All posts by Ben Ezeamalu

SHOCKING: Journalists at Nigerian Compass must deliver ads to be entitled to salary

Founder, Nigerian Compass: Former Ogun State Governor, Gbenga Daniel

In a management policy that is as pioneering as it is controversial and bizarre, the newly relaunched New Nigerian Compass has mandated its journalists to submit two pages of paid advert placements per month as a condition to be paid salary.

The policy is clearly spelt out in the employment letters issued to reporters and editors of the paper.

Reporters at the paper said the management of the company had made it clear editorial staff who fail to attract advertisement to the paper would have violated the terms of their employment and would therefore not be entitled to any pay.

But “soliciting advertisements” (two full pages or four half pages or eight quarter pages) is just one of the four “editorial and revenue-driven targets” that qualifies reporters and editors to monthly salaries and other official benefits, according to a copy of a journalist’s employment letter seen by PREMIUM TIMES.

The others include a minimum of 20 “regular” stories, one investigative (exclusive) report, and two interviews.

The management policy further states that for reporters and editors to be entitled to salaries and allowances, they must meet the minimum “editorial and revenue-driven targets” for 12 consecutive months.

“The payment of monthly salary and emoluments under this offer is tied to your meeting, on month-to-month basis, editorial and other revenue-driven targets as may be set and agreed with management,” the employment letter stated.

“The company shall not owe you monthly emolument nor will such emolument fall into arrears if you have not met your agreed editorial and revenue-driven target for the month,” the letter, signed by Muyiwa Amoo, the company’s Human Resources Advisor, added.

When PREMIUM TIMES contacted him on why the paper is tying reporters’ emoluments to advert placements, Segun Oyebolu, the company’s Managing Director, said it was “a private affair.”

“You can’t ask me that question because if there’s a contract between two parties, you cannot go about talking about that,” he said.

“If you are offered a contract, you can say you can or you cannot do it. They are adults,” he added.

Pay as you go

Mr. Oyebolu’s company, Vee Global Network Resources Ltd, announced its acquisition of the publishing rights of the New Nigerian Compass newspaper last February.

The New Nigerian Compass and Weekend Compass will run on Mondays and Fridays respectively, with the publication going daily by September 2014, according to its new owners.

“The paper will benefit greatly from the tremendous technology expertise of its new investors and blaze a new trail in balanced, un-influenced news reporting in Nigeria providing the needed platform for those passionate about the welfare of the Nigerian State and its citizens,” the company had said in a statement.

In another controversial policy introduced by the paper last week, it attached journalists’ Basic Travel Allowance, BTA, to the usage of their articles in the newspaper.

This policy was conveyed to the editorial staff in an e-mail from Mr. Oyebolu.

The new management’s policies have irked a lot of the editorial staff.

The journalists who spoke to PREMIUM TIMES insisted the Pay-Per-Story policy was tied to their salaries.

“Our June salary has not been paid despite that the company directed us to resume on June 2,” a reporter at the newspaper who did not want to be named, told PREMIUM TIMES.

“iPads given to editors were retrieved just before the MD’s e-mail because they were afraid people would walk away with their gadgets after reading it, and with June salary still unpaid,” he added.

Another member of the newspaper’s editorial staff told PREMIUM TIMES that after they assumed duties on June 2, they began filing and uploading stories on the reporters’ portal.

“We were sorting for stories and sending stories, working as per directed,” said the staff who did not also want to be named to avoid victimization.

“Though, the publication wasn’t persistent due to what he (Mr. Oyebolu) called printer error and not publication suitable.

“Still, he was instructing staff to send stories, and they were sending it. We worked hard for the month of June,” he added.

In fact, the management’s “offer of contract employment” letter to editorial staff stated clearly that June 2nd was the day of “joining our organization.”

However,  by July 10, and with June salary still unpaid, the staff began to demand for their pay.

PREMIUM TIMES learnt that monthly salaries for reporters and editors range from N70,000 to about N150,000 and above, respectively.

“When we went to meet him for our June salary, he told us in plain language that he was not owing us,” the staff said.

Another staff told PREMIUM TIMES that the managing director marched some of his colleagues out of his office for demanding their June salary.

Nigerian Compass speaks

But while responding to PREMIUM TIMES enquiries, the company defended its controversial policies, stating that they were a way of moving the newly resuscitated newspaper forward.

