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BREAKING: Finally, Buhari Signs N30,000 Minimum Wage Bill Into Law

Sahara Reporters - 18 April 2019 - 7:51am

President Muhammadu Buhari has signed the bill approving N30,000 as the new national minimum wage into law.

The billed was passed by both chambers of the National Assembly before the general election, the House of Representatives in January and the Senate in March.

However, presidential assent was still outstanding, prompting the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) to give Buhari until May 1 to complete the signing.

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Seven Months After 'Sack' Of CEO, Bi-Courtney Forces CSO To Resign As New Communications Head Quits

Sahara Reporters - 18 April 2019 - 6:55am

Barely six months after seven management staff of Bi-Courtney Aviation Services Limited (BASL), operators of Murtala Muhammed Airport Two (MMA2), Lagos, including its Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Capt. Jari Williams, were compelled to resign from their various positions, its Chief Security Officer (CSO), Mr. Olayinka Olatunji, has also been laid off.

This is as a source close to the terminal operator confided in our correspondent that the newly employed Head of Corporate Communications, Murtala Muhammed Airport Two (MMA2), Lagos, Mrs. Eniola Ade-Solanke, resigned last Friday following the “harsh working environment".

SaharaReporters gathered that Olatunji was set to retire from the company later this year when he clocks 60, but he was forced to resign by Mr. Wale Babalakin who was still smarting from the October 2018 picketing of the terminal by industry unions.

Back in October, two weeks after the picketing of the terminal for five days, seven senior management staff were forced to resign from their various positions for allowing the unions have their way.

Some of the senior management staff aere Captain Jari Williams, the CEO; Head of Corporate Communications, Chief Stephen Omolale; Head of Internal Audit, Mr. Olakunle Tiamiyu; Head of Human Resources and Procurement, Mrs. Ikeoluwa Erinoluwa and Head of Space, Ms. Alake Macaulay.

Also, it was learnt that Ade-Solanke, who succeeded Omolale as the Head, Corporate Communications, in December, “voluntarily threw in the towel last Friday over harsh working environment”.

It was gathered that since Ade-Solanke took over the management of the communication department of the company, she had not given the freedom to operate, as all press statements must go through Babalakin.

Besides, apart from those who resigned from their different positions in recent times, there are indications that two more management staff of BASL are to be exited as soon as Babalakin secures replacements for them.

The source said: "As it is, there is no one that is sure of his or her future in Bi-Courtney. Some of us who are still in the system are only waiting for us to get the signal to tender our resignation letters. There is no future for us in this company, again.

“There have been sustained attempts to exit all the old hands and experienced management staff of BASL and replace them with some favoured outsiders. So, the picketing of MMA2 by labour unions was just being used as a facade.”

Mr. Tunde Osowe of the media unit of BASL declined to comment on the issue when contacted by our correspondent.

It would be recalled that the industry unions had kicked against the management of Bi-Courtney in October for sacking 29 staff for joining the unions.

The sack of the workers led to the picketing of the terminal for almost a week. The terminal operator claimed to have lost about a billion naira to the closure, as some of the operating airlines relocated to General Aviation Terminal.

After management reached an agreement with the unions, Babalakin, the Chairman of Bi-Courtney, was said to have been peeved by the closure and took a drastic action against some top management staff.

After the sack, the company also recalled some of the staff, but it declared them redundant and issued them exit cheques.

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Danjuma Goje Receives North-East’s Backing To Run For Senate President Against APC’s Choice Lawan

Sahara Reporters - 18 April 2019 - 6:18am

Danjuma Goje, a senator and former Governor of Gombe State, has received the backing of the North East Consultative Forum (NESF) and five other groups in the geopolitical zone in his quest to become President of the ninth Senate.

The five groups are the North East Elders Mobilisation Forum, APC National Youth Caucus, Borno Discussion Circle, Gombe Political Associations and North East Youth Awareness for Good Governance.

Rising from an emergency meeting held at the Zaranda Hotel, Bauchi, on Wednesday, the six groups encouraged Goje to immediately declare for the position. This is despite the decision of the leadership of the All Progressives Congress (APC) that Yobe North senator, Ahmad Lawan, should be elected to the office.

The groups, comprising representatives of each of the six states that make up the North East geopolitical zone, said they had done “a thorough assessment of the three contenders” for the Senate Presidency from the region.

Therefore, at the end of the meeting, they wrote Adams Oshiomhole, National Chairman of the party, to intimate him with their decision, imploring him to immediately review the party’s preference for Lawan.

“Following very wide consultations among stakeholders, party members and North East Consultative Forum and after careful assessment of his contribution to the party and Muhammadu Buhari’s led administration, we hereby present to you, Senator Muhammad Danjuma Goje as the choice of the people of the North East for the Senate President of the 9th Assembly,” they said in the letter.

“Senator Goje is eminently respected among members of the National Assembly and the country for his immense contribution to the success of the APC in 2015 and 2019 general election. The landslide victory of the APC in Gombe State in the just concluded general election is a sure testimony of his gallantry loyalty and commitment to APC.

“It will serve the best interest of the party if Your Excellency and the party review your stance on the choice of Sen Ahmad Lawan and allow for a level playing field for all aspiring candidates from the North East zone to showcase themselves to their colleagues. We, therefore, urge Sen Danjuma Goje to come forward and declare his interest to vie for the position of the President of the Senate in the ninth Assembly.”

