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House Of Representatives Probe Aso Rock Clinic |The Republican News

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Nigerian House Of Representatives

…Seek stiffer penalty for quackery

From: Ndubuisi Orji, Abuja
The House of Representatives, on Thursday, resolved to investigate the deplorable condition of the State House Clinic and alleged deductions from the salaries and allowances of its medical staff.
The House, which commended the First Lady, Mrs Aisha Buhari, for speaking out about the state of the clinic, also resolved to set up an ad-hoc committee to undertake the investigation.
The Committee is expected to report back to the House within three weeks for further legislative action.
This followed a motion moved at yesterday’s plenary by Hon Henry Archibong.
This was coming as the House at Thursday’s plenary, passed for second reading a bill seeking to amend the Medical and Dental Practitioners Act to increase penalties for persons convicted of quackery and other offences under the Act.
The bill sponsored by Hon. Dozie Nwankwo seeks to amend section17(5)(a)and (b) of the principal Act to increase penalty for quackery and other offences from a sum not exceeding N5000 to one million naira in the event of summary conviction, and a fine not exceeding five million naira or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 10 years or both in the event of conviction or indictment.
Leading debate on the motion on the state House Clinic, Archibong said it is disheartening that despite huge allocations to the State House Clinic over the years, the clinic lacks the necessary drugs and equipment, needed to save lives.
The lawmaker expressed dismay that the state House Clinic which was established to take care of the needs of the President, his deputy and their families, as well as cater for the staff of the Presidential Villa lacks basic device like syringes.
According to him, since 2015 over N11.01 billion has been appropriated for the State House Clinic, yet there is nothing on the ground in the hospital to show for the huge expenditure.
Archibong said “in the last three years over N11.01 billion has been appropriated. But something as simple as syringes is not available in the clinic. If people that are supposed to administer the medical facilities cannot do so, it calls for concern.
“If this level of misappropriation can happen in the State House Clinic, let us imagine what happens to the other hospitals and the ordinary citizens, who go there for healthcare
“It is an embarrassment to this country. It is unacceptable that this amount has been spent and there is nothing to show for it. It can not happen in the smallest of Africa country, not to talk of America, Asia and Europe.
“It is unacceptable that the minister and the permanent secretary has not resigned in shame. “  (The Sun)

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House Of Reps Support Senate On Rejection Of Restructuring, Okay LG Autonomy

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                        House of Representatives

John Ameh, Abuja

Members of the House of Representatives, on Thursday, voted on new amendments proposed to the 1999 Constitution.

The House took largely the same position as the Senate, which voted on its own amendments on Wednesday.

But some of the striking differences included an amendment to give 35 per cent of ministerial slots to women.

However, the Chairman, House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Mr Abdulrazak Namdas, told reporters that any amendment that failed in either of the chambers had failed automatically.

He said the House went ahead to vote differently on some items to make Nigerians know its position on the proposals.

“We have a bi-camera legislature and on this matter of the constitution, whatever we reject, that passed in the Senate, stands rejected.

“In the same way, any item rejected by Senate and passed by the House has failed automatically. But Nigerians must know where we stand,” he stated.

The amendments were proposed by the House Ad Hoc Committee on Constitution Review chaired by the Deputy Speaker, Mr Yussuff Lasun.

The House voted to amend Section 147 of the constitution to approve that ministers must be appointed “within 30 days after the date the President has taken the oath of office.”

In sub-section (c), the House approved that “at least 35 per cent of persons appointed as ministers shall be women.”

A total of 248 members voted in support of the amendment while 48 opposed it and one abstained.

But a proposal for women to be accepted as indigenes in both their states of origin and those of their husbands failed.

A total of 208 members supported the amendment while 78 opposed it.

However, the 208 was not up to the required 240 two-thirds majorities provided in the constitution to pass it.

The House, unlike the Senate, rejected the appointment of a minister from the Federal Capital Territory.

On many other proposals, the House took the same position as the Senate.

For example, the House rejected devolution of powers; approved independent candidacy for elections; autonomy for local government councils; autonomy for state legislature; and immunity for members of the National Assembly.

On devolution of powers, 210 members voted to support it while 71 opposed it, with eight abstaining.