Mr. Oyebolu frowned at what he described as the staff’s inability to understand the contract they signed with the company.

“A situation where people who are supposed to enlighten the nation cannot even read,” he said.

According to the newspaper’s management, correspondents will be paid “N5,000 for every lead (front page story) submitted and published in any of the Compass titles; N2,000 for any good, event picture that is submitted and published in any of the Compass titles; N2,500 for any front page (minor) story with picture submitted and published in any of the Compass titles.

“N1,500 for any other story submitted and published in any of the Compass titles; N1,500 for any original cartoon submitted and published in any of the Compass titles; and N3,000 for every news video & audio clips used online.”

The payments, the company said, will be made on the 30th of every month to correspondents based on the number of published stories; and where more than one correspondent submits a story and the story is used, the allowance will be shared equally among the correspondents equally.

“By adopting the pay-per-story scheme, BTA is hereby cancelled except for special projects as may be approved from time to time by the Publisher,” the e-mail added.

Mr. Oyebolu said that the Pay-Per-Story policy only affects the correspondents’ BTA and not their salaries.

“We were talking about the BTA because we found out that we were paying people who go to their houses and stay, and then go to The Punch website, download a story and bring to the editor,” Mr. Oyebolu said.

“Nothing has affected their contract with Compass.

“Sometimes, the stories they (correspondents) bring are not even genuine. I can’t continue to run money down the drain.

Managing Editor, New Nigerian Compass, Segun Oyebolu
Managing Editor, New Nigerian Compass, Segun Oyebolu

“The reporter we sent to cover Ekiti election got a paid hotel and N20,000 for a two day job and we got zero story out of it,” Mr. Oyebolu added.

The MD’s e-mail to the editorial staff also noted that stories that do not meet deadlines will not be used in the newspaper.

“Please note that payment under the pay-per-story is not tied to advert or any other condition – once your story is published, it will immediately be queued for payment at month end,” Mr. Oyebolu’s e-mail to staff added.

Mr. Oyebolu dismissed the claims that the iPads were retrieved from his editors saying that they were going to be inscribed upon.

“There is no law that states that our properties cannot be inscribed upon,” he said.

‘Blame journalists for destroying my paper’

The Nigerian Compass was established in 2008 by Gbenga Daniel, the former Ogun State governor.

The paper hit troubled times at the end of Mr. Daniel’s governorship tenure in 2011; with Mr. Daniel blaming his “wasteful” editorial staff for the newspaper’s inability to survive.

Speaking to journalists in January, when he denied claims that he was on the verge of selling the newspaper, alongside its sister publication, The Westerner, Mr. Daniel said he established the New Nigerian Compass as a way of contributing to nation building.

“Many people have been saying a lot of things but they can never know better than I do because, I was the one who knows the reason for establishing it. You will all agree with me that journalists are needed components in nation building, but in Nigeria, they are not well taken care of and you will see them looking tattered and unkempt,” Mr. Daniel had said.

“I sat down and thought of what to do and I concluded within me that I should establish a newspaper and make it a place where the pen men would be well taken care of and free to perform effectively and efficiently. But, alas! what did I see, it is the same journalists that I was fighting for that ruined the company.

“They destroyed the company and nearly made it go bankrupt. But I can promise you here today that the company is coming back soon; back and better.

“You people have to understand that someone that established a newspaper house does so to make profit. It is a business enterprise and all hands must be on deck by all and sundry for its survival.

“A situation whereby some people among the stakeholders are not performing as expected would be the beginning of the collapse of such a company, which was part of what contributed to the problems faced by Compass. It is you people, I mean, the journalists that killed the newspaper.

“You will all recall that when we started then, newspapers like The Nation, The Sun and even This Day were put on their toes, with the welfare packages we put in place. We bought 36 cars for all our correspondents across the country and they were all adequately taken care of.

“Even those at the head office were so happy with the welfare packages they enjoyed until you people finished everything,” said Mr. Daniel.

 

Osun Election: APC members ask court to stop Jonathan from deploying soldiers

Aregbesola_Rauf_539788321

The Nigerian President and the Attorney-General of the Federation are defendants in the suit.