Goje serve two terms as Governor of Gombe State, on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), between 2003 and 2011. He has similary served two terms at the Senate, having been elected to represent Gombe Central in 2011 before securing reelection in 2015.

However, he defected from the PDP to APC in 2014 alongside Bukola Saraki (Kwara Central), Sha’aba Lafiagi (Kwara North), Magnus Abe (Rivers South East), Wilson Ake (Rivers West) and Ali Ndume (Borno South).

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BREAKING: Tribunal Sacks Onnoghen As CJN After Declaring Him Guilty Of False Assets Declaration

Sahara Reporters - 18 April 2019 - 5:51am

‎The Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) has found Walter Onnoghen, who recently resigned as Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), guilty of false declaration of assets in breach of the provisions of the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) for public officials. 

Delivering its judgement on Thursday, the three-man panel chaired by Danladi Umar said the prosecution proved Onnoghen's guilt beyond reasonable doubt.

Therefore, it convicted him and removed him from office as Chief Justice of Nigeria, as Chairman of the National Judicial Council (NJC), and as Chairman of the Federal Judicial Service Commission (FJSC).

It also said Onnoghen is to forfeit the money in his five bank domiciliary accounts that were not declared to the Nigerian Government because they were acquired illegally.

The tribunal also barred him from holding public office for the next 10 years.

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BREAKING: Tribunal Throws Out Onnoghen's Preliminary Objections To His Trial

Sahara Reporters - 18 April 2019 - 5:02am

Danladi Umar, Chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT), has dismissed the motion filed by Walter Onnoghen, former Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), asking him to recuse himself from the further participating and adjudicating in the matter for fear of bias. 

He dismissed the motion for lack of merit.

He also dismissed Onnoghen's application challenging the jurisdiction of the tribunal to hear the matter.

Umar held that the tribunal is not directly under the supervision of National Judicial Council (NJC) but the presidency.

He noted that the Chairman and members of the tribunal could not be under the whims and caprices of the President even though is being  supervised by the executive.

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BREAKING: Onnoghen Smiles For The Cameras As CCT Members Arrive Late For Judgement

Sahara Reporters - 18 April 2019 - 4:44am

Justice Walter Onnoghen, former Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), was all smiles on Thursday as he arrived the courtroom of the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) for judgement in his trial for fraudulent assets declaration.

Onnoghen arrived the court premises roughly five minutes before noon, dressed in a grey suit and wearing a smile as photo journalists beamed their cameras on him.

The three members of the tribunal, led by their Chairman Danladi Umar, subsequently arrived the courtroom some 20 minutes later.

The judgment was originally scheduled to be delivered by 9am on Thursday, but just as people started making their way into the courtroom, the Court Registrar announced the postponement of the judgment till noon.

Onnonghen had arrived at the court at exactly 8:40am, with the ruling, as of then, expected to start by 9am.

Immediately the postponement was announced, the unmarked SUV that brought Onnoghen left the court premises with his security details.

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Easter In The Holy Land By Rifat Odeh Kassis

Sahara Reporters - 18 April 2019 - 4:26am

The Way of the Cross is not confined to Easter week but has been going for 70 years in the Holy Land, writes Rifat Odeh Kassis

For Christians in the Holy Land, Easter is the most important of Christian holy days. In fact, Palestinians refer to it as al-Eid al-Kabir (the Big Feast) while Christmas is known as al-Eid al-Saghir (the Little Feast).

The Saturday before Easter Sunday is the climax of the Holy Week in occupied Palestine. Sabt Al-Nur (Saturday of Light) is an Orthodox tradition that marks the end of the Easter fast. Tradition holds that every year on the Saturday prior to Easter, a flame arises from the tomb of Christ at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.

The miracle of the flame is celebrated by lighting candles from this flame in Jerusalem and carrying it from one town and village to another in Palestine.

Although Sabt al-Nur is an Orthodox tradition, Christians of all denominations have attended the ceremony in Jerusalem for generations, in what has always been a major community event for Christians in Palestine.

But last year, only a few hundred Palestinians made it to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre for the ceremony of the Holy Fire. Most Palestinian Christians have never seen the miraculous flame – not because we don’t care about the tradition – but because Israel restricts us, especially our youth, from entering Jerusalem.  Jerusalem: the sacred city of Christians all over the world; the place of Jesus’s crucifixion and resurrection, the birthplace of Christianity itself, the site of its first churches.

As a little boy, I remember travelling to Jerusalem from our village of Beit Sahour.  Beit Sahour is located just outside of Bethlehem, and is less than 15 km from Jerusalem. Yet it is a trip that took several hours due to the “no-man’s zone” imposed on us when Israel was created in 1948. This forced us to go through a route nearly three times longer than the normal way.

Now, I can no longer visit Jerusalem at all. I am a former political prisoner, and have been placed on an Israeli “security” list. The Israeli authorities will not grant me a permit to visit Jerusalem. My 35-year-old son has travelled widely and seen almost half the world, but he too is barred from Jerusalem.

Our story is not unique. Palestinians - indigenous to the Holy Land and who live a few kilometres away from Jerusalem - must beg for permission to visit, endure humiliating searches and pass through walls and checkpoints, while pilgrims from Germany, the United States or Peru can fly in for Easter.

For most Palestinians – whether Christian or Muslim - Jerusalem is the city we love the most and visit the least.

