Buhari Signs Engineers Amendment Act into Law

President Muhammadu Buhari has assented to the Engineers (Registration etc) Amendment Act, 2019, The Nation reports.

The principal Act establishes the Council for Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria – COREN’ with power vested.

According to the Senior Special Assistant on National Assembly matters (Senate), Ita Enang, the new amendment has broadened the powers of COREN with far-reaching powers of prosecution of infractions, regulating industrial training of Engineers, capacity building of local content in Nigeria engineering industry.

Specifically, he said, the new law grants COREN powers of: “prosecuting any person or firm that contravenes the provisions of this Act in a court of competent jurisdiction; regulating industrial training schemes in engineering practitioners and students;

(I) Ensuring capacity building and monitoring local content development in the Nigerian engineering industry through – mandatory attachment of Nigerians to expatriate engineers on major projects to understudy them from inception

“(ii) Ensuring that all foreign engineering firms establish their design offices in Nigeria. (iii) granting of compulsory attestation to all expatriate quota for engineering practitioners, including turnkey project, that there are no qualified and competent Nigerians for the job in question at the time of application and that granting of the expatriate quota shall be contingent on training of such number of persons as may be required for the execution of the job, and;

“(iv) Ensuring that, before being allowed to practice in Nigeria, such foreign engineering practitioners granted work permit, register with the council and obtain such licenses as may be required from time to time; (h) investigating engineering failures.’’

He said that the new Act further admits into the Council (COREN) the following: “Nigerian Association of Technologists in Engineering Nigerian Society of Engineering Technicians, and
Nigerian Association of Engineering Craftsmen, and
One person each appointed to represent the –Association for Consulting Engineering in Nigeria, Federation of Construction Industry in Nigeria
Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, and Armed Forces in rotation.’’

The Council, he said, is now entitled to maintain a fund into which shall be paid money appropriated by the National Assembly, subventions, fees, charges for services rendered or publications made, donations, engineering development levy, among others.

“On NYSC, the Amendment states:

(14) (i)‘’The Directorate of the National Youth Service Corps shall ensure posting of graduate engineers and technologists to places of relevant professional engineering experience.

(ii) Pursuant to the provision of subsection (i), the Directorate of National Youth Service Corps shall communicate the location of graduate engineers and engineering technologists to the Council.’’

The Act broaden engineering ‘’practitioners to include a registered Engineer, Engineering technologist, Engineering technician and Engineering craftsman. It emphasis more on engineering practitioners as against ‘engineer.

“The Act has been remitted in accordance with standard legal procedures.” Enang stated.

Nigerian Troops Build Water, Bread Factories to Support Soldiers Fighting Boko Haram

Troops of 115 Task Force Battalion, Operation Lafiya Dole, Nigerian Army in Askira-Uba, have constructed bread and sachet water factories to support soldiers fighting Boko Haram insurgents in Borno, Agency News reports.

Yusuf Salisu, 115 Task Force Commander, disclosed this during Operational visit of Bulama Biu, Acting General Officer Commanding (GOC), 7 Division of the army on Friday.

Mr Salisu, who was represented by Godwin Ameh, said that the project was executed under the Battalion Commander Humanitarian Initiative.

He said that the initiative came as part of the modality toward protecting its soldiers from consuming unwholesome and poisonous foods or water from Boko Haram and their sympathisers.

He explained that some of the bread sold daily in commercial places could contain cancer-causing chemicals, including potassium bromate and potassium iodate, which are banned substances in the country.

According to him, the whole idea is to provide healthy food to our soldiers.

“The initiative was also designed to provide humanitarian support and services to the less privileged in the hospitals, church, mosque and the entire host communities with a view to strengthen civic relationship,” he said.

He urged other brigades within the theatre to emulate the 155 battalion initiative and ideas that would add meaningful value to the welfare of troops while executing the counter terrorism campaign.

The GOC also charged soldiers and officers in the battalion to be committed, focused and decisive in their duties.

He assured them that the army under the leadership of Tukur Burutai, would work toward providing them with all the necessary support to enhance its operation and win the war

Tribunal Dismisses Oyetola, INEC’s Objections on Adeleke, PDP’s Petition

The Osun State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal in Abuja on Friday dismissed the separate objections filed by the All Progressives Congress and its candidate, Gboyega Oyetola, as well as the Independent National Electoral Commission against the petition challenging their victory at the September 2018 election, The Nation reports.

