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COVID-19: PTF Reports Kogi Governor To Buhari….Unhappy With Wike, Ayade

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•Accuses Bello of frustrating testing in Kogi
•Unhappy with Wike, Ayade

THE Presidential Task Force (PTF) on Coronavirus Disease has formally reported Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State to President Muhammadu Buhari for what it termed the governor’s hostile attitude to the body.

The Task Force is also displeased with Governors Nyesom Wike (Rivers) and Ben Ayade (Cross River) for allegedly not cooperating with the committee in the fight against COVID-19.

Similarly unimpressed by the attitudes of the Kogi and Cross River State governments is the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), particularly on claims by the two states that they are coronavirus free.

The association says the two states must follow the testing guidelines issued by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) before having such bragging rights.

It was also gathered yesterday that the Federal Government may impose a lockdown on Kogi State or declare a state of emergency if Governor Bello continues to defy the PTF.

Sources said the Kogi governor who is generally perceived as a core Buharist stands the risk of losing the favour he currently enjoys from the Villa.

The PTF, according to sources, is angry at the “very poor” attitude of Bello to the management of Coronavirus epidemic, which has led to the conduct of only two tests so far in his state.

The committee suspects that the state may be suppressing information about Coronavirus infections in its territory, going by the governor’s alleged maltreatment of NCDC officials sent to the state on Thursday.

The four-man NCDC team to the State was allegedly hounded and escorted out of Lokoja by some policemen and security agents up to the airport road in Abuja on the order of the governor.

The development and reports of some cases at the Federal Medical Centre in Lokoja, the state capital are said to have fueled suspicion by the PTF that the state has more to hide on COVID-19.

Consequently, the PTF has met with all the security agencies to “keep them abreast of the breach of the Quarantine Act by the state government.”

A top level source said: “The facts at our disposal have shown that Kogi is at the risk of COVID-19 because it is a melting point for inter-state travelers and it shares borders with 12 states (about one-third of the states in the Federation) which had recorded infections. The border States are Ondo, Ekiti, Edo, Kwara, Niger, Anambra, Niger, Enugu, Osun, FCT, Plateau and Benue.

“Kogi has only conducted two tests despite the increasing rate of community spread. We were shocked that the state government has refused to fulfill its obligations as enshrined in the Quarantine Act 1990 CAP 384 LFN.

“Yet, the PTF has been very polite in relating with Bello. For instance, the Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire on Tuesday called the governor and it was agreed that a four-man team of NCDC would be sent to the state.

“But while receiving the four-man team on Thursday, he said they should handover the letter they brought to the state Commissioner for Health. In the process, the commissioner had contact with the head of the team and the governor sparked by ordering his immediate quarantine.

“Following refusal to be quarantined, the governor humiliated the team by ensuring that they were escorted by armed police out of Lokoja to the airport road in Abuja.”

Another reliable source said: “The PTF was briefed by the team which went to Kogi State. And the committee in turn held a meeting with security agencies where the governor’s unbecoming attitude was formally reported.

“The PTF members also unanimously decided to report the governor to President Muhammadu Buhari since he has always boasted that he has the ears of the President.

“The position of the committee is for the President to invoke his powers in the 1999 Constitution to declare a state of emergency in Kogi State or use his inherent authority in the Quarantine Act to impose lockdown on the state.

“The PTF believes any of these steps should be taken if the governor remains recalcitrant. It is left to the President to decide the fate of Kogi State.

“Although the governor is a favourite of the Presidential Villa, it is doubtful if he can have his way. He is overstretching his luck.”

….Committee also displeased with Wike, Ayade

Investigation also showed that the PTF was equally angry with Governors Nyesom Wike (Rivers) and Ben Ayade (Cross River) for “not cooperating with the committee on containment of COVID-19.”

Gov. Ayade of Cross River State


A member of the task force said: “These two governors are not doing enough to contain the coronavirus; they are playing politics with it. They have not paid serious attention to the campaign against COVID-19.

“These two governors are also under watch because we won’t allow them to derail our efforts at containing the epidemic. What we are demanding from the governors are concrete steps to stop community spread, not playing to the gallery. Enough of politics with COVID-19.

Wike

“Ayade sees the entire COVID-19 epidemic as not real but an attempt to make money.”

