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National Mass Metering Prog: Reps to probe CBN, DISCOs over disbursement of funds

The House of Representatives on Thursday resolved to investigate the multi-billion naira disbursed to the Licensed Electricity Distribution Companies by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) as loans under the National Mass Metering Programme.

The resolution was passed sequel to the adoption of a motion sponsored by Hon. Uchenna Okonkwo, who underscored the need for all the Institutions to take account of their stewardship on the utilisation of public funds.

In his lead debate, Hon. Okonkwo observed that the National Mass Metering Program (NMMP) was launched by the Federal Government of Nigeria through the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to provide funds as loans to the licensed Electricity Distribution Companies (DisCos) to improve customers metering and eliminate estimated billing.

“The House also notes that the NMMP aims to reach over 6 million households and businesses with meters before the end of 2021 as part of the power sector reform agenda to promote transparency, accountability, and efficiency in the power sector.

“The House is concerned that there have been reports of discrepancies, mismanagement, and non-compliance with the terms and conditions of the loans disbursed under the NMMP by some DisCos, leading to inefficiencies, underperformance, and failure to achieve the objectives of the NMMP.

“The House is worried at the lack of proper oversight. monitoring and evaluation of funds disbursed under the National Mass Metering Program by the Central Bank of Nigeria, which has created opportunities for corruption, diversion, and misappropriation of public resources,” the lawmaker alleged.

In the bid to fix the sector, the lawmakers urged the Federal Government to prioritize the implementation of the Power Sector Recovery Program, which provides a roadmap for sustainable power sector reform.

The House also tasked the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to provide a detailed report on the implementation of the National Mass Metering Program (NMMP). including the number of loans disbursed, the amount disbursed, and the status of the loans, to the House of Representatives.

 the same vein, the House called on the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) to provide a comprehensive assessment of the performance of the DisCos in metering customers and eliminating estimated billing.

To this end, the House mandated the joint Committees on Power, Banking Regulations, Rural Electrification Agency, Housing and Habitat to investigate the disbursement and use of funds under the NMMP by the CBN, and to ascertain the level of compliance with the terms and conditions of the loans.

The House also mandated the joint Committees on Banking Regulations and Power to investigate: cases of discrepancies, mismanagement. and non-compliance with the terms and conditions of the loans disbursed under the National Mass Metering Program; and the level of oversight, monitoring and evaluation of the use of funds disbursed under the National Mass Metering Program by the Central Bank of Nigeria, and to recommend measures to enhance transparency, accountability, and performance in the National Mass Metering Program and report back within four weeks

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EFCC investigates more celebrities for naira abuse

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, has said it is investigating several celebrities suspected of abusing the Naira.

This was revealed in a statement signed by EFCC spokesperson, Dele Oyewale, on Sunday.

“On the issue of the works of the Commission against Naira abuse, dollarization of the economy and the enforcement of all extant laws relating to them, the EFCC appreciates the avalanche of public awakening, support and involvement demonstrated so far.

“Increasingly, members of the public are drawing the attention of the Commission to video recording of abuse of the Naira by Nigerians from all walks of life.

“These gestures amply demonstrate rising consciousness of the public to the sanctity of our national currency and the need for collaborative engagement to sustain the tempo.

“To this end, the Commission will always investigate and prosecute anyone involved in the abuse of the Naira.

“Old videos being exhumed and flying around for the attention of the Commission are noted as the Commission is sensitive to the fact that its Special Task Force against Naira Abuse and Dollarization of the economy commenced operations on February 7, 2024. However, going forward, new videos of such infractions will be investigated and prosecuted.

“At the moment, the Commission is investigating several celebrities involved in Naira abuse. Many of them have made useful statements to the Commission and many more have been invited by investigators working on the matter.

“The EFCC will not relent in its no-sacred-cow mode of operations and the public should be wary of running afoul of laws against the crime.”

Recall that popular cross-dresser Idris Okuneye aka Bobrisky was sentenced to six months imprisonment for abusing the Naira.