Some members of the All Progressives Congress, APC, in Osun State have approached a Federal High Court, Lagos, for an injunction restraining President Goodluck Jonathan from deploying military personnel during the forthcoming election in the state.

The Osun State gubernatorial election will take place on August 9 with the APC’s incumbent governor, Rauf Aregbesola, and Iyiola Omisore of the Peoples Democratic Party as major candidates.

The Nigerian President and the Attorney-General of the Federation are defendants in the suit.

Among the reliefs sought by the plaintiff include a declaration that, by the Provisions of the 1999 Nigerian Constitution, it is ultra vires for the President to deploy members of the armed forces to Osun State for the purpose of the election.

At the just concluded governorship election in Ekiti State, the federal government deployed about 12,000 officers comprising of the Nigerian military, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, State Security Service, and police officers.

In a 15-paragraph affidavit in support of the originating summons at the federal high court sworn to by Michael Olufemi, a member of the APC, the party argued that Section 217(2) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria stated the function of the armed forces.

According to Section 217(2) of the Constitution, the purpose of the Nigerian armed forces include: ‘Defending Nigeria from external aggression; maintaining its territorial integrity and securing its borders from violation on land, sea or air.

‘Suppressing insurrection and acting in aid of civil authorities to restore order when called upon to do so by the President, but subject to such condition as may be prescribed by an Act of the National Assembly; and performing such other functions as may be prescribed by an Act of the National Assembly.’

The summons said that the purposes did not include the president deploying the armed forces to Osun State for electoral duties.

“I also know that the operational use of the armed forces does not encompass deployment of members of the armed forces to States for the purpose of the conduct of election,” it added.

The originating summons, taken out by Muiz Banire’s M.A Banire and Associates, the party’s counsel, further noted that the president’s deployment of the military to the gubernatorial elections in Ekiti and Anambra States was beyond his powers.

“I know that unless restrained by this honourable court, the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, in his capacity as the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federation, has resolved to and is in the process of deploying members of the armed forces to Osun State for the purpose of the conduct of the gubernatorial election scheduled for August 9, 2014.

“Being an officer of the plaintiff, I know that the purpose for which members of the armed forces have been deployed in the past was to intimidate members of the plaintiff from participating in relevant elections and voting for their preferred candidates,” the summons said.

In his written address to support his originating summons, Mr. Banire acknowledged the provision of Section 218(1) of the Constitution but argued that the operational use of the armed forces must be within the scope of the purpose of establishing it as enumerated in Section 217.

According to Section 218(1) of the Constitution, ‘The powers of the President as the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federation shall include power to determine the operational use of the armed forces of the Federation.’

Mr. Banire argued that if those who drafted the 1999 had intended the President’s power to determine the operational use of the armed forces as unbridled, they would not have listed the purpose of its establishment in Section 217.

According to Mr. Banire, since the power of the president to determine the operational use of the armed forces is not unbridled, then he does not have the power to deploy them to perform civic duty of monitoring elections.

“We further submit that the drafters of the 1999 Constitution intended this to be so in order to avoid a situation where the President would use the members of the armed forces to achieve ulterior goals,” Mr. Banire said.

“Despite having the power to determine the operational use of the armed forces, the objects and purpose of the Constitution as regards the armed forces are secured by the limiting provision of Section 217(2) of the Constitution,” he added.

Scholars, poets, others gather for Soyinka’s 80th birthday

Prof Wole Soyinka

“The quintessential Soyinka that is being celebrated globally is a product of ceaseless hard work and commitment to scholarship”.

Several scholars and poets gathered in Lagos, Sunday, at the 6th Wole Soyinka Centre Media Lecture Series in Lagos to celebrate the sage at 80 and hail his commitment to proffering solutions to forces that tend to bleak the future for man in society.

The event, organized by the Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism, WSCIJ, had the Nobel laureate’s admirers, students, children, grand children and other relatives in attendance.

Delivering the lecture ‘Wole Soyinka and the moral burden of literature,’ the keynote Speaker, Abiola Irele, shared insights of his understanding of Prof. Soyinka from the period of a bustling young scholar who exhibited curiosity and attitude for excellence at the University College Ibadan.

“The quintessential Soyinka that is being celebrated globally is a product of ceaseless hard work and commitment to scholarship,” said Mr. Irele, a Professor of French Linguistics and Literature.