The Cross River governor once said: “I think Africans should come together to the realization that it is not vaccines. It is healthy living. Give people jobs. Thabo Mbeki once told the world, ‘don’t tell us about giving us HIV drugs in South Africa. Give us money let us improve our agriculture.’ Let everybody have a job and is working and living healthy. HIV virus will disappear; the same thing with coronavirus.

“It would sound very controversial but you should know that I am talking from a sound intellectual and scientific background.

“The virus itself, the test method itself, the PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) test method is an unreliable method and is never to be used for diagnostic purpose but genomic sequencing, for just research purposes.

“But the PCR is being used, test kits are being produced. Test kits manufacturers are making cool money. If I test you and you are coronavirus positive, what do I do? There are no vaccines. There is no established approved international treatment protocol.”

It could not be immediately ascertained whether the President may impose lockdown on Rivers and Cross River States.

A highly-placed source said: “We won’t allow the situation in those two states to deteriorate, we are monitoring them closely.”

The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN), in a recent statement said the President has power to deal with the situation reports in Kogi, Rivers and Cross River States having taken similar measures in Lagos, FCT and Ogun.

Malami said: “Section 3 of the Act enables the President to declare any part of Nigeria as an infected area. Section 4 of the Act further empowers the President to make regulations to prevent the introduction, spread and transmission of any dangerous infectious disease. “Section 6 of the Act requires the President and State Governors to provide sanitary stations, buildings and equipment. Thus, in recognition of the critical roles being played by the state Governors in these trying times, the Federal Government has been working with the states in line with the dictates of Section 6 of the Act,” he said.

“It is important to inform the discerning members of the public that the President did not make a declaration of a state of emergency under Section 305(1) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) which would have required the concurrence of both houses of the national assembly.

“Even at that Section 305(6)(b) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) permits a proclamation of a State of Emergency to run for a period of 10 days without the approval of the National Assembly when the parliament is not in session as in the present situation wherein the National Assembly has shut down.”
(The Nation)

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Crime

Marwa Warns Against Cannabis Legalisation

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Says “It is money versus life”

 

President Muhammadu Buhari (right) with the Chairman of National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Mohammed Buba Marwa at the State House, Abuja, during a visit by Marwa to brief him on the activities of the agency (photo by The Guardian)

Chairman of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Brig. Gen. Buba Marwa (rtd), has enjoined members of the National Assembly not to support to move to legalise cannabis, cautioning that members who vote for it might not be able to return to their constituencies.Marwa made the submission yesterday while fielding questions from newsmen after he met with President Muhammadu Buhari at the State House, Abuja.

The former military administrator of Lagos said the World Health Organisation (WHO) has confirmed the dangers of cannabis to the brain, disclosing that Nigeria was the highest consumer of the substance globally.

Vowing that Nigeria would not submit to the push for its legalisation, Marwa said: “Now, the WHO itself has declared that cannabis affects the brain, alters brain function. It destabilises and affects behaviour. It also affects body organs, and at some point, it can lead to death.

“So, while we appreciate those who want to legalise it for financial gains, we have to be careful to reconcile it with life. So, it’s money versus life. And up to this point, science has not developed up to the point where it can remove the THC in cannabis to zero.

“Therefore, cannabis is harmful to our health; it is a danger to society. We must never allow its legalisation. What’s more, Nigeria has 10.6 million cannabis users; this is the highest in the world. Isn’t it sad?

“We should be the highest in science, technology, mathematics, physics and not highest in cannabis. That is something we need.

“We can never support legalisation and I don’t see how the National Assembly would pass the bill because I know 90 per cent or more of the honourable and distinguished members of the National Assembly know the implications of this legalisation. They dare not go back to their constituencies if anyone signs legalisation because we are seeing the implication on the ground. The youth, the families are being destroyed because of cannabis and drugs. It wouldn’t be legalised by the grace of God.”

Marwa, who revealed that he has received constant death threats from criminals in the course of his assignment, said he was not concerned even though he takes precautions.

Specifically, on the threats, he quipped: “Severally! It’s almost a daily occurrence because my phone number is open. Equally, messages come through family, through colleagues, and sometimes people at random whom we don’t know but I live in the territory. That said, we also take precautions.”

