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Illegal refineries: Senate wants FG to introduce pollution tax  

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Nigerian Senate
Senate in Session
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…demands sanction of security agencies involved in sabotage

The Senate, on Wednesday, urged the Federal Government to introduce pollution tax on those involved in economic sabotage by engaging in illegal refining of crude products in oil producing areas of the country.   

The chamber also called on the federal government to  sanction security agencies culpable of sabotaging the nation’s interest by vandalising pipeline installations and facilities.

These were part of resolutions reached by the Senate on a motion titled, “curbing soot’s particulate droppings, health hazards concerns and economic sabotage by illegal refining of crude products in Rivers State.”

The motion was sponsored by Senator George Thompson Sekibo ( Rivers East), and co-sponsored by seven other lawmakers.

Sekibo, in his presentation, noted that droppings of unidentifiable sooty particulates in Rivers State, suspected to be after effects of incomplete crude refining process has taken a more dangerous dimension.

According to the lawmaker,   an environmental audit due to the degradation of the environment has never been carried out since the commencement of the exploration and exploitation activities in the area which lasted for over 60 years.

He lamented that the attendant effect has left the contaminated environment “without hope of remediation.”

Sekibo expressed worry that, “the sooty particulate substances dropping in the State is becoming too visible that one cannot stay outdoors without receiving drops of them on his body.

“It has become more worrisome that they are seen on bedspreads in bedrooms, worktops in kitchens, chairs and other materials in houses, meaning that they are entering through every available crevice into inner spaces of buildings as the wind carries them.”

The lawmaker stated further that, “residents in Rivers State have noticed lots of these sooty particulates settling in their nasal tracts which has occasioned cleaning of their nostril several times in the day.”

“Concerned further that the amount of these particulates being inhaled daily by Nigerians resident in the State cannot be estimated just as the after-effects of their inhalation have not been determined.

“Disturbed that the sooty particulates are dropping on water bodies, farmlands and whatever is left open under the sky, which is detrimental to human health, as residents in the area are exposed to consumption of harvests from, both the seas and the lands as well as drinking rainwater and water from streams and rivers”, Sekibo said.

He observed that the recent outbreak of difficulty in breathing caused by congestion of nasal tracts of many residents in Rivers State could be linked to the epidemic.

He added that, “this may be the cause of the recent cases of deaths without noticeable ailments in many towns of the state.”

The lawmaker warned that the situation had the potential to snowball into a national emergency if  not nipped in the bud.

He raised the alarm that, “some security agents posted to secure these national assets have turned themselves to partners in this dastardly acts, thus giving the criminals impetus to openly commit this national economic crimes.”

He, however, commended the Rivers State Government for taking the bold step to fish out those involved in the criminal act for prosecution.

He observed further that the issue of clean environment is one of the Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy of the Nigerian State as provided in Section 20 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).

He noted that the Constitution, within the context of its Social Order in Section 17(2)(d) admonished that exploitation of natural resources to the detriment of the citizens shall be prevented.

Sekibo recalled that in a bid to forestall an emergency from hazardous pollution that may arise due to Oil and Gas exploitation activities, the Federal Government set up the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) in 2006.

He listed the objectives of the agency to include: implementing the National Spill Contingency Plan for Nigeria; Responding to major or disastrous oil pollution; Identifying high risk areas for protection and clean up; and Establishing the mechanism to monitor and assist or where expedient direct the response, including the capability to mobilize the necessary resources to save lives, protect threatened environment, and clean up to the best practical extent of the impacted site.

He added that Section 6 of the NOSDRA Act saddles the agency with the responsibility of carrying out surveillance, coordinating issues on oil spillage and associated pollution as well as implementing such plans as may be issued by the Federal Government.

He bemoaned the failure of NOSDRA to live up to its mandate, saying the agency has “not informed the nation of this occurring national epidemics.”

Accordingly, the Senate in a six-point resolution, urged the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to note that there is an impending environmental danger that is occurring in Rivers State and its environs orchestrated by miscreants who are engaged in illegal refining as well as looting national crude oil assets.

It urged the President to audit security agencies saddled with the responsibility of securing these assets but are involved in this national sabotage and for them to be sanctioned appropriately by the laws of the country.

The chamber further urged the President to use his constitutional power to support the Government of Rivers State in combating these criminal activities and fishing out national economic saboteurs.

It mandated the Senate Committees on the Navy, Police Force, Interior and Army to carry out holistic investigation of these illegal activities with a view to ascertaining those involved in these dastardly acts and report within four weeks.

The Senate further directed its Committees on Environment, Petroleum Upstream and Primary Health to visit Rivers State and carryout observatory assessment of the level of damage these activities have caused the environment and the health concern the activities have occasioned as well as suggest solution and report within four weeks; and It also urged the Federal Government to institute pollution tax which can be scientifically measured and the proceeds therefrom to part finance the cleaning of the environment and provide medical cares to the affected communities.

 

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SANWO-OLU URGES RESIDENTS TO STAY CALM OVER CASH SCARCITY

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Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu
Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu
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The Lagos State Government has observed the tension caused by the slow release of cash through Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) and within banking halls.

Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu today joined a delegation that met with President Muhammadu Buhari in Abuja to deliberate on measures to remove the hardship caused by the scarcity of the new currency.

In a statement signed by the Hon. Commissioner for information, Mr Gbenga Omotoso, Mr. Sanwo-Olu urges residents to remain calm as the government is doing everything possible to normalise the situation. The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has promised to put measures in place to ensure residents have access to currency notes released to banks.