Mr. Irele was joined by Dan Izevbaye, a scholar-critic; Odia Ofeimun, playwright and poet; Ropo Sekoni, professor of Comparative Literature and Cultural Studies; and Jeffrey Hawkins, the U.S. Consular-General in Nigeria.

Mr. Hawkins described Mr. Soyinka as a writer who had the moral burden to transform his society.

“This he executed excellently in many of his works especially the novels: The Interpreter and The Man Died,” Mr. Hawkins said.

On his part, Mr, Izevbaye noted that Soyinka’s works are not elitist as claimed in some quarters.

“Soyinka sees literature beyond pleasure, if his language is considered elitist (as is commonly said) it means more literature teachers need further education,” the professor said.

He listed some guidelines to make Soyinka’s works more accessible in schools, such as the promotion of the culture of stage plays in schools and the further training of the language of literature in English to teachers.

In his contribution, Mr. Sekoni, WSCIJ’s board chair, emphasized that the appearance of Mr. Soyinka on the political scene of Nigeria was not an accident.

”The occurrence of anti-corruption theme in Soyinka’s work from the Jero plays in the early sixties show that he has diligently studied the phenomenon of corruption which still bedevils the Nigerian society,” he said.

Mr. Sekoni also attributed the claims that Soyinka’s works are not “accessible” to the decline in the education in the country.

“If our generation can read and understand Soyinka, it’s because of the education we got. Are these generations getting the same kind of education?”

“The younger generation will carry forth Soyinka’s ideals if they are properly taught,” he added.

Supporting Mr. Sekoni’s views, Mr. Ofeimun said anyone in tune with Soyinka’s works is in touch with the future.

“If you’re taught by a bad teacher, you would have a cause to dislike Soyinka’s diction,” he added.

The event witnessed stage presentations of Soyinka’s ‘Trials of Brother Jero’ and ‘No! He said’ by the University of Ibadan Theatre Arts Troupe.

There was also a cutting of a cake with the inscription ‘Kongi @ 80′ presided by Maiden Alex-Ibru, Publisher of the Guardian Newspaper, who shared her experience as a Student of Soyinka at the University College Ibadan in the 60s.

Earlier, Dapo Olorunyomi, founder of the WSCIJ, highlighted that the centre was established to fill a lacuna created by a failing media, and that one of the ways to renew the media is by recognizing men and women doing things right in the media.

“Soyinka was one man who represented the values we advocate,” said Mr. Olorunyomi.

The Nigerian Compass defends controversial pay-per-story policy

Nigerian Journalists at the  burial of Ademola Fashola

The New Nigerian Compass and Weekend Compass will run on Mondays and Fridays respectively, with the publication going daily by September 2014.

The New Nigerian Compass has defended its controversial Pay-Per-Story policy for reporters stating that it was a way of moving the newly resuscitated newspaper forward.

The policy, which attaches correspondents’ Basic Travel Allowance, BTA, to the usage of their articles in the newspaper, was conveyed to the editorial staff in an e-mail from Segun Oyebolu, the company’s Managing Director.

The New Nigerian Compass and Weekend Compass will run on Mondays and Fridays respectively, with the publication going daily by September 2014.

According to Mr. Oyebolu’s e-mail, correspondents will be paid “N5,000 for every lead (front page story) submitted and published in any of the Compass titles; N2,000 for any good, event picture that is submitted and published in any of the Compass titles; N2,500 for any front page (minor) story with picture submitted and published in any of the Compass titles.

“N1,500 for any other story submitted and published in any of the Compass titles; N1,500 for any original cartoon submitted and published in any of the Compass titles; and N3,000 for every news video & audio clips used online.”

The payments, according to the company management, will be made on the 30th of every month to correspondents based on the number of published stories; and where more than one correspondent submits a story and the story is used, the allowance will be shared equally among the correspondents equally.

“By adopting the pay-per-story scheme, BTA is hereby cancelled except for
special projects as may be approved from time to time by the Publisher,” the e-mail added.

Responding to a PREMIUM TIMES enquiry on Saturday, Mr. Oyebolu, the company’s Managing Director, said that the policy only affects the correspondents’ Basic Travel Allowance, BTA, and not their salaries.

