Says 2018 budget’ll be signed next week
Okays payment of N500m to lawyers on N330bn MTN fine
ABUJA—THE Federal Government said, yesterday, that the recent declaration of June 12 as public holiday will only come into effect after the amendment of the Public Holidays Act.
The government also stated that the 2018 Appropriation Bill of N9.1 trillion will be assented to by President Muhammadu Buhari next week, saying the particular date this would happen will be made public.
Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Chief Femi Adesina, stated this while briefing State House correspondents after the Federal Executive Council, FEC, meeting presided over by President Buhari at the Council Chamber, Presidential Villa, Abuja.
This is even as the Attorney-General of the Federation, AGF, and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, said FEC approved N500 million as legal fee for lawyers involved in the recovery of N330 billion fine to MTN.
Malami also said the Federal and United States governments were having talks on the repatriation of $500 million, which was part of the stolen assets, adding that the US government has insisted that the Federal Government came up with the projects the money will be invested in.
The AGF also disclosed that the Public Holidays Act will soon be amended to accommodate the declaration of June 12 as public holiday.
On the National Merit Award Act and Nigerian National Honours Act, Malami said: “They are two distinct and different applicable laws as far as national honours awards are concerned. You have the National Merit Award on the strength of which we have the law of the governing board comes into effect and then as it relates to the National Honours Act, the board does not have any relevance in terms of processing of the honours.
“For then, above all, we equally have in existence, precedence as it relates to the award of posthumous Honours. I can recall that a former Head of State, General Murtala Mohammed, was equally honored posthumously, among others.
“So, when the Act has been fully amended, the declaration of the President will come into effect. It is a declaration of intention, a declaration of desire and that will eventually be given effect with the act of amendment of the existing law.”
N500m to lawyers on N330bn MTN fine
On recovered loot and recovery of N330 billion fine from MTN, Malami said: “Council approved a memorandum that seeks to strengthen prevention measures and institutions on the part of implementations of Mr. President’s London commitment on anti-corruption and Open Government Partnership.
“Council approved the payment of professional fees to lawyers engaged by Federal Government relating to the MTN case instituted against the Federal Government in pursuance of penalty of over N1 trillion imposed by the government on MTN.
“The Federal Government has now sanctioned the payment of N500 million for the N330 billion agreed upon for the alleged certain breaches in their operations. This amount is less than one percent of the fee, instead of the internationally recognised fee which is pegged at 5 per cent.”
“Finally, was a report on the global forum on assets recovery. You will recall that in December 2017, federal government participated in global forum on asset recovery in Washington DC and during that forum, Nigeria and Switzerland signed agreement that paved way for the repatriation of $322 million relating to looted assets and on the account of that, the amount was eventually repatriated back to Nigeria.
“What transpired was only reported back to the council today. The report today was not only about the signing of the agreement but the report of the eventual repatriation of the amount of money signed and agreed to be repatriated during the forum.
“Nigeria has also engaged other countries, including the UK, US, France and others, in further negotiations relating to repatriation and I am happy to report that we are almost concluding the processes relating to the repatriation of additional $500 million.’’
On the report of the joint committee between Nigeria and the US over the repatriation of $500 million looted funds stashed away in the US, he said: “The position of things is that we are discussing and making progress and arising from that discussions, we are at a point where we are trying to come to terms with the U.S government as to the project that Nigeria intends to commit the money.
“So, we have sourced information from various MDAs, as to what project they think are of interest to them so that we can now collate information relating to project of interest and make them basis for our further discussions.’’
On rehabilitation, repair and construction of roads, Femi Adesina said Council approved 14 road projects in different parts of the country at the cost of N185,276,192,586.59