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Buhari to sign 2018 budget next week –FG

Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja

The Federal Government on Wednesday said that the 2018 Appropriation Biill of N9.1 trillion would be assented to by President Muhammadu Buhari next week.

The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, disclosed this to the State House correspondents while briefing them on the outcomes of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting presided over by President Buhari at the Council Chamber, Presidential Villa, Abuja.

Adesina said the particular date would soon be made public .

Minister of Budget and National Planning, Udoma Udo Udoma, had last week explained that the President was still studying the budget in great details, hence the delay in giving his assent.

The Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, also said FEC approved N500 million as legal fee for lawyers involved in the recovery of N330 billion fine on MTN.

He said the amount represented a fair deal and amounted to less than one per cent of the entire fine slammed on the company for which it agreed to pay. He said the internationally accepted fee is pegged at five percent.

The government, the AGF also said, was working on identifying projects which the $500 million to be repatriated would be expended on as agreed with the United States government during President Buhari’s visit.

The AGF also disclosed that the Public Holidays Act would soon be amended to accommodate the declaration of June 12 as public holiday.

Malami said the Council also approved the processing of the Copy Rights Act 2018 which seeks, among others, to strengthen copy right regime by way of protection of the creative industry, by ensuring that punitive measures are indeed placed for the breaches in Copy Rights Act.

The bill was approved for transmission to the National Assembly for passage into law, the essence of which is to effect protection to creative and intellectual property.

Malami said he briefed the Council on the Global Forum on Assets Recovery. “Recall that in December 2017, the 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 to Nigeria.

“What transpired was only reported 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 that was 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,” including Abacha’s loot and other corrupt Nigerians, noting that his ministry was in the process of perfecting the repatraition modalities, a development that would go a long way in helping to facilitate infrastustrural projects.

FEC also approved the sum of N185.28 billion for the rehabilitation, repairs and construction of 14 road projects in different parts of the country. The benefiting states are are Lagos, Benue, Adamawa, Borno, Yobe, Sokoto, Enugu, Anambra, Ogun among others.

The Minister of Health, Isaac Adewole, said the Council approved Draft Food Safety and Quality Bill as well as the Food Safety Institutional Reform working document.

“It is expected that with the formal approval of these two documents, we will have reduction in the incidence of food born illnesses through so many preventive controls that are already contained in the bill”.

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