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ICPC desperate to nail me, says alleged randy UNICAL professor

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Cyril Ndifon, the suspended dean of the Faculty of Law at the University of Calabar, says ICPC is desperate to create or search for any conceivable crime to nail him.

Mr Ndifon told Justice James Omotosho of the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court in a no-case submission filed by his lawyer, Joe Agi, against the ICPC’s amended four-count charge preferred against him and his lawyer, Sunny Anyanwu.

The suspended dean told the court that contrary to the anti-corruption commission’s allegations, the evidence before the court showed that WhatsApp messages between the ICPC’s witness, a female diploma student identified as TKJ, and him were that of “emotional feelings between two lovers and did not in any way put either of the party under fear.”

He argued that there was incontrovertible evidence that he was arrested and investigated on an alleged offence, currently being prosecuted by ICPC, in 2015 when he later proved to the ICPC that he had been cleared of the allegations by the police.

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Mr Ndifon was, on January 25, re-arraigned alongside Mr Anyanwu on an amended four-count charge bordering on alleged sexual harassment and attempt to perverse the cause of justice.

Mr Anyanwu, who is one of the lawyers in the defence, was joined in the amended charge filed on January 22 by the ICPC on the allegation that he called TKJ, the star witness, on her mobile telephone during the pendency of the charge against Mr Ndifon to threatened her.

On February 14, ICPC closed its case after calling four witnesses.

ICPC’s counsel, Osuobeni Akponimisingha, had earlier informed the court that the anti-corruption agency had about seven witnesses, with plans to amend the charge to increase the witness number in proving their case against the defendants.

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But on the last adjourned date, the commission announced the closure of its case, and the defendants told the court of their plan to opt for a no-case submission.

The duo, through their lawyer, said there was no evidence adduced by the prosecution on which the court could convict them.

Meanwhile, in the no-case submission dated and filed February 19 on behalf of Messrs Ndifon and Anyanwu, Mr Agi argued that the “unwholesome and illegal intrusion” into the professor’s phone by the ICPC had put before the whole world what TKJ and Mr Ndifon intended to make a personal and private communication.

He said the act had injured and negatively impacted their (TKJ and Mr Ndifon’s) characters and persons.

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“The commission, who at this time was desperate to create, search for any conceivable crime, seized the telephone of the first defendant (Mr Ndifon), who was under their custody and without obtaining an order of the court as required by Section 45 of the Cybercrime Act,” he said.

The lawyer further argued that the ICPC action also breached Mr Ndifon’s fundamental right as guaranteed by section 37 of the 1999 Constitution by breaking into his phone and going through his phone in search of an offence and without respect to his right to privacy.

“Then, on seeing nude and pornographic pictures in the first defendant’s phone, jumped at the Cybercrime Act to investigate the so-called offence of cyberstalking. This is not only exposing them as an ungovernable monster but like a knight-errant that goes about looking for skirmishes and battles all over the mace.

“My Lord, if this is allowed to stand, then we are all in trouble, and this cannot be the intention of the lawmakers or the law,” he said.

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Mr Agi equally argued that during cross examination of the first prosecution witness (PW1), Ogechi Chima, an ICPC investigator, she admitted that though they received several oral and written complaints against Mr Ndifon, TKJ was never mentioned as one of those complainants.

The lawyer, who described the commission’s act as an afterthought, added that TKJ was not even listed as a witness in the original charge but “surfaced after the amended charge was filed.”

He also wondered why the registrar of UNICAL, who was listed as a witness in the original charge, was dropped in their amended charge.

He said in the light of the above, count four, which alleged that the defendants threatened TKJ not to honour ICPC’s invitation, in the amended charge was not commenced by due process of law, thereby robbing the court of jurisdiction.

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Besides, Mr Agi contended that in the instant case, counts one and two, which deal with sending and receiving nude videos and count three of the charges, were not within the jurisdiction of the court.

“This honourable court must and should keep the ICPC within the scope and their legally demarcated boundaries as clearly provided in the statute that created them,” he said.

He, therefore, prayed the court to decline jurisdiction.

The defendants’ no-case submission will be heard on February 27.

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Nigeria to export petroleum products by Dec, says NNPCL

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Nigeria’s oil industry will join the big league in December when it becomes a net exporter of refined petroleum products.

Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL) Group Chief Executive Officer (GCEO), Mele Kyari, said yesterday that ahead of this, the Port Harcourt Refinery will go into full operation and petrol supply from next month.

According to him, the Warri and Kaduna refineries will follow suit by December.

On Sunday, Alhaji Aliko Dangote said the Dangote Refinery will pump petrol in commercial quantity also from next month.

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These are expected to bring relief to Nigerians.

Kyari spoke when he appeared before the National Assembly Joint Committee on Finance.

He was part of the Federal Government’s finance team that shared ideas with the lawmakers on how the Executive is tackling the myriad of economic challenges.

Yesterday, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) put the June headline inflation rate at 34.19 per cent, pushed up by the 40.87 per cent food inflation.

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Other members of the economic team at the parley led by the Coordinating Minister of the Economy Mr. Wale Edun were: Budget/National Planning Minister, Senator Atiku Bagudu; Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Senator Heineken Lokpobiri; Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Dr Yemi Cardoso, represented by Deputy Governor (Economic Policy) Muhammad Abdullahi and Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) Chairman, Mr. Zacch Adedeji.

Edun and Abdullahi joined the meeting during the closed-door session.

Relying on emerging indicators in the energy and gas sector, the NNPCL boss told the committee that Nigeria will become a net exporter of refined petroleum products by December.

Kyari told the committee that the Port Harcourt Refinery will start production early next month, adding that this will be followed by the one in Warri and Kaduna Refinery latest by December.

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He added that in a few months, the daily crude oil production will hit two million barrels with the logistics so far put in place.

Kyari said: “NNPCL and the oil and gas industry are very critical in bringing a turnaround in our current economic situation, and we understand the importance of this. We are taking every step that is practical for us to achieve this.

“We have already seen growth in our oil and gas production because of certain actions that Mr. President personally took, and also the very mere truth that we have also declared a war on production activities and this is yielding the required results.

“The combination of these two has now seen us restoring production in our country, and we believe that, as the minister has said, we will soon hit the target of two million barrels of oil production per day.

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“I’m aware that there are several comments in the public space around refining business and domestic production, including production that will come from the commissioned Dangote refinery.

“This country will be a net exporter of petroleum products by the end of this year. We’re very optimistic that by December, this country will be a net exporter.

“That means a combination of production coming from us, and also from Dangote refinery and other smaller producing companies are in line to do this.

“So, I can confirm to you, Mr. Chairman, that by the end of the year, this country will be a net exporter of petroleum products.

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“We have spoken to a number of your committees that it is impossible to have the Kaduna refinery come into operation before December, it will get to December. Both Warri and Kaduna but that of Port Harcourt, will commence production early August this year.”

The CBN Deputy Governor said the triple challenge of rising inflation, foreign exchange rate fluctuations and food inflation would soon be on the reverse trend as indicators to that effect are already emerging.

Bagudu said the 2024 Budget is already being implemented and that there is ongoing negotiation with Labour leaders on the new minimum wage.

Chairman of the joint Committee, Senator Sani Musa, appealed to Nigerians to persevere “as the government is working around the clock to stabilise the economy”.

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He added: “Our critical interactive session with you as managers of the economy is about economic growth. It’s about how we can get our policies to work. How we will support Nigerians.

“The National Assembly is very concerned because we are the representatives of the people. And we are obliged to ask what is happening and this is the reason for this meeting.

“We have heard from you, at least you have given us preambles of the activities going on, on how our economy can get back on track.

“You are all aware of the obstructions our economy has had in the previous years and it is not going to be easy that overnight, in 365 days or in one year of the coming administration, things will change. It will be gradual.

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“I believe that Nigerians will persevere. This is the only time we can all come together as Nigerians to give His Excellency the President, all the needed support to get us out of all the trouble we have been.

“The indicators are showing that the economy is doing well. Things are a bit difficult because it is not easy for inflation that has gone up to go down like that. It takes time.”

Inflation rises to 34.19 per cent

Nigeria’s headline inflation rate rose marginally by 0.24 percentage points to 34.19 per cent last month from 33.95 per cent in May.

