to fund the budget, enable the authorities to meet the country’s human rights obligation to progressively realize Nigerians’ rights to quality health care and education, as well as ...

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NNPC, US Report and transparency

By RAY UMUKORO – For the first time in as many decades, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, got into the good books of the United States and her global anti-corruption watch agencies. This time, rather than the usual splatter of graft and miasma, NNPC grabbed global attention for transparency in an industry tainted, globally, by corruption, sleaze and skulduggery. The United States 2020 Report on Human Rights Practices in Nigeria released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labour under the US Department of State gave more than a passing glance at the state of human rights in Nigeria. It exhumed buried carcasses of corruption in Nigeria’s public service. But the same report also highlighted an almost neglected radiance of rainbow in the operations of Nigeria’s petroleum products mother hen, the NNPC. The 2020 Report is a compendium of the good, the bad and the unwholesome in Nigeria’s struggle to moult the ugly garment of corruption as well as cases of human rights violations, some of which showed a naked attempt by government as suppressing free speech and press freedom. But the same Report holds out a reed of redemptive grace. It spared the nation’s blushes when it highlighted the new order of transparency at NNPC. In Section 4 of the over 16,500-word Report, it states: “In June (2020) the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation released audited 2018 financial statements, the first such release since its establishment in 1977. The corporation also published audited accounts of its 20 subsidiaries and business divisions. In December the federal government launched the Financial Transparency Policy and Portal, commonly referred to as Open Treasury Portal, with the aim of increasing transparency and governmental accountability of funds transferred by making the daily treasury statement public. The Open Treasury Portal required all ministries, departments, and agencies to ...

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ECOWAS Parliament Speaker Sidie Tunis bags honorary doctorate degree from Liberian varsity

By KWANTA DOUGLAS – The Cuttington University, Bong County Liberia, has conferred an Honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters on the Speaker of the ECOWAS Parliament, Sidie Tunis,  in recognition of his contributions to the ECOWAS Sub-region. Tunis received  the  honorary doctorate degree from his Alma Mater on Saturday at its 14th commencement convocation of the School of Graduate and Professional Studies. Speaking with newsmen shortly Tunis, who was elated on the conferment, pledged to continue to do more in advancing the cause of West Africa and its citizens. He said that he would use his position as Speaker of the Parliament to bring ECOWAS closer to the people and the community Parliament. “I feel very happy. Apart from being the Speaker of the ECOWAS Parliament, this is also my Alma Mater. “I graduated from Cuttington in 1989 and today I have been given this honour and I thank the Almighty Allah for his blessings. “When I took over as Speaker of the ECOWAS Parliament in 2020 I said that I would bring the ECOWAS Parliament to the people. “And, with this honour today I will continue to ensure that ECOWAS reflects indeed that of the people’s parliament, that of the community parliament,” Tunis said. Earlier in his address of commencement, Tunis urged the graduating students to see themselves as a tool for an integrated Africa, stating that the youths are the future of Africa’s development. He also commended their resilience for pushing through their academic year amidst the unique situation of the COVID-19 pandemic. “As you graduate today, see yourselves as a realisation of Dr. Kwame Nkrumah’s call for a more integrated Africa that is focused on attaining inclusive and sustainable development. “The continent’s AU Agenda 2063 remains a shared aspiration for transforming our continent into a group of prosperous, equitable, ...

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Kenya banks on charter flights to boost tourist arrivals

Kenya will rely on charter flights to boost tourism numbers during the challenging Coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) period, a government official said Saturday. Tourism and Wildlife Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala said the charter flights Kenya is receiving signals the growing confidence in the country’s tourism products and preparedness against COVID-19. “I thank the marketers and travel agents who are working tirelessly to bring visitors to Kenya. I assure you of the government’s support, we need to all work together to revive the sector fully,” Balala said in a statement issued in Mombasa after receiving the first-ever flight from Ukraine to Kenya. The flight operated by Bees Airline, a Ukrainian Charter operator and marketed by Travel Professional Group (TPG), landed in Kenya carrying 189 visitors from Ukraine. Of the 189 passengers in the flight, 21 were travel agents traveling for product knowledge and to sample Kenyan tourism products and offering in order to sell the destination to consumers in their country. Balala said that the flight was testament to the advancements Kenya is making in markets which are not deemed traditional source markets for Kenya’s tourism. He noted that the destination’s tourism products resonate well with the needs of consumers from the Eastern European region. “I am glad to note the progress that we are making as a destination in attracting tourists from different markets,” Balala said. Kenya last month received the first-ever Romanian charter in Kenya carrying 200 visitors, said the official, noting that the flight has had five rotations into the country with another one expected later this month. “We must ensure that we explore all the available markets and tap into them. This is especially now more important with there being less travel across the globe,” Balala said. He welcomed the visitors, noting that the flight had come at ...

