THE NATION FRIDAY, JANUARY 20, 2012
NEWS ASUU will end strike on Monday, says minister From Gbenga Omokhunu, Abuja
HE Minister of Education, Prof. Ruqquayatu Ahmed Rufa’i, has said the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) will call off its protracted strike on Monday, following the passage of the bill on the retirement age of university professors at 70 years. The minister spoke yesterday in Abuja at a meeting with vice-chancellors of federal universities on the bill passed last week by the National Assembly. She said it would soon be signed into law by President Goodluck Jonathan. Rufa’i said ASUU has exhausted all issues that could disallow the resolution of the crises, adding that the Federal Government would hold another meeting with the union on Monday to finally resolve the lingering problems with the union to enable students resume their academic programmes. She said: “The Federal Government is concerned and I am sure you are aware that series of meetings have taken place even with President Jonathan. We have been talking and discussing with members of ASUU. Today (yesterday), after our meeting with the vice-chancellors, we are going to meet again with ASUU on Monday. It is our hope that after that meeting, ASUU will call off its strike. The government is working and definitely we are meeting most of their demands.” The minister expressed concern over the proliferation of honorary doctorate degrees, saying it has tarnished the image of the education sub-sector. She urged vice-chancellors to check the eligibility and credibility of recipients, saying convocation ceremonies are mainly for graduating students. Prof. Rufa’i said: “I wish to renew my earlier calls and back the recent circular from the National Universities Commission (NUC) for universities to submit well in advance their schedules for convocation ceremonies. This is aimed at streamlining the planning procedures and ensuring sufficient processing time for the approval of the visitor. Invitation should henceforth be accompanied by soft and hard copies of the visitor’s draft speech.”
N151b pension scam uncovered through EFCC, says task force chief •N15b houses seized from Pension Office officials
HE Chairman of the Pension Reform Task Force Team, Alhaji Abdulrasheed Maina, yesterday said N151billion fraud was uncovered in the pension offices across the country through the assistance and intervention of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). He said houses worth about N15billion have been seized from corrupt officials in the Pension Office of the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation. About 71,133 fake pensioners have been detected by the team. Maina, who spoke in Abuja when he visited the Acting Chairman of the EFCC, Mr. Ibrahim Lamorde, added that about N24billion cash was recovered. He said: “The task force
From Yusuf Alli, Managing Editor, Northern Operation
team, in conjunction with the EFCC, traced and recovered about N24billion and N15billion worth of property from some corrupt government officials in the Office of the Head of the Civil Service Pension Department. Sixty-six illegal bank accounts with N180million were also discovered. “We are grateful to the EFCC for its assistance in this regard.” A statement by the Head of Media and Publicity of the EFCC, Wilson Uwujaren, said the task force chairman noted that pensioners have been suffering due to paucity of funds. He said the team, since its inauguration in June 2010, has realised that mismanage-
ment and graft had brought misery to pensioners. “They have been suffering due to large-scale corruption through diversion and mismanagement of pension fund, manipulation and falsification of data, non-improvement in the pension administrative structure, bureaucracy with poor, unreliable and inefficient accounting system,” the statement said. To check such anomalies, he said his team had successfully conducted nationwide biometric verification of pensioners and detected 71,133 fake pensioners. He sought the EFCC’s assistance in personnel and security for his team. Maina added: “We are increasingly getting threats to our lives from some faceless members of the public.”
The task force chief urged the EFCC to watch pension offices to find out if any scam or shadiness is being perpetrated. Lamorde hailed the cordial relationship between the two organisations, saying this should be emulated by other agencies. He said: “We must all join hands to fight this cankerworm called corruption. The scam associated with pension administration was callous and avoidable. Forty-two people are standing trial over offences relating to pension scam and more people will be prosecuted as investigation continues. “We hope the prosecution will serve as a deterrent to those who may wish to get into this callous and inhuman venture.”
Benue Assembly members walk out over Prado demand
EMBERS of the Benue State House of Assembly yesterday staged a walkout on the ongoing 2012 budget retreat organised for them and members of the State Executive Council (EXCO) at the Obudu Mountain resort in Cross River State. A member, who spoke in confidence, noted that the boycott followed the refusal of Governor Gabriel Suswam to buy a Prado Sport Utility Vehicle (SUV) for each member. He said each member had received about N10million vehicle loan and housing allowance, besides a monthly overhead of over N1million, besides their monthly salaries. The source said the lawmakers were being owed funds for their constituency offices and projects. He said he was surprised at his colleagues’ action, adding that he joined the walkout so that they would not ostracise him. The cost of the vehicles is put at about N200 million. It was learnt that such money is not available to the government at the moment. Indications that the lawmakers were unhappy began to show yesterday when they did not turn up for breakfast, after collecting their allowances for the retreat and registering at the resort. The Nation learnt that all entreaties from Speaker Dave Iorhemba to his colleagues to be patient fell on deaf ears. Efforts to reach the Speaker, who was on the high table briefly but left the hall shortly after, were unsuccessful. His phone could not reached. But Commissioner of Information and Orientation Conrad Wergba described the development as unfortunate. He was optimistic that the matter would soon be resolved.
