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Following the recent demand by a human rights advocacy group, Socio Economic Rights and Accountability Project for the probe of Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State over the erection in Owerri of the statues of presidents Jacob Zuma of South Africa, and Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf of Liberia respectively, the state government on Tuesday said it has nothing to hide.

SERAP had, in its petitions to some agencies, claimed that the statues might have been funded with public funds estimated at N1bn.

It also castigated the state government for what it described as the “inability to pay teachers’ salaries and pensioners’ entitlements.”

But in a release made available to newsmen in Owerri, the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Mr. Sam Onwuemedo, said the state government would not lose sleep over the position taken by SERAP.

He added that the state government had, from the outset, given indications on the purposes of the coming of these African leaders and who invited them.

Onwuemeodo, who castigated SERAP for allegedly contradicting itself in the demand for probe, argued that SERAP should have stopped at its call for a probe to demonstrate its seriousness, “instead of passing judgment, thereby jeopardising what should have been an innocent call for probe.”

Onwuemeodo further insisted that SERAP should have waited for the outcome of the probe it called for and then make its stand known to the public, based on the results of the expected probes.

“I insist that that should have been the way to go,” Onwuemeodo said.

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LASG URGES LEKKI PROPERTY OWNERS TO COMPLY WITH MASTER PLAN OR FACE STATUTORY ENFORCEMENT

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The Lagos State Government has urged property owners and developers in Lekki, Ajah and Eti-Osa environs to comply with the Masterplan of the area or face statutory enforcement.

The Honourable Commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban Development, Dr. Idris Salako disclosed this on Thursday at Lekki, during a stakeholders’ meeting with property owners and developers in the axis to discuss seamless processing of Planning Permits, adding that owners and developers of property in the area must ensure voluntary compliance with the Master Plan for the area.

He explained that it is through compliance that the sanctity of the Revised Ikoyi/Victoria Island Model City Plan and Lekki Comprehensive Master Plan could be guaranteed, being the Operative Development Plan covering the area.

“You are to please note that the Approval Order of the Plans, as applicable, remain the only valid references for any developmental activity that can be carried out in this area until another review is conducted”, he said.

He warned that the deliberate contravention of the Approval Order, Extant Law and Regulations must stop as the Ministry would not allow the ugly trend of haphazard and illegal development to continue unabated.

While calling for the cessation of illegal dealings concerning the authorisation and documentation of buildings, the related sanction of which include demolition and prosecution, the Commissioner reiterated that the observed underhand deals in respect of building construction include non-adherence to Planning Permit; deliberate falsehood in the design drawings and construction of buildings after submission, prior to the grant of Planning Permit and the mandatory Stage Certification.

“Others are falsification of documents such as Mandatory Statutory Clearances, payment receipts and LIRS Tax Clearance as well as Fake Approvals in connivance with third parties, some of whom are staff of the Ministry who are illegally engaged to provide ‘Administrative Protection’ instead of dealing with us directly through our formal channels”, he said.

He emphasised that the mentioned sharp practices among others were criminal offences liable for prosecution, saying that “This meeting is another golden opportunity for you to right the wrongs that had been done in order to avoid any public embarrassment which the statutory enforcements may cause to you and your distinguished personalities”.

“In this regard, you are enjoined to always endeavour to comply with all statutory requirements for the construction of your building, including obtaining Planning Permit from the Lagos State Physical Planning Permit Authority (LASPPPA) and Stage Certification from the Lagos State Building Control Agency (LASBCA)”, he said.

He advised property owners and developers to apply for Planning Permit from the LASPPPA District Office within the jurisdiction of their proposed development and explore the website https://epp.lagosstate.gov.ng for all necessary information and guidance in this regard.

He said that the Ministry would endeavour to continue its stride to accelerate and intensify continuous public enlightenment and advocacy for the achievement of the T.H.E.M.E.S. Agenda.

Speaking in the same vein, the Special Adviser to the Governor on Urban Development, Mr. Ganiyu Adele Ayuba added that the role of the Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development was to ensure adherence to planning and bring about orderliness and sustainability in the built environment and urged the stakeholders to always do the needful by embracing the due process.

The Chairman, Lagos Inland Revenue Service (LIRS), Mr. Hamzat Subair reiterated that it was part of LIRS’ mandate to make income tax assessment on applications for Planning Permit, adding that the essence of taxation was to finance development.

The General Manager, LASPPPA, Tpl. Funmi Oshifuye; General Manager LASBCA, Engr. Biola Kosegbe and General Manager, Lagos State Urban Renewal Authority (LASURA), Tpl. Ajibike Shomade took turns to make presentations on the processes involved at their respective agencies.

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NDDC N40b Probe: No Kobo Is Missing, Misapplied by the IMC…..Ojougboh

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THE Acting Executive Director, Projects, Interim Management Committee, IMC of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, Dr. Cairo Ojougboh has said that no single Kobo has been misapplied by the Committee since it came on board.

