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Lagos Assembly moves to end open grazing, considers VAT bill

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The Lagos State House of Assembly says the Prohibition of Open Cattle Grazing Bill, when passed will ensure harmonious relationships between herders and farmers in the state.

The assembly made this known after the bill was read on the floor of the house for the second time, by the Acting Clerk, Olalekan Onafeko, at plenary on Monday.

It said the bill would also protect the environment of the state and the South-west zone.

The House also read for the first and second time, the state’s Value Added Tax (VAT) bill, and asked the Committee on Finance, which was handling it to report back on Thursday.

The Speaker of the House, Mudashiru Obasa, who described the Prohibition of Open Cattle Grazing Bill’ as timely, thereafter, committed the bill to the committee on agriculture for public hearing.

The speaker also suggested that the bill should make provision for the registration of herders, and prepare them for ranching.

“Allocating parcel of land is not enough, but there should also be training for those who will go into ranching, as ranching is expensive and requires adequate preparation,” he added.

VAT

Concerning the VAT bill, the speaker said it would further lead to an increase in revenue and infrastructural development.

”This is in line with fiscal federalism that we have been talking about,” he said.

Mr Obasa said the VAT law, when passed, would help the state meet challenges in its various sectors.

He also urged the Lagos State government to do everything legally possible, to ensure the judgment of the Federal High Court, Port Harcourt, was sustained even up to the Supreme Court.

The speaker lamented a situation where about N500 billion would be generated from the state, while N300 billion was generated from other South-west states, but paltry amounts would be disbursed to Lagos State in return.

Mr Obasa said it was an opportunity for the state to emphasise again, the need for the consideration of true federalism.

Speaking earlier on the bill on open grazing, Bisi Yusuff (Alimosho 1) lamented that farmers had continuously become afraid to visit their farms, thus causing shortage of food.

Mr Yusuff also said many farmers had become indebted, as they now found it difficult to pay back loans they secured.

His position was supported by Kehinde Joseph (Alimosho 2) who noted that the bill would ensure peaceful coexistence, reduce crime and help to guide the activities of herders.

Olumoh Lukeman (Ajeromi-Ifelodun 1) suggested that the high court should be made to handle cases from enforcement of the bill when passed, or that the state should establish special courts for such purpose.

Also, Gbolahan Yishawu (Eti-Osa 1) expressed support for the bill, noting that it would give a level of security to the state and help reduce economic losses.

He added that Lagos had 250 hectares of land in Ikorodu and another 750 hectares in Epe for ranching.

David Setonji (Badagry II), said: “There was a time we went on oversight function in a school here in Lagos. We were embarrassed by cattle. We had to wait for the herder to move the cattle before we embarked on our oversight function.”

Mr Setonji suggested a collaboration between the Neighbourhood Safety Corps and the police, in the implementation of the law when passed and assented to.

Other lawmakers who contributed during the plenary were Adedamola Kasunmu (Ikeja II), Rasheed Makinde Ifako Ijaiye II), and Sanni Okanlawon (Kosofe I).

(NAN)

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Ngige: FG to recover millions wrongly paid to 588 doctors

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The federal government says it is planning to recover “millions of naira wrongly paid to 588 medical doctors” across the country.

While fielding questions from state house correspondents, Chris Ngige, minister of labour and employment, said the affected doctors wrongly benefitted from the medical residency training fund meant for a particular category of doctors.

The minister said the names of the doctors were uncovered after a scrutinisation of the 8000 names submitted by chief medical directors of federal government health institutions for the training programme.

Ngige said a substantial amount of the money has been refunded by some of the affected doctors while efforts are being intensified to recover the remaining balance.

He said the delay in making the refund by the affected doctors is holding back the residency fund payment by the government.

“Ministry of health has gotten the list of doctors who supposedly are to benefit from the medical residency training fund,” he said.

“Total submission of about 8000 names were gotten and the ministry of health is scrutinising them.

“We have done the first round of scrutinisation and they will now compare what they have with the Post-Graduate Medical College and the chief medical directors who submitted the names.

“The Association of Resident Doctors, in each of the tertiary centres, worked with the CMDs to produce those names, but now that the names are being verified.

“We discovered that about 2000 names shouldn’t be there because they don’t have what is called Postgraduate Reference Numbers of National Postgraduate Medical College and (or) that of the West African Postgraduate Medical College.

“So, this is it and that is the only thing holding back the residency fund payment because it is there already for incurred expenditure has been done by the finance minister and it’s in the accountant-general’s office.”

“So, once they verify the authenticity of those they are submitting, the Accountant-General will pay.

“We are doing that verification because we do not want what happened last time in 2020 to reoccur.

“In 2020, the submitted names didn’t come through the appropriate source, which is the Postgraduate Medical College and payment was affected and it was discovered that about 588 persons, who were not resident doctors benefited from such money.

“They are now finding it difficult to make the full refund. But they have to refund that money. Some are refunding, but there is no full consideration of the account.

“That account has to be reconciled to enable the accountants pay the next round of funding for 2021.”

The National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) has been on strike for a month over “irregular payment of salaries”, among other issues.

Efforts by stakeholders, including the national assembly, to mediate between the federal government and the resident doctors have not yielded results.

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Insecurity: Kaduna suspends weekly market, bans livestock transportation

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The Kaduna State government has suspended trading at the popular weekly Kawo market.

The order on Thursday came days after the government suspended similar markets in five other local government areas of the state.

Kawo market is one of the largest weekly markets in Kaduna North.

It is located in the same area as the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA), the Hassan Usman Katsina House popularly know as State House and the Legislative Quarters.

