Some workers of Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON), on Tuesday, May 14, 2019, picketed the Abuja office oF Nigeria’s apex standardisation body, over allegations of corruption, irregular promotion of newly recruited staff, and poor welfare of staff.
Why the picketing? It was gathered that the placard-bearing protesters, who came together under the Amalgamated Union of Public Corporations, Civil Service Technical and Recreational Services Employees (AUPCTRE), grounded business activities at the organisation.
Scam Allegations: The Chairman of AUPCTRE in the Federal Capital Territory, Comrade Aliyu Maradun, told newsmen that the Director General of SON, Osita Aboloma, had been involved in contract scams, including the award of multiple contracts and contract splitting.
According to Comrade Maradun;
“We are aware of people who were employed here and under six months they were promoted more than five times, and there are people here who have spent 20 years; stagnated. Some people are on secondment and have refused to go at the detriment of the people here who are supposed to occupy their positions.”
Need for EFCC’s Intervention: Maradun demanded that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), and the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) should investigate the operations of the SON. He also called for the improvement of workers’ welfare and the implementation of the directive of the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment on voluntarism.
The protest was frowned at: Responding to allegations of the protesters, the President of the SON branch of the Senior Staff Association of the Statutory Corporations and Government Owned Companies (SSASCGOC), Ayodele Folayan described the protest as uncalled for.
Folayan said there was an ongoing process to resolve issues relating to the welfare of workers and therefore urged the protesters to return to the negotiating table.
The spokesman of the SON, Mr. Bola Fashina, said the protesters disrespected the directive of the labour ministry on voluntarism and not SON.
For instance, on the issue of promotion arrears, Mr. Fashina said budgetary allocation had been made and added that the amount provided had already been approved in the 2019 budget by the National Assembly.
Magu probe: New facts suggest case is about re-looting of previously stolen funds
The report exposed acts of corruption and money laundering against some EFCC officials, including Magu.
There appear to be more troubles for the suspended acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu, as some new cases bordering on alleged re-looting of recovered funds and bribery may be lined up against him.
Some new facts also emerged on how accumulated interest rates on the recovered N550 billion by the EFCC in the period under review were allegedly re-looted. The suspended EFCC boss is expected to disclose the whereabouts of the missing interest funds running into millions of naira.
The final report of the Presidential Committee on Audit of Recovered Assets (PCARA) that covered the period of May 29, 2015, to November 22, 2018, had also confirmed the concerns of the public about the contradiction in the recovered funds by Magu. These contradictions include;
“For Foreign currency recoveries, EFCC reported a total naira equivalent of N46,038,882,509.87, while the naira equivalent of the foreign currency lodgments was N37,533,764,195.66, representing a shortfall of N8,505,118,314.21.’’
“These inconsistencies cast serious doubt on the accuracy of figures submitted by the EFCC. It is the committee’s view that the EFCC cannot be said to have fully accounted for cash recoveries made by it.’’
“While EFCC reported total Naira recoveries of N504,154,184,744.04, the actual bank lodgments were N543,511,792,863.47. These discrepancies mean that EFCC’s actual lodgment exceeded its reported recoveries by N39,357,608,119.43.’’
It should be noted that the about N39 billion discrepancy excludes the missing accrued interest.
With all these, the report suggests that there is an apparent case of manipulation of data in a very brazen and unprofessional manner and has greatly eroded public confidence in the anti-corruption efforts.
The PCARA revealed how the investigative reports on EFCC’s activities by the Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) exposed acts of corruption and money laundering against some EFCC officials, including Magu.
The NFIU report shows that the Acting Chairman has been using different sources to siphon money from the EFCC, and in some cases collecting bribes from suspects.
The report has shown that a particular Bureau de Change, owned by Ahmed Ibrahim Shanono linked to the Acting Chairman based in Kaduna has more than 158 accounts and has been receiving huge sums of money.
The PCARA report also said that Magu was linked to a N28m payment to Falana who is alleged to be his close associate and ally.
According to reports from the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), the former EFCC boss is being interrogated by the Rtd, Justice Ayo Salami led Presidential Probe Panel over allegations bordering on mismanagement and lack of transparency in managing recovered assets by EFCC.
A final report of the Presidential Investigation Committee on the Federal Government Recovered Assets and Finances by EFCC from May 2015 to May 2020 had seriously indicted and implicated Magu on various allegations levelled against him.
The terms of reference for the investigative committee were
‘’Investigate, verify and review the recommendations of the Presidential Committee on Audit of Recovered Assets as it relates to the EFCC, with a view to ascertaining the complicity or otherwise of the Ag. Chairman, Ibrahim Magu, in the mismanagement of the assets recovered by the Commission.’’
