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2021 budget: Senate seeks increased funding for Nigerian Army

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Senator Ali Ndume

The N27 billion earmarked for capital projects for the Nigerian Army from the N13 trillion 2021 National Budget estimates is grossely inadequate, says the Senate Committee on Army.

Chairman of the Committee, Sen. Alli Ndume (APC Borno), made the remark on behalf of the commitee when top officials of Nigerian Army appeared before the committee for budget defence session on Wednesday.

Ndume therefore called for improved funding for the Nigerian Army in the budget.

He said given the challenges of insecurity in parts of the country, the amount proposed for the Army would not be enough for its operations in the country.

“In a budget of N13 trillion and in a period of crisis, you can not budget less than N30 billion to the Nigerian Army. That amount is grossely inadequate especially now that we have challenges every where.

“Some N27 billion as capital to the Nigerian Army is inadequate out of a budget of N13 trillion.”

He said the Nigerian Army was operating in 33 states, noting that it required adequate funds to successfully execute its mandate especially on procurement of ammunitions.

“Those equipment in most cases are destroyed during counter attacks; therefore, the army needs money to operate effectively.

He, however, said the committee would have to be convinced on what the army needed and what it was needed for.

He urged the Army officials to be open on the issues, in the presentation of the fiscal proposal to the committee.

This, Ndume noted, would enable the committee to have a background and informed knowledge of its intentions in the budget.

He also said the provisions of required information by the Army to the committee would enable the committee to support their positions in the budget.

“We will look at what you have done so far and what you need and then do the needful and see how we can help ourselves as Nigerians for the security of Nigerians.

“The main purpose of government is security and welfare of the citizens. “But we can not do that, you wear the shoe, you have to open up to the committee.

“Tell us your problem, defend what you have done before so that we can stand with you and talk from the background of Knowledge any where.

“The budget is two fold, you give account for what you were given in 2020 and and amount appropriated and released and what you intend to do in 2021.”

Ndume said the Army was one of the most important agencies of government in the Nigerian context especially with current challenges of insurgency, banditry, farmers herdsmen clashes, and other forms of criminality across the country.

He said the committee had begun its oversight visits to eight Army divisions in the country.

“We intend to go to all, we have visited the 8 Division in Sokoto that is being operated in Sokoto, Kastina and Zamfara.

“We have seen what is on, ground and we have also had discussions with the local people and have a feel of what is going on.

Ndume also told journalists after a closed door budget presentation by the Army officials that the committee was not disposed to de-radicalisation of repentant Boko Haram members in the country.

He said it was not in the best interest of Nigerians to re-integrate the professed repentant Boko Haram members into the society when the war on insurgency was still on.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Chief of Army Staff, Lt-Gen.Tukur Buratai, was represented at the budget defence which was a closed door session by Lt.Gen Lamidi Adeosun, Army Chief of Policy and Planning.(NAN)

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Nigeria lauds improved collaboration in AFI Region, signs MoU with Sierra Leone, Rwanda

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MINISTER of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika has commended International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) stressing that it’s leadership stance in collaboration has led member states of the African Indian-Ocean ( AFI) region to pool resources in resolving challenges and enhance safety in the Sub-region.

Sirika made this known at the 7th AFI Aviation Week in Abuja, Nigeria holding from 16th – 20th May where the nation signed Memorandum of Understandings, (MoUs) with Sierra Leone and Rwanda for technical support to enhance safety and security of Civil Aviation in the region.

According to him, ICAO’s leadership has set the bar for Member States to collaborate in resolving challenges particularly in the area of enhancing safety in our Sub-region.

He explained that one of the outcomes of such collaboration is the Comprehensive Regional Implementation Plan for Aviation Safety in Africa, which metamorphosized in the West Africa region into the Banjul Accord Group Aviation Safety Oversight Organization (BAGASOO), in Abuja, which is hosted and substantially funded by Nigeria stating that this organisation has continued to support the Member States in improving their safety oversight capabilities and human resource development.

On the MoUs, Sirika said they will aid to strengthen safety and efficiency of the sector as well as cooperation in the region.

