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EXCLUSIVE: F-SARS Arrests Ajimobi’s Former Aide For Withholding N18.5m Meant For Election Violence

5 April 2019 - 3:28am

Godwin Obode, former Special Assistant on Youth and Student Matters to Abiola Ajimobi, Governor of Oyo State, has been arrested.

SaharaReporters learnt that Obode was picked up by men of the Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad (F-SARS) some days ago following his refusal to return the N18.5million he received from the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Oyo State for the general election but did not spend.

Obode worked for Ajimobi during his first term as Governor but subsequently resigned with the explanation that he wanted to relocate abroad.

He later went to work for Teslim Folarin, a two-term Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) senator who contested (and lost) the 2015 Oyo State governorship election on PDP’s platform before joining the APC in 2017. 

However, towards the 2019 election when APC was fearing a bad performance, the party engaged Obode to ruin the election in Okeogun and Oyo town. 

“Ajimobi gave him money to mobilise students as security cover for the election,” a senior party figure who asked not to be named, told SaharaReporters.

“They gave him N18.5million for the election, but they later found out that he didn’t do anything; he was just having fun, drinking, on election day. They were even calling him to get field reports on election day, but they couldn’t get him.

"The problem now is that despite the best efforts of the Governor to recoup the money, Obode doesn’t want to return it.”

When SARS officials searched his house last week, they found the bag with which the N18.5million was delivered to him. The bag still contained a leftover sum of N9million. 

Obodo was then arrested but later released, though he still has to report at the F-SARS office regularly.

SaharaReporters understands the “security cover” in the brief to Obode was actually “election violence”. According to a party source, it was “to disrupt voting at polling units where the process doesn’t favour the APC”.

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N25m On Toilets, N100m On Mini-Stadium... How Anambra River Basin Is Wasting N2bn On Irrelevant Projects

5 April 2019 - 1:28am

Floods reeked disaster on no less than 64,000 persons in Anambra State alone, according to the last impact report released by the Nigerian Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) on September 26, 2018.

Going by the scale of the devastation, which killed about 200 persons and displaced over 100,000 people nationwide, it would have been expected that the closest water-related federal agencies to these communities, the River Basin Development Authorities (RBDAs), would have exhausted all in their ammo to proactively curb the destructive powers of erosions and flash floods. However, this does not seem to be so.

The Shocking Realization

Anambra Imo River Basin Development Authority (AIRBDA) received go-ahead from the Presidency and the National Assembly in 2018, to spend an estimated N1.9billion on the construction of VIP toilets, a mini-stadium, classroom blocks and 40 other line items that seem beyond the bounds of its constitutional provision. If the funds are fully released for all listed capital projects, the River Basin, whose fundamental function deals with the management of surface and underground water, will have fumigated farms, constructed civic halls and provide the customary solar streetlights as well.

AIRBDA also encroached into the territory under the Cross River Basin Development Authority, by promising to provide six motorized boreholes in Yakurr and Abi Local Government Areas (LGAs) of Cross River. In the same vein, the agency promised to pay N50million to Silverbird apparel for the construction of rural roads in Anambra State.

All told, AIRBDA will be cutting out of funds that should have been designated for erosion, flood control and other water-related issues, to build 13 solar streetlights, provide or energise six transformers, carry out varying range of works on six community halls/centres, and execute an HIV/AIDS programme. The water management focused institution will go on to do the following:

Construction of VIP Toilets in Ore Umuma-Isiaku and Isiogwugwu Hall Ideato South LGA, Imo State for N25million; construction/renovation of six (2) classroom blocks each in Amaraku Secondary School, Isiala Mbano LGA, Imo State and Umunkwo Girls’ Secondary School, Isiala Mbano LGA, Imo State; construction of Divisional Police Station/accommodation at Camp Nkpologu, Uzo-Uwani Lga, Enugu State for N70million.

Others include: Renovation and equipment of Community Hospital in Isioji, Nkpologwu, Aguta Lga in Anambra State for N15million; construction of market in Isioji, Nkpologwu, Aguta LGA in Anambra State for N20million; Arochuckwu Mini Stadium for N100million; fumigation of farms in Isiala Ngwa North LGA for N100million.

Furthermore, there is procurement of farm implements for farmers in Isiala Ngwa North and South LGAs in Abia State for N100million; supply of generators at Nri Anaocha LGA for N20million and the establishment and development of systems (GMS) Needs Assessment For Institutional Capacity, Strengthening of Gender and Human Rights For N8million.

The National Assembly also deemed it constitutional with the assent of the President for AIRBDA to spend N125million on two youth empowerment programmes in Aboh Mbaise/Ngor Okpala Federal Constituency in Imo and Isiala Ngwa North and South LGAs of Abia State. Line items in AIRBDA’s spending plan were not just mis-aligned; no less than 31 others were lacking details uniformly seen across well-described projects in the budget. They were either lacking the name of the state where the project is to be executed, the amount of streetlights, boreholes, roads, etc., to be provided or a precise location for the said project.