“We were talking about the BTA because we found out that we were paying people who go to their houses and stay, and then go to The Punch website, download a story and bring to the editor,” Mr. Oyebolu said.

“Nothing has affected their contract with Compass.

“Sometimes, the stories they (correspondents) bring are not even genuine. I can’t continue to run money down the drain,” Mr. Oyebolu added.

The MD’s e-mail also noted that stories that do not meet deadlines will not be used in the newspaper.

“Please note that payment under the pay-per-story is not tied to advert or
any other condition – once your story is published, it will immediately
queued for payment at month end,” Mr. Oyebolu’s e-mail to staff added.

Some of the staff who spoke with PREMIUM TIMES under anonymity claimed that their contracts stipulate that each reporter files a minimum of 20 stories per month and brings two full pages of adverts for the newspaper.

The staff further claimed that their June salary remains unpaid despite that the company directed them to resume on June 2; and, also, iPads given to editors were retrieved just before Mr. Oyebolu’s e-mail, apparently to prevent them from walking away with the gadgets.

Mr. Oyebolu dismissed the claims that the iPads were retrieved from his editors saying that they were going to be inscribed upon.

“There is no law that states that our properties cannot be inscribed upon,” he said.

On the issue of tying staff emoluments to advert placements and non-payment of June salary, Mr. Oyebolu said that was “a private affair.”

“You can’t ask me that question because if there’s a contract between two parties, you cannot go about talking about that,” he said.

“If you are offered a contract, you can say you can or you cannot do it. They are adults.”

Mr. Oyebolu frowned at what he described as the staff’s inability to understand the contract they signed with the company.

“A situation where people who are supposed to enlighten the nation cannot even read,” he added.

Judge says ruling on Lagos Speaker’s No case submission application ‘not ready,’ fixes September 26

Adeyemi Ikuforiji, Lagos State Assembly Speaker. [Photo: spyghana.com]

Justice Ibrahim Buba of the Federal High Court, Lagos, has adjourned the ruling on the ‘No case submission’ application filed by Adeyemi Ikuforiji, the Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly.

Mr. Ikuforiji and Oyebode Atoyebi, his aide, are facing a 54-count amended charge of money laundering amounting to over N600 million.

The Speaker’s counsel had filed a no case submission on Monday, after the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, the prosecution had closed its case.

Mr. Buba, who initially fixed Friday to deliver his ruling on the defence’s application, said that it was “not ready” due to fatigue.

His attempts to fix a date during the court’s long vacation, which begins on July 14, was opposed by the prosecution.

Details

Prosecution closes case in Fani-Kayode’s corruption trial

Femi Fani-Kayode

Mr. Fani-Kayode is facing a 40-count charge of money laundering.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on Thursday closed its case in the trial of Femi Fani-Kayode, a former Aviation Minister.

Mr. Fani-Kayode is facing a 40-count charge of money laundering amounting to about N100 million stemming from when he was minister.

“I’m here to make a very humble application for the case of the prosecution to be closed,” said Vitalis Ahaotu, who was standing in for Festus Keyamo, counsel to the EFCC.

At the last sitting, Mr. Keyamo had told the judge that Mark Ndifreke, who had been billed to appear as a prosecution witness, has been at large since 2008, and pleaded for more time to produce him to testify.

“This investigation has been on since 2007 and this witness has been a prime witness we have been looking for all along and he has been running from pillar to post,” Mr. Keyamo had added.

But on Thursday, the prosecution were still unable to produce Mr. Ndifreke.

In their response, Wale Akoni, the defence counsel, said that they were filing a ‘No case submission,’ as his client had no case to answer.

Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia gave the prosecution seven days to file their reply to the ‘No case submission’ and adjourned the trial to October 28 for adoption of final written addresses‎

Earlier, the judge had enquired from the defence lawyer if he had any problem with Mr. Ahaotu holding a brief for his principal.

In 2013, the trial was halted in the middle of a prosecution witness’s testimony after the defence raised an objection, arguing that the fiat for prosecution from the Attorney-General of the Federation was specifically meant for Mr. Keyamo and not Mr. Ahaotu, his representative.

Mr. Ahaotu, a lawyer from Mr. Keyamo’s chamber, had been leading the prosecution before that day.

Mr. Keyamo was unable to attend Thursday’s proceeding because he was attending an interview in preparation for his selection as a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, according to Mr. Ahaotu.

