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Reps Hold Investigative Hearing On Suspension Of IBEDC Board

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The House of Representatives has held an investigative hearing into the suspension of the board of directors of Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company (IBEDC) allegedly by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC).

Chairman of the House Committee on Power, Mr Dan Asuquo, presided over the session which took place on Wednesday at the National Assembly complex in Abuja.

He said the meeting was convened to tackle critical issues, including the operations and administrations of major stakeholders in the power sector.

The lawmaker emphasised the relationship between the sector and national development towards the prosperity of the nation.

He said, “If we are to grow as a people and deliver on our promises as a great nation, we just must fix the power sector.

“There is no other path to national growth and this is why we (the National Assembly) are passionate in playing our role as troubleshooters in the Nigerian electricity supply industry and to continually put off the fires here and there that threaten its growth and even its existence as a whole.”

Asuquo noted that the legislature would continue to intervene wherever issues that have adverse implications on the health and growth of the sector arise.

He highlighted the case of the suspension of “all executive and non-executive directors of IBEDC as one of such instances.

Chairman of the House Committee on Power, Mr Dan Asuquo

The committee chairman stressed that the Independent Power Producers (IPP) needs to consolidate the positions in the new post-reform market, saying a complicated market calls for an all-inclusive engagement from stakeholders.

He observed that it was on this note that the order of the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) purportedly dissolving the board of the IBEDC came as a source of concern to the National Assembly and Nigerians at large.

The lawmaker added that this prompted the House of Representatives to direct its Committee on Power to wade into the crisis with the aim of ensuring that the free market was protected.

While welcoming the officials of NERC, IBEDC, and others present at the session, he criticised the situation where the Minister of Power, Mr Babatunde Fashola, and officials from the ministry were absent.

Speaker of the House, Mr Yakubu Dogara, also informed the gathering that the session was convened following a motion brought before that House in which there were allegations of an unlawful act against IBEDC by NERC.

Dogara, who was represented by the Chief Whip of the House, Alhassan Doguwa, noted that the electricity sector occupies a prime position in the nation’s economy and the well-being of its people.

He described the sector as the bedrock on which a sustainable economic development is built, saying it contributes immensely to the prosperity of a nation.

The Speaker recalled that the House had set up an ad-hoc committee in June to investigate an alleged breach of constitution by an electricity company in the Niger Delta region, while another was set up to curb excessive estimated electricity charges levied on consumers by electricity distribution companies.

He, however, said the decision of the NERC was not in line with the law and there were concerns that regulatory best practices might have been compromised or violated in the process.

Dogara also noted that such move was capable of scaring away genuine investors from the country, saying the essence of the investigation was to enable the lawmakers to arrive at the real fact of the matter.

But the hearing suffered a setback when the Chairman of NERC, Professor James Momoh, informed the matter that they were not at liberty to speak on the matter as it was already in court.

NERC senior officials led by the chairman, Professor James Momoh (middle)

Professor Momoh said, “IBEDC had filed a suit in the Federal High Court, Abuja, and we were served this order on June 27, 2018. Based on the letter sent to IBEDC on June 19, 2018, parties have appeared in court and the case is still in court. We have been advised that this hearing will be considered to be against the court order.”

He noted that the court had fixed October 15 to hear the matter while all parties were asked to wait for the court to determine the next action.

The NERC Chairman, however, said they have submitted a detailed report which captures the position of the commission to the House Committee.

In his response, the Committee Chairman said the NERC was not only answerable to the Nigerian people but also to its parliament, stressing that the organisation came into existence by the act of parliament.

He then clarified that the session was not to interfere with the court process but to ensure that the laws made by the National Assembly were properly adhered to while the heads of various organisation act within the limit of the law.

Asuquo consequently directed that the session return into an executive session behind closed-door, saying the second part of the motion which brought about the hearing stated that they should investigate the stability of the market itself.

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Buhari’s Desperation to Win Caused Election Postponement, Says CUPP

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The Coalition of United Political Parties has claimed that the desperation of President Muhammadu Buhari and his men to win the presidential election, by all means, was responsible for the last minute postponement of the election.