As an Easter “goodwill” gesture, Israel says it has issued approximately 10 000 permits to Palestinians from the occupied West Bank and 500 permits to Christians in the besieged Gaza Strip, where several thousand live. Is it really goodwill to force people to apply for permits to visit and worship in their most sacred city during their most sacred time? Is it goodwill to turn the sacred city into a military zone? 

During Easter, barriers are set up in the early hours of the morning in the courtyard at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Its aim is to keep people out of the Church: a site central to Jesus’s death, crucifixion and resurrection.

Israeli army officers are present around the gates of the Old City and passages that lead to the Holy Sepulchre, as well as inside the Church itself and on its roof. These measures restrict freedom of movement for Palestinians, preventing Palestinian Christians from worshipping at the Church during this auspicious period. Even priests are not allowed to move freely. Is this what freedom of worship looks like?

Today, Palestinians feel that not only are our religious, cultural, and spiritual celebrations under attack but our whole existence as well. In fact, many Palestinians refer to our experience of living under Israeli occupation and the suffering we endure as “walking the Via Dolorosa” or the Way of the Cross.

However, this Way of the Cross is not confined to Easter week, but has been going for 70 years. The stations of suffering that are visited include: checkpoints, permits, refugee camps, blockade, home demolitions, detention without trial, and bombing.

Today, Palestinians are still walking the Way of the Cross, and anxiously awaiting the Day of Resurrection - the day the stone that blocks the tomb of occupation is rolled away.

The message of Easter and the Resurrection is that those liberated by God cannot be made slaves by anyone. But this is what is exactly what is happening today in occupied Palestine. Israel is asking the Palestinian people to let their freedom die, so that the Israeli people can live.

In the Holy Land - the land of the Resurrection - we see one group of people committed to security, justice and peace for themselves only that is built on injustice and occupation for another set of people. We see one human being living at the expense of another human being.  Jesus Christ died and rose from the dead to give life for all, to enable everyone to triumph over death and become a maker of life, justice and peace for oneself; their people; and all the peoples of the earth.

Freedom for one group cannot come through the oppression of another.

Israeli security and peace cannot be built at the expense of Palestinian security, dignity and peace. The occupation of Palestinian life must end, so that both Israelis and Palestinians may live as equal human beings.

Rifat Odeh Kassis is the co-ordinator of Kairos Palestine, an umbrella movement of Palestinian Christians of various denominations , which advocates for ending the Israeli occupation and achieving a just solution to the conflict.

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BREAKING: EFCC Arraigns Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia For The Second Time In Three Days

Sahara Reporters - 18 April 2019 - 4:12am

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has arraigned a former judge of the Federal High Court of Nigeria, Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia, over allegations of money laundering.

The troubled former judge was arraigned before Justice Rilwan Aikawa of a Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos State.

As of the time of filing this report, Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia pleaded not guilty to the 18-count charge as instituted against her by the anti-graft agency.

On Tuesday, Justice Hakeem Oshodi of the Ikeja High Court, Lagos, had struck out corruption charges against Ofili-Ajumogobia, but she was immediately rearrested by the EFCCC right on the court premises.

EFCC later explained that the arrest was made in order to file fresh criminal charges against her.

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'A Man Who Stole N7,000 Plantain Shouldn't Be In Prison While Those Who Stole Billions Walk Free'

Sahara Reporters - 18 April 2019 - 4:04am

Justice Marshal Umukoro, Chief Judge of Delta State, says it is "wrong" that a 27-year-old man who stole a bunch of plantain worth N7,000 is in prison custody while those who stole billions of naira are walking free on the streets.

Although Justice Umukoro set him free, he condemned the inmate for stealing somebody's else means of livelihood and charged him to work with his hands instead of stealing.

The inmate had been in prison custody for four months. The Magistrate handling the matter had struck out the case and discharged him but surprisingly, he was still wallowing in prison custody. 

But based on the court ruling, the Chief Judge ordered the inmate released back to society, saying "It will be wrong for a man who stole a bunch of plantain worth N7,000 to be in prison custody while those who stole billions are walking free on the streets."

While concluding his 2018 quarterly prison visit at the Warri Medium Security Prison, popularly known as 'Okere' Prison, Warri, Justice Umukoro freed a total number of 206 inmates and reviewed case files of 2,630 of awaiting-trial inmates in all the prisons visited across the state.

At the Warri Medium Security Prison, the Chief Judge reviewed a total of 875 case files of awaiting-trial inmates, releasing 56 of them; while at the Ogwashi Uku Prison, whereover 800 case files of inmates were reviewed, inmates were freed on the grounds of charges not known to law, ill-health, established cases of oppression, nolle prosequi by the Attorney-General and those not remanded by a competent remand warrant among others.

At the Warri Prison, a female inmate who had been standing trial for four years for wounding with intent was released by the Chief Judge after the victim appeared before him and affirmed on oath that she had forgiven her assailant and was no more interested in the case.

At the Kwale Prison, a total number of 53 inmates were freed while at Agbor prison, 25 inmates got their freedom; at Sapele prison, 34 inmates were released and at Ogwashu-Uku prison, a total of 38 inmates got their freedom.

Expressing worries over the increasing number of young persons in prison custody, Justice Umukoro said the trend should be a thing of concern to everyone, and therefore charged those freed to turn a new leaf and be useful to themselves and society.

The Chief Judge commended the Director of Public Prosecutions, Ernest Edomwonyi Esq, and members of his team as well as judges, magistrates, police, prison authorities and the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) for their various contributions for the success of the exercise.

