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Shocking: How NASS secretly spent N1.752 trillion in 17 years- BudgIT

…Asks Saraki, Dogara to throw open NASS spending to public

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…Asks Saraki, Dogara to throw open NASS spending to public

The Nigerian parliament secretly spent over N1.752 trillion in 17 years, a civil society organisation, which deals with budgeting and open governance, has said.

The group, BudgIT, released the figure in a statement it made available to Vanguard on Wednesday with a breakdown of the cash the National Assembly had allocated and spent between 2003 and 2019.

The organisation however blasted the NASS for operating the budget in an opaque manner despite its claim to open governance and public pressure for it to open up its book for Nigerians to scrutinize the line items.

The group is shocked that the NASS, whose budget was a mere N23.5 billion in 2003 astronomically rose to N55.5 in 2005 and climbed to N150 billion in 2011 and maintained the same amount till 2014.

BudgIT also wondered how the same NASS that had been spending N150 billion yearly was able to ‘manage’ a reduced appropriation of N115 billion between 2015 and 2016 and finally came down to N125 billion in 2017, N135 billion in 2018 and N125 billion in 2019.

In the statement signed by Signed Shakir Akorede, Communications Associate of BudgIT, the group noted with dismay the failure of the NASS leadership to honour its promise to make the process transparent and open to Nigerians.

The statement said: “That Nigeria’s National Assembly, an arm of government that supposedly upholds accountability, has remained an impregnable black box which defies public scrutiny is an irony of all ironies.

“Aside from the lawmakers being ranked as world’s top-paid legislators, at public expense, the annual budget of the National Assembly is a one-line statutory transfer which is neither reviewed by any authority nor, at the very least, made accessible to the public thus enabling unbridled corruption. 

“At this age of digital governance plus global calls for transparency in public institutions, it is a national disrepute that the parliament has refused to eschew anti-democratic practices, as it continues to bury its yearly allocations under the hallowed chambers.

“More disappointing is the fact that, despite Nigeria’s membership in Open Government Partnership and tons of pledges by Senate President Bukola Saraki to run an “open NASS,” the National Assembly immediately relapsed into its default setting after a breakdown of the budget was made public in 2017, thanks to public pressure.

“Asserting that the 2017 record must be made permanent, we are making a renewed demand from the leadership of the eighth assembly to fully redeem its promise.

Starting again with the 2019 budget, a line-by-line breakdown of the NASS allocation must be made public going forward.

“That is the ultimate way the legislature can lead by example in making public accountability a Nigerian culture,” said Gabriel Okeowo, BudgIT’s principal lead.

“It is worth the call that Senate President Bukola Saraki and Speaker Yakubu Dogara should leave behind a great legacy, one that history would never forget, by truly and finally opening NASS,” the group pointed out.

Source: www.zoxnews.com

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Pastor accused of breaking member’s marriage

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Mr Tertsea Daagu, a member of the NKST Church, has accused a Pastor of the Church, Terlanga Unongu, of “causing confusion” in his relationship with his wife, Wandoo Daagu.

Daagu stated this during his defense in a divorce case brought against him by his wife, before a Makurdi Upper Area Court.

“I have never beaten my wife or accused her of adultery; it is my wife that admitted before our NKST Church Committee that she has committed adultery with one Rev Terlanga Unongu, a Pastor of the Church.

“I have not accused my wife of having an affair, but she has confessed to having an affair with Rev Terlanga Unongu.

“In 2007, she confessed to having an intimate affair with the Pastor when the Church committee took up the matter. I have the evidence with me written in Tiv language.

“Though the committee could not give an appropriate resolution, we appealed to the General Synod where a resolution was passed.”

He denied ever beating the woman, and claimed that she left his house with the approval of her father.

Daagu said that he was not opposed to divorce, adding that he was also not opposed to his wife having full access to their three kids.

It was gathered that Mrs. Wandoo Daagu had petitioned the court to dissolve the marriage, citing alleged brutality and “unnecessary” accusations of infidelity.