According to a statement by the state commissioner of Internal Security and Homeland Affairs, Samuel Aruwan, on Thursday, “the Kawo weekly market which usually holds every Tuesday in Kaduna North LGA has been suspended with immediate effect”.

“The Government of Kaduna State wishes to highlight that the previous directives suspending weekly markets, and selling of petrol in jerrycans in Birnin Gwari, Giwa, Chikun, Igabi and Kajuru LGAs, as well as banning the felling of trees for timber, firewood and charcoal and other commercial purposes in Birnin Gwari, Kachia, Kajuru, Giwa, Chikun, Igabi and Kauru LGAs, are still in force.

“Citizens are hereby informed that all these directives will be vigorously enforced by security agencies.”

Also, the statement said the state government banned the transportation of livestock.

“The ban also prohibits the transportation of livestock into Kaduna state from other states. Both bans take effect immediately, from today 2nd September 2021.

“The government also wishes to reiterate that the transportation of donkeys into the state is a criminal offence and anyone found engaging in this will be prosecuted accordingly.”

Kawo Market ban

Many traders who spoke with news men in Kaduna welcomed the suspension of the weekly Kawo market.

Apart from the larger weekly trading, trading also takes place daily among residents of the neighbourhood.

Danladi Bala, a grain transporter, said the state government’s decision to suspend weekly trading in the market is right.

“Yes, we are traders here, but the recent suspension of weekly markets in other local government areas will make the Kawo market the target for criminal activities. They will all come here. It is a wise decision from the government,” he said.

Hajiya Mama, a trader, also said she was not suprised by the announcement.

“I trade in the market, but in the last two weeks we have been witnessing the influx of traders with large commodities.

“With the closure of weekly markets in Zamfara and other part of the state, this market will be an option for good or bad traders,” she said.

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NDDC: FG says Indicted officials will be prosecuted

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Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami

The Federal Government will probe and prosecute those behind the mismanagement of funds meant for the development of the Niger Delta region.

The Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, made this known in his remark after receiving on behalf of President Muhammadu Buhari, the report on the forensic audit of the Niger Delta Commission (NDDC).

Malami said the huge gap between invested resources without commensurate infrastructural development called for the forensic audit of NDDC.

The report was presented to Malami by the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Sen. Godswill Akpabio.

“The call for the audit by the people of the Niger Delta Region arose from the huge gaps between resources invested in the region vis a vis the huge gap in infrastructural, human and economic development.

“It is on record that between 2001 and 2019, the Federal Government has approved N3. 3 Trillion as budgetary allocation.

“A total of over N6 trillion was given to the NDDC.

“Consequently, the Federal Executive Council (FEC) approved the engagement of a Lead Forensic Auditor, as well as 16 reputable Audit Firms to conduct the audit exercise.

“The President is delighted that the auditors have now completed this exercise and the Report is today being presented”.

Malami noted that the President is not oblivious of the interest generated by the stakeholders towards the forensic audit exercise and the agitation for the constitution of the Board of the NDDC.

“However, this Administration is determined to address the challenges militating against the delivery of the mandate of the NDDC to the people of the Niger Delta Region.

“It is in the broader context of the foregoing developments that the President recently signed into Law the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) which has been a contentious issue over the years for successive Governments.

“The PIA will bring about the prudence and accountability in the Petroleum Sector and to give a sense of participation and ownership to the Host communities”.

He assured that the forensic audit report of the NNDC and the recommendations would therefore be critically analysed for necessary actions and implementation.

“We owe it a duty to the people of the Niger Delta Region to improve their standard of living through the provision of adequate infrastructural and socio-economic development.

“The welfare and socio-economic inclusion of the Niger Delta Region is paramount to the development and security of the region and by extension the Country.

“Funds spent on development activities should as a consequence promote political and socio-economic stability in the Region”.

He urged citizens affected by these development projects to also exhibit the ability to contribute to the continuous progress of their immediate and wider communities by engaging in constructive activities that will sustain and support these developmental projects.

“It is evident that considerable resources have been channeled by the federal government to the development of the Niger Delta from 2001 to 2019.

“It is therefore important for the federal government and the public to be properly informed on what has been spent and how that has been spent.

“The essence of the forensic audit is to ensure probity and accountability in the use of public funds.

“It is against this background that the federal government will without hesitation strategically implement all aspects of the audit exercise that will promote probity and greater prosperity for the Niger Delta Region and Nigeria as whole”.

He said the federal government was particularly concerned with the colossal loss occasioned by the uncompleted and unverified development projects in the Niger Delta region in spite of the huge resources made available to uplift the living standard of the citizens.

“We have on record over 13,777 projects, the execution of which is substantially compromised. The Federal Government is also concerned with the multitude of NDDC bank accounts amounting to 362 and lack of proper reconciliation of accounts.

” We will in consequence apply the law to remedy the deficiencies outlined in the audit report as appropriate.

“This will include but not limited to initiation of criminal investigations, prosecution, recovery of funds not properly utilised for the public purposes for which they were meant and review of the laws to reposition and restructure the NDDC, for efficiency and better service delivery, amongst others.

“In all these instances of action, legal due processes will be strictly complied with”.

Malami said the President directed that the forensic audit report be forwarded to the Ministry of Justice for a legal review and relevant Ministries, Departments and Agencies of government will be engaged in doing justice to the findings accordingly.

“I appreciate the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Sen. Godswill Akpabio, his colleague Sen. Omotayo Alasoadura, the Interim Administrator, Management and Staff of the NDDC for their support towards the completion of the audit exercise.

“My appreciation also goes to the Lead Forensic Auditors and the 16 Field Audit Firms for completing this exercise, as well as the Security Committee for securing the lives and properties of the Audit Firms through the duration of the forensic audit exercise”.

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