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Hold FG responsible if poly lecturers resume strike -ASUP

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By Gabriel Dike

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Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP), yesterday, the Federal Government should be held accountable if polytechnic lecturers resume the suspended industrial action.

ASUP, in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Abdullahi Yalwa, said members at the 16th National Delegates Conference (NDC) at Asaba, Delta State, reviewed progress made by the union in its engagements with owners of public polytechnics and monotechnics and the state of the nation with emphasis on the economy and security.

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He said the union frowned at government’s failure to fulfil its own end of the agreement leading to the April 2021 Memorandum of Understanding signed to end ASUP strike.

He said the NDC renewed demands for immediate release of the approved N15 billion revitalisation fund and 10 months arrears of minimum wage owed lecturers in federal polytechnics.

Yalwa disclosed the NDC condemned the breach of the 2019 Polytechnic Act in many federal polytechnics and also the failure of state governments to domesticate the Act.

“The conference called on the institutions to abide by the provisions of the Act and also appealed to state governments to fast-track the domestication of the Act to align with the governance of their institutions with acceptable standards.”

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He said the NDC commended the establishment of six Centres of Excellence in the six polytechnics by the Tertiary Education Trust Fund and tasked the agency to ensure they are monitored to achieve the desired impact in the sector.

Nigeria Newspapers

Ortom pardons 50 prisoners

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From Rose Ejembi, Makurdi

Fifty prisoners who were on death row have been granted pardon by the Benue State State Governor, Samuel Ortom in line with prerogative of mercy.

The lucky prisoners included 34 who were on death row and awaiting execution as well as 15 others whose death sentence were commuted to life imprisonment even as another convict had his 21-year jail term reduced to 15 years.

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State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mike Gusa who disclosed this while speaking with newsmen in Makurdi on Friday said some of them are indigenes of Benue state while other some are Nigerians who committed criminal activities; were arrested, tried and convicted in Benue.

He said the decision to pardon the convicts was reached following the recommendations of the Advisory Council on the Prerogative of Mercy and the Federal Government’s policy on the decongestion of correctional centers due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Some of them (convicts) appealed their sentences, but their appeals have failed, but His Excellency in his compassionate way has decided to invoke the provisions of the Constitution to give these citizens of Nigeria; these citizens of Benue reprieve and granted them amnesty, so that they will be released and granted a second chance.

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Gusa said the gesture was one of the humanitarian steps that the Governor has taken as one who is committed to the rule of law, due process and passion for humanity and in compliance with Section 212 of the 1999 Constitution.

“He signed a warrant to grant amnesty to some of the convicts who have been awaiting execution, because they have been sentenced to death and were transferred to Jos Correctional center.

“Out of this number, 34 convicts who were sentenced to death and awaiting execution are now released. We also have 15 convicts who were actually sentenced to death, but now have their sentences commuted to life imprisonment.

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“And we have another convict who has his term reduced from 21 years to 15 years imprisonment.

“So, in total 50 convicts are affected by this act of magnanimity and act of compassion by His Excellency, the executive governor of Benue state.

“The Governor’s approval is based on the recommendations that was made by the management of the correctional centers in Jos, Owerri and Sokoto, where you have these inmates.

“They made recommendations on the conduct of these convicts, while they served their jail terms and awaited execution. They testified to the effect that they (convicts) have changed from their bad ways and have become good citizens

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“And it’s based on these recommendations that the Advisory Council on the Prerogative of Mercy sat and considered individual cases and made recommendations to His Excellency who then gave the approval.

“This (amnesty granted the convicts) is also in consonance with the federal government’s policy on decongesting the Correctional centers as a result of the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It is the desire of the federal government that correctional centers should be decongested and it’s in consonance with this, that the Governor decided to exercise his powers under the Constitution to give a new lease of life to this convicts,” Gusa stated.

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NSITF vows to prosecute uncooperative employers

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From Adannna Nnamani, Abuja

The Managing Director of the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF), Dr. Mike Akabogu has assured to prosecute recalcitrant employers who have refused to comply with the Employee Compensation Act.

According to a statement by Ijeoma Okoronkwo, NSITF Spokesperson,

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Akabogu stated this at the 2022 Management Performance Review Conference of the Fund held at the Nigeria Airforce Centre, Abuja.

The NSITF boss said the fund’s focus for the year, is to include aggressive enforcement on Non-Treasury Funded MDA’s, States and LGA’s and as high net worth private sector employers, using both the special enforcement and inspection team as well as partnering the Industrial Training Fund (ITF) and Corporate Affairs Commission for data harmonization

The MD further noted that the Fund paid the sum of N857, 754, 394.51 as claims in 2021. He charged the staff of the agency to work harder towards the consolidation of its strategic reforms.

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Akabogu who took charge of the Office barely a year ago, said the agency was being reformed to raise the bar of performance, hence the need for continuous cross-level engagement of the workforce to engender synergy needed for the achievement of target goals.

He said, “ In our quest for the optimum realization of the mandate of the Employee Compensation Act, we must continue raising the bar, by implementing landmark decisions for our strategic reform. Hence, we deem it necessary to continually engage our workforce so that the activities of various departments and units will be streamlined for easy realization of our core targets and objectives. That’s why we are here today.

“We are here for stock-taking, to measure our performance in the previous year. How did we fare? What are the obstacles, the challenges? The feedback is necessary for the re-engineering of our strategic reforms and setting the tone for the year 2022 and beyond.

“Our new approach is horizontal, hence the decision to invite the branch managers across the country, who are frontline leaders in the organization, to give first-hand accounts of service to the fund. It was the regional managers who did so hitherto.

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“The new format will enable senior managers to appreciate the challenges on the ground and the way forward as well as work in sync with the fund’s dynamic model for the consolidation of gains made for efficiency and greater productivity

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“Others include prosecution of recalcitrant employers, prompt payment of claims and compensation, increase the productivity of every department and staff welfare.

In a performance review by the General Manager, Claims and Compensation , Barr. Nkiru Ogunnaike, the fund revealed that in 2021, it processed and paid 18,128 claims , amounting to a total sum of N857, 754, 394.51, with Lagos and Abuja regions accounting for 7,688 and 4,223 of the claims.

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She specifically noted a pathetic case of an employee of Bougeus Construction Company who sustained injury in the course of work, leading to total deafness in his two ears and requiring Cochlear Implant Surgery to enable him to hear again.

“The Board of the NSITF sat and exhaustively deliberated on this case of 100% disability and graciously approved the sum of N14m for the surgery . He has also been added to the monthly payroll of the NSITF/Employee Compensation Scheme Unit, pending successful operation and recovery, and if not, until he attains the age of 55.

In his presentation, the General Manager Health, Safety and Environment, Dr. Kelly Nwagha said the agency is centred on occupational health and safety which is the convention the world over, noting that key to its operation is prevention which again, is anchored on proactiveness.

He stated the department has taken occupational safety awareness campaigns to the doorstep of the employers and employees to ensure accident prevention in workplaces.

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He said, “ in the year under review, the department has undertaken a total of 867 accident/ incident cases involving prompt medical intervention, identification of accurate root causes, proffering of correct remedial actions and collation of factual statistics.

“ We have also carried out 690 Occupational Safety and Health awareness and enlightenment programmes, imparting an improved knowledge base on participants (Employers & Employees) with sensitization topics tailored towards identified organizational needs. Participants were assessed before and after sensitization.

“ We have equally taken 1426 occupational safety and health audits and investigations in the year under review.”

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