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Nigerian Government partners AfDB on Special-Agro Processing Zones

By DAVID IORJA, Abuja – The Nigerian Government is set to roll out a Special-Agro Industrial Processing Zones (SAPZ) Programme aimed at concentrating agro-processing activities in demarcated areas to boost productivity and integrate production, processing and marketing of selected commodities. Initiated as part of the Buhari administration’s efforts to transform agricultural productivity in the country, programme is to be implemented in partnership with the African Development Bank (AfDB) and other stakeholders, according to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo. Under the programme, the Nigerian government, in collaboration with the AfDB and working with other stakeholders such as the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the Bank of Industry, will demarcate areas across the 36 States and the FCT where the agro-processing centres will be established. About 140 of such centers are being envisaged across the country. At a meeting at the Presidential Villa where he was briefed about the status of the collaboration on Friday, Osinbajo commended the progress in the plan. The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Alhaji Mohammed Nanono and his counterpart in the Industry, Trade and Investment Ministry, Otunba Niyi Adebayo were also at the meeting. The agro-processing centres will be provided with basic infrastructure such as water, electricity and roads as well as facilities for skills training. Small-holder farmers in the catchment areas will be linked to markets across the value chain. To set off the plan in the opening phase, 7 States representing most of the geo-political zones in the country have been selected in addition to the Federal Capital Territory. The States are Ogun, Oyo, Imo, Cross River, Kano, Kaduna, Kwara. All the other States in the country would be added later as the scheme progresses. The programme aligns with the Economic Sustainability Plan and the Next Level programme of the Buhari administration regarding agriculture. ...

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How nude pictures landed Ghanian Actress in jail 

 For floating a naked picture of herself and her son on social media, Ghanaian actress, Akuapem Rosemond Brown has bagged a three-month jail sentence. The verdict was passed against Brown on Friday by Christina Cann of the Accra Circuit Court after the actress had pleaded guilty to charges bordering on undermining human dignity. Brown was said to have posted the said photos in June 2020, while celebrating her son’s seventh birthday. She had justified her action by saying she was celebrating motherhood. But the act drew widespread reactions on social media. This led the Director of Child Rights International Ghana, Bright Appiah, to write a petition against her which led to her arrest and arraignment in court. In her verdict, Cann agreed with prosecutors that she needed to be sentenced to deter others from destroying the moral fabric of the Ghanaian society. Subsequently, the judge said the actress would spend 90 days in jail. thewhistler.ng

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Ethiopian Airlines transports Vaccine to São Paulo, Brazil

Ethiopian Airlines Group, Africa’s leading Airline, has transported 3.5 Million doses of COVID-19 vaccine from Shanghai to São Paulo, Brazil, via Addis Ababa. The vaccine arrived in Brazil on Thursday, 15 April 2021. So far, Ethiopian Cargo and Logistics Services has transported over 20 Million vaccines to more than 20 countries. Ethiopian Airlines Group CEO Mr. Tewolde GebreMariam said “As a leading pan African airline, we joined the fight against the pandemic since the outbreak of the virus. Our commitment to fighting against the pandemic and saving lives has been unwavering in Africa and beyond. “I feel that our efficient and timely delivery of vaccines would save millions of lives that could have been lost due to lack of access to vaccines. We are devoted to transport vaccines globally with our modern fleet, well-established infrastructure and diligent employees. “I am glad that we have started to reach beyond Africa and we will continue to play our part in the global vaccine distribution. Our collaborative efforts are the only way out at this critical time where equitable distribution and transportation of the vaccines is desirable.’’ Ethiopian Airlines has beefed up its cargo shipment capacity by reconfiguring its passenger aircraft and introducing new technologies. The airline has become the choice of cargo partners as a result of its agility, capability to store and carry time-sensitive shipments such as pharmaceuticals. It played an exemplary role in the distribution of PPE across the globe which led to the selection of Addis Ababa Bole International Airport as a humanitarian air hub by UN agencies. Currently, Ethiopian is developing an in-house dry ice manufacturing facility that is capable of producing 9,000kg of ice daily to fulfill the need for additional coolants for vaccines produced by Pfizer-BioNTech & Moderna that require ultra-cold environment for transport. It is ...