The NDLEA boss said he was at that presidential villa to brief President Buhari on the recent activities of the agency, especially the move to construct barracks for personnel of the agency, saying he received a positive response from the president on the initiative.

“Well, the President told us well done. And that well done does not go to Gen. Marwa but the NDLEA officers and men. And if there’s a secret behind it, we thank the Almighty God for the successes recorded so far, and also to the gallant and professional officers and men of the NDLEA who have remained upstanding.”

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Court freezes Kogi State Govt’s Bank Account over N20billion Salary Loan Fraud

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Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State

 

A Federal High Court in Lagos on Tuesday froze a Kogi salary bailout account domiciled in a new generation bank over a N20 billion loan obtained from the bank.

Justice Tijjani Garba Ringim made the order pending the conclusion of an investigation or possible prosecution by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

The agency approached the court via an ex-parte application brought pursuant to Section 44(2) of the Constitution and Section 34(1) of the EFCC Act.

Its counsel, Mr A. O. Muhammed, informed the court that the order was necessary to preserve the res and abate further dissipation of the funds in the account.

Moving the application, Muhammed alleged that the N20b loan was meant to augment the salary payment and running cost of the state government but was kept in an interest yielding account with the bank.

He added that instead of using the money for the purpose it was meant for, the Kogi State Government instructed the bank to transfer the money from the loan account and place same in a fixed deposit account.

According to the agency, the bank is yet to present any credible evidence to show that the facility is well secured.

Granting the application, Justice Ringim ordered the EFCC to publish the order in a national newspaper and make a quarterly report to the court on the progress of its investigation.

The judge adjourned the matter till December 1, for the report of Investigation.

The EFCC’s allegations were made in its 13-paragraph affidavit in support of the ex-parte motion deposed to by a member of a team of investigators attached to the Chairman Monitoring Unit Lagos of the EFCC.

The document averred that the Commission received credible and direct intelligence which led to the tracing of funds reasonably suspected to be proceeds of unlawful activities warehoused in the account with the name Kogi State Salary Bailout Account

He said the Commission acted on the said intelligence and assigned same to the Chairman Monitoring Unit, where it was discovered that on April 1, 2019, the management approved an offer of an N20billion bailout loan facility for the Kogi State Government.

According to the deponent, on June 19, 2019, fiscal year, the Kogi State Government, Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, Office of the Commissioner, applied for a credit facility of N20billion with an interest rate of nine per cent for a tenure of 240 months from the bank”.

The agency added that the said facility was meant to augment the salary payment and running cost of the state government.

It stated further that on June 26, 2019, the credit facility offer was accepted vide a memorandum of acceptance signed by Governor Alhaji Yahaya Bello, Asiwaju Idris Asiru, the Commissioner of Finance Kogi State; and one Alhaji Momoh Jibrin, Accountant General, Kogi State.

It averred that before the said application for a loan, the Kogi State Government on the 19th June 2019 vide a letter to the Manager of the bank in Lokoja applied for an account opening in the Bank with the name Kogi State Salary Bailout Account with Alhaji Momoh Jubril, Accountant General of the State and Elijah Evinemi Ag. Director Treasury as the signatories to the said account.

“That upon the opening of the said account disbursed salary intervention loan to the tune of N20billion to the account.

“That rather than use the intervention funds for the purpose for which it was granted, the State Government proceeded to open a fixed deposit account No. 0073572696.

“That on the 25 day of July 2019, the bank acting on the instruction of the Kogi State Government transferred the money from the loan account and placed same on the aforementioned fixed deposit account.

“That the said account sought to be frozen received the sum of twenty billion naira, (N20, 000,000,000) on the 25th July 2019.

“That as of 1st day of April 2021 the balance standing to the credit of the said fixed deposit account was N19,333,333,333.36 billion

“That we are still tracing what the sum of N666,666,666.64 billion, has been deducted from the said funds and were not used for the payment of the salary.

“That the Commission has the statutory mandate to prevent the Commission of economic and financial Crimes with the shores of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

“That investigation in this matter is still ongoing and this application is pertinent to secure the funds in the said account to prevent them from being totally dissipated.

“That without freezing the nominated accounts, there is no better way of preserving

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