He said the exercise was to ensure that inmates are remanded by warrant of a competent court of jurisdiction, to determine the health status of awaiting-trial inmates, as only the living can face trial, and to determine if the cases are diligently prosecuted, amongst other reasons.

Meanwhile, Justice Umukoro vehemently refused to entertain complaints in all cases related to kidnapping, murder, armed robbery and rape, as, according to him, these are heinous crimes, and inmates standing trial for such serious offences must face their trials and have their fates determined by the courts

The quarterly visit of the Chief Judge to the various prison facilities across the state was aimed at decongesting prisons across the state, reviewing standing cases and fast-tracking justice delivery.

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Subsidy Removal As Fuel Price Increase (I): A response to Etu Mohammed By Kunle Wizeman Ajayi

Sahara Reporters - 18 April 2019 - 3:43am

Since SaharaReporters published his succinct piece on fuel subsidy removal three days ago, I have just read Etu Mohammed's 'Nigeria Needs To Remove Subsidy in 2019'.

I will start by saying that I had wanted to ignore the article given the fact that it follows the same pattern with which many pundits help the ruling class to build the prevailing idea overtime. But on reading Ibe Kachukwu-the petroleum minister saying the landing cost of fuel is now #180 and that he would resign in 2020 if local oil production do not start;  lies must not be allowed to be told often, else it turns to the "truth."

Etu Mohammed posited that the fuel subsidy removal is very needed and that the price of fuel should be increased instead of Nigeria borrowing to fund the trillions-budget. He also believes that the price of fuel is currently not determined by the forces of demand and supply. He advises that: 

"Letting markets determine the pump price of petrol in Nigeria would push it up to about N248-250 per litre from N145 per litre and it will oscillate with forces of demand and supply, but it will save Nigeria about N1.7 trillion in subsidies in 2019 alone."

Lies can be made the official truth if one does not take the warnings of Joseph Goebbels. 

What did Kachuckwu and the Buhari government do in April 2016 if not subsidy removal? Why did the price of fuel move from #97 to #145?! It's the biggest lie that subsidy has not been removed from oil. If it has not been removed, oil should be #45 by now!

The so-called subsidy that is being operated since 1999 is a commercial one. It is a subsidy of the importing not of the production of oil. If the Buhari government is sincere in subsidizing oil, the three refineries should be working effectively, reducing importation thereby reducing the subsidies paid to importers. 

Also,the propaganda that Buhari is a welfarist and is not bowing to the forces of "demand and supply" is a calculated attempt at keeping the working people really deceived and ill-informed. 

Nigeria is a big capitalist country operating critical neo-liberalism, the idea of transferring all public wealth to private pockets by all means possible. It is just that the move to full blown capitalism is being resisted for the past three decades since the Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) that Babangida and Olu Falae forced on the country in the mid-80s. Workers under the aegis of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) has held nine general strikes against "subsidy removal" since 1999 till date. This has made several SAP-renewed policies like NEEDS; SEEDS; and PPP being rejected by the masses. 

So, the current government is only continuing what others have been doing since the mid-80s to be removing the welfarism in the economy and moving to full capitalism.

In other words, Nigeria has been operating state capitalism according to John Maynard Keynes since Independence until Babangida helped to change the economy to the gospels according to Kafka and Stieglitz.

Unlike Keynes who believe that capitalism can have human face and introduce some forms of welfarism to cushion the effects of the "greed and power" of business, Kafka and Stieglitz believes that "government has no business in business."

So, the only aim of the Buhari government by inviting International Monetary Fund's "Madam Gagool" Christine Lagarde, just like they did late 2015, to lie to us that removing subsidy on oil will help investment in welfarist angles like education; health; housing and other social infrastructures, is to increase fuel price.

 So, they would then start some fake debates. Their pundits would then start writing as if reality is not teaching us all otherwise! Etu Mohammed and others should understand that it is never appealing to sanity to say that to stop borrowing,  we must stop subsidy. IMF is never against borrowing. They have just borrowed Ecuador millions of dollars as bait to arrest Julian Assange of Wikkileaks. What IMF is against is the loans from China!

Genuine interests in another Nigeria should reject the fuel price increase under whatever guise. We should tell Buhari government to nationalize the oil sector and put it in workers' control instead of the so-called professional managers whose interests are to destroy public companies in order to justify the argument that government has no business in business. Even Saudi Arabia does not put its oil sector in private hands.

Just as Ethiopian airline is fully government owned and has performed far greater than privatized Nigerian air sector.

Given the current mass hunger and worsening hardship in the country, oil price should be reduced to #45. And with the billions that FIRS; customs; and many others are declaring as money made in 2018, there is more than enough money to fund budgets without borrowing. So, the lie that subsidy must be removed to stop borrowing should be told to the marines!

Workers, artisans, and youths should be uniting for a major battle. What Buhari government now want to do is the same thing Atiku Abubakar was shouting during the last campaigns  about selling NNPC.

Everything is to make oil business pals richer than ever removing subsidy and increasing fuel price.  We demand for minimum wage and they now want to increase the burdens through VAT and fuel price increase. We must not only reject these wicked policies, we must reject all those formulating, supporting and implementing them!

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Police Invade Lagos Community, Arrest Seven For Staging Protest Demanding Distribution Of Prepaid Meters

Sahara Reporters - 18 April 2019 - 2:48am

Some personnel of the Nigeria Police Force on Wednesday stormed Mushin, Lagos, to arrest residents for staging a protest at the headquarters of Eko Distribution Company to demand distribution of prepaid meters.

