The House of Representatives said on Tuesday that it will not succumb to any form of threat, intimidation or blackmail in its quest to unravel the mysteries surrounding allegations and counter allegations of corruption rocking the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
The House also said it decided to carry out the investigation as part of its legislative function, adding the exercise has not in any way hindered the forensic audit of the commission ordered by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Reacting to series of allegation, Chairman of Committee on Niger Delta, Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, also denied claims by the Executive Director, Project of the IMC, Dr. Cairo Ojuogoh the House was sitting on the Commission’s 2020 budget.
The NATION reports that he insisted that the delay by the Commission in submitting its 2019 budget performance was responsible for the delay in passing the 2020 budget.
He said since threat and intimidation has not succeeded in stopping the National Assembly from carrying out its functions, those involved in the allegations have resorted to blackmail, adding that anyone who has nothing to hide should come forward to defend themselves of the allegations instead of throwing tantrums.
Tunji-Ojo dismissed claims of award of emergency contract not budgeted for by the commission, saying “Obviously, this is sheer blackmail and we expected this from the onset when the investigation process started.
He said, “The bottom line is that we are not going to be deterred. This is coming after threat to life by militants and different text messages which has failed. The next agenda to stop the legislative work is blackmail. I can say it categorically that we are more determined to work for the people of the Niger Delta”
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He said it was it part of budget indiscipline for any body to award a contract for a project that was not budgeted for.
Reacting to allegations that he demanded for payment for an emergency training, which was smuggled into the 2019 budget, the lawmaker said: “I have gone through the 2019 budget as approved and I can tell you that there is no provision for emergency training and so.
” I don’s know what he is talking about. I have said it before and let me repeat it for emphasis sake that I dont have a single contract in NDDC. It started with a 17 kilometre road which they could not substantiate and now, they have come up with another thing. We are only expecting more.
” I have never had any contract with NDDC, I am not a contractor with NDDC, I have never worked for NDDC and I have never been paid by NDDC for anything.
“I am the chairman of this committee by the grace of God and I know the responsibilities on my shoulders. I know that the Niger Delta is looking up to us for succour, for intervention, for help and for a greater tomorrow. We will not mortgage of the Niger Delta people for sake of our today. That will not happen.
“I don’t have a contract, and I repeat, I dont have a contract. It is an indictment on their part if they claim that there was an award for none budgeted item. That is a very serious offence which the National Assembly must look into.”
INEC Releases 2023 General Elections Report
The Independent National Electoral Commission has released the 2023 general elections report.
Its National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Sam Olumekun, disclosed this in a statement on Friday.
The report was released almost a year after the 2023 general elections.
Some Nigerians had expressed disappointment over the delayed uploads of the presidential election results to the INEC result viewing portal.
However, Olumekun said the election report was reviewed and approved for publication at the commission’s weekly meeting held on Thursday.
He noted that the publication was done in keeping with the commission’s tradition over the last four electoral cycles, and its commitment to transparency.
Olumekun said the “comprehensive 526-page document, structured into 13 chapters and enhanced with 60 tables, 14 boxes, and 10 graphs, offered an in-depth analysis of the election’s key processes, achievements, and challenges, along with valuable lessons learned.”
Giving more insights, the national commissioner stated “The report showcases the election’s unparalleled diversity in party representation, demonstrating significant democratic progress.
“This election saw four political parties winning gubernatorial races, seven parties winning senatorial seats, eight in federal constituencies, and nine in state legislatures, illustrating a broad shift in political representation across Nigeria.
“The report underscores the pivotal role of technological advancements, particularly the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System, in enhancing electoral integrity and reducing fraud.
“Furthermore, it addresses public concerns about the INEC Result Viewing portal, explaining the technical issues encountered during the upload of polling unit results for the presidential election.”
He added that other aspects covered in the report include logistics, security arrangements, staff recruitment and training, inclusivity measures, and the electoral framework,” he said.
Olumekun further stated that the commission would welcome feedback to inform future electoral reforms and improvements.
CJN To Swear In New Supreme Court Justices Monday
The newly-appointed 11 Justices of the Supreme Court will be sworn in on Monday, according to The PUNCH.