The Peoples Democratic Party and its governorship candidate in the election filed the petition urging the tribunal to declare that he polled the highest lawful votes and should be declared the winner.

But Oyetola, APC and INEC filed their notices of preliminary objection contending the court’s jurisdiction and petition’s competence.

Delivering the‎ lead ruling of the three-man tribunal, Justice Peter Obi, dismissed objections as misconceived before striking them out.

The tribunal added that the tribunal had jurisdiction to hear the petition.

There are two other reserved rulings the tribunal is to deliver before delving into the merit of the petition.

Buhari Inaugurates Committee For Autonomy Of State Judiciary, Legislature

President Muhammadu Buhari has inaugurated the Presidential Implementation Committee on Autonomy of the State Legislature and State Judiciary in accordance with the 4th alteration on the 1999 Constitution.

During the ceremony at the council chamber of the Aso Villa, the president charged members to be diligent in discharging their duties.

He believes autonomy of the state legislature and judiciary is a necessary precondition for Nigeria’s democracy to endure.

The 16-member committee is headed by the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, while the president’s National Assembly liaison, Ita Enang, is to serve as secretary.

The implementation committee has three months from the day of the inauguration to complete its assignment.

NNPC Begins First Phase Rehabilitation of Port Harcourt Refinery

Nigeria’s effort at ensuring local sufficiency in refined petroleum products was bolstered on Thursday with the formal commencement of the first phase of the rehabilitation of the 210,000 barrels per day capacity Port Harcourt Refinery complex that comprises the 60,000 barrels per day old Refinery built in 1965 and the 150,000 barrels per day, new Refinery, commissioned in 1989.

The exercise flagged off by the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Dr. Maikanti Baru, at a formal kick–off meeting in the premises of the refinery in Port Harcourt, came 19 years after the last Turn Around Maintenance (TAM) exercise of the nation’s premier refining plant.

NNPC Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division, Ndu Ughamadu, in a statement on Thursday in Abuja said the project would be executed by Milan-based Maire Tecnimont S.p.A, in collaboration with its Nigerian affiliate, Tecnimont Nigeria.

The statement disclosed that Maire Tecnimont S.p.A is listed on Milan Stock Exchange with interest in international engineering and construction, technology and licensing, and energy business development, adding that the Tecnimont group had operations in 40 different countries, numbering about 50 operative companies with a workforce of about 5,500 employees.

The NNPC’s spokesman quoted the GMD as saying that at the end of the phase 1, the Refinery complex should be able to reach 60 percent capacity utilization.

Mr. Ughamadu stated that NNPC was engaging ENI/NAOC as Technical Advisor to support the Rehabilitation of PHRC, saying NNPC/PHRC would leverage ENI’s extensive refinery supply chain network and warehouses to procure critical materials for the programme.

He noted that this first phase of the rehabilitation contract which would run for six months will involve detailed integrity check and equipment inspection of the Port Harcourt Refinery complex beginning from end of March, 2019.

The integrity test comes as a forerunner to the second phase of the rehabilitation project which entails a comprehensive revamp of the complex aimed at restoring the refinery to a minimum of 90 percent capacity utilization.

Subject to the successful completion of the integrity checks, Phase 2 of the project would be executed on an Engineering Procurement Construction basis by Tecnimont in collaboration with the original builders of the plant, JGC of Japan.

Speaking on behalf of the contractors, Antonio Vella, Chief Officer, Upstream, ENI, said all the companies involved would deploy all available modern resources to ensure effective upgrade of the plant.

Mr Vella enthused that with the commitment of all parties involved, it was certain that NNPC would be able to celebrate the revamp of the PHRC that would lead to its full capacity utilization on schedule and in full safety.

Speaking on behalf of the workers unions, Comrade Odor Victor Ayiri, Branch Chairman of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association (PENGASSAN) and Comrade Dibiah Joseph, Chairman of the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG), jointly pledged the support of workers to ensuring a smooth turnaround of the facility.

EFCC Accuses US of Issuing Inaccurate Report on Anti-Graft War

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has lambasted the US government following a report by the State Department criticising the President Muhammadu Buhari government’s anti-corruption efforts, The Cable reports.