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Food inflation also increased to 40.87 per cent last month against 40.66 per cent the previous month.

The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), in its latest report, said: “In June 2024, the headline inflation rate increased to 34.19 per cent relative to the May 2024 headline inflation rate which was 33.95 per cent.

‘’Looking at the movement, the June 2024 headline inflation rate showed an increase of 0.24 per cent points when compared to the May 2024 headline inflation rate.”

The NBS stated this in its Consumer Price Index (CPI) released yesterday.

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The CPI  measures the average change over time in the prices of goods and services consumed by people daily.

“On a year-on-year basis, the headline inflation rate was 11.40 per cent points higher compared to the rate recorded in June 2023, which was 22.79 per cent,’’ the report added.

However, the rate of increase (0.24 percentage points) is lower than that of  May and other months.

“On a month-on-month basis, the food inflation rate in June 2024 was 2.55 per cent, which shows a 0.26 per cent increase compared to the rate recorded in May 2024 (2.28 per cent),” it said.

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The NBS attributed the development to a rise in the average prices of food items.

CPI had risen from 33.20 per cent in March to 33.69 per cent in April.

Nigeria has seen 19 months of consecutive inflationary pressure, pushing the inflation rate to a 28-year high.

Many experts at Cordros Capital Group, and CardinalStone Group, had expected a gradual and sustained decline in inflation in the months ahead, with some highlighting possible disinflation from July 2024.

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Financial Derivatives Company (FDC) predicted that average prices would rise further this month. It cited renewed inflationary pressure.

FDC particularly noted that imminent wage increases could trigger cost-push inflation.

President of the Association of Capital Market Academics in Nigeria, Prof. Uche Uwaleke, said recent fiscal measures by the Federal Government designed to address food shortages would manifest in a slowdown of costs.

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18.7m Nigerians under insurance cover, NHIA DG

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No fewer than 18.7 million Nigerians have been covered by health insurance as of this year’s second querter, the Nigerian Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) said yesterday.

The agency said it has made significant strides in expanding health insurance coverage across the country.

It’s Director-General, Dr. Kelechi Ohiri, dropped the hints in Abuja during the inaugural Quarterly Performance Dialogue between the Federal Government, 36 State Governments, and key health sector stakeholders.

According to him, the 18.7 million Nigerians covered by health insurance, surpassed the target set for the period by an impressive 11 per cent.

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He said that this achievement highlighted the NHIA’s dedication to achieving universal health coverage (UHC).

Ohiri said: “The authority’s vision is centered on bridging the gap in healthcare access for millions of Nigerians and enhancing the overall quality of care. Despite this progress, several challenges persist.”

He said that one of the significant challenges identified was the uneven distribution of coverage, particularly the disparity between the formal and informal sectors.

To tackle these challenges, Ohiri said that the NHIA had outlined a strategic plan for the future.

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He mentioned that the authority aimed to leverage on data and technology to enhance service delivery and patient outcomes.

He said that the NHIA was optimising operations and fostering citizen engagements in its commitment to improving healthcare access.

“The authority has set an ambitious target to cover 20 million Nigerians by 2027, a goal that underscores its comprehensive vision for universal health coverage in the country,” he said.

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Ex-VP Osinbajo Celebrates Wife’s Birthday With Heartfelt Message

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Former Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, has taken to social media to gush over his wife, Dolapo, as she marks her birthday anniversary on Monday.

Osinbajo took to his X handle (formerly Twitter) on Monday to pen down emotional messages with pictures of Dolapo appreciating arts and plants, to wish his wife well.

Osinbajo wrote: “Happy birthday my love @dolapoosinbajo.

“Your love, kindness, and generosity make all our lives so much happier.

“Love you always, Yemi xxx.”

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He continued, saying, “This year I decided to share my favorite photos of Dolly @dolapoosinbajo doing her favorite things.”

Taking to the comment section, veteran Nollywood actress Joke Silva said, “Happy birthday to the Jewel in the Crown. Have an incredible day.”

Also, a former Chairman, Board of Directors, First Bank of Nigeria Ltd., Ibukun Awosika, reacted: “Happy birthday to a most beautiful person, both inside and outside. You are a true treasure and a worthy example of Christ in us. God bless you richly. Love you lots.”

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