The police officers were deployed from Olosan Police division and stormed the community, chasing residents and arresting anyone they could catch.

Some of the residents who spoke to SaharaReporters stated that the electricity distribution company usually employs the service of the Police to harass and intimidate residents whenever they demanded for their rights.

Moses Ogunleye, spokesperson of the community, bemoaned the connivance of the Police with the electricity distribution company to intimidate the community residents.

Video of Lagosians Reject Over Billing, Demand Pre-paid Meter From Electricity Distribution Company Lagosians Reject Over Billing, Demand Pre-paid Meter From Electricity Distribution Company

“The Police officers stormed the community with their Hilux van and arrested seven of us," he said. 

“The raid was because of the protest we staged to the headquarters of EKEDC on Tuesday to demand that they stop giving us estimated billing and distribute prepaid meters to all houses in Mushin. What they usually do is that they will come into the community, arrest people, immediately charge them to court on frivolous charges and take our people to Kirikiri.”

Another resident who spoke to our correspondents revealed that among those kidnapped was a woman who just delivered a baby.

“They arrested some youth and a woman," he said.

"The woman twho was arrested had just given birth to a baby and the baby is currently at home now. This is not the first time they will be doing this.”

The community residents called on the state government and the Inspector-General of Police to call police officers to order and dissuade from the indiscriminate and illegal raid and arrest of Mushin community residents.

SaharaReporters contacted Bala Elkana, a Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) and spokesman of the Police in Lagos, but his telehone number was unreachable and he did not reply a follow-up text message.

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Asthmatic Corps Member Dies After Parade

Sahara Reporters - 18 April 2019 - 2:34am

Magdalene Yohanna

Magdalene Yohanna This Day Live

Magadline Yohana, a Batch A corps member collapsed and died while participating in a parade at the orientation camp of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) in Bauchi State.

The late Yohana, who died at the age of 28, was said to be asthmatic.

It was gathered that although the incident happened on Monday, April 1, 2019, the management of the NYSC in the state had not yet made any official statement on it.

A source said the corps member, who hailed from Harshuwa, Kwaturu district, in Kachia Local Government Area of Kaduna State, was also an orphan and the second graduate in her hometown, who sponsored herself through school.

Reports also said the deceased allegedly complained to an NYSC official at the Wailo orientation camp in the Ganjuwa Local Government Area, of being asthmatic, adding that she would not be able to participate in the regular parade.

However, her claim was allegedly dismissed by the official.

“The official told her that corps members were fond of giving flimsy excuses in order to avoid parade,” another corps member alleged.

She explained that the next day, the late Yohanna took part in the morning activities, despite her earlier complaints.

The victim reportedly slumped and was rushed to the camp clinic, but her situation got worse and she was transferred to the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa Teaching Hospital in Bauchi, where she died.

Journalists, who attended the closing ceremony of the three weeks orientation exercise, noted that Afolayan James, the NYSC coordinator in the state, did not acknowledge the death of the female corps member in his speech.

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Lecturers Connived With Politicians To Compromise Integrity Of 2019 Polls, Says Jega

Sahara Reporters - 18 April 2019 - 2:19am

Chairman Jega, of the Independent National Election Commission (INEC)

Attahiru Jega, former Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), has accused lecturers used as ad hoc staff during the 2019 elections of conniving with politicians to compromise the integrity of the polls.

He stated this in Kano, in his remarks at the 15th annual conference of Fulbright Alumni Association of Nigeria (FAAN), which took place at the Dangote Business School at Bayero University, Kano.

Speaking as the chairman at the opening ceremony of the two-day conference, Jega decried the attitude of some lecturers during the poll, whose action he said paved the way for faulty recruitment process of the political class during the polls, thereby betraying the confidence the electoral body reposed in them.

He said: “Look at what happened during the last elections, and the story of irregularities being spread even in the four walls of BUK. The politicians, through crooked means, got alliances with lecturers in the university to compromise the system and they perpetrated all sort of irregularities, which paved way for a faulty process for the continued entrenchment of bad people in governance.

“Maybe I am preaching to the converted or I am talking nonsense, but frankly speaking, I am beginning to think that we are not taking the obligations of scholarship and intellectual engagement with the seriousness it deserves.

“I think the major crisis in Nigeria’s democracy is that our electoral integrity has been under assault, compromised and undermined by those who have control over the process."

Speaking on the theme of the conference, Professor Mohammed Sanni Abdulkadir, the Vice Chancellor, Kogi State University, Anyigba, urged the Nigerian government to improve the  funding of security agencies fighting insurgency and other organised crime in various fronts across the country, with a view to motivating them to be able to execute their constitutional responsibilities with enthusiasm.

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Senate Kicks Against Bill Seeking To Phase Out Petrol Cars

Sahara Reporters - 18 April 2019 - 2:08am

The Nigerian Senate on Wednesday rejected a bill that sought to phase out the use of petrol cars and introduce electric cars in Nigeria by the year 2035.

Also rejected was the bill that sought to open up the Nigerian citizenship to other Africans.

The two bills were sponsored separately by Ben Murray-Bruce, the lawmaker representing Bayelsa East senatorial district on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

According to Murray-Bruce, combustion cars were causing pollution and contributing to global warming and developed countries are gradually phasing them out. He said phasing out petrol cars would help fight the twin environmental menace of global warming and air pollution.

However, Senator Jibrin Barau said there was no need to make any law compelling Nigerians to use electric cars at a particular period.