The US state department’s bureau of democracy, human rights and labour had said that Nigeria had made little progress in efforts to limit corruption in its public service.

It added among others that “there is a climate of impunity in the President Muhammadu Buhari government that allows officials to engage in corrupt practices with a sense of exemption from punishment.”

The report said the EFCC and the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC), Nigeria’s two key anti-corruption agencies had broad powers to prosecute corruption, but rarely applied such powers to conscientiously and logically prosecute corruption cases.

“In their prosecution of corruption cases, law enforcement and intelligence agencies often failed to follow due process and arrested suspects without appropriate arrest and search warrants,” the report read.

In response to this, the EFCC issued a statement saying that the “report is not only outdated and false but misleading.”

“The report is unfounded on the grounds of Nigeria’s remarkable achievements in the last four years as the war against corruption is on course,” the commission said.

“The EFCC’s commitment to the fight against corruption in the last four years is not in doubt to any discerning and genuinely concerned observer. This commitment is benchmarked by the unprecedented record of convictions, non-conviction based forfeiture and stolen assets recovery.”

“We are surprised that the US report could ignore or downplay our convictions in such a brazen manner when it claimed that the EFCC secured only 13 convictions in 2016. That is false and far from the truth.”

The anti-graft agency also mentioned some of its achievements under the present administration.

“For the avoidance of doubt, the EFCC has secured 943 convictions since 2015 till date. The agency recorded 103 convictions in 2015, secured 195 convictions in 2016, got 189 convictions in 2017. It is important to state that the EFCC secured 314 convictions in 2018 including two former state governors who were sentenced to 14 years imprisonment without option of fine. It is instructive to note that the two former governors serving their jail terms in prison are members of the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC). The Commission has so far recorded 142 convictions as at March 19 this year. These are verifiable facts,” the anti-corruption agency said.

The ant-graft agency further expressed concern over what it called a “report with inaccuracies.”

“Indeed, the US report’s portrayal of the work of the EFCC which is replete with inaccurate information is worrisome considering the close relationship between the Commission and some US entities,” the EFCC said.

“Unfortunately, the US Report does not reflect this deep knowledge of the EFCC and its work, which is enough reason to be suspicious about the motives behind the publication.

“From the foregoing, it is clear that the report authored by the American agency has done a great disservice to the work of the EFCC in particular and the fight against corruption under the leadership of President Buhari, an administration that is globally acknowledged for the enormous political will it has brought to the fight against corruption in Nigeria.”

Nigerian Govt. Raises Alarm Over Plants, Environment

The Permanent Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Environment, Mrs. Ibukun Odusote, has said future looks very gloomy for Nigerian forests due to the over-exploitation of economic trees and other vital forests resources, Daily Post reports.

Mrs. Odusote stated this in Abuja on Thursday, on the occasion of the “2019 International Day of Forests.”

She noted that this year’s celebration – “Forests and Education” as well as its slogan “Learn to Love our Forests” clearly re-enforces the need to educate ourselves on the importance of the forests and learn how to appreciate and use them for our benefits as well the benefits of the unborn generation.

“In line with the theme, the choice of this venue (Cyprian Ekwensi Centre For Arts and Culture, Abuja) named after one of Nigeria’s renowned lovers of arts and culture further creates an opportunity for us to re-learn about our National Flower, the Yellow Trumpet (Costus spectabilis).

“Of all our national treasures, I dare say that this is the most unrecognized and most misrepresented. This yellow flower has been consistently wrongfully represented as red in some of our Coat of Arms.

“Worst still, the plant that used to be ubiquitous and can be found virtually in every part of the country – which is the reason it was chosen as our national flower besides its multiple use – is now endangered and can only be found as relics in very few areas,” she added.

Mrs. Odusote further stated that her Ministry has structured this year’s presentation “to focus on reminding us of the likelihood of losing our indigenous and iconic plant species if we continue to treat our forests resources as what we would have in perpetuity.”

Rivers Guber: PDP Reacts to INEC’s Decision on Election Result

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), in Rivers State has said despite the decision by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), to shift collation and announcement of election in the state to April, it was optimistic of coming out victorious at the end.

The PDP stated this in a statement on Thursday by its chairman, Bro. Felix Obuah.

