Press highlights 61 years jail term for defrauding govt of N2.1bn, others

APA– Lagos The jail term of 61 years handed to a former Chairman of the defunct Pension Reform Task Team, Abdulrasheed Maina, by the Federal High Court, Abuja for defrauding the Nigerian Government of N2.1 billion is one of the trending stories in Nigerian newspapers on Tuesday. The Guardian reports that the Federal High Court, Abuja has sentenced former Chairman…

APA – Lagos (Nigeria) The jail term of 61 years handed to a former Chairman of the defunct Pension Reform Task Team (PRTT), Abdulrasheed Maina, by the Federal High Court, Abuja for defrauding the Nigerian Government of N2.1 billion is one of the trending stories in Nigerian newspapers on Tuesday.

The Guardian reports that the Federal High Court, Abuja has sentenced former Chairman of the defunct Pension Reform Task Team (PRTT), Abdulrasheed Maina, to a total of 61 years imprisonment but to run concurrently for eight years for defrauding the Federal Government of the sum of N2.1 billion.

The sentence, which started counting from October 26, 2019 when the 12-count charge was brought against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), meant the convict began serving his eight years term from the very date.

By implication, the convict has only five years left of the service.

The trial judge, Justice Okon Abang, yesterday, sentenced Maina to eight years imprisonment on count one, count two attracted five years, counts three and four went for eight years each. Counts five and six got three and five years jail terms.

The ex-pension panel chief was also convicted on counts seven, eight, nine and 10 for eight, three, five and eight years respectively, while counts 11 and 12 received three three-year sentence each.

The court also ordered the forfeiture of Maina’s three landed properties in Abuja and his bullet-proof Sport Utility Vehicles (SUVs) and other automobiles. They are to be auctioned and the proceeds paid into the account of the Federal Government.

His company, ‘Common Input and Property Investment’, was ordered to refund N1.8 billion and $537,983 within 90 days to the Federal Government.

The judge also ordered the winding up of the firm.

The newspaper says that despite higher crude prices and allocation, as the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allies adjust monthly quota, Nigeria’s oil production remains below its monthly quota, according to the latest S&P Global Platts survey.

According to the survey, Nigeria dropped to 1.37 million barrels a day in October, 261,000 bpd below its OPEC+ quota, due to operational setbacks and sabotage from key pipelines.

The shortfalls from Nigeria and others have contributed to a tight oil market as global demand has recovered to near pre-pandemic levels, prompting intense criticism from the US and other consuming countries that have complained of high oil prices.

The Guardian had earlier reported that Nigeria’s production challenges appear unabated, as frequent pipeline sabotage is expected to see the country’s average crude loss surpass 200,000 barrels a day.

Platts survey showed that Bonny Light, Escravos and Forcados have all faced production issues in 2021, while output of other key grades such as Qua Iboe, Brass River, Agbami, Akpo and Egina have also remained consistently low this year.

The Punch reports that importers of Liquefied Petroleum Gas, popularly called cooking gas, have stopped importing the commodity. Investigations also show that the cost of the product increased by 240 per cent for 12.5kg, jumping from N3,000 to N10,200 between January and October.

About 65 per cent of LPG is imported into Nigeria, while domestic production accounts for 35 per cent, hence the halt in imports could further shoot up cooking gas price if the situation is not addressed.

The Executive Secretary, Nigerian Association of Liquefied Petroleum Gas Marketers, Bassey Essien, told our correspondent on Monday that the reintroduction of customs duty and Value Added Tax on imported LPG were the basic reasons for the halt in its imports by importers.

He stated that there were several other issues and stressed that if the halt in LPG imports should drag further, the supply of the commodity domestically could suffer severe drop. This came as NALPGAM in an open letter to the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva, urged the minister to urgently intervene in the skyrocketing price of LPG in Nigeria.

The newspaper says that the Nigerian Customs Service has tightened security at the nation’s borders with the deployment of more of its officers especially to the gateways between Nigeria and Republic of Benin as well as other places.

The move, the NCS said, was aimed at curtailing the activities of rice smugglers. The development came barely 24 hours after the Director-General, Rice Producers Association of Nigeria, Andy Ekwelem, said that over 566,000MT of rice from Thailand and India had arrived Republic of Benin.

Ekwelega explained that almost all the bags of rice shipped into Benin Republic were smuggled into Nigeria owing to large population of the country and the market size.

The Federal Government had also confirmed on Sunday that there was an increase in the smuggling of rice into Nigeria. As such, the government said it had convened a meeting involving the NCS and other security agencies to re-strategise on how to address the ugly trend.

ThisDay reports that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has once cautioned members of the public against engaging in panic buying of petrol, stressing that the national oil company has over 1.7 billion litres of the product in stock.

A statement by the NNPC Spokesman, Mr. Garba Muhammad, yesterday reiterated that the corporation was also not aware of any plan by government to cause an increase in the pump price of petroleum.

In addition, the NNPC stated that more product was expected to arrive in the country daily over the coming weeks and months, insisting that it was therefore unnecessary to entertain any fear of scarcity of petrol throughout the festive season and beyond.

“The Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA) had made that declaration last week. “In view of these assurances therefore, the NNPC is advising motorists and other consumers of petrol to maintain their regular pattern of the purchase of petrol without getting into a panic situation that may send the wrong signals around the country,” it stated.

The NNPC said it was engaging all stakeholders to ensure smooth supply and distribution of products to every part of the country during the festive season and beyond.

The newspaper says that as Nigerians await the full operation of the new generation network, 5G, the Executive Vice Chairman of the National Communication Commission (NCC), Prof. Umar Danbatta, has assured Nigerians of the safety of their health.

This is just as the Commission proposed to generate N632.39 billion in 2022, from the sale of 5G spectrum to players in the telecom sector, among other revenue sources.

Danbatta, who gave the assurance yesterday, when he appeared before the National Assembly joint committee on Communications to defend his commission’s 2022 budget proposal, said the commission’s response was sequel to the fear being expressed by Nigerians over the deployment of the new technology.

“The revenue would be realised through the sales of 5G spectrum, fines among others.

“Concerning the fears about the 5G spectrum, we share the same concern because it is justified and we have been sensitising Nigerians about the safety of the new technology. The 5G network we are going to launch has no harm.” “Up till date, there is no credible evidence about the health hazard of the 5G technology, therefore it is safe,” he said.

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