He said in view of the economic strength of individual Nigerians, it would be unwise to come up with such legislation.

While kicking against the bill, Ike Ekweremadu, the Deputy Senate President, said it would affect Nigeria’s economy as an oil-producing country.

In the end, Murray-Bruce was advised to withdraw the bill, which he did.

On the bill to open up Nigerian citizenship to other Africans, Senator Bala Ibn Na’Allah said Sections 25, 26 and 27 of the constitution adequately took care of that. Consequently, Senate President Bukola Saraki put it to a voice vote, and a majority of the senators voted against it.

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BREAKING: Anxiety As CCT Postpones Judgement On Onnoghen

Sahara Reporters - 18 April 2019 - 2:06am

The Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) sitting in Abuja has shifted its ruling on the trial of the former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnonghen, to 12pm. 

The Court Registrar gave the announcement minutes ago when the embattled former CJN was already at the court premises but still inside his Land Cruiser SUV. 

Onnonghen arrived at the court at exactly 8:40am, with the ruling, as of then, expected to start by 9am.

The court was yet to sit as of the time of filing in this report, but the consortia of lawyers of both prosecution and defence were also arriving at the court.

Immediately the announcement was made, the unmarked SUV that brought Onnoghen left the court premises with his security details.

Onnoghen had been standing trial for charges of fraudulent declaration of assets and for operating bank domiciliary foreign currency accounts filed against him by the Federal Government.

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CCT To Deliver Judgment On Onnoghen Today

Sahara Reporters - 18 April 2019 - 2:06am

Walter Onnoghen, the suspended Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), who resigned his post recently over allegation of false declaration of assest will know his fate on today when the Code of Conduct Tribunal delivers judgement on the charges levelled against him.

The CCT will also rule on two applications filed by the CJN, who tendered his resignation two weeks ago.

One of the applications is challenging the jurisdiction of the tribunal to hear the case.

The other application is asking the CCT chairman to disqualify himself from further presiding over the case for his alleged bias.

On Monday, the three-member panel, led by Danladi Umar, fixed the date for judgment after the prosecution led by Aliyu Umar (SAN), and the defence, led by Okon Efut, adopted their final addresses.

The Nigerian government had preferred six charges against Onnoghen for failing to declare some of his assets.

The government asked the CCT to convict and impose maximum punishment on the suspended CJN, contending that it successfully established that Justice Onnoghen acted in breach of the code of conduct for public officers in the country.

In the charge marked CCT/ABJ/01/19, the prosecution alleged that Onnoghen’s failure to properly declare his assets, was in violation of Section 15(2) of Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act.

Onnoghen was also alleged to have operated five foreign bank accounts, and thereby contravened the code of conduct for public officers.

However, in opposition to his trial, Onnoghen queried the validity of the charge against him, contending that the government violated established judicial precedents by not allowing the National Judicial Council to first investigate the allegation against him, before it rushed the matter to the CCT.

He argued that failure to channel the petition against him, as well as the outcome of the investigation that was purportedly conducted on assets declaration forms he submitted to the Code of Conduct Bureau to the NJC, rendered the charge invalid.

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I'm Head And Shoulders Above Atiku In Terms Of Educational Qualifications, Says Buhari

Sahara Reporters - 18 April 2019 - 1:57am

President Muhammadu Buhari says he has more educational qualifications to have participated in the February 23, 2019, presidential election than Atiku Abubakar, candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), who was his closest rival in the election.

Buhari accused Abubakar of not possessing the statutory educational qualification to contest the recently concluded presidential election.

Buhari dared Atiku to produce his “educational certificates, indicating the schools attended by him, with dates", before the Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal.

The counter-accusation is in response to a petition filed by Atiku and the PDP before the tribunal. Atiku is asking the tribunal to declare him the true winner of the February 23 election and nullify the victory of Buhari.

The petitioners alleged, among others, that Buhari gave false information about his school certificate in the Form CF001, which he submitted to INEC. They also alleged that Buhari did not possess the secondary school certificate he laid claim to in the form.

However, in a reply filed on his behalf by Wole Olanipekun (SAN), the President said he possessed more than the constitutionally required educational qualifications to contest the election.

He said it was Atiku who lacked the required educational qualification, and challenged him to contradict the assertion with proof.

Buhari said he was “head and shoulder above” Atiku in terms of educational qualifications, trainings and courses attended, both within and outside Nigeria.

He also said he surpassed Atiku in terms of acquisition of knowledge, certificates, laurels, medals and experience.

The reply read in part: “The respondent (Buhari) avers that he is far more qualified, both constitutionally and educationally, to contest and occupy the office of President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria than the 1st petitioner; and that in terms of educational qualifications, training and courses attended, both within and outside Nigeria, he is head and shoulder above the 1st petitioner in terms of acquisition of knowledge, certificates, laurels, medals and experience.

“Respondent states further that it is the 1st petitioner who is not qualified to contest the office of President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and challenges the educational credentials and certificates of the 1st petitioner.

“The 1st petitioner is hereby given notice to produce and tender his educational certificates, indicating the schools attended by him, with dates.”

Buhari denied submitting false information to INEC in respect of his educational qualification.

He quoted his resume as reading, in part: “Elementary School Daura and Maid’adua –  1948 to 1952; Middle School, Katsina – 1953 to 1956; Katsina Provincial Secondary School (now Daura Government College, Katsina) –  1956 to 1961.”