Wandoo, who said that she married her husband according to the Tiv Native Laws and Customs at Amua, Gaav in Konshisha Local Government Area in 2000, told the court that there was no longer love between them.

“We have three children; after nursing our last daughter, my husband started accusing me of being unfaithful.

“He kept attacking me and would be beat me up at the slightest provocation. I reported this cruelty to his parents, but instead of intervening, they took sides with him,” she said.

Wandoo said that she left Daagu’s house in 2008, when the cruelty became unbearable.

“Since I left his house, my husband has never visited me or my parents to discuss our issue. He has no respect for my parents,” she said.

She urged the court to dissolve the marriage and grant her full access to their three children.

The Judge, Ms Adole Akintomide, has adjourned the case to Dec. 14, for judgment.

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South Korea to donate $8m in aid for hungry North

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South Korea approved $8 million in humanitarian aid for the impoverished North on Wednesday, authorities said, with negotiations over Pyongyang’s nuclear arsenal deadlocked and inter-Korean relations at a standstill.

It will be the first such aid Seoul has provided Pyongyang since 2015 and follows the North’s lowest recorded harvest for a decade, according to the United Nations.

The donation — to be made through the UN — comes as President Moon Jae-in seeks to salvage diplomacy between Pyongyang and Washington following the breakdown of the Hanoi summit when Kim Jong Un and Donald Trump failed to reach a deal on the North’s nuclear programme and sanctions relief.

Pyongyang has since largely cut off contact with both Seoul and Washington, with the South’s unification minister saying this week he had last spoken to a North Korean official at the beginning of May.

Seoul’s Unification Ministry, which handles inter-Korean relations, said the government had approved a plan to provide the funds amid concerns over the “worsening food situation”.

It will be given $4.5 million to the World Food Programme (WFP) to help address malnutrition, along with $3.5 million to UNICEF for health issues among children and pregnant women.

More than 10 million North Koreans — 40 percent of the population — were suffering from severe food shortages, according to recent UN estimates. The figure is similar to recent years.

“WFP and other international bodies have requested assistance to the North on the back of concerns for deteriorating conditions among the vulnerable there,” the ministry said in a statement.

It is the first humanitarian aid implemented by Moon’s government, but a North Korean propaganda outlet has already dismissed it as “non-essential” for inter-Korean relations.

If the South “sincerely wishes for sustained development, peace and prosperity”, it should implement the inter-Korean economic joint projects agreed last year instead of “raising the issue of humanitarian aid”, the state-run Uriminzokkiri website said in a commentary last month.

Several sets of sanctions, imposed on the North over its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes, currently block many proposed developments.

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Tragedy as gunmen behead businessman in Rivers

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Gunmen on Wednesday night killed and beheaded a middle-aged businessman simply identified as Chima.

It was gathered that the victim was shot and killed before he was beheaded by his assailants in the presence of his wife at Rumuekini community in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area of Rivers State.

An eyewitness, who spoke on condition of anonymity, stated that the incident happened around 11:00 p.m., adding that the killers put off the victim’s power generating set as a ploy to lure him out of his house.

It was gathered that the victim came out to check why his generator suddenly went off but was accosted by the gunmen, who shot, killed and beheaded him.

The source said, “The incident is shocking. Last night, Chima sat outside with his brothers and friends at a joint on the school road.

“Later around 11:00 p.m., we heard that he was attacked in his house. We heard that the killers turned off his generator and when he went outside to find out what happened to the generator, he was attacked.

“Immediately he came out, the boys shot him. He managed to run back into his house with the bullet, but the boys followed him, killed him and cut off his head.”

Another source explained that the hoodlums had ordered the wife of the deceased to bring a kitchen knife after they had killed her husband.

It was learnt that the gunmen used the kitchen knife to behead their victim and also ordered his wife to carry the head of her husband in a bucket into a waiting car before they zoomed off.

The killing and beheading of late Chima on Wednesday occurred despite the state governor’s stern warning to sanction Local Government chairmen and traditional rulers who condone criminality in their domain.

When contacted, the Police Public Relations Officer in Rivers State Nnamdi Omoni, confirmed the incident.

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