Mr. Akoni, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, said he had no objection to Mr. Keyamo’s representative.

The prosecution opened their case in March with its first witness, Okechukwu Okeke, a Relationship Officer with First City Monument Bank, FCMB, who said that Mr. Fani-Kayode’s account at the bank had been dormant.

At the court’s sitting in May, the judge declared Ojo Agbor, the prosecution’s fifth witness, who was testifying that day, “hostile.”

The judge’s declaration came after Mr. Agbor said that he made his statement to the EFCC under duress, after he was tortured and detained for one week by the operatives.

“The statement he made to the commission is totally different from what he is saying in court,” a furious Mr. Keyamo had said.

Mr. Fani-Kayode was first arraigned in December 2008 before Justice Ramat Mohammed on a 47-count charge. He had pleaded not guilty and granted bail in the sum of N200 million with two sureties in like sum.

The former minister was re-arraigned before Justice Binta Murtala-Nyako, following the transfer of Ms. Mohammed from Lagos.

The accused was again re-arraigned before Ms. Ajumogobia on February 11, 2013, after the transfer of Ms. Murtala-Nyako.

He was still re-arraigned before Ms. Ajumogobia on March 6, following the amendment of the 47-count charge to 40-counts by the EFCC.

In the charge, the accused was alleged to have carried out transactions with funds exceeding N500,000 without going through a financial institution.

The accused was also alleged to have accepted cash payments to the tune of about N100 million, while he was the Minister of Aviation and Minister of Culture and Tourism.

The offence is said to contravened the provisions of Sections 15(1) (a) (b) (c) (d) and 15 (2) (a) (b) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2004.

NNPC says it must receive one month notice before being sued under FOI

The committee says the NNPC had persistently failed to present relevant details of its financial operations to the satisfaction of the lawmakers

CSNAC had sued NNPC over N15 billion disbursed for guarding oil pipelines in the Niger Delta.

The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, has said that it must be given a 30-day notice of a suit before the suit is filed before a court.

In a notice of preliminary objection to a suit filed by the Civil Society Network against Corruption, CSNAC, at the Federal High Court, Abuja, the corporation stated that the one month notice was stipulated in the NNPC Act.

CSNAC had dragged the agency to court seeking an order to compel the corporation to release information on the beneficiaries of the N15 billion disbursed for guarding oil pipelines in the Niger Delta.

The counsel to the NNPC, Augustine Alegeh, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, also said, in the notice filed on June 14, that CSNAC lacked the locus standi to file the court action.

CSNAC had, in September 2013, sent a Freedom of Information, FOI, letter to the NNPC requesting information on the beneficiaries of N15 billion approved and disbursed by it for securing oil pipelines in the Niger Delta.

In the FOI request, CSNAC had stressed that the information was required for its planned monitoring of the initiative to avoid a repeat of past failed efforts by government.

Having failed to provide the requested information, CSNAC through its counsel, Chino Obiagwu, filed an originating summons in court for an order under Section 20 of the FOI Act compelling NNPC to release the requested information.

Under the FOI Act, no further notice of action is required to be given to a public institution before an applicant whose request for information was refused or ignored could go to court to seek court order for the requested information.

“By filing a preliminary objection to the suit on such flimsy technical excuses, NNPC has demonstrated that it is an unrepentant corrupt institution that is not willing to open itself up to civil society scrutiny,” said Lanre Suraj, the Chairman of CSNAC, and co-plaintiff in the suit. “It chose to hire and pay huge legal fees to a senior advocate of Nigeria to delay the suit or frustrate it, rather than provide the simple information requested from it. This is really very unfortunate.”

Mr. Suraj said that Section 1 of the FOI Act, 2011, empowered CSNAC to have access to the information requested.

“As a body created to serve the public’s interest, the NNPC is obligated to provide CSNAC with the requested information within seven days of receipt of the request failure of which the organisation can sue in court within 30 days for order to release the information sought,” Mr. Suraj said.

NNPC has been recently marred with several allegations of corruption and poor accountability, including a missing $20 billion allegation by the former Central Bank of Nigeria governor, Lamido Sanusi.

A counsel to the plaintiff in the suit, Melissa Omene, said that the NNPC’s “blatant disregard” for the right to information as guaranteed by the Freedom of Information Act raised serious concern of deep corruption in the corporation.