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Buhari inaugurates new MOFI Board

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President Muhammadu Buhari
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President Muhammadu Buhari has charged the Ministry of Finance Incorporated (MOFI) to grow its Assets Under Management from the current value of N18 trillion to at least N100 trillion in the next 10 years.

The president gave the charge at the launch of the new MOFI and inauguration of the Governing Council and Board of Directors of the body shortly before the commencement of the Federal Executive Council meeting.

The president also tasked the new board to “be the clearing house for the management of Federal Government’s investments and assets in line with global best practices with a view to ensuring that these investments are delivering superior risk-adjusted returns to the government.”

He also called on the new MOFI to work with other Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to create a consolidated national assets register with a view to converting them into cash-flow-generating entities.

This, he said, would support the government’s revenue drive.

Buhari urged members of the board to work with the government with a view to using government-owned investments and assets to support the government in delivering on its social and economic obligations to the citizenry.

He, therefore, directed the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Dr  Zainab Ahmed to commence the process of amending the MOFI Act and other legislations to further institutionalize this reform.

According to him, the amendments when carried out, would ensure that MOFI was restructured and repositioned to become a trusted custodian and manager of Federal Government’s investments and assets.

Buhari said the event was significant as the restructured MOFI would help identify “what we own” and how to get the best out of them.

According to the president, the MOFI Act of 1959, now Cap. 229, Laws of the Federation, 2004, explicitly empowers MOFI to enter into commercial transactions of any description on behalf of the Federal Government in its own name.

He said that MOFI was used as a Special Purpose Vehicle across different sectors to invest in commercial entities over the last 64 years, adding that MOFI was created even before Nigeria’s independence.

In her remarks, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning thanked Buhari for his support and approvals that had made the restructuring and repositioning of MOFI possible.

According to the minister, the council members and board will ensure that the new MOFI delivers on its mandates.

The governing council is chaired by the President, with the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Dr Zainab Ahmed, as Vice Chair.

It’s members include: The Minister of State, Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva; Aviation, Hadi Sirika; Industry, Trade and Investment, Niyi Adebayo and Transportation, Mu’azu Sambo.

Others are: Governor of the Central Bank, Dr Godwin Emefiele and three experts appointed by the President, namely: Prof. Muhammad Sagagi, Dr Ayo Teriba and Prof. Ken Ife.

The board members include: Former Finance Minister, Shamsudeen Usman as Chairman, Permanent Secretaries of the Ministries of Finance and Petroleum Resources and acting Accountant-General of the Federation.

Others are; Olawale Edun, Fatima Mede, Ike Chioke, Muhammad Nda, Alheri Nyako and an executive from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) are also members of the board

Members of the Executive Management Team are: Dr Armstrong Takang, Managing Director, Eric solo, Executive Director, Chief Portfolio Officer, Sani Yakubu Chief Investment Officer and Oluwakemi Owonubi, Chief Risk Officer.

 

 

(NAN)

 

 

 

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Polls: NBC warns broadcasters against compromising national unity

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National Broadcasting Commission
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The National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) has cautioned all broadcasters against compromising national unity while covering forthcoming  general election.

The Director-General of NBC, Malam Balarabe Ilelah issued the warning in a statement, on Wednesday in Abuja.

He said: ”The National Broadcasting Commission wish to again, remind all broadcasters covering the forthcoming general elections to take note of the provisions of the Nigeria Broadcasting Code, and other relevant regulations guiding the broadcast of elections in Nigeria.

”The commission has observed, with deep concerns, how ethics and ethos have been thrown to the winds by politicians using broadcast media platforms.

”This is against the provisions of the Nigeria Broadcasting Code, which provides that in using materials for news and current affairs programmes, the broadcaster shall avoid hate speech, inflammatory, derogatory and divisive remarks or allusions.

”The commission notes that some station now glamorise these situations on their platforms. The NBC reiterates that such stations shall pay for their professional misdemeanor.”

Ilelah said for the avoidance of doubt, broadcasters were advised to note the sections of the Nigeria Broadcasting Code which provides that the broadcaster shall promote human dignity.

He added: “Therefore, hate speech is prohibited. Section 3.11.1 (a) states that all broadcasters should ensure that language or a scene likely to encourage or incite to crime, or lead to disorder, is not broadcast.

“Also, section 3.11.1 (b) advice broadcaster to ensure that no programme contains anything which amounts to subversion of constituted authority or compromises the unity or corporate existence of Nigeria as a sovereign state.

“Similarly, section 5.4.1 (f) prohibit broadcasters from transmitting divisive materials that may threaten or compromise the indivisibility and indissolubility of Nigeria as a sovereign state.”

Ilelah said that section 5.3.3 (g) urged broadcasters to ensure that a political broadcast was clearly identified as such, and not presented in a manner that would mislead the audience to believe that the programme was of any other type.

“Also, section 5.3.3 (j) enjoin broadcasters to ensure that the broadcast of a partisan political campaign, jingle, announcement and any form of partisan political party identification or symbol ends not later than 24 hours before polling day.

“The NBC ACT CAP N11, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004, also prescribes, in the Third Schedule 12(6) that “A Licensee shall be responsible for the content of the Station’s Broadcast.

”The commission enjoins all broadcasters to desist from using or allowing their platforms and facilities to be used by politicians, their supporters and or sympathisers, for the broadcast of contents that may lead to the breakdown of law and order,” Ilelah

He said that broadcasters were therefore expected to perform the role of peace agents by adhering to the principles of responsibility, accuracy and neutrality.

 

 

(NAN)

 

 

 

 

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