The reply added: “He (Buhari) did not, at any time, provide any false information in the Form CF001 submitted to the 1st respondent, either in 2014 or 2018. The affidavit of compliance to the 2019 Form CF001 was correct in every material particular.

“In filling Form CF001 in 2014 and 2019, the respondent was not oblivious of the constitutional qualifications stipulated in Section 131 of the Constitution and interpreted in Section 318 of the same Constitution.

“Petitioners themselves are also not oblivious of the fact that the respondent possesses far more than the constitutional threshold expected of a candidate contesting for the office of President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”

Buhari asked the tribunal to dismiss the petition, saying it contained more of pre-election issues, which the Court of Appeal, sitting as a tribunal lacked jurisdiction to entertain.

He argued that the petitioners’ claims were self-defeating, noting that while the petitioners claimed to have won the last presidential election and also won elections in many states in the South-South and the South-East regions of the country, they also urged the court to nullify the election and order a fresh presidential election.

Buhari argued that by virtue of Section 137 of the Electoral Act the, petitioners could not question the results of elections in states where they claimed to have won and still retain themselves as petitioners. He faulted the petitioners’ claim that the election was marred by corrupt practices and substantial non-compliance with the Electoral Act.

He added: “To the knowledge of the petitioners themselves, and acceptance of the 1st respondent in particular, as well as Nigerians generally, the respondent meets far more than the constitutional and educational threshold demanded of a candidate contesting for the office of President of Nigeria.”

Also addressed in the reply was the Trader Moni policy of the government which the petitioner had said was a vote-buying ploy.

Buhari denied the claim by arguing that the policy formed one of the many social intervention policies of the government, directed at alleviating the suffering of the masses.

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91,000 Nigerians Apply For 3,200 Customs Jobs In Less Than 24 Hours

Sahara Reporters - 18 April 2019 - 1:54am

Nigerian Customs Service
Nigerian Customs Service

Barely 24 hours after the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) opened the portal for job applications, more than 90,000 persons have indicated interest.

On Tuesday, the NCS had announced that 3,200 vacancies were available to be filled. The portal for the application was made available at 12am on Wednesday.

However, as at 4pm on Wednesday, one of the officers in charge of recruitment at the headquarters of the NCS disclosed that 91,000 applications had been "successfully received".

According to NAN, applications were also received from Nigerians abroad. 

Umar Sanusi, acting Deputy Comptroller-General in charge of human resources at NCS, said 800 would be recruited to fill vacancies in the support staff for superintendent cadre category, while 2,400 would fill positions of customs inspector and customs assistant cadre in the general duty category.

His words: “Like all recruitment into positions in Federal Government agencies, applications for recruitment will be open to all eligible Nigerians who meet the requirements irrespective of their tribe, religion, state or any other consideration.

“In our bid to ensure an equal and fair opportunity to all applicants, we are working every step of the recruitment process in compliance with the requirements of the Federal Character Commission.

“We are determined to conduct an exercise that is credible, fair and transparent and we will deploy all machinery within our powers to ensure that the integrity of the exercise is not compromised.”

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Abuja: Saving A City Growing On Drugs

Sahara Reporters - 17 April 2019 - 2:12pm

A young man took a girl on a date and bought her a bottle of alcohol. She had never tasted beer before, and she declined. But she remained seated and continued to listen to the guy’s persuasion. For how long can she hold on?

But the same guy takes another girl on a date to the same place and offered her alcohol. The girl politely refused the offer, saying she doesn’t take alcohol. The guy tried to press her into having the drink, but the girl sensing what he was trying to do, politely excused herself and walked out of the bar!

“The first girl did not have assertiveness, and she stood the risk of being persuaded to start using alcohol. But the second girl had more assertiveness, that’s why she walked away, and the guy would never try to persuade her to drink again,” said Alexander Agara, a clinical psychologist, on why it isn’t enough to just say ‘No to Drugs.’   

Abuja, Nigeria’s capital city, is believed to be the fastest growing city in Africa, growing from a population of 776,298, in 2006 to an estimated six million residents by 2016. Now, it may also have become the city with the fastest growing drug use prevalence in the country.

According to the National Drug Use Survey released in January, the first comprehensive drug use survey in the country, the number of drug users in Nigeria is estimated at 14.4 per cent or 14.3 million people aged between 15 and 64 years. Out of this number, an estimated 180,000 people in the Federal Capital Territory are among people with drug dependency.

But Agara, who works as a mental health expert believes the figure is changing. He said nearly eight out of nine young people in the city use drugs, especially alcohol, codeine and marijuana. Breaking down the figures, he revealed that 60% of youths aged 12- 17 use drugs while 80 % of those aged 16-22 use drugs. More alarming is the revelation that 84 % of the age groups who use drugs are females. 

Agara is one of the facilitators at a weeklong workshop for young people in Abuja organized by Reclaiming Futures In Northern Nigeria (REFINN), a project funded by the United States Department of State with the support of the US Embassy in Abuja.

It was a gathering of 50 youths and teenagers who spent one whole week listening, talking and playing love games about drug abuse and addiction. It was a carefully selected group comprising drug and substance users, those in recovery and those who haven’t used drugs-among them secondary school students. 

Ejikeme McBishop Ogueji, leader of the REFINN team, said the project was designed to empowered young people with necessary skills that would strengthen their response to drug abuse challenges. “We have found out that saying No to drug abuse is not enough to protect students and adolescent against drug abuse. They also need life skills that can help them become more assertive,” he explained.

