FG orders buyers of seized drug-related property to pay extra N31m

THE Federal Executive Council (FEC) has ordered buyers of two seized properties in Lagos to pay the government more money to cover the costs of the ruling charges in 2001 when they were appraised. This followed a memo presented to the council by the Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, explaining that the government had not been given the correct amount for the transaction.

The FEC meeting was chaired by President Muhammadu Buhari at the presidential villa, Abuja on Wednesday. Fashola said the properties, a four-bedroom bungalow at Adeniyi Jones Avenue Lagos and a five-bedroom duplex at Amadasun Street in GRA, Ikoyi, Lagos, were seized by the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) during the prosecution of narcotics.

The Minister noted that the properties were sold in 2001 for N2 million and N5 million respectively. to N31 million.

However, the minister could not disclose the identity of the buyers, because he said they were not in the memo to FEC.

He said: “At the time, the valuation we got was that if they were valued well they should have been sold for N18 million and N20 million respectively.”

He noted that the then NDLEA law gave precedence to the guidelines of the Ministry of Justice and the regulations were made according to the powers of the law.

“But they have not taken note of the procurement law and the financial regulations of the time.

“We are now saying that in the future financial rules should take precedence. Those are all proposals that will come as a new law when the Treasury Department is done, so you can’t have any other rules for the disposal of assets forfeited to the government. They must be subject to one superior procedure,” he added.

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The minister also revealed that the government has approved a policy recommendation to extend the useful life of government assets such as factories, equipment, land, property and machinery.

According to him, the new recommendation will ensure proper removal while at the same time saving public spending.

Fashola said that in order to ensure proper accountability, ministers will now be fully involved in the tender process as they are now required to sign property valuation requests from their respective ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs).

He went on to say: “We have also suggested that heads of ministry as accounting officers should now sign on request for property valuations, especially when agencies are trying to buy property. “We have seen that sometimes ministers are not even aware that there are proposals are done for acquiring certain assets. Essentially, the council approved all the policy recommendations. They should go to the Ministry of Finance, which is responsible for making the financial regulations to implement the necessary regulations.”

Meanwhile, the former governor of Lagos State described the disruption of vehicular traffic around the Sagamu Interchange of the Lagos/Ibadan Expressway on Tuesday as a violation of the law. In response to a question, he appealed to the public’s understanding of the inconveniences surrounding the yet-to-be-finished section of the busy road.

Fashola said, “We are still on track. You may have heard that I had to call into a program yesterday to provide some clarification. It is a combination of the work being done and also the traffic and behavior of motorists and commuters, but also elements; heavy rainfall lately, which is causing the inconvenience.

“Once again I use this medium to apologize and sympathize with citizens and commuters who need that place to move on with their lives.

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“It’s the place we left until last, really because it’s the most built-up area, the last six kilometers to Lagos, very densely populated and occupied and there’s very little room for alternative routes for people, so they’ll just have to do with us.

“I have also heard that some disadvantaged students, under the auspices of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), are also taking to the road to protest. My respectful opinion is that that does not help the citizens at all. The right to protest is a very well protected right in our constitution, but it does not include the right to cause pain and inconvenience to other people.

“So, while their protests can go on, they should refrain from blocking the road to do their protest; that in itself is a violation of the law, if properly advised.”

Meanwhile, FEC also approved a partnership for the production of local vaccines on Wednesday. The Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, announced that Nigeria will begin construction of an inoculation plant by the end of the year after signing a contract manufacturing agreement with Serum Institute of India for the local production of the lampreys.

In his presentation at the briefing, he said: “The approval has been given and with this partnership now, they will now break ground and start building right away.

“Local production of vaccines has become a necessity for Nigeria as vaccine subsidies from the international community are expected to end within the next six years, meaning the country will have to raise $300 million to buy its vaccines.

“By 2028, the support we received from GAVI to subsidize our vaccines will expire. And by then we should be producing our own vaccine domestically.” FEC also approved an increase of N28.4 billion in the contract to develop tech infrastructure in the Wasa Affordable Housing District of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). The contract was initially awarded to Gilmor Nigeria Limited in 2014 at a cost of approximately N56.9 billion, with the increase bringing the total cost to approximately N85.04 billion. FCT minister Mohammed Bello made this known during a briefing to correspondents at the end of the FEC meeting chaired by President Muhammadu Buhari at the presidential villa, Abuja, on Wednesday. FEC also approved N2.044 billion for the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB) in respect of a contract for the construction of internal roads and drainages to the Polaku Gas Hub in Bayelsa State.

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Speaking at the briefing, State Minister for Petroleum Resources Timipre Sylva, who made the announcement, said the gas roundabout is aimed at stimulating the development of gas processing plants. He stated: “The Council today approved a contract to Messrs. Black Springs, limited to the construction of internal roads and drainages at the NCDMB gas hub at Polaku, Bayelsa State.

“The gas roundabout should stimulate the development of companies that will process and develop our gas, deepen the use of gas internally, process gas for export and also build cylinders.” Sylva assured that the Old Port Harcourt refinery will be operational in December this year, although he said the development of the compressed natural gas (CNG) is still underway. He said one of the two refineries, the old one with a capacity of 60,000 barrels per day, will be operational by the end of 2022, while work is also progressing on both the Warri and Kaduna refineries.

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