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Tunisian Navy recovers 21 bodies of drowned sub-Saharan migrants

Tunisian Navy units on Friday recovered 21 bodies of sub-Saharan clandestine migrants, including nine women and a baby, who drowned afte their boat sank off Sfax port in central Tunisia, the spokesperson for the Tunisian National Guard told PANA. Commander Housemeddine Jebabli said that three survivors were rescued by the Coast Guard with assistance of a team of Civil Protection divers. He said that sweep operations in the area of ​​the tragedy continued to search for the missing, without specifying the cause of the accident. According to one of the survivors, quoted by the spokesperson, the boat had on board 41 illegal migrants who had taken to sea the day before from Sfax to sail to the Italian coast. On March 9, two boats ran aground in the same area, killing 39 people, while 165 migrants were rescued. Most of them were sub-Saharan nationals. (PANA/NAN)

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Libya earns over US$2 billion from oil sales in March 2021

Libya’s National Oil Company earned US$2,052,178,786 from the sale of crude oil, gas, condensates, petroleum products and petrochemicals in March 2021, the company announced on Thursday, stating that this is a record amount of revenue. “This increase is attributed to the fact that February revenues reflected 28 days on the calendar, while the collection from exported shipments takes place within 30 days, which resulted in an increase in March revenue compared to the earnings in February,” the company said in a statement. It pointed out that US$2 billion was transferred to the sovereign account, including US$1,498,632,437 from the earnings of March, on instructions of Prime Minister Abdelhamid al-Dbaiba. In this regard, the Chairman of the NOC’s Board of Directors, Mustapha Sanalla, affirmed that “the National Oil Company continues to settle part of these revenues with the financial obligations as they fall due for hydrocarbons in the first quarter of 2021, as a consequence of the failure of an agreement between the Central Bank of Libya and the Ministry of Finance during the previous Government of National Accord, which delayed the payment of hydrocarbon allocations. He added that the NOC faced challenges with special arrangements in the knowledge that the executive authority at the time, as well as the Attorney General’s office and the President of the Government of National Accord were also fully informed of the position during his meeting with the Chairman of the Governing Council, on 14 March 2021”. He assured that “all this is a result of the NOC’s sense of national responsibility towards the citizen and in the framework of implementing the wise measures applicable in the service of the country and the citizen in all parts of Libya and in order to prevent the collapse of the country’s vital facilities”. The NOC recalled that it ...

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13 killed, 21,000 displaced by community attacks in DRC’s Greater Kasai region

The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) on Friday said it was alarmed by the upsurge in violence in the Greater Kasai region of Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), which has already displaced thousands of civilians. According to local Congolese authorities, nearly 21,000 people, mainly women and children, have been displaced since March 28 by clashes between the Luba and Kuba ethnic groups in Bakwakenge town in Kasai. A UNHCR press release quoted Babar Baloch, spokesperson for UNHCR, as saying “At least 13 people have also been reported killed, many injured and 190 houses set on fire.” According to the UN agency, tensions between two communities have been on the rise since August 2020 due to land disputes. Last year’s attacks and counterattacks displaced more than 13,000 families, or around 40,000 people. The majority of the displaced have not been able to return home “for fear of reprisals”. Kasai region is recovering from the 2017 violence that displaced 1.4 million people within the DRC and forced 35,000 people to take refuge in Angola. In the face of this new resurgence of community tension, UNHCR calls for a renewed emphasis on restoring peace and defusing tension in Kasai to avoid another wave of massive displacement in the country. Following this latest wave of violence, humanitarian agencies are visiting the affected areas to assess the situation. Most of the displaced people have left everything behind, not having time to collect belongings. According to the UNHCR, the displaced need shelter, food and access to medical services. “The majority of them are hosted by local communities who are already struggling to cope with limited resources. Others are sleeping under the stars,” Baloch added. On the ground, the UN agency is delivering emergency supplies, including plastic sheeting for shelters, mosquito nets, blankets, jerry cans and cooking utensils ...

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