Former CJNs’ Benefits Slashed From 1.5bn To 1bn

The amount to fund the benefits of former Chief Justices of Nigeria in the 2016 Appropriation Bill is by N500m less than what was allocated for the same purpose in the 2015 approved budget.

A budget document obtained by our correspondent on Sunday showed that while N1.5bn was allocated to fund the benefits of the ex-CJNs in the 2015 Appropriation Act, only N1bn was allocated for the same purposes in 2016.

It could not ascertained whether the reduction in the benefits of the ex-CJNs in the 2016 proposed budget followed the N3bn shortfall in the judiciary’s proposed budget for new year.

The N73bn, which the judiciary got as its allocation under the 2015 Appropriation Act was slashed to N70bn in the 2016 budget.

There are five living former CJNs.

They are Justices Muhammadu Uwais (1995-2006); Alfa Belgore (2006-2007); Legbo Kutigi (2007-2009); Aloysius Katsina-Alu (2009-2011), Dahiru Musdapher (2011-2012) and Aloma Mukhtar (2012-2014).

The document showed that the amount budgeted as their benefits usually come under seven heads – purchase of land, construction of houses, residential furniture, residential equipment, access road, maintenance of constructed houses and replacement of vehicles after four years.

It showed that under the benefits of former CJNs, N100m each was appropriated for purchase of land, residential furniture, residential equipment and access road in the 2015 budget, but nothing was proposed for any of these items in the 2016 Appropriation Bill.

In 2015, N1.1bn was allocated for construction of houses, an amount that was reduced to 668,348,313.23 in 2016.

Though there was no allocation for maintenance of constructed houses and vehicle replacement last year, they received N121,651,686.77 and N210m respectively this year.

The document also showed that while N1.119bn was initially proposed for the former CJNs’ benefits for 2016, the National Judicial Council, which coordinates and presents a unified budget for the judiciary, had slashed it to N1bn in 2016.

A judiciary source said most of the proposals submitted by the various courts and institutions in the federal and state judiciaries were re-adjusted to conform to the N70bn ceiling given by the Federal Ministry of Justice.

The source added, “The CJN’s benefits were not the only items slashed in the judiciary’s budget. You also have to understand that there was expenditure under the former CJNs’ benefit in the last year budget that did not come up.

“At the same time, one cannot rule out the impact of the N3bn shortfall on the amount earmarked for the former CJN’s benefit in the 2016 proposed budget. Don’t forget that the amounts allocated for the judiciary have been spiraling down in the last few years.”

Credit: Punch

MTN Wants $5.2bn Fine Slashed By 80%

MTN Group Ltd in South Africa is making some moves to get the $5.2 billion fine imposed by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) reduced by as much as 80 per cent and it is considering borrowing money from banks to help settle the penalty, should its request for fine reduction sail through.

Bloomberg reported that the head of research of Renaissance Capital (RenCap) in Nigeria, Mr. Adesoji Solanke, shared a note with clients on Wednesday, where he said: “MTN is pushing to reduce the fine by 60 per cent to 80 per cent.”

According to Bloomberg, a second lender said: “MTN is considering borrowing from banks, as it recently checked what the banks’ lending capacity to it is.”

It however quoted MTN’s Group spokesman, Chris Maroleng, as saying: “We don’t comment on banking matters, and banking regulators in Nigeria are best placed to provide context on these matters.”

It also quoted the Director of Public Affairs of NCC, Mr. Tony Ojobo, as saying: “I don’t have that information.”

MTN has until November 16, 2015, to pay the penalty, which relates to the timing of the disconnection of 5.1 million subscribers and is based on a charge of N200,000 for each unregistered customer.

Credit: ThisDay