The statement read, “Even though we frown at the length of the timelines issued by INEC for the collation, declaration and conclusion of the election process in Rivers State, we received the news with optimism.

“Rivers State PDP is waiting patiently for the process to be concluded because the people of Rivers State overwhelmingly voted for our party.

“We urge Rivers people to remain calm as the mandate they freely gave to Governor Wike and the PDP on March 9 will be affirmed at the end of the Collation Process.

“Victory for the PDP will come at the end of the exercise. Rivers State is PDP. The people massively voted for the PDP as all the figures indicate.”

Buhari Speaks on Fake News, Says Digital Space Difficult to Regulate

President Muhammadu Buhari says it is difficult to regulate what comes out on digital platforms.

Buhari spoke when the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) led by Chris Isiguzo, its president, paid him a visit at the presidential villa on Thursday.

The president sought the cooperation of the journalists while urging them to do their bit by combatting fake news and reporting the truth.

According to him, the media profession is “undergoing a fundamental shift” while threatened by “uncontrolled and unregulated news platforms”.

The president assured the members of the fourth estate of the realm that security agencies will protect them “especially those operating in hostile environments”.

Buhari further said that his government will not relent in fighting corruption and insecurity in the country.

He said: “As I look to the next four years, I will remain committed to a safe and secure nation; creating an inclusive and diversified economy; and a governance system that is free of corrupt practices.

“In all these areas, we will remain transparent in implementing our policies. In return, I seek your support in ensuring that you report the truth. You must not allow yourselves to be influenced by individuals with divisive motives.

“I therefore seek your cooperation to bring a sustainable end to this menace. As a Government, we are already cooperating with our international friends and allies on this matter. But we cannot do it alone. You also have to do your bit.

“Your profession today is undergoing a fundamental shift. For better or worse, the digital space is now becoming the major outlet for ‘news.’ This space is difficult to regulate and police. In many instances, the participants in this medium are not trained or professional journalists.

“The stories they present are neither factual nor true. However, through the digital platform, they are able to reach millions and create an alternate reality in their minds.

“I am sure you will all agree that the biggest threat to the sustainability and credibility of your profession is the uncontrolled and unregulated news platforms operating in the cyber space.

“This is not only in Nigeria, but across the entire globe. Innocent lives have been lost or destroyed due to this ‘fake news’ phenomenon. Many of the perpetrators of these acts do not even live within our shores. However, they have been able to damage the reputation of hard working Nigerian journalists while at the same time promoting conflict and divisions within our society.”

Dickson Accuses Oil Firms of Funding Criminality in Niger Delta

Governor Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa State has accused multinational oil companies operating in the Niger Delta of funding “terrorism, criminality and breakdown of law and order, The Punch reports.

 He alleged that oil pipeline surveillance contracts awarded by the oil firms were foundational to the security threats in the region.

 A statement issued on Thursday, Dickson’s Special Adviser on Public Affairs, Mr Daniel Alabrah, quoted the  governor to have said this on Wednesday during the inauguration of the Rise for Bayelsa Campaign.

The campaign, according to Alabrah, is aimed at attracting global attention to the ravaging effects of oil spillage, pollution and environmental degradation in Bayelsa State.

 The governor was quoted as saying, “They (oil firms) are not only polluting our land, creeks, waterways and communities, they are also taking their terrorist and criminal activities to a frightening level.

Dickson said: “These cases of killings during elections, people terrorising Southern Ijaw, killing people, even interfering in our democratic process, were funded by Agip in the likeness of crude oil pipeline surveillance contractors and forming a parallel government in this state to compromise all the layers of security in our country.

 “They have been killing, maiming and terrorising people in Nembe Bassambiri. A certain Kodjo, who is working as an Agip contractor, is funded by the company. In Southern Ijaw, there is a certain David Lyon and his people whose activities are being funded by Agip.

“Agip is not interested in the stability and safety of our communities. This is how far they have escalated their terrorist activities. So, when we talk of environmental terrorism being perpetrated, funded and encouraged by IOCs, you come to Bayelsa and you see a classic case.”

 Dickson, however, said the Rise for Bayelsa Campaign, which he inaugurated would “herald the beginning of a long crusade by my government as a fulfilment of the commitment made during the last World Environmental Day to shift attention from education and infrastructure deficit to the scourge of environmental terrorism.”