Through a series of ‘love’ games, presentations, and experience sharing the workshop showcased the dangers of drug addiction and why the youths must have the skills to resist going down the junkie land. 

It started with a game where two boys blindfolded were each asked to seek out their female partners who were asked to stand apart. The boys whose eyes were covered staggered across the front of the hall stretching their hands in search of their partners even when they stood close by. The two, after searching for their partners in vain, ran into each and embraced, while the audience, amused, erupted in laughter. 

The participants, which included students of Lugbe International Academy and the University of Abuja, were asked to explain the game and kickstart discussion around drug abuse and addiction. The game was to demonstrate how drug and alcohol affect the senses and impair the brain.

Different facilitators led the participants in discussions on opioids addiction, how to detect addiction, drugs of abuse, why you should say No, assertiveness against drug abuse and harm reduction, among others.  They included Aisha Tafida, Projects Co-ordinator, Parents Against Drug Abuse and Marcus Ayuba of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA). 

But there was also experience-sharing to educate participants on why and how to kick addiction. Some of those who’d used drugs and are able to stop shared their inspirational stories. Like Daniel Bala, 30, who started drugs before he was 18 after falling for peer pressure. He grew from taking “weed” (cannabis) to pharmaceutical opioids such as tramadol, rehypnol, morphine and even injected drugs.

Drug use eventually weighed him down and his academics began to suffer. He completed a four year course after suffering several carry-overs. 

“Then I discovered that most of my peers who were not into drugs had gone far in life and doing well in their careers and I was jobless and not doing anything about it,” he said, admitting that apart from family pressure to kick addiction, it was the realization that he was behind that fired his determination to kick drugs.

Then there is Falimata Animam, 22, who was lured into drugs by her male and female friends.  She had traveled to Lafia, Nasarawa State to re-write the Senior Secondary School Certificate Examinations five years back and had to share a room with a girl and three boys for nearly two weeks. The boys and girl were all using marijuana, tramadol and rohypnol. She initially resisted the invitation to “try” any of the drugs because she’d never smoked or used drugs.

But after persistent pressure, she felt the urge to get into the groove and started with the codeine cough syrup considered to be ‘soft.”  ” I started with a bottle and then it increased, and I started taking the other drugs too,” she told her attentive audience.

But the drugs had unsavoury effects on her, unbalancing her mentally and physically. After a few years of drug use, she succumbs to family pressure to stop drugs and a chanced meeting with some drug abuse educators. Now she is helping to educate others as a Gender Focal Officer for People Who Inject Drugs (PWID), at YouthRise Nigeria.  

There are some still struggling with opioids dependency but have cut down on demand, admitting they’ve been unable to completely stop. This is why facilitators recommended harm reduction as a national strategy to reduce number of people living with addiction.   

Womboh Tyohe, a civic teacher who led six senior secondary school students to the workshop, said the interaction had further exposed the students to the menace of drug abuse and how to combat it. “We teach them about drug abuse in school, but this would even make our job easier. The students that are here will definitely pass on the message,” he declared. 

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Senate Inches One Step Closer To Passing Bill Overruling Buhari’s Veto On Budget

Sahara Reporters - 17 April 2019 - 1:33pm

A bill to compel the President and state governors to lay their annual budgets before the legislature at most 90 days to end of a fiscal year has passed second reading at the Senate.

The second reading of the bill is the second stage of process. If the bill passes the third reading with the required by two-thirds majority, and it gets the concurrence of the House of Representatives, then it becomes a law.

The bill, The 1999 Constitution of Nigeria (Fourth Alteration, No. 28) Bill, was sponsored by Ike Ekweremadu, the Deputy Senate President, and was presented at plenary by Ahmad Lawan, Majority Leader of the Senate.

Rejected by the President in 2018, the bill, if passed, will return Nigeria to the era of January-December budget cycles, while similarly mandating the National Assembly to pass the budget before commencement of the next financial year.

Buhari had declined assent to the bill on the grounds that Section 2 (b) and 3 (b) of the proposal appears not to appreciate the provisions of Section 58 (4) of the 1999 constitution — an argument dismissed by David Umaru, Chairman of the Senate’s Technical Committee on Declined Assent to Bills.

The bill will ensure that the budget is laid not later than 90 days to the end of a financial year,” Umaru said. 

“The legislative intent behind this bill is to ensure that we run a normal financial year. Therefore, the provision of Section 58(4) which Mr. President made reference to, does not apply in this regard.

“On the whole, we respectfully submit that the bill is not in conflict with the provision of Section 58(4) of the Constitution as implied by Mr President. It is, therefore, our concerted view that the Senate should override Mr. President’s veto.”

Section 58(4) of the Constitution being spoken of by the President reads: “Where a bill is presented to the President for assent, he shall within thirty days thereof signify that he assents or that he withholds assent.”

However, Section 58(5) also adds: “Where the President withholds his assent and the bill is again passed by each House by two-thirds majority, the bill shall become law and the assent of the President shall not be required.”

As earlier reported by SaharaReporters, the Senate on Wednesday passed seven of the at least 16 bills rejected so far this year by the President.

The bills are the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PIGB), National Institute for Hospitality and Tourism Bill, National Research and Innovation Council Bill, Stamp Duties Act (Amendment) Bill, National Agricultural Seed Council Bill, Agricultural Credit Guarantee Scheme Fund (Amendment) Bill and Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Act 2010 (Amendment) Bill.

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