Justice Abimbola Awogboro handed down the sentence without an option of fine.

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No one has been cleared in humanitarian ministry fraud investigation- EFCC

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, says it has not cleared anyone involved in the ongoing fraud investigation in the humanitarian affairs ministry.

Spokesperson of the commission, Dele Oyewale stated this in a statement tagged ‘Setting the Records Straight on Investigations of Humanitarian Ministry’ on Sunday.

According to him,  ongoing investigation have opened other fraudulent dealings involving Covid -19 funds, the World Bank loan, Abacha recovered loot released to the Ministry by the Federal Government to execute its poverty alleviation mandate.

The statement read;

“The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, has noticed the rising tide of commentaries, opinions, assumptions and insinuations concerning its progressive investigations into the alleged financial misappropriation in the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development.

“At the outset of investigations, past and suspended officials of the Humanitarian Ministry were invited by the Commission and investigations into the alleged fraud involving them have yielded the recovery of N32.7billion and $445,000 so far.

“Discreet investigations by the EFCC have opened other fraudulent dealings involving Covid -19 funds, the World Bank loan, Abacha recovered loot released to the Ministry by the Federal Government to execute its poverty alleviation mandate.

“Investigations have also linked several interdicted and suspended officials of the Ministry to the alleged financial malfeasance.

“It is instructive to stress that the Commission’s investigations are not about individuals. The EFCC is investigating a system and intricate web of fraudulent practices.

“Banks involved in the alleged fraud are being investigated. Managing Directors of the indicted banks have made useful statements to investigators digging into the infractions.

“Those found wanting will be prosecuted accordingly. Additionally, the EFCC has not cleared anyone allegedly involved in the fraud. Investigations are ongoing and advancing steadily.

“The public is enjoined to ignore any claim to the contrary.”

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Junior Pope: NSIB launches investigation, sends team to accident site

The Nigeria Safety Investigation Bureau (NSIB) has launched an investigation into the boat accident that claimed the lives of Nollywood actor, Paul Odonwodo, popularly known as Junior Pope; Abigail Frederick; Precious Oforum, and Joseph Anointing, while returning from a movie location.

THN reported that the boat accident involved a commercial speedboat and a fishing canoe on the Anam River in Anambra State on Wednesday, April 10, 2024.

The boat carrying 12 film crew members and a boat operator reportedly crashed into the canoe, resulting in the loss of five lives.

Tthe director, Public Affairs and Consumer Protection, NSIB, Bimbo Oladeji in a statement on Sundat, said the Bureau has dispatched an investigation team to the accident site.

According to Oladeji, examination of the wreckage from both boats involved in the collision, interviews with surviving crew members, eyewitnesses, and a review of operational procedures for the commercial speed boat would be analysed, among others.

“The NSIB extends its deepest sympathies to the families and loved ones of those who lost their lives in this heartbreaking accident.

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“Also, the director general of NSIB, Capt. Alex Badeh Jr, share in your grief and NSIB is fully committed to conducting a thorough investigation to determine the cause of this tragedy and prevent similar occurrence in the future.

“An investigation team has been dispatched to the accident site, and inquiry has begun. The investigation scope includes, but is not limited to: examination of the wreckage from both vessels involved in the collision, interviews with surviving crew members, and eyewitnesses, review of operational procedures for the commercial speed boat, analysis of weather and environmental conditions at the time of the accident, and assessment of compliance with relevant safety standards and regulations for inland waterway transportation,” NSIB spokesperson said.

Oladeji further assured Nigerians that the Bureau will release the preliminary reports of the investigation to the public.

“NSIB will collaborate with relevant authorities, including the Marine Police section of the Anambra State Police Command, maritime authorities, and industry experts during the investigation.

“The bureau will release its findings in a preliminary report, followed by a final report upon the investigation’s conclusion. These reports aim to enhance safety by providing recommendations to prevent similar accidents in the future.Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and loved ones of the victims affected by the Anam boat mishap,” she added.

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