Sacked Katsina Senators, Reps demand certificates of return
WO senators and eight House of Representatives members of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) from Katsina State, who were sacked from the National Assembly, have asked an Abuja Federal High Court to restore their Certificates of Return. They are: Abdu Umar Yandoma and Ahmed Stores (senators) as well as Musa Salisu, Aminu Ashiru, Murtala Isah, Muntari Dandutse, Umar K, Umar Dankawa, Tasiu Doguru and Mohammed Tukur (former House members). The defendants are the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Senate President David Mark, Speaker Aminu Tambuwal and National
From Kamarudeen Ogundele, Abuja
Assembly Clerk Salisu Maikasuwa. At the hearing of the case before Justice Gladys Olotu, yesterday, counsel to the plaintiffs, Demola Bakare, applied to amend the originating summons. He withdrew the motion on notice, where the applicants were seeking interlocutory injunctions. In the originating summons, the plaintiffs are seeking: an order declaring null and void any certificates of return issued by the first defendant to any other person or group of persons except the plaintiffs, as representatives of any of the federal constituency or senatorial district of Katsina State.
•Ekiti State Governor Kayode Fayemi (middle) with the Director, Fountain Holdings, Mr. Segun Osikalu (left); Commissioner for Commerce, Industry and Cooperatives, Reim Bodunrin (second left); Sales Manager, Ceratec Belgium, Daniel Deconinck (second right); and Group Managing Director, O’dua Investment Company, Mr. Adebayo Jimoh, after the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the state and Ceratec for the resuscitation of Ire Brick Industry in AdoEkiti...yesterday
Rep berates police over Boko Hraram suspect’s escape A
MEMBER of the House of Representatives, Opeyemi Bamidele, has blamed the police for allowing Boko Haram suspect Kabir Sokoto to escape from their custody. Bamidele, who is the Chairman, House Committee on Legislative Budget and Research, represents Ekiti Central Federal Constituency II. He noted that the way Sokoto escaped from police custody was a big embarrassment not only to Nigeria’s security network but also to its global image as a country. The lawmaker noted that the escape portrays Nigeria as unserious about solving terrorism, saying this would impact negatively on the ef-
Christian youths petition Jonathan From Bukola Amusan, Abuja
HE youth wing of the Christian Association of Nigeria (YOWCAN) has petitioned President Goodluck Jonathan over the escape of Kabir Sokoto, the alleged mastermind of the Christmas Day bombing of St. Theresa’s Catholic Church in Madalla, Niger State. The petition was signed by its National President, Patriot Simon, and copied to Senate President David Mark; House of Representatives Speaker Aminu Tambuwal; AttorneyGeneral of the Federation Mohammed Adoke (SAN) and the National Security Adviser (NSA). The group called for the resignation of Inspector-General of Police Hafiz Ringim.
From Sulaiman Salawudeen, Ado-Ekiti forts at attracting foreign investments into the country. Bamidele said: “This escape
of the suspect came to me as shocking news. It is an embarrassment to the nation. It
is an embarrassment to Nigerians at home and in the Diaspora. It is a negative signal to the international community. It is an indictment on the government and on those who manage our security. “This has implication on investments. There is no doubting the fact that some people are fast becoming untouchables and they are major threats to the corporate security of Nigeria.” The lawmaker warned that the suspect’s esccape has dire consequences, saying Nigerians and members of international community would no longer take the government and the nation’s security agencies serious anytime they arrest suspects in the future.
Aliyu disagrees with party chair over indigenisation policy
IGER State Governor Babangida Aliyu and the state Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Chairman Alhaji Abdulrahman Enagi have disagreed over the indigenisation policy of the state. Enagi, who led the party’s executive to the governor following the anti-fuel subsidy
From Jide Orintunsin, Minna
removal protest in Minna, the state capital, last Wednesday, accused non-indigenes for allegedly causing the mayhem. The party chairman told Aliyu that the indigenisation policy should be reviewed because of the recurring security challenges in the state. He said: “Majority of the
youths, who participated in that violent protest, were not indigenes of the state. If the policy is reversed, all the molestations and harassment will stop.” But Aliyu said the policy would be retained, adding that anyone who wants to stay in the state would be recognised as an indigene. He said: “During the crisis, there was a senator, whose
house was attacked. His daughter and her children went to a neighbour, who is an indigene, to hide in his house. But the man refused to accept them. It was another neighbour, who is not an indigene, that hid them in his house. So, you can imagine someone you call your brother refusing you safety.”
The Nation January 20, 2012