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Face off as NTDC board tackles DG on mismanagement, cancels consultancy agreements…

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The governing board of the Nigeria Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC) has decided to deal with the issues of mismanagement, high handedness and disregard for civil service rules which are reportedly being perpetrated by the Director General, Mrs. Sally Mbanefo.

We learnt that in a board meeting held at the agency’s complex in Abuja on Friday, the board decided on the cancellation of all consultancy agreements entered into by the Director General.

Society Reporters NG had reported how Mbanefo engages consultants to do almost everything in the agency thereby making some staff of the agency redundant. This development is part of the growing disaffection between the staff and their boss. There are consultants in charge of restructuring, development of products and marketing alongside special projects which is being handled by one Ola Wright.

In a another development, we were told that the Director General without proper notification of the board had invited members of the press to cover a re-commissioning ceremony by the Chairman of the Board, Adamu Atta of the NTDC office complex recently renovated by her administration. She also wanted him to commission open roof tourism buses being managed by the ABC Transport Company in partnership with the NTDC. The chairman who became very angry at the development scolded her thoroughly.

The Chairman, we learnt insisted that until the DG is able to clear all the issues and complaints brought against her by various persons, there was no way she could embark on any new venture. Journalists who were invited to cover the commissioning event were later turned away without proper explanation.

It will be recalled that the same building was commissioned November 19, 2009 by President Goodluck Jonathan who was then Vice-President.

Our source disclosed that members of staff of NTDC were all in jubilant mood at the decision of the board chairman to correct all illegalities and injustice going on in the management of the corporation.

One who spoke on the basis of anonymity said: “We are all celebrating the Chairman. Even though some members of the board have compromised, he has remained resolute. The Chairman is standing his ground that every irregularity must be corrected”.

We spoke with Mr. Andy Ikemneme, a member of the board representing the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Our source accused him of compromise and complicity in the irregularities that goes on in the NTDC for personal gains.

He is also seen by our source as one who is not fit to sit on the board of the NTDC.

According to him, the position is meant for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and should only be occupied by a civil servant of a Director cadre.

“I can tell you that he is a personal staff of one of the Ministers in the foreign affairs ministry and not a career civil servant,” he alleged.

According to our source, Ikemneme was ‘settled’ by a security contract in which Fountain Source Security Company (a company he is alleged to have interest in and endorsed) was engaged to take over from Scapat Security Services which provided security services for the corporation for years before the new DG was appointed.

Investigations by us revealed that the new security company retained the staff of the former security company with a promise of better welfare and salary package.

A security officer who spoke after an agreement of identity protection told us that it was based on the promise to increase welfare packages that the amount the NTDC pays the security company was reviewed from N500, 000 upward.

“As I speak to you, Fountain Source has reneged completely on all agreements they had with us. We used to earn N16, 000 monthly, they promised to pay us N24, 000 but that increase has not been implemented. To make the matter worse, some of us have not been paid for two months.

“We have complained but nobody seems to be doing anything about it,” he complained to our reporter.

Ikemneme who spoke to our reporter agreed to have attended the meeting however denied the entire allegation. He said he has no relationship with the said company and have not compromised in any way.

His words: “Why are you people distracting this woman? The DG complained of some security challenges in the organization and so the need to change the company providing the service and so we gave her approval.

“The present company tendered for the job and won the contract.”

When asked to comment on the botched commissioning ceremony, he said: “the issue of commissioning was not in our agenda and so I don’t know anything about that.”

When we spoke with the Chairman of the governing board of the NTDC, Adamu Atta, he explained that those decisions the board took were in the interest of the corporation as so many actions of the DG have generated bad publicity in the media.

According to him, it is not time for the DG to grand stand or celebrate any mile stone but should devote her energies at explaining the query she got from the Minister of Tourism, Culture and National Orientation, Chief Edem Duke.

He said: “There have been gaps in the way the organization is being run by consultants because they do not brief or report to the board on developments.

“Consultancy must follow due process, but this is not the case in NTDC and that is why I have to cancel all the arrangements with them.

“A case in hand is the Fan’s village in Brazil issue; the people we cleared to travel to Brazil have complained that the consultants took over the assignment and also accusing us of using them to collect money illegally. These are allegations we cannot overlook.”

Concerning the botched re-commissioning ceremony, he said: “the said ceremony was not communicated to the board properly. She only informed me by a text message which was not proper presentation.

“I informed her earlier that I was not going to perform the commission but she went on with her arrangements.

“More interestingly, I was not given the background explanation for the said developments; how much was spent on the renovation and of what benefit. All these, I don’t have an idea. So it was not that I was angry, but I believe things must be done properly”.

