From Kemi Yesufu, Abuja
A meeting between the House of Representatives Committee investigating the roles of the Minister of Justice and the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami and the Inspector-General of Police, Solomon Arase, in Kogi Assembly crises ended in a deadlock yesterday.
This was just as House Majority Leader and committee Chairman, Femi Gbajabiamila accepted that discussions on the matter were still ongoing.
He also disclosed that the committee’s report would be submitted next week.
The National Assembly had resolved to take over the legislative functions of Kogi Assembly and also directed the IGP to seal the assembly until the crisis was resolved.
Gbajabiamila, who spoke with newsmen after a closed-door session with the AGF, who was accompanied by Special Advisers to the President on National Assembly Matters, Senator Ita Enang and Sulieman Kawu said the committee was not in a hurry to investigate the matter as it had discovered that there were a number of issues that have to be carefully resolved.
“There are lots of constitutional issues between the Attorney-General’s office and the National Assembly that we need to look into not just at face value and we hope that next week, we will be able to resolve the issues,” he said.
Malami failed to appear before the committee last Thursday. He sent his special assistant, who was asked to leave the hearing and inform his principal to make an appearance yesterday.
Hajj:Katsina refunds N62m to 2015 pilgrims
From Agaju Madugba, Katsina
Katsina State Pilgrims Welfare Board, yesterday, commenced disbursement of N62 million to pilgrims who participated in the 2015 Hajj exercise.
The refund was for services not rendered by Hajj services providers in Saudi Arabia during the period.
The board’s Executive Director, Mohammed Abu Rimi, told Daily Sun that 4,485 pilgrims would benefit from the exercise including families of nine pilgrims who were killed during the Hajj stampede and the crane incident in Mecca.
He explained that the refund will also cover Hajj fares earlier paid by some intending pilgrims but who were not able to travel as well as refund of feeding money at Mina/Arafat and Trent “C” for holders of official visa.
According to him, apart from the payment centre located at the headquarters of the board, some other beneficiaries will collect their money at its seven zonal offices spread across the state, which include Katsina, Funtua, Malumfashi, Dutsima, Daura, Mani and Kankia.
All states across the country are expected to make similar refunds to the 2015 pilgrims, from a total of about N1.7 billion from the National Hajj Commission (NAHCON) refunded by the Hajj services providers in Saudi Arabia.
Zaria clash: Army, Kaduna govt disagree on figure of corpses buried
From Noah Ebije, Kaduna
There was a mild drama yesterday at the Judicial Commission of Inquiry when the Nigerian Army and Kaduna State Government differed on the number of corpses released for mass burial after the December 12, 2015 bloody clash between members of the Shi’ites and soldiers in Zaria, Kaduna State.
While government said at previous hearing of the commission that at least 347 corpses were handed over to them by the army for mass burial, the army yesterday claimed it handed over just “few” corpses to the government.
The army refused to release the figure(s) it handed over to the government when it testified yesterday before the Justice Mohammed Lawal Garba’s Commission on the Army/Shi’ites clash.
Secretary to the Kaduna State Government, Mallam Balarabe Lawal had, at the previous sitting of the commission, said not less than 347 unknown corpses from the last December clash were given mass burial in Kaduna few days after the bloody clash.
At the resumed sitting yesterday, a medical officer from the Nigerian Army Depot, Zaria, Major Uche Agulana told the commission that contrary to the state government’s claim that 347 corpses were buried, he handed over few corpses to representatives of the state government.
Agulana, when cross examined by counsel to the commission to give the actual figure of the dead, said he did not keep the record of the deaths as according to him, he was busy at that time “trying to save lives that were brought into the hospital.”
Also, the Director General of Interfaith, Muhammad Namadi Musa, had concurred by claiming that he led the burial exercise of the unknown corpses and that it was carried out at 12 mid night and lasted up to 5:00am in the morning.
Musa said: “On December 13, I received a phone call from the SSG to come to government house after which I was directed to go to Zaria to find out the number of corpses and how they would be buried.
“At the Nigerian Depot, the SSG directed me to meet with one Major Ogundare regarding the corpses there. After introducing myself, he refused to let me know the number; but later on, the SSG called me and told me the number.”
However, the Nigerian Army maintained that few corpses and not the 347 corpses were handed over to the government for burial.
Salary: Kaduna says PSN, BVN compulsory for payment
Kaduna State Government said yesterday that valid Personnel Sub-head Numbers (PSN) and Bank Verification Numbers (BVN) are compulsory before workers can receive their salaries.
The directive was against the backdrop of payment of April salary to workers in the state.
Finance Commissioner, Sulaiman Abdu Kwari told newsmen that government has dutifully paid its workers every month, even though minority of workers have had their payments delayed due to verification issues. He disclosed that the government has enough money to meet its salary obligations, but warned that the continued slide in revenues poses challenges.
“Kaduna State is getting only N2.4 billion from the Federation Account this month. This is only slightly higher than our monthly wage bill. The N2.4 billion we are getting this month maintains a recent pattern of revenue decline that saw the state’s allocation falling by hundreds of millions of naira for two consecutive months.
“The Kaduna State Government prioritises the payment of salaries to public servants. Its efforts have been to ensure that only genuine staff are paid.
“As announced earlier, the verification exercise is in the concluding phase. Salaries for April 2016 are now being paid to all state civil servants whose Ministries, MDAs have submitted their verified list, with valid Personnel Sub-head Numbers (PSN) and Bank Verification Numbers (BVN) for all workers.
Any MDAs whose data does not include PSN and BVN for their personnel will not be paid, until the crucial data is submitted.”
Kwari said that “all pensioners have also been notified that it is mandatory to submit their PSNs and their BVNs in order to continue to receive their pensions.”
Kwari expressed the need for the revenue challenges to be well understood and taken seriously by workers and the general public. “The Kaduna State Executive Council wishes to inform all workers and residents of Kaduna State of these serious revenue challenges, and requests their contributions to ensuring that scarce money is not wasted on the fraud that ghost workers represent. The government acknowledges the patience and forbearance that most public servants have demonstrated in supporting the effort to create a payroll that has integrity.”