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Strikes: FG Meets Organised Labour, Others Saturday

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The Federal Government has scheduled a special meeting with representatives of the Nigeria Labour Congress, the Trade Union Congress, their affiliates as well as members of Civil Society Organisations as one of the ways to end incessant industrial actions by workers.

The Minister of Labour, Chris Ngige, disclosed this in an interview with State House correspondents after a meeting he held with the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), at the Presidential Villa, Abuja on Friday.

Ngige said at the meeting slated for Saturday, officials would disclose the true state of government’s financial account to the labour leaders so that they can appreciate the challenges facing the nation.

The minister, who briefed the President on the recent strike by the National Association of Resident Doctors which was suspended on Thursday, said Buhari had approved the meeting with the labour leaders.

He said, “The President has approved for us to have a bigger government side meeting with the organised labour.

“All government institutions that have to do with the finances of government will join us to meet with them and show them the books.

“So, the invitation is going out to them this afternoon (Friday), the Nigeria Labour Congress, the Trade Union Congress and their affiliates or supporters and friends in the Civil Society Organisations.

“The meeting is scheduled for tomorrow (Saturday), so, I will relate more with the Chief of Staff to the President and the leadership of the unions today so that we do this meeting tomorrow.

“At the meeting, government finances, challenges and everything will be laid bare on the table. They will also table their own fears and what they think is also good for the Nigerian people especially the workers, so that we look at them.”

On the recent hike in electricity tariff and the public outcry that followed, Ngige said, “The electricity tariff as you know, the Electricity Regulatory Commission approved the increase based on certain electricity band R1 and R2.

“Even in the R2 band, you have soft bands so that we can protect the rural poor and people who are in the suburbs.

“So, we are going to look at them holistically because we want a stable labour industrial union in the country so the President has been briefed and he is in tune and has given the support to talk to everybody we need to talk to.”

The minister said representatives of unions in the nation’s tertiary institutions would also attend the meeting to table their positions on some issues.

He added, “The tripartite unions of university system including some colleges of education and some hospitals; Non-Academic Staff of Universities, Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities and the National Association of Academic Technologists, we have invited them to a meeting.

“The leadership met with me last week and the major thrust of the challenges they have is on the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information system.

“They claimed and alleged that the IPPIS system is over deducting some line items like taxes, the Pay As You Earn taxes they claim the IPPIS system is charging more than they supposed to debit.

“They also claimed that some allowances that are peculiar to the university system like responsibility allowance, hazard allowance, field trip allowance and education of children allowance, that the IPPIS has stopped all of them.

“At the government level, we have discussed and we now want to do a special session with them, they come with their facts and the Accountant-General will lead his team, the National Salaries and Incomes and Wages will also come and the Ministry of Labour will lead and then we discuss and find out who is treating the other unfairly,” he explained.

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Focus On Gumi, Shekau Before Chasing Me, Igboho Tells FG

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Yoruba activist, Sunday Adeyemo , better known as Sunday Igboho , has advised the Federal Government to channel its energy towards arresting Boko Haram leader , Ibrahim Shekau , and Islamic cleric, Sheikh Ahmad Gumi, who has been holding meetings with bandits .
Igboho said this during an interview with The PUNCH on Friday while reacting to the face – off between him and security agents around the Guru Maharaji bus stop along the Lagos -Ibadan Expressway .
The Yoruba activist, who has been in the news for serving a quit notice on Fulani herdsmen in some parts of the South -West , said he was never invited before they attempted to arrest him .
When asked if he would honour a police invitation, Igboho said , “ Go and ask them to invite Gumi and Shekau first before disturbing me . Let them face the bandits instead .”
Igboho also said he would not run , adding that he had returned to his base in Ibadan .
When asked if he would go into hiding , he said , “ What for ? I am in the neighbourhood . I cannot run . ”
Igboho also affirmed that his bank account was initially frozen but the restriction was lifted recently .
He said he had done nothing wrong but fight for the rights of his people .

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EFCC Arraign Insurance Brokers For N26bn PHCN Severance Benefit

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), on Thursday, arraigned Abiodun Waheed Hassan and his company, Bestworth

Insurance Brokers Limited, before Justice S.C Oriji of the Federal
Capital Territory High Court, Apo, Abuja on a five count charge of
alleged criminal breach of trust and misappropriation of funds to the
tune of over Twenty Six Billion Naira (N26billion).
The defendant allegedly diverted humongous sums of money earmarked for the payment of outstanding insurance premiums and claims of deceased and incapacitated staff of Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN), into the corporate account of entities.