We had reported that the Minister had on the accusation of financial impropriety and betrayal of trust against the DG by President of Za Entertainment, Mr. Azania Omo-Agege set up a probe panel to unearth the truth of the matter and report back to him. We also reported that she shunned invitations to appear before the panel thereby squaring up with him.

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More Troubles For Umo Eno As Court Rejects Stay-of-execution Request

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A Federal High Court in Abuja on Tuesday dismissed an application filed by Pastor Umo Eno seeking a stay-of-execution of the Order which had nullified his nomination as the PDP governorship candidate in Akwa Ibom State.

The court which nullified Eno’s nomination, ordered that he should be replaced with Rt. Hon. Michael Enyong as the authentic PDP candidate.

In throwing out the request for stay of execution, the Court ruled that Umo Eno was never a party to the case filed by Enyong, and so his request could not be entertained by the COurt. The court therefore described Umo Eno as ‘’meddlesome interloper’’ for seeking to file an application in a matter he was never a party of.

Recall that in a judgement delivered on January 20, Justice Fadima Aminu of the FHC, Abuja, had ordered the PDP to submit Enyong’s name to INEC as its candidate. In a suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/1295/2022 filed in August, Enyong had submitted that he won the party’s primary held on May 25. The defendant in the case was PDP. Enyong did not join Eno as a party in his case. How clever!

This means that it is only the PDP that has the locus to file an appeal or stay of execution application against the judgement which sacked Eno. So far, the PDP’s National Legal Adviser (NLA) is not willing to participate in the matter especially since he was never carried along in all the Umo Eno legal matters. Rather, the Akwa Ibom State Chapter of the Party had always engaged Barr. Emmanuel Enoidem (the former NLA) as its legal counsel, totally sidelining the current National Legal Adviser. Recall also that the PDP National Legal Adviser had a few weeks ago issued a public statement announcing that it is only the NLA that has the authority to brief and engage lawyers holding briefs for the party. The public statement had also warned party members to desist from engaging lawyers without his knowledge.

Meantime, I understand that Enyong’s lawyers had served INEC with the Court order and his name would soon be published by the electoral umpire as PDP’s authentic governorship candidate.

My Take:

1. The chances of Umo Eno returning to his former status as the governorship candidate is very, very slim. It probably will not happen.

2. Gov. Udom Emmanuel and the PDP have yet to come to terms with the fact that Umo Eno’s name has been deleted as the candidate. They are inconsolable in anger, grief and pain. ‘’They are experiencing a great sense of separation, akin to the overwhelming feeling of loss which one experiences when he is bereaved’’, says a political analyst and business man, Elder Aniefiok Isatt.

3. This development is also the greatest setback and the most devastating blow the PDP has ever suffered in the state since 1999. This case might just be some kind of ‘’Nunc Dimittis’’ for the PDP in the State.

4. Privatively, PDP stalwarts are quick to blame the governor for the woes that has befallen the party this season. They believe that by imposing a very unpopular person as the candidate, the governor had bruised and hurt the majority of the members.

5. The question many are pondering is: Will Udom Emmanuel take to Enyong and accept him as the PDP candidate, thus conceding that Umo Eno was never God’s revelation, contrary to what he told the people; or will the governor leave Enyong to his own devices and embrace a different person?

 

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Our Client Wanted To Say ‘Pupsy’, Not Her Private Parts — Lawyer Defends Embattled Nigerian Polytechnic Female Graduate

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Barrister Ikechukwu Nwaopara, a legal practitioner representing the interest of Sharon Ogechi Okoroafor, the graduating student of the Federal Polytechnic Nekede, Owerri, Imo State, who went viral on social media for saying that she graduated with the help of God and her private parts, has said his client was misinterpreted.

The lawyer, who made the appeal to the institution’s management in a statement made available to newsmen, claimed that their client had no intention of disparaging the institution’s reputation, standards or integrity.

The statement reads: “We are solicitors to OKOROAFOR OGECHI SHARON (our client under our Pro Bono (Free Legal Services) on whose behalf we write this memo to you.

“We are aware that she will be facing the school disciplinary panel this morning, and we wish to use this medium to express our confidence that the panel will carry out their duties in compliance with the principles of Fair hearing, good conscience and natural justice, devoid of harassment, intimidation, and threats.

“We have met and discussed with our Client and evidence before us shows that she has no intention to defame the character, standard and integrity of the institution. In her words what happened in the said viral video was a slip of tongue as a result of her uncontrollable ecstasy over her graduation. Her intended words were “God and Pupsy” in appreciation of the Almighty God and her dad.