The justices are Jummai Sankey, Chidiebere Uwa, Chioma Nwosu-Iheme, Haruna Tsammani, Moore Adumein, Obande Ogbuinya, and Stephen Adah.
Others are Habeeb Abiru, Jamilu Yammama Tukur, Abubakar Sadiq Umar, and Mohammed Baba Idris
The National Assembly had on December 21, 2023, confirmed the elevation of the justices following President Bola Tinubu’s recommendation.
According to an invite sent to our correspondent on Friday, the Supreme Court’s Director of Information, Festus Akande, disclosed that the oath of office will be administered on the justices by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Olukayode Ariwoola.
He said, “The newly appointed 11 Justices of the Supreme Court will be sworn in by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Olukayode Ariwoola on Monday at 10.00 a.m. at the Main Courtroom of the Supreme Court.”
When the swearing-in of the elevated justices is done, the apex court will have the full complement of 21 justices, as stipulated by the Constitution
Akeredolu’s Widow Slams Critics As Ex-governor Is Buried In Ondo
The ancient town of Owo, Ondo State on Friday, played host to people from all walks of life who stormed the town to grace the final burial of the late former governor of Ondo State, Rotimi Akeredolu.
Akeredolu, who passed away on Wednesday, December 27, 2023, during a protracted illness in a German hospital, at the age of 67, was laid to rest at the burial site in the community.
In line with the burial programme, the body of the former governor arrived in the state on Wednesday where a special court session was held in his honour after which the remains were taken to the Akure Township Stadium for a lying-in-state and commendation service.
On Friday, a funeral service was held at the St. Andrew’s Cathedral Anglican Church, Imola, Owo. The Vice President, Mallan Kashim Shettima and many dignitaries were in attendance.
The wife of the late Akeredolu, Betty, in her tribute, hit hard on the critics of her relationship with her late husband.
The former first lady said “It’s me, your adorable Betty. You just left me. Just like that! It hurts. Badly it hurts. Now alone to face all manners of mockery from the so-called friends and adversaries alike. Now alone. A beg o! Can an Amotekun generalissimo be a weakling? Mbanuu! It doesn’t add up nau. Haba!”
“Not a few lashed out that you (Akeredolu) were a weakling because you loved me. I don’t think so in their homes while growing up they saw their mothers trampled upon as doormats. By the way, do they know what love is?
“They copied the template and treated their wives as pieces of furniture that can be easily discarded as trash. In many instances, the subjugation was garnished with beatings while the community looked the other way and remained unperturbed by gender-based violence. Beaten up like punch bags.”
Speaking at the service, President Bola Tinubu, who was represented by the Vice President, described the deceased former governor as a fearless man who always stood by the truth.
“We are gathered here today to bid farewell to a remarkable soul, Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Odunayo Akeredolu SAN, CON,” the President began, reflecting on the transience of life and the enduring impact of our choices. He is a fearless soldier for his people.”
“There was no point in life where his voice shook in telling his truth. He was a vastly intelligent man whose passion has created quite a wide vacuum beyond this community,” the President eulogised.
READ ALSO: Aiyedatiwa Replaces Five Akeredolu’s Aides
Similarly, the state Governor, Lucky Aiyedatiwa said his former boss always stood for good governance and the rule of law.
He stated, “You are all here because he stood for something: good governance and the rule of law. He means a lot to different people, and that is why he has been described in different words. He was a courageous leader, a fighter, and a warrior. How can we forget him so soon? It is not possible because he lives on.
“He used the instrument of governance to intervene in different sectors of the state, including education, health services, and infrastructural development and security, among others.”
Dignitaries at the burial ceremony include the Ondo State Governor Mr Lucky Aiyedatiwa, the Governors of Oyo, Ogun, Lagos, Osun, Ekiti, Edo, Delta, Anambra and Benue States, Engnr Seyi Makinde, Dapo Abiodun, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, Abiodun Oyebanji, Godwin Obaseki, Sheriff Oborevwori, Charles Soludo and Hyacinth Alia respectively and the national chairman of the All Progressives Congress, Alhaji Abdullahi Ganduje and host of others.
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