“What does the NNPC have to hide in respect of the requested information? Civil society must continue to engage NNPC and similar corrupt institutions as a way to fight corruption and abuse of office in public institutions in Nigeria,” said Ms. Omene, legal officer with the Legal Defence and Assistance Project, LEDAP.

The court fixed the hearing of the preliminary objection on July 7.

Emir of Kano, Lamido Sanusi, drops court case against Jonathan

The new Emir of Kano, His Highness Sanusi Lamido Sanusi

Mr. Sanusi had dragged the federal government before a Federal High Court in Abuja to challenge his suspension as the governor of CBN

 

The Emir of Kano and former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Lamido Sanusi, has dropped the suit against the federal government challenging his suspension from office.
This development confirms this newspaper’s June 13 report which indicated the Emir was planning to discontinue his legal battle with the President after both men had reconciliatory telephone conversation.

President Goodluck Jonathan had on February 20 suspended Mr. Sanusi from his position as governor of the CBN over allegations of financial recklessness.

In the Notice of Discontinuance dated July 1, 2014, and filed same day, Mr. Sanusi’s lawyers informed the court of his intention to discontinue the matter.

Mr. Sanusi had sued the federal government at a Federal High Court in Abuja challenging his suspension.

Joined in the suit as defendants were President Goodluck Jonathan, the Attorney
General of the Federation, and the Inspector General of Police.

In their counter affidavit, the defendants had argued that the Federal High Court lacked jurisdiction in the matter since it was a labour-related suit that fell under the purview of the National Industrial Court.

In his ruling, Justice Gabriel Kolawole upheld the submissions of the counsel to the President, Fabian Ajogwu, and that of the Counsel to the Attorney General of the Federation, Mike Ozekhome.

Rather than dismiss the case outright, the court instead invoked section 24 of the National Industrial Court Act 2012 and ordered that the case be transferred to the National Industrial Court since the issues raised bothered on labour matters.

In transferring the case, Justice Kolawole said that in line with sections 251 and 254 of the 1999 constitution, the CBN was a creation of the National Assembly, and Mr. Sanusi was a public officer.

The Judge further held that since Mr. Sanusi was an employee of the CBN by virtue of the CBN Act No 7 of 2007, he was a public servant whose appointment was a labour related matter that could be properly adjudicated upon by the industrial court.

Mr. Sanusi’s decision to withdraw the case comes after months of deep animosity between him and President Goodluck Jonathan.

After he emerged the Emir of Kano, he asked the President for forgiveness so he could gain access to his palace which was blocked by police.

Even though the police denied that the president ordered the blockade, sources told PREMIUM TIMES that the siege was authorised by the president.

Mr. Sanusi, multiple sources told PREMIUM TIMES, apologised to President Jonathan, personally and through intermediaries, to forgive him for his public defiance.

Let us meet in court, Fani-Kayode challenges APC

Femi Fani-Kayode

“One wonders what you would do to your perceived enemies if, God-forbid, you ever get that power.”

The face-off between Femi Fani-Kayode and the All Progressives Congress, APC, continued on Wednesday with the former Aviation minister challenging the party to face him in court.

Mr. Fani-Kayode was reacting to the APC’s latest response to his claims that the Boko Haram terrorist group was the party’s armed wing.

Lai Mohammed, the APC Spokesperson, had on Wednesday said that it was too late for Mr. Fani-Kayode to back away from his statement, for which he must apologize or face court action.

In a swift response on Wednesday, Mr. Fani-Kayode said that he would ignore the “childish name-calling” coming from the APC.

“I read the second response of Lai Mohammed and the APC to my comments which appeared in today’s newspapers. Does this so-called spokesman for Nigeria’s opposition party have nothing better to do than to join issues with me on a daily basis?” Mr. Fani-Kayode said.

“It is reinvigorating and humbling to note that Nigeria’s main opposition party can dedicate and deploy so much time and so many resources just to tackle me,” he added.

Mr. Fani-Kayode said that he looked forward to meeting the APC in court so that he can prove to the world who and what Mr. Mohammed and the APC “really are and the pure evil that you represent.”

