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Nigeria yet to deal with alleged thieving ex-gov 11 years after

Nigeria’s anti-corruption agency, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has established a new sum as the amount of money allegedly stolen by former Abia State governor, Orji Uzo Kalu

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Nigeria’s anti-corruption agency, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has established a new sum as the amount of money allegedly stolen by former Abia State governor, Orji Uzo Kalu.

The new figures now stand at N7.65 billion, up from N2.9 billion. The agency had on Tuesday re-arraigned Kalu before the Federal High Court in Lagos.

Kalu has been on trial for eleven years, raising serious concerns over quality of prosecution and willingness of government to pursue the case. The suspect is a member of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) party in Nigeria.

The anti-graft agency re-arraigned him alongside his company, Slok Nigeria Limited, and Ude Udeogu, who served as the Director of Finance and Account, Abia State Government House, under Kalu.

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EFCC had 11 years ago levelled a 34 count-charge against Kalu over alleged diversion, stealing and laundering of N2.9 billion.

On Tuesday, however, the commission re-arraigned the former governor on amended increased charges, from 34 to 39, and an increased amount of N7.65 billion from the initial N2.9 billion.

According to the prosecuting counsel for the EFCC, Mr. Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), the amendment became essential in view of new facts revealed by some of the 19 witnesses who had testified against Kalu and his co-defendants in court.

The trial judge, Justice Mohammed Idris, paved the way for the re-arraignment of the defendants, having sacked the objection raised by the defence counsel to the amended charge sheet.

Aside the N7.1 billion, Kalu and his co-defendants were also alleged to have received a total of N460 million allegedly stolen from the Abia State Government treasury between July and December 2002.

Kalu, Udeogu and Slok Nigeria Limited, meanwhile, pleaded not guilty when the charges were read to them and were allowed to continue with the bail granted them 11 years ago when they were first arraigned.

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‘Nigeria has witnessed significant progress under Tinubu’— SGF Akume

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Nigeria’s Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), George Akume, has given thumbs up to the administration of President Bola Tinubu, saying the country has witnessed tremendous progress in just one year of the government.

Akume, who was speaking at the ‘Ministerial Sectoral Updates’ in Abuja on Wednesday, said despite the hardships being experienced as a result of the policies of the government, the administration had also rolled out social intervention programmes to mitigate the suffering of the people.

“I make bold to say that, Nigeria, under its present stewardship, has witnessed significant policy strides in various sectors including but not limited to,” Akume said as the Tinubu administration heads to its first year in office.

Listing some of the achievements of the government, the SGF noted in particular the following:

“i. The Presidential accent to the 2023 Electricity Bill, a move that dismantled monopolistic control over electricity generation, transmission and distribution at the national level and granted authority to State Governments, Corporations and individuals to generate, distribute and transmit electricity, thus decentralizing the power sector;

ii. Accent to the passage into law of the Nigeria Data Protection Bill 2023 that established a legal framework for safeguarding personal information and promoting data protection practices in Nigeria; and

iii. The challenging but very necessary Removal of Fuel Subsidy, a longstanding policy notorious for fostering corruption, and inefficiency and imposing significant fiscal strain on the government annually, and primarily benefitting the affluent and smugglers, rather than effectively aiding the general populace.

​It is apt to say that under President Tinubu’s stewardship within his first year in office, we have witnessed significant strides in various sectors of our economy.

Through prudent fiscal policies and strategic investments, the Nigerian economy has shown resilience and potential for growth.

The administration’s focus on infrastructure development, job creation and economic diversification has laid the foundation for sustainable progress and prosperity for all Nigerians.

Furthermore, the government’s commitment to good governance and the rule of law has strengthened our democratic institutions and enhanced transparency and accountability in governance,” Akume said.

However, his optimism is not shared by a majority of Nigerians, especially the masses who have been at the receiving end of the stick.

The ordinary Nigerians do not seem to enjoy the present administration of President Tinubu due to the hardship and hunger they have been made to go through due to the policies of the government.

Cost of living has skyrocketed and the prices of basic commodities have gone out of the reach of the masses while government officials are living large at their expense.

A labour leader who lamented the current situation in the country on Wednesday summed it up with these words:

“Government cannot be telling us that there is no money; this is an insult. We did not remove subsidies or float the national currency.

“The government created this problem. Since the removal of the petrol subsidy and floating of the naira, has the government shown proof that the country has no money, no?

“We are aware that the government gave members of the National Assembly no less than N160 million each to buy cars, the same government has released N90 billion to subsidise hajj operations.

‘’The government has renovated the Senate chambers, and the vice president’s office, and it is buying luxury buses for Customs in millions of naira.

‘’They are also buying all manner of SUVs for government officers. Since the removal of subsidies, the government has been making life better for political elites who have been feeding fat on workers.

“Crude oil sales have increased considerably and it has been getting more money in dollars, while workers have been suffering and going deeper into poverty.

“The state governors have been receiving three times more than they were receiving before the removal of subsidy. We cannot accept this. We did not cause the socio-economic challenges the country is facing.

“The government inflicted these problems on the country with their ill-thought out and unprogressive policies of subsidy removal and devaluation of the national currency. If the country has no money, let it reflect in the lives of government officials, their aides and cronies.”

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Tinubu’s policies in the best interest of Nigerians— VP Shettima

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Nigeria’s Vice President, Kashim Shettima, on Tuesday once again justified the policies and programmes of the President Bola Tinubu administration, insisting that they were in the best interest of Nigerians.

Shettima, who was speaking during the APC Professionals Forum’s Policy Roundtable Conference on the “Asiwaju Score Card Series” at the Shehu Yar’adua Centre, Abuja, reiterated that the thrust of Tinubu’s “Renewed Hope Agenda” was repositioning Nigeria, given the circumstances and peculiarities of the nation.

“Every country’s journey is distinct. Every country is shaped by its economic history and challenges. We respect the efforts of other nations, but we are focused on what works best for Nigeria,” Shettima, who was represented at the event by Special Adviser to the President on General Duties (Office of the Vice President), Dr. Aliyu Modibbo, noted.

He opined that the 8-point agenda of the Tinubu administration “provides a clear framework for its policies and programmes,” outlining areas of concentration to include “driving job creation, economic growth, food security, poverty eradication, access to capital, the rule of law, anti-corruption efforts, and inclusive development.”

“These initiatives are not just plans on paper; they are actions being implemented to create tangible improvements in the lives of everyday Nigerians,” he explained.

Shettima cited examples of the administration’s investments in agriculture and other sectors, which, according to him, are intended to reduce the nation’s reliance on imports and boost local production, adding that the ongoing Renewed Hope Housing Scheme promises to address the housing deficit and stimulate economic growth.

“Similarly, we are also focused on reducing unemployment and underemployment through various initiatives, including the Outsource to Nigeria Initiative, Investment in Digital and Creative Enterprises, and the Expanded National MSME Clinics.

“These programmes are designed to create more job opportunities and foster economic inclusivity,” he emphasized.

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