‘’Identify Avenues through which the recovered assets are dissipated and seized, recovered, forfeited (Interim and Final) assets are valued, managed, disposed and/or mismanaged with a view to ascertaining compliance or otherwise with extant laws, regulations, processes and procedures.’’
‘’Review the existing procedures on the Management of the seized, recovered and Forfeited assets (interim and final) and proffer Standard Operational Procedures for the management of seized, recovered and forfeited assets.’’
‘’Determine whether assets recovered during his tenure, whether locally in Nigeria or abroad, are being kept safely in a manner as to preserve their original value and determine: –
- Whether all the assets could be properly accounted for by the Ag. Chairman.
- To confirm if any of the assets have been diverted to the benefit of the Ag. Chairman, his family, relation, friends or favoured staff.
- To recover any such diverted assets and return back to the EFCC or appropriate government agency.
The committee was also to probe and report on corruption and money laundering allegations based on petitions and intelligence reports, involving Magu and Bureau De Change operators as well as some of his associates.
It was to audit the Assets and Finances of the EFCC as a legal entity from 2015-2020, with a view to establishing compliance or otherwise with procurement procedures of the EFCC in line with the provisions of the Procurement Act.
Tax on rents and Certificate of Occupancy is valid – Akabueze
FIRS had announced that stamp duty will be paid on house rent and C of O.
The Director-General of the Budget Office of the Federation, Ben Akabueze, announced that the recent FIRS taxes on Certificate of Occupancy and rents is not new and has been around since the 1980s.
He disclosed this in the 2021-2023 Medium Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper (MTEF&FSP) on Friday, adding that ever since the 80s, his landlord had always given him a postage stamp on his rent receipts, and that the law was not just recognized for a long time.
“Over time, because the culture of postage has dropped off and that was not being implemented. What FIRS has done now is to make that into electronic stamp that you can still use to comply with the existing law,” Akabueze said.
Last week, the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) announced that stamp duty will be paid on house rent and Certificate of Occupancy (C of O), in line with its new adhesive duty. The new duty was inaugurated in Abuja at the official inauguration of the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Audit and Recovery of Back Years Stamp Duties.
FIRS Director for Communication and Liaison Department, Mr Abdullahi Ahmad, said the new policy was necessary so as to give the instruments the legal backing required and make them legally binding on all parties involved in such transactions.
Consequently, Ahmad asked Nigerians to ensure that documents that related to rent and lease agreements for homes or offices, C of O, and other common business-related transaction instruments were authenticated with the new FIRS Adhesive Stamp Duty.
He also advised Nigerians to make sure that any document related to leasing agreements and rents related to offices and homes, including C of O and other transaction instruments used in these seals were authenticated with the new FIRS Adhesive Stamp Duty.
Port-Harcourt International airport resumes flight operations
The first flight to Port Harcourt was conducted by Air Peace 5N EUV from Lagos.
The Port Harcourt International Airport formally resumed flight operations on Saturday, July 11, with the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), restating its commitment towards a zero coronavirus transmission.
This was disclosed by the Regional Manager South-South and South-East of FAAN, Abayomi Akinbinu, on Saturday, July 11, during the arrival of the first flight after 3 months of shutdown due to the coronavirus outbreak.
The first flight, which was conducted by Air Peace 5N EUV from Lagos, arrived Port-Harcourt International Airport terminal at 7.50 am.
He said the Port-Harcourt airport management was ready to ensure zero chances of the coronavirus transmission with the management giving no room for default of the COVID-19 safety guidelines by regulatory authorities as flight operations resume at the airport.
He frowned at the non-adherence to physical distancing rule, while also commending safety compliance level by service providers and passengers at the airport.
According to Abayomi, “Our markings of 1.5 metres apart are visibly on the floor, but maybe because of excitement it’s not being properly followed; so we need to make quick enforcement in that regard.”
He said although there was low turnout of passengers, he expected a gradual increase in the coming days.
He said, “On the departure section, we are gradually getting more passengers and I believe that going forward passengers’ turnout is going to increase. My message to prospective passengers is that the Port Harcourt International Airport terminal is safe.”
On his own part, the Head of Aviation Medical Clinic of the airport, Dr Nuhu Mwabi, said that the Port Health is seriously conducting mandatory temperature checks on both service providers and passengers before allowing them into the airport terminal building.
Nuhu said, “This is because we want to fish out persons with a temperature of 38 degrees Celsius and above, so that we can isolate such individual. Our cardinal objective is to ensure that we contain the spread of COVID-19 as well as other communicable diseases within the airport.”
He added that the World Health Organization and the various medical teams were ready to professionally handle any suspected case, should the need arise.
It can be recalled that the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, had last week announced the resumption schedule for flight operations for the various airports across the country. The Murtala Muhammed Airport Lagos and the Nnamdi Azikiwe International airport resumed flight operations on July 8.