“One wonders what you would do to your perceived enemies if, God-forbid, you ever get that power. Needless to say your belated explanations and attempted rationalisations about what you said last year about the Government’s proscription of Boko Haram and your opposition to it makes no sense,” Mr. Fani-Kayode continued.

“It changes nothing. I repeat you are a pernicious liar and a shameless coward and your party is filled with such people. The truth is that you are not fit to hold power. Permit me to reiterate that I am not shying away from anything that I said in my interview with Channels TV on June 30th and if you think that I am doing so you are sadly mistaken.

“Listen to me carefully: I am calling your bluff so for goodness sake instead of writing long and laborious press statements just shut up, stop blabbing, put your money where your mouth is, do your worse up, stop blabbing, put your money where your mouth is, do your worse and let us meet in court,” Mr. Fani-Kayode added.

Lagos fire caused by fuel-laden tanker, not bomb explosion – Police

File Photo: Fuel Tanker On Fire By JTF At Eneka Road in Atali, Rivers State on July 7, 2012

The Lagos State Police Command, Wednesday night, sought to dispel rumours suggesting that a bomb had exploded at the Apapa area of the state.

Speaking to PREMIUM TIMES via telephone, Ngozi Braide, the Lagos State Police Spokesperson, said that the explosion was caused by a tanker conveying petrol.

“There is nothing whatsoever suggesting that it was a bomb explosion, it was a tanker loaded with fuel that burst into flames,” Ms. Braide said.

“Policemen are on ground there now and we cannot yet ascertain the casualty figures. But everything is under control,” she added.

However, the National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, attributed the cause of the fire to a gas cylinder explosion.

Ibrahim Farinloye, NEMA Spokesperson, South-West, said that the explosion occurred at 26, off Creek Road, Apapa at about 9:15 p.m.

“People were reported to be filling gas into the cylinder before it exploded,” Mr. Farinloye said in a text message.

“Fire service men from Federal and state are working to put out d fire that resulted from the explosion. Details will only come after the end of the operation.

“The incident happened within Folawiyo Energy Premises but they did not allow fire men into their premises at all,” Mr. Farinloye added.

Vanguard newspaper had reported that a car laden-bomb with explosives went off at Folawiyo Fuel depot at about 8.30pm.

According to the newspaper, the explosion ripped through four buildings, including two banks, resulting in the death of about four people.

The police said that report is false.

Nigerian Military frees 144 out of 486 Abia “travellers”

Arrested Travellers

A sponsor of the trip has been identified

The Nigerian Military has released 144 out of 486 Port Harcourt – bound travellers suspected to be members of the extremist Boko Haram group.

The men were arrested last week in Aba, Abia State, along the Enugu-Port Harcourt Expressway, while travelling at night in a convoy of 35 buses from Northern Nigeria.

The defence spokesperson, Chris Olukolade, had said that a wanted Boko Haram suspect was identified during the screening of those arrested. He did not name the suspect.

But a security source told PREMIUM TIMES after the arrest that in addition to the lone suspect, 86 of the travellers were identified as suspected terrorists.

The Coordinator of the National Information Centre, Mike Omeri, said on Wednesday that 144 out of the 486 arrested have been released after preliminary examination.

He disclosed this Wednesday at a press briefing on efforts made by the government to secure the release of the abducted more than 200 Chibok girls abducted by Boko Haram.

Mr. Omeri said that one of the suspected sponsors of the travellers has been identified by security agents.

He, however, declined to state the name of the alleged sponsor.

“144 of the number have been released. It is expected that the media and the general public will be kept abreast of further developments,” said Mr. Omeri.

“Importantly, one of the (suspects) connected with the package of the trip has been named and investigation is painstakingly continuing to unravel the issues involved in the incidence,” he added.

On reports that about 60 women and children were abducted last weekend in Borno State, Mr. Omeri said that there was “nothing on the ground to prove any act of abduction as reported.”

“It is on record that our findings were also corroborated by the position of the Borno State Government as conveyed by Governor Kashim Shettima who said that there are no sufficient facts on the alleged abduction of 60 persons,” Mr. Omeri said.

“We hereby wish to state that based on available facts before us there was no abduction of 60 persons in Borno State,” he added.

Mr. Omeri also assured Nigerians that troops have continued to carry out surveillance around the areas where the abducted Chibok girls are suspected to be held.