However, the proposal failed to pass the amendment because 210 was below the required 240 votes.

On autonomy for local governments, 281 members voted to approve it, while 12 were against it. One member abstained.

Lawmakers voted 288 to support immunity for members of the legislature “in respect of words spoken or written at plenary sessions or committee proceedings.”

On the votes for an independent candidacy, 275 members approved it while 14 kicked against it. There was one abstention.

A total of 292 members voted in support of the proposal on the restriction of tenure of office of the President and governor.

The proposal is an ‘A Bill for an Act to alter the provisions of the constitution to disqualify a person who was sworn-in as President or Governor to complete the term of elected President or Governor from being elected to the same office for more than a single term, and for related matters’.

This amendment was proposed to prevent a repeat of the scenario involving former President Goodluck Jonathan and the late President Umar Yar’Aua.

Jonathan had completed Yar’Adua’s remaining term when he died in 2010 and also contested the presidential election in 2011.

There were several incidents of rowdiness on Thursday, putting pressure on the Speaker, Mr Yakubu Dogara, to restore order.

One of such instances was when lawmakers attempted to reject the proposal on the reduction of age qualification for presidential and governorship aspirants.

Better known as ‘Not Too Young to Run’ bill, it seeks to reduce the age qualification for presidential aspirants to 35 years and governors, 30 years.

It also recommends 25 years for members of the House of Representatives and State Houses of Assembly.

Although the Senate had passed the bill on Wednesday, some members in the lower House moved to reject it on Thursday.

As the plot to reject the bill leaked on the floor, some of the younger members broke out in a song, chanting “not too young to run”, “not too young to run.”

Sensing trouble, the House Majority Leader, Mr Femi Gbajabiamila, appealed to members to pass the bill to send a message to younger Nigerians that they had space in the political space.

“Please, let us support this bill. For nothing, let us send a message to our people out there that we are with them,” he stated as the chanting continued.

When the voting took place eventually, 261 lawmakers endorsed it while 23 voted against it.

Earlier before voting commenced, a member from Osun State, Prof. Mojeed Alabi, tried to halt the process by saying that the House was progressing in error.

Alabi stood up to raise a point of order while Lasun, a fellow Osun lawmaker, was given the floor to present the amendments for voting.

But Dogara quickly corrected him that the House had long passed the stage he was quoting.

“You are taking us back. We passed this stage a long time ago. We have held hearings on the constitution and we are now at the point of voting.

“You are completely out of order. Take your seat,” Dogara added.

The House considered a total of 30 proposals, passed 21 and rejected nine items.

Under Section 9 of the constitution, any passed by the National Assembly must still secure the approval of a two-thirds majority (24) of the 36 state Houses of Assembly before it would be included in the constitution.    (Punchng.com)

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IKOYIGATE PROBE: We Are Under Pressure, Say Reps |The Republican News

From Kemi Yesufu, Abuja 

Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on National Security and Intelligence, Sani Jaji, has alleged that some powerful forces have been putting immense pressure on the House to influence the outcome of the investigation by the committee into the $43million loot discovered in a flat in Osborne Towers, Ikoyi, Lagos.
He said in a statement yesterday, that pressure and unsolicited advice were coming from different quarters all aimed at influencing the report of his committee.
He, however, vowed that the House would get to the root of the matter, adding that Nigerians deserved to know the truth.
He claimed: “There have been attempts on me as the chairman of the committee and members of the committee on what direction the investigation should take and the possible outcome of the report.
“There has been a lot of frustration but this has not in any way affected us because we remain committed to our cause.
“Though there is no monetary inducement these pressures are in form of text messages and physical contacts about what we should do, what we should not do, that we should dwell on this and not on that.
“They say this or that agency has a reputation that should not be put on the line, so we should not go beyond certain extent but we tell them that our determination is to safeguard the name and integrity of our institutions.
“But we tell them it is not fair to castigate an entire agency for the wrongdoing of an agency and that is why we want to protect our institutions by getting to the roots of these infractions and expose the individuals responsible.
“In continuation of the mandate given the committee by the House, we just met with the acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu, in relation to the $43million discovered in an apartment in Ikoyi and the meeting was very fruitful.
“We have been meeting with relevant stakeholders concerned in this matter before now, having met with Magu, it is our resolve to pursue this matter to a logical conclusion because more revelations are coming out.
“It should be understood that we cannot come out with some of these facts now since the investigation is not concluded yet. It is our mandate to find out the owner of that apartment and the ownership of the money, notwithstanding that the Nigerian Intelligence Agency (NIA) has laid claim to both.
“Notwithstanding the sensitivity of the assignment, the EFCC has been able to give us some important information in relation to the money.”
Jaji said the committee would meet with the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele and the suspended Director-General of the NIA this week.          (The Sun)