The Aviation Minister stated that, aviation being an enabler and a positive factor for growth, development and robustness of the economy, informed the sector to enter into partnerships with other countries.

From left, Commisioner Banjul Accord Accident Investigation Agency (BAGAIA), Engineer Charles Irikefe Erhueh with Minister of Aviation, Nigeria, Senator Hadi Sirika and Commissioner Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB) Nigeria, Engineer Akin Olateru at the opening ceremony of the 7th AFI Aviation Week in Abuja, Nigeria holding from 16th – 20th May

“This is the only way to continue to make these initiatives relevant and sustainable, while contributing to the strengthening of safety, security and facilitation in the region, bearing in mind that a safe, secure and efficient air transport system is a natural impetus for socio-economic development of the region and a means to support trade and tourism”.

The MoUs were signed by the Nigeria’s Director General, Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA, Captain Musa Nuhu and representatives of the two countries at the opening ceremony of the Conference in Abuja.

Explaining further, the NCAA Director General, Captain Nuhu said, the partnership with the two African countries is to assist each other where there are gaps or deficiencies in the system, adding that no civil aviation authorities globally have the capacity to do everything.

The experience of the last two years, Captain Nuhu emphasized has underscored the fact that overcoming challenges and achieving meaningful growth in the industry, can only be done through cooperation, collaboration and co-ordination amongst stakeholders.

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BREAKING: Accountant-General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris, Arrested Over N80 Billion Fraud

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Nigeria’s Accountant-General, Ahmed Idris, has been arrested over alleged money laundering and diversion of public funds estimated at N80 billion.

Those familiar with the development said Mr Idris was intercepted in Kano by operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Monday evening and is being flown to Abuja, the nation’s capital, for interrogation.

Our sources said the EFCC has for sometime now been investigating a case of diversion of at least N80 billion in public funds which was allegedly laundered through some bogus contracts.

The companies used in laundering the funds have allegedly been linked to family members and associates of the accountant-general, investigators said.

Our sources further said after progress was made in the investigation, Mr Idris was summoned repeatedly for interrogation but he failed to honour the invitations.

“We kept inviting him but he kept dodging us,” one of our sources said. “We were left with no choice than to keep him under watch and arrest him.”

The spokesperson for the EFCC could not be reached to comment for his story. One of his subordinates said he is travelling in the United Kingdom at this time.

However, a top EFCC official confirmed the development but asked not to be named because he had no permission to discuss the matter with the media.

Mr Uwujaren later issued a statement saying, “Operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on Monday, May 16, 2022 arrested serving Accountant General of the Federation, Mr. Ahmed Idris in connection with diversion of funds and money laundering activities to the tune of N80billion( Eighty Billion Naira only).

“The Commission’s verified intelligence showed that the AGF raked off the funds through bogus consultancies and other illegal activities using proxies, family members and close associates.

“The funds were laundered through real estate investments in Kano and Abuja.

Mr Idris was arrested after failing to honour invitations by the EFCC to respond to issues connected to the fraudulent acts.”

President Muhammed Buhari appointed Mr Idris accountant-general on June 25, 2015.

The position became vacant at the time after the former Accountant General, Jonah Otunla, left office on June 12, 2015.

President Buhari reappointed Mr Idris for a second four-year term in June 2019, amid criticisms from labour groups who said the accountant-general should retire after turning 60.

Mr Idris, a native of Kano State, North-west Nigeria, was born on November 25, 1960, and was until his appointment in 2015 the Director of Finance and Accounts, Federal Ministry of Mines and Steel Development.

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Abuja-Kaduna Train Services to Resume May 23rd

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The Federal Government says train services will resume along the Abuja Kaduna train rail line on Monday, the 23rd of May, 2022.

In a statement by the Deputy Director, Public Relations, Mr Mahmud Yakubu said the Federal Government gave the directive for the resumption.

According to the statement, plans are still on to ensure that those abducted on the 28th of March along the same route due to bandits’ attack are released unhurt.

It emphasises that security would be adequately provided for would-be passengers and that every potential commuter must present a valid Id card, National identity number, NIN and proof of ticket purchase at entry and exit points.

The first train would depart the Idu end of the rail line at 9.50 am.

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