“It is clear, therefore, that she had no intention whatsoever to use such a “foul word” in the said viral video to cajole or blackmail the institution, as no lecturer or name of the institution was mentioned or referred to in the said viral video.

“Our lawyers are already on ground at the institution now to follow up the proceedings at the panel against any form of intimidation or harassment. The integrity and standard of the said institution is not in doubt especially since my senior brother, Rev Dr Arimanwa took over as the Rector. Indeed, justice is for all parties.”

We had reported that after Sharon’s video went viral on the internet, the management of the institution announced that it would investigate her action as it was capable of dragging the reputation of the school to the mud.

 

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Alleged N1.4bn Fraud: Witness Reveals How Kogi Assembly Candidate, Atumeyi Fraudulently Benefitted N681m from Union Bank Customers’ Accounts

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The first prosecution witness, PW1, Olusegun Falola, in the ongoing trial of Ismaila Yousouf Atumeyi, a Kogi State House of Assembly candidate of the New Nigeria Peoples Party, NNPP, and two others, on Monday, January 31, 2023, told Justice Tijani Ringim of the Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos how the sum of N681m (Six Hundred and Eighty-one Million Naira) was paid into Atumeyi’s business account.

Atumeyi is standing trial alongside Ngene Joshua Dominic and Abdulmalik Salau, a former employee of Union Bank Plc, on an 18-count charge bordering on alleged cybercrime and money laundering to the tune of N1.4bn.

Led in evidence by the prosecution counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, SAN, Falola, an Internal Auditor and Team Lead, General Investigations, Union Bank Plc, told the court that “sometime in October 2022, during the periodic internal review of accounts of customers, we observed that some accounts that were placed on No-debit were debited.

“In the course of our review, it was observed that the methodology employed in debiting the said accounts was different from the way accounts are being debited in the normal banking activity.

“Based on this, the case was assigned to me for further internal investigation. During the review, I observed that beyond the few accounts that were referred to me for investigation, there were other numerous accounts that were being debited.

“Furthermore, the debits on these accounts were traced to two beneficiaries, Atus Homes Limited account and Fav Oil and Gas Limited.

“These two accounts received the sum of N681m and N1.38bn, respectively from the account of 429 customers.”

He also told the court that further investigations revealed that Atumeyi is the signatory to the Atus Homes Limited account, while the signatories to Fav Oil and Gas are Shuaibu Yusuf and Nurudeen.

According to him, all illicit debits on the customers’ accounts were done via internet banking on one of the bank’s platforms known as Union 360.

Giving further testimony, he said: “As at the time of investigation, over 600m had been withdrawn from the account of Atus Homes Limited and over N800m withdrawn from Fav Oil and Gas.

“We also realized that they were able to make those fraudulent transfers because the bank system was fraudulently manipulated.

“It was this realization that made us know that only a person with privileged information on the bank’s information technology could have carried out such illicit transactions.

“It was based on that knowledge that we reported the matter to the EFCC for further investigation.”

Oyedepo sought to tender the petition written to the EFCC, the correspondences between EFCC and the bank as well as the defendants’ statements of account that had been identified by the PW1.

However, counsel to the third defendant, Babatunde Ogunwo, objected to the admissibility of the attached statement of account on the grounds that the prosecution had not sufficiently complied with Section 84 (2) 2(4) of the Evidence Act.

“I strongly believe that the prosecution has not satisfied the provisions of Section 84 (2) 2(4) of the Evidence Act. All I heard the witness say is questions put to him by the prosecution.

“However Section 84(2) of the Evidence Act gives conditions more than what the witness has stated.

“There are four legs as stated by the Evidence Act and the witness has only answered one. These conditions have to be complied with.

“I humbly submit that the prosecution has not complied with the conditions stated for the admissibility of the statements of account”, Ogunwo argued.

Responding, Oyedepo said that the argument of the defence counsel was misconceived and also missed its target.

He, therefore, urged the court to discountenance the objection of the defence.

He also submitted that the certificate of identification as enshrined in the Section of the Evidence Act “is not a ritual that must be performed in achieving admissibility of computer-generated evidences.”

He further argued that “where the issue is as to the failure to comply with procedural steps towards admissibility, the order the court will make is not to reject the document, but to urge the tendering party to regularize.

“This document is relevant in the determination of this matter and I urge my Lord to so hold.”

In a short ruling, Justice Ringim overruled the objection of the defence and admitted the evidence in exhibit.

Justice Ringim also granted the second defendant, Dominic, bail on the same terms of the 3rd defendant, as granted on January 6, 2023.

The matter was adjourned to February 2, 2023 for continuation of trial.

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