The coalition’s spokesman, Imo Ugochinyere, made the allegation in a statement made available to journalists in Abuja on Saturday morning.

He said, “In their bid to once again foist an unpopular government on Nigerians, they threw caution to the winds and started setting electoral materials on fire in states that are well known to be strongholds of opposition.

“These acts of sabotage, no doubt, ruined the preparations of the Independent National Electoral Commission for the elections.

“We have raised the alarm many times that agents of the government were working hard to ensure that elections are not held or are declared inconclusive in areas they know that the All Progressives Congress will never win. We have been vindicated.

We blame the international embarrassment this last minute postponement has caused the nation on the President, the desperate leaders of his party, APC, and the nation’s security agencies who failed woefully in their duties to protect electoral materials and INEC offices from attacks by these enemies of the nation.”

Ugochinyere added that with the postponement, “President Buhari’s judgement day with the people has just been shifted.”

He, however, said the INEC chairman, Prof Mahmood Yakubu, displayed courage by shifting the election.

He said the postponement averted what he could have resulted to “national bloodshed because we are aware that APC wanted to proceed with election after compromising distribution and destroying materials in over 15 states.”

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PDP Asks INEC Chairman to Resign, Accuses APC of ‘Grand Conspiracy’

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Uche Secondus, national chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), has asked Mahmood Yakubu to resign as the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

Speaking through Ike Abonyi, his media aide, shortly after the elections were postponed by INEC, Secondus said his party was rejecting the new dates.

He said it was a “deliberate, pre-determined agenda of President Muhammadu Buhari to cling on to power even when it’s obvious to him that Nigerians want him out”.

Secondus said the postponement was part of a “grand design” by the All Progressives Congress (APC) to thwart the will of Nigerians “at all cost”.

He said the APC “in connivance with INEC have been trying all options including but not limited to burning down INEC offices in some states and destroying of electoral materials to create artificial problems upon which to stand for their dubious act”.

“With several of their rigging options failing, they have to force INEC to agree to a shift in the election or a staggered election with flimsy excuses pre-manufactured for the purpose,” he said in the statement sent to TheCable.

“For the avoidance of doubt the PDP sees this action as wicked and we are also aware of other dubious designs like the deployment of hooded security operatives who would be ruthless on the people ostensibly to scare them away.”

Secondus said the “wicked killing” of over 60 persons mostly women and children in southern Kaduna on the eve of election “is a copious ploy by the APC to frighten the people away from voting knowing too well that they were not going to record any vote from the area”.

“Recall that the Governor of Kaduna state, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai had earlier threatened international election observers of going to their country in body bags and with the fatal violence in the state on the eve of election, it’s clear what the motives are, to frighten the observers from the state so that he can carry out his nefarious acts,” he said.

The PDP chairman also drew the attention to the statement of President Muhammadu Buhari that nobody can unseat him from office as an indication of what he wanted to do.

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I Haven’t Fled Nigeria —Obasanjo

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Former President Olusegun Obasanjo on Friday said he has not fled Nigeria, contrary to a social media report that he had travelled out of the county ahead of the presidential election scheduled for Saturday.

Obasanjo spoke with newsmen at his Presidential Library, Abeokuta, describing the Social media post as “fake news.”
The former president was reacting to a Facebook post of one Gbenga Lawal who posted: “Breaking: Obasanjo jets out of Nigeria. He can’t even wait for the thief he is imposing on Nigerians.”

In his reaction, Obasanjo said “Why should I travel out of the country before the election?

“If not for anything, I believe I should be here to perform my civic responsibility, which is to vote according to the dictate of my heart tomorrow and on the second of March.

“Those who are carrying that type of rumour or fake news; I leave them in the hands of God; I am used to that kind of thing.

“In Yoruba land, if your head is hard, you don’t have to worry yourself.

“Let anybody tell lies against you, let anybody issue fake news against you, let anybody abuse you, God will deal with them rightly and appropriately.”

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