The Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions has ordered the arrest of Effiong Akwa, sole administrator of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), over the non-appearance of the immediate past interim management committee (IMC). The panel is probing the alleged diversion of ₦6.25 billion meant for the purchase of COVID-19 relief items for the Niger Delta. The lawmakers began probing the IMC led by Kemebradikumo Pondei, former acting managing director of NDDC, after Sobomabo Jackrich, chairman of the agency’s COVID-19 palliative distribution committee, petitioned the Senate. In his petition, Jackrich had alleged that the aforementioned sum approved by President Buhari was diverted by the Pondei-led IMC. He also alleged that spoiled food was procured to be distributed to the Niger Delta people. “The then IMC conspired among themselves and distributed strange substances in the name of palliatives in the form of spoiled food items to a few communities in the region,” Mr Jackrich said in the petition. “To cover up for the fraud, they tried without success to bribe me with a few bags of rice and beans just to induce me to play along with them.” Speaking at a session of the committee on Monday, Patrick Akinyelure, its chairman, said Mr Pondei and the rest of the disbanded team had failed to appear before the panel despite being invited five times. “This is the fifth time our committee will summon the former interim management committee of the NDDC to appear before us but they have always ignored our summons,” Mr Akinyelure said. “We hereby resolve to request a warrant of arrest to be issued on the sole administrator of the NDDC, Effiong Akwa to produce Pondei and his team. Last year, the Senate indicted the IMC and asked it to return ₦4 billion to the coffers of the government.
The FG will meet with state governors and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) on Thursday to find a solution to the issue of the pricing of petrol. Rising from its meeting with the unions last night, the FG said that both sides have resolved to allow more time in order to look into ways of tinkering with the domestic fuel price template. At the meeting which ended at about midnight, ThisDay reported that the NNPC, accounting for landing costs among other cost factors, came up with a price of ₦206 per litre. It explained that the new price range was as a result of the rise in crude oil price in the international market. However, the unions disagreed with the NNPC’s pricing template, insisting that certain cost elements needed to be reviewed so that the petrol price can come down. Addressing journalists after the meeting, labour minister, Chris Ngige, who chaired the discussion, said that it ended peacefully. “As for the issue of the price of petrol, it is a work in progress. The governors are to discuss this on Thursday at the National Economic Council and hopefully there will be a way out of the situation,” he said. When asked about electricity tariffs, Dr Ngige said that a committee report was well received by both sides and the committee was asked to continue further work on grey areas. He said that the meeting with labour was adjourned till April, after the Easter celebration. Speaking on the outcome of the talks, the president of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Ayuba Wabba said they were able to point out areas of the report on petrol pricing that labour disagreed with. Mr Wabba also said that labour maintained it was not comfortable with the import pricing method that the country is adopting, which meant that the country imports 100 percent of all the petrol used in the country, when it still has refineries.
The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) says it has commenced implementation of the reduced import levy for vehicles. The 2020 Finance Bill signed into law by President Buhari provides for a downward review of excise duty on tractors and motor vehicles for transportation, as well as levy to be paid on imported cars. Car import levy has been slashed from 35 percent to five percent; import duty of tractors has been reduced from 35 percent to five percent; mass transit vehicles and motor vehicles for goods transport from 35 percent to 10 percent. The Cable quoted Customs spokesman, Joseph Attah on Monday as saying that a circular has been distributed to all the service’s commands for immediate compliance. “We have sent the circular to all the commands. Yes, we have started implementation. Once a directive is given, it means the Customs is set, ” Mr Attah said. Hameed Ali, the Customs comptroller-general, recently said the service had received directives from the ministry of finance, budget and national planning, to commence implementation. “The act has been transmitted to us. We received the minister’s mandate this week, to start working on it, although we have to develop certain regulations and measures on how we intend to implement the law,” Mr Ali had said. “We have to change our codes to fit into the new law. You know that commercial vehicles levy is the only levy that has been reduced from 35 percent to five percent. “So we have to change the codes to fit into the new law and we hope we’ll finish that in two days and the minister will have to look at it and agree that yes that is what we should do.”
Italy’s ambassador to the Democratic Republic of Congo was killed on Monday during a fact-finding mission to the country’s troubled east, a senior diplomat told AFP. The envoy, Luca Attanasio, “died of his wounds” after a convoy of the UN’s World Food Programme (WFP) came under fire near Goma, the source said in Kinshasa. Two other people also died in the attack, Major Guillaume Djike, the army’s spokesman in North Kivu province told AFP, without identifying the casualties. North Kivu governor, Carly Nzanzu, told Al Jazeera the seven-member convoy was not escorted by any security forces when the incident happened. The WFP said it was seeking information from local authorities as the ambush occurred on a road that had previously been cleared for travel without security escorts. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, which took place at about 10:15am (0815 GMT). Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio expressed his “great dismay and immense sorrow” over the attack and left a meeting in Brussels with European Union counterparts to make an early return to Rome. Mr Nzanzu, the North Kivu governor, said local security forces had not been informed of the delegation’s presence in the area. Mr Nzanzu said Mr Attanasio was hit by bullets fired by the attackers during an exchange of fire between the rebels and Virunga park rangers supported by the DRC’s armed forces who were alerted to the attack. The DRC’s army said troops were searching the area in the Virunga National Park for the assailants.