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Reps Panel Invites Jonathan Over $1.1bn Malabu Oil Scandal |The Republican News

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                     Former President Goodluck Jonathan

John Ameh, Abuja

The House of Representatives resolved on Wednesday to invite former President Goodluck Jonathan to testify in the ongoing investigations into the controversial sale of Oil Prospecting Licence 245.

Better known as $1.1bn Malabu Oil deal, an ad hoc committee of the House has been investigating the alleged diversion of the money, which was the Federal Government’s share of the deal.The committee is chaired by a member of the All Progressives Congress from Kwara State, Mr. Razak Atunwa.

In making its decision to invite Jonathan public on Wednesday in Abuja, Atunwa stated that certain information in public domain had made the need to hear from the former President necessary before the probe could be considered conclusive.

READ:MALABU: some people are threatened by my international profile, Says Jonathan

He explained that hearing from Jonathan was also an indication that “thoroughness, natural justice and fair play” were applied in the investigation.

Atunwa stated, “Mr. Jonathan was the President at the material time that (his cabinet) ministers brokered the deal that led to the allegation of $1bn diversion of funds.

“Mr. Jonathan’s name features in the proceedings initiated by the Public Prosecutor of Milan in Italy.

“A United Kingdom court judgment in relation to an application to return part of the money being investigated, castigated the Jonathan administration as not having acted in the best interest of Nigeria in relation to the ‘deal’.

“The Attorney General of the Federation at the material time, Mohammed Bello-Adoke, has recently instituted proceedings in court wherein he pleads that all his actions were as instructed by former President Goodluck Jonathan.

“Accordingly, pursuant to the provisions of the (1999) Constitution, the committee has decided to request that former President Goodluck Jonathan give evidence as to his role in the matter.”

He added that the secretariat of the committee had been directed to write to Jonathan, “asking for his response and submission.”

When asked whether this meant that Jonathan would come personally before the committee or the committee would meet him at a location chosen by the former President, Atunwa replied that what was most important was to write to him.

“There are parliamentary procedures, so we don’t jump the gun. What we have said here is to ask for his response. When he responds, that is when we go further.

“At this material point, we have invited him and that is where the case will rest for now,” he added.

The House had first investigated the deal in the 7th Assembly (2011-2015).

Not satisfied with the outcome of the probe, the current 8th House revisited it.

This second phase of the probe was launched in October 2016 with the committee taking representations from Shell, Agip and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.

It also received the submissions of the current AGF, Mr. Abubakar Malami, among others.

READ ALSO: $1.3bn Malabu Bribe: Jonathan May Have Received $200 m, Says Report

However, a former Minister of Petroleum Resources in the Jonathan administration, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, and Bello-Adoke reportedly shunned the panel.

According to the House, OPL 245 occupies an area of 1,958 square kilometres and holds up to “9.2billion” barrels of crude oil.

Recalling how the deal started, the committee said Chief Dan Etete, a former minister in the administration of the late Gen. Sani Abacha, awarded the block to himself in 1998, using Malabu Oil and Gas.

“He awarded it to himself for just $20m, out of which he paid only $2m,” the committee stated.

It added that former President Olusegun Obasanjo revoked the block, and later sold it to Shell at $210m, a development, which sparked off a series of legal tussles.

The committee recalled that while Malabu was still in court, Bello-Adoke and Alison-Madueke were alleged to have “contrived a series of complex agreements of a questionable nature.”

It added, “The summary of the agreement was that Shell and Nigeria Agip Exploration paid $1.1bn to the Federal Government for the oil block.”

