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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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Paris-bound bizman arrested with 111 cocaine wraps

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The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency has arrested a 48-year-old businessman, Emmanuel Orjinze, at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, for ingesting 111 wraps of cocaine.

The suspect, who claimed to be a professional footballer in Europe, was arrested on May 21 during the outward clearance of an Air France flight to Paris, France.

This was made known in a statement signed by the agency’s Director of Media and Advocacy, Femi Babafemi, and shared on the agency’s website on Sunday.

The statement read, “Operatives of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency have arrested a 48-year-old Paris, France-bound businessman, Emmanuel Okechuku Orjinze, for ingesting 111 wraps of cocaine, which he excreted after days of observation in the agency’s custody following his arrest at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.

“Okechukwu, who also claims he is a professional footballer in Europe, was arrested on Tuesday, May 21, during the outward clearance of Air France flight AF 878 from Abuja to Paris, France.

“After a body scan confirmed he ingested illicit drugs, he was taken into custody where he excreted a total of 111 pellets of cocaine that weighed 1.603 kilograms over three days. The suspect claimed he did business in the maritime sector while still scouting for any European football club to engage him. ”

In the same vein, the NDLEA officers operating at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Ikeja, Lagos hinted that they had dismantled another drug trafficking syndicate at the airport.

This, they said in a statement, followed the arrest of four members of the network and the seizure of a total of 8kg of methamphetamine and 7.60kg of Loud, a synthetic strain of cannabis imported from South Africa.

The statement added that a drug trafficking syndicate was busted at the airport when an official was caught with illicit substances in their backpack and bag.

On May 21, 2024, the NDLEA officers, supported by aviation security, intercepted the official at Terminal 1 and discovered the drugs during a search, blowing the lid off the syndicate.

“A swift follow-up operation at the Ajao Estate area of Lagos led to the arrest of two other members of the syndicate: Chris Nwadozie and Chinedu Nwaosu. Further investigation led to the arrest of another member of the cartel working within the airport system on Saturday, May 25,” the statement added.

In a related development, the agency also arrested a freight agent, Sonubi Abiodun, for attempting to export eight parcels of cocaine concealed in paint buckets to the United Kingdom.

Additionally, the NDLEA operatives arrested suspects producing and distributing skuchies, a mixture of black currant and illicit drugs, in Lagos, and recovered 2,480 litres of the psychoactive substance.

In Cross River State, a suspect, Ogar Emmanuel, was arrested with 2.5kg of cannabis, while 290kg of cannabis was recovered from the warehouse of Usani Ikpi, who is still at large. Additionally, three suspects – Sa’adu Sule, Mukhtar Nura, and Hamza Nura – were arrested in Katsina State with 70kg of cannabis, which originated from Ogun State.

The statement added, “No fewer than five suspects including Ezekiel Munda, 30; and Sule Mustapha, 21, were arrested by the NDLEA operatives on Thursday, May 23, during raids at the Karu Abattoir, Jikwoyi and Tora Bora hill area of the FCT, Abuja, where 95.01kg of cannabis and different quantities of opioids were recovered from them.

“In Edo State, operatives arrested a physically challenged notorious drug dealer, Zekere Sufianu, 45, at Auchi town on Wednesday, May 22. At the time of his arrest, he was found with 751 grams of Loud, 178 grams of tramadol, and pills of swinol,” the statement concluded.

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FG suit against 36 govs over LG funds begins

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The Federal Government has approached the Supreme Court with a suit seeking to compel governors of the 36 states of the federation to grant full autonomy to the local governments in their domains.

The suit, marked SC/CV/343/2024, was filed by the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), on behalf of the Federal Government.

The Federal Government is urging the apex court to issue “an order prohibiting state governors from unilateral, arbitrary and unlawful dissolution of democratically elected local government leaders for local governments.”

In the suit predicted on 27 grounds, the Federal Government accused the state governors of gross misconduct and abuse of power.

The FG, in the originating summons, prayed the Supreme Court to make an order expressly stating that funds standing to the credit of local governments from the Federation Account should be paid directly to the local governments rather than through the state governments.

The justice minister also prayed for “an order of injunction restraining the governors, their agents and privies from receiving, spending or tampering with funds released from the Federation Account for the benefits of local governments when no democratically elected local government system is put in place in the states.”

The Federal Government further sought “an order stopping governors from constituting caretaker committees to run the affairs of local governments as against the Constitutionally recognised and guaranteed democratically system.”

The originating summons was backed by a 13-paragraph affidavit deposed to by one Kelechi Ohaeri of the Federal Ministry of Justice.

Ohaeri, in the affidavit, averred that the AGF instituted the suit against the governors under the original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court on behalf of the Federal Government.

He said,“The Constitution of Nigeria recognises federal, states and local governments as three tiers of government and the three recognised tiers of government draw funds for their operation and functioning from the Federation Account created by the Constitution.

“By the provisions of the Constitution, there must be a democratically elected local government system and the Constitution has not made provisions for any other systems of governance at the local government level other than a democratically elected local government system.

“In the face of the clear provisions of the Constitution, the governors have failed and refused to put in place a democratically elected local government system even where no state of emergency has been declared to warrant the suspension of democratic institutions in the state.

“The failure of the governors to put democratically elected local government system in place is a deliberate subversion of the 1999 Constitution which they and the President have sworn to uphold.

“All efforts to make the governors comply with the dictates of the 1999 Constitution in terms of putting in place a democratically elected local government system has not yielded any result and to continue to disburse funds from the Federation Account to governors for non-existing democratically elected local government is to undermine the sanctity of the 1999 Constitution.

“In the face of the violations of the 1999 Constitution, the Federal Government is not obligated under Section 162 of the Constitution to pay any state, funds standing to the credit of local governments where no democratically elected local government is in place.”

The AGF, therefore, urged the apex court to invoke sections 1, 4, 5, 7 and 14 of the Constitution to declare that the state governors and state Houses of Assembly are under obligation to ensure a democratic system at the third tier of government in Nigeria and to also invoke the same sections to hold that the governors cannot lawfully dissolve democratically elected local government councils.

Furthermore, he urged to invoke sections 1, 4, 5, 7 and 14 of the Constitution to declare that “the dissolution of democratically elected local government councils by the governors or anyone using the state powers derivable from laws enacted by the state Houses of Assembly or any Executive Order is unlawful, unconstitutional, null and void.”

The apex court has fixed Thursday, May 30 for hearing.

Meanwhile, the Nigerian Union of Local Government Employees hailed the move by the Federal Government, saying it would join the lawsuit as a concerned party.

 

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JUST IN: Tribunal affirms Diri as Bayelsa governor

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The Bayelsa State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Abuja, on Monday, upheld the election that produced Governor Douye Diri of Bayelsa State.

A three-man panel led by Justice Adekunle Adeleye dismissed the petition filed by the candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Timipre Sylva, and the party for lacking in merit.

In a unanimous decision, the tribunal held that the petitioners failed to prove any credible evidence to back up any of the allegations they raised against the re-election victory of Diri.

Details shortly…

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