Count one of the charge reads: “That you, Abiodun Waheed Hassan, Director, Bestworth Insurance Brokers Limited and Bestworth Insurance Brokers Limited on or about 15th January 2015, in Abuja within the jurisdiction of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, while being entrusted with certain property to wit:

the sum of N26,236,594,986.00 (Twenty-six Billion, Two Hundred and
Thirty-six Million, Five Hundred and Ninety-four Thousand, Nine Hundred
and Eighty-six Naira only) paid into Bestworth Insurance Brokers
Limited’s Skye Bank Account No. 1771645118 from PHCN STAFF Severance Benefits account with the Central Bank of Nigeria, being funds earmarked for the payment of outstanding insurance premiums and claims of deceased and incapacitated staff of Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN), did
commit criminal breach of trust in respect of the said property by
dishonestly misappropriating the sum of N2,500,000,000.00( Two Billion
Five Hundred Million Naira only) thereof when you transferred the said
sum into Kakatar CE Limited’s Zenith Bank Account No.1012637660 and you
thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 315 of the Panel Code Cap 532 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, (Abuja) 2004.”

Count Five states, “that you , Abiodun Waheed Hassan, Director, Bestworth Insurance Brokers Limited and Bestworth Insurance Brokers
Limited on or about 18th December 2014, in Abuja within the jurisdiction
of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, while being
entrusted with certain property to wit: the sum of N26,236,594,986.00
(Twenty-six Billion, Two Hundred and Thirty-six Million, Five Hundred
and Ninety-four Thousand, Nine Hundred and Eighty-six Naira only) paid
into Bestworth Insurance Brokers Limited’s Skye Bank Account No.
1771645118 from PHCN STAFF SEVERANCE Benefits account with the Central Bank of Nigeria, being funds earmarked for the payment of outstanding insurance premiums and claims of deceased and incapacitated staff of Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN), did commit criminal breach of trust in respect of the said property by dishonestly misappropriating the sum of N6,000,000,000.00 ( Six Billion Naira only) thereof when you
transferred the said sum into PJO Venture Limited’s Skye Bank Account
No.1771645235 and you thereby committed an offence punishable under
Section 315 of the Panel Code Cap 532 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria,
(Abuja) 2004.”

The defendant pleaded ‘not guilty’, when the charges were read to him.
Based on his plea, prosecution counsel, Benjamin Lawan Menji, ask for a
trial date and prayed the Court to remand the defendant at the
Correctional Service pending the trail.

Counsel for the defendant, Ade Olusalako told the court that the defense
had filed a motion for bail of his client and pleaded for the remand of
the defendant in the custody of the EFCC pending the determination of his bail application on the grounds that “the defendant has been on administrative bail for almost five years and he has an underlining sickness”.

However, the prosecution counsel objected to the application. “As he
rightly submitted, we received the application but we shall vehemently
be opposing the application; we said vehemently so that the court will
know that we have a strong opposition. Moreover, our facility is
overstretched because of the issue of the Covid-19 Pandemic, the little
we have we are trying to manage them. The proper place of detention or
custody is the Correctional Service which the government has done its
best in providing”, Menji told the court.

However, Justice Oriji adjourned the matter till March 4, 2021 for
hearing on the bail application and remanded defendant in EFCC custody.

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Niger Delta Militants Threaten To Attack Lagos, Abuja

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Niger Delta militants under the aegis of Supreme Egbesu Liberation Fighters have threatened to destroy infrastructure in Lagos State and Abuja .
In a video posted on Tuesday by AIT , members of the group were seen wearing masks and putting on a military uniform .
One of them , who read a statement on behalf of the group , lamented poor implementation of the amnesty programme in the region, saying , “ there are no schools , no potable water , no light , no hospital and access roads for our people to enjoy till date” .
He said , “ Over the years, the Niger Delta people have made frantic efforts to create an enabling environment but to our great dismay, the Nigerian government over the years has decided to handle the issues of the Niger Delta with kid gloves .
“ They have betrayed the struggle and have left the people to their fate ,” a member of the group read from a statement .
“ Rather, what is visible is the presence of military gunboat and the numerous military personnel dispersed to the Niger Delta who are killing, raping , and maiming the innocent people of the region.
“ Look at the security surveillance contract taking place in our region through the federal government these agencies in place have decided to shortchange our people . Now in our territorial waters , it is an Israeli company that is providing waterway security which we have competent hands with expert knowledge to manage.
“ Don ’t worry, because we are coming to destroy all your infrastructure in Abuja and Lagos . As a group committed to giving total liberation to our people , we will destroy the oil facilities both onshore and offshore in no distant time , we will be seen to be crippling the Nigerian economy. ”

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