However, instead of paying the money into the Federation Account, the committee stated that Bello-Adoke and Alison-Madueke “caused the money to be transferred to Malabu, which then spirited the money to various foreign bank accounts.

“In this regard, it is alleged that companies, such as A. A. Oil Limited, were engaged to launder the funds.”

The committee viewed the development as unacceptable, arguing that “Nigeria and its citizens may be said to have been short-changed to the tune of $1.1bn.”

The committee stated, “As we sit here today, $110m is being held by the UK authorities from the fund as proceeds of corruption from Nigeria.

“Italian prosecutors have also requested that money from that deal in Swiss accounts should be frozen.

“So, Nigeria folds its alms while other countries protect its interest? Nigeria is the victim.”

READ ALSO: Malabu Oil Deal Predates My Presidency, I Did’nt Send Anyone To Take Bribe |The Republican News

But, Malami, in his submissions to the committee in December 2016, claimed that the Federal Government could not prosecute Alison-Madueke , Bello-Adoke and a former Minister of Finance,  Mr. Olusegun Aganga, because of lack of sufficient evidence to nail the three former ministers.

Malami added that though Bello-Adoke had made written submissions, he had “not made himself available.”

The AGF, however, admitted before the committee that the payment of over $1.09bn into an escrow account by the three former government officials was illegal, explaining that the money ought to have been remitted into the Federation Account.

Attempts to get comments of ex-President Jonathan on his invitation by the committee were not successful as calls made to the mobile phone of his Media Adviser, Mr Ikechukwu Eze, did not connect while a text message sent to him had yet to be responded to as of the time of filing this report on Wednesday. (Punchng.com)

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House Of Representatives Will Address Issue Of Restructuring, Says Gbajiabiamila

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Majority Leader in the House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajiabiamila (Lagos-APC), says the House would address the calls for the restructuring of the country.

Gbajiabiamila made this known in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja.

The lawmaker, who frowned at the approach adopted by some groups to press home their demands, said the unity and stability of the country could not be compromised.

“This is a matter the house will address very soon and we are all concerned and we cannot bury our heads in the sand (and pretend nothing is going on around us) like the proverbial ostrich (would do).

“The National Assembly as an institution has a role to play on the issue of whether you want to call it restructuring or reengineering – however you want to describe it.

“And very soon national assembly will come up with a position.

“We are discussing it, we are talking with stakeholders behind the scenes and it will be tabled at some point hopefully before we go for another break,’’ Gbajabiamila said.

Meanwhile, Hon. Uchechukwu Nam-Obi (Rivers-PDP) has condemned the idea of secession that any part of the country might be considering.

According to him, a house divided against itself cannot stand.

He, however, called for true federalism, saying that equity and justice were the panaceas to the agitation in various quarters.

Federalism is the mixed or compound mode of government, combining a general government (the central or ‘federal’ government) with regional governments (provincial, state, cantonal, territorial or other sub-unit governments) in a single political system.

Its distinctive feature, exemplified in the founding example of modern federalism of the United States of America under the Constitution of 1787, is a relationship of parity between the two levels of government established.

It can thus be defined as a form of government in which there is a division of powers between two levels of government of equal status.

Nigerian federalism began in 1954 under the tutelage of the British colonial authorities.

The founding fathers of the country opted for federalism because of their belief that federal states have the intrinsic structural and institutional capacity to accommodate diversity.

The multifaceted differences that exist among the peoples of Nigeria, as well as the gargantuan size of the country, made the choice of federalism a necessity.

However, the problems inherent in amalgamating myriad different peoples and regions continue to provoke debate and controversy, which are often directed at the country’s federal system.

 “The federating units must be happy and the happiness must start with justice, happiness and equity.

“Anybody who thinks Nigeria is a contraption will have to think again.

“We have had talks, we have had talk shows and all of that, about the implementation because these things will keep coming up again and again if we do not address them and we need to address them within the ambit of the law.

“We don’t have to run away from restructuring, but we have to understand what it really means.

“Restructuring is the way to go for Nigeria.

“What we want is to live in such a way that we have respect for one another and in such a way that there is no domination by one group.
“We need to have mutual respect and we need to sit down and say this is a Nigeria we need to bequeath to our children,’’ the lawmaker said. (NAN)

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