Speaking in Abuja Thursday when he appeared before the Senator Olubunmi Adetunmbi ( APC, Ekiti North) led Ad-hoc Committee probing  into alleged financial recklessness to the tune of N40 billion by the IMC, Ojougboh said that since the interim management came on board, it has not awarded any contract, except the recent one of the Coronavirus, COVID-19  Pandemic where Palliatives were given to people.

Ojougboh  who is presently addressing the Committee has accused both the Chairman, Senate Committee on Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Peter Nwaoboshi and his House of Representatives counterpart as the problem of the interventionist agency.

According to him, if they remain as chairmen of the Committees, Niger Delta region will never develop.

Meanwhile, the Accountant General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris has told the Ad- hoc Committee that a total of N281 billion has so far been released to the NDDC from 2016 to May this year.

Giving a breakdown, he said that in 2016, N41billion was released; in 2017, N64 billion was released; in 2018, a total of N71 billion was released; in 2019, N71 billion was released and from January to May this year, N34 billion was released.

Recall that the Senate is probing alleged financial recklessness to the tune of N40 billion by the Interim Management Committee, IMC, of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC.

Against this backdrop, the Senate had set up six-man Ad-hoc Committee to carry out a holistic investigation into all issues relating to but not limited to the alleged misapplication and misappropriation of the sum of N40billion by the commission.

The Committee, which had four weeks to report back at plenary, was asked to look into all procurement and financial transactions of the commission in this fiscal year (2020) and any other matter that is not in accordance with the provision of the NDDC Establishment Act, 2000 or any other extant law.

In a related development, the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio has assured the National Assembly of his utmost cooperation in the ongoing probe of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).

Recall once again that the Senate is probing alleged financial recklessness to the tune of N40 billion by the Interim Management Committee, IMC, of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC.

Against this backdrop, the Senate had set up a six-man Ad-hoc Committee to carry out a holistic investigation into all issues relating to but not limited to the alleged misapplication and misappropriation of the sum of N40billion by the commission.

Appearing before the Senate ad-hoc Committee on Thursday,  the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, Mr. Olusade Adesola who stood in for the Minister  regretted the absence of the Minister due to circumstances beyond his control.

Mr Adesola assured the Committee that the Minister held the Panel in high repute and would appear on any other date that the Committee would extend an invitation to him.

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GROUP CAMPAIGNS AGAINST “RAPE CULTURE” IN OGUN

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Disturbed by the alarming rate of rape and other sexual and gender-based crimes in the country, a foundation and Non-Governmental Organization (NGO), Oyenola Oluwole Foundation (OOF), in partnership with some stakeholders, has intensified its efforts through outdoor exercise and awareness campaign against rape and other gender crimes.

The outdoor exercise tagged “Walk Against Rape and Female Genital Mutilation”, also known as Female Circumcision, was aimed at campaigning against rape, which has tripled in number since Covid-19 lockdown, held at Abeokuta, the State capital.

Convener of the exercise and founder of the organization, Asiwaju Oyenola Oluwole (Wole Papa) appealed to the Nigerian government to exercise its political will and legislative powers to eradicate rape and other gender crimes, especially Female Genital Mutilation which has become embarassing cultural practice in the country.


L-R:- Asiwaju Oyenola Oluwole (Wole Papa), Convener and Founder of the Oyenola Oluwole Foundation (OOF), Mrs. Gentle Adesanya, Mr. Tunde Adenekan (Skin Dudu), members of the foundation and Mr. Bebe Musiliu Sanni, during a walk and outdoor exercise campaign against Rape and Female Genital Mutilation, organized by the Oyenola Oluwole Foundation, held at Abeokuta, Ogun State capital.

While narrating his personal ordeals with his family, he said “apart from the denigration of human dignity and existence, the stigma that follows this despicable act is always a lasting scar, difficult to erase or wipe away, because of the continual psychological trauma.”

Oluwole said that according to the Nigeria Police, between January and May this year, there were 717 reported cases of rape, as UNICEF statistics confirmed that one in four girls experienced sexual violence before the age of 18, adding that sometimes this despicable acts involved murder of the victims in the process.

He said that they were unable to do much at this time than to campaign against rape and other sexual crimes, through means that they would be safe and also accessible to everyone to hear their voices at this time, noting that they decided to hike with few people under strict observation of the social distancing rules for outdoor events.

“Indeed, rape is a crime, it is traumatizing and we called on the Federal Government for stricter measures against rapists in Nigeria,” Oluwole said

He said that women were more vulnerable to sexual crimes than men, noting that sexual violence reflects and reinforces existing gender inequalities.

It would be recalled that Oyenola Oluwole Foundation was established with the objective of campaigning against Female Genital Mutilation, Rape, Domestic Violence and every form of Social Vices that devalues human dignity.

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