Among the poorly described projects cited are 'Erosion Control in Umunne/Oduma/Nenwe and Erosion Control/Pavement in Amichi-Igboukwu road'.

The Story Continues In 2019

Meanwhile, the 2019 appropriation bill presented to the National Assembly by President Muhammadu Buhari in December also has a draft of 21 misaligned projects as well, 50 per cent less than those in the 2018 approved spending plan. Out of the 11 solar streetlights, the agency could execute if the bill sails through, five of them were in the 2018 act also.

Solar Street Lights at Over Rail Eha-Amufu Isi Uzo Lga, Enugu State, received N8million in 2018 and it could receive N15million in 2019. Solar streetlight in Mberi, Imo State, got approval of N14.9million in 2018 and N10million in the 2019 appropriation bill. Solar streetlights in Enugwu Agidi, Anambra State, had a budget of N16million assigned to it in 2018 and N20million in the 2019 Appropriation Bill.

Others include solar streetlight in Enugwu Ukwu, Anambra State which got N12million in the 2018 budget and received an additional N500,000 in the 2019 spending proposal and provision of solar streetlight at Irunnebo Village, Anambra State, which was given N40million in the 2018 budget, while it received N12.5million in the 2019 budget proposal. 

AIRBDA also felt it was within its mandate to construct a bakery, build market stalls, construct classrooms, renovate a public school, execute another HIV/AIDS programme and crown it with the provision of four VIP public toilets in each of the five South-Eastern states of Nigeria. All of these will cost N188million that could have gone to the control of flood and erosion menace.

For 2018, the total worth of AIRBDA's misaligned project stood at N1,894,340,037, while for 2019, the value of misaligned projects was N188million.

What the Law Says

Going by the laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Section 4 of the act establishing River Basin Development Authority stipulates their functions within set geographical boundaries to include:

- to undertake comprehensive development of both surface and underground water resources for multipurpose use with particular emphasis on the provision of irrigation infrastructure and the control of floods and erosion and for water-shed management;

- to construct, operate and maintain dams, dykes, polders, wells, boreholes, irrigation and drainage systems, and other works necessary for the achievement of the Authority's functions and hand over all lands to be cultivated under the irrigation scheme to the farmers;

- to supply water from the Authority's completed storage schemes to all users for a fee to be determined by the Authority concerned, with the approval of the Minister;

- to construct, operate and maintain infrastructural services such as roads and bridges linking project sites: provided that such infrastructural services are included and form an integral part of the list of approved projects; and 

- to develop and keep up-to-date a comprehensive water resources master plan identifying all water resources requirements in the Authority's area of operation, through adequate collection and collation of water resources, water use, socio-economic and environmental data of the River Basin.

The Complicity Of The National Assembly

When SaharaReporters reached out to Chidi Amaliri, the Public Relations Officer of AIRBDA, to find out why the agency was planning to spend funds on projects outside its legal statutes, he refrained from giving an official response, saying the Director-General was in the best position to respond.

“Those are constituency projects that were put in by National Assembly members. They just used us as executing agency,” he grudgingly stated.

Continued attempts were made at speaking with the DG, but they were unsuccessful.

Abayomi Collins, a former member of the House of Representatives between 1999 and 2007, said the actions perpetrated by the RBDAs are “terrible and sacrilegious”.

“What is going on in all these river basins is terrible, sacrilegious,” he said in a phone interview. 

“This is a very bad development that is going on. Google the River basin Development Act; when you talk about roads within their mandate, it simply talks about the road that is leading to an infrastructure that they are working on. If you talk about electrification, it could be a short-distance power connection to the project site. Not rural electrification, not a stadium, not all these solar panel and solar stuff.”

He further alluded to the connivance of the National Assembly in the misalignment of projects.

“If you look at that budget properly, you might see projects that are not within the purview of Anambra/Imo. You might even see a project from Kogi State. And the people are just being shortchanged, I mean, this is cruel. Would the members of the Water Resources Committee in the National Assembly say they don’t know the mandate of the River Basin Development Authorities?”

In his response to the claim of the AIRBDA PRO, that the projects were put in by the National Assembly, Collins, who also chaired the Water Resources Committee between 2004 and 2006 said: “That is where it will emanate; Anambra/Imo will not do that. It is the hooliganism of all these House of Reps members or senators that put all those projects in that place.”

The Trend

AIRBDA was voted a total expenditure of an estimated N12.2billion in 2018. Its recurrent cost was N485,129,674, while funds for capital projects is about N11.8billion.

In the 2019 Appropriation Bill, Anambra/Imo RBDA received a proposed capital expenditure envelope of about N3.94billion and a recurrent expenditure of N528.8 million. 

After the National Assembly received the 2018 budget proposal, it added over N500billion and at least 4,000 more line items, while taking away some of those inserted by the Presidency. Time will only tell what will happen when the 2019 budget is eventually passed. 

However, numerous efforts by SaharaReporters to reach the National Assembly to make a comment on this proved abortive, as the contact numbers in the public domain either are not reachable or not answered. Calls and a text message were put through to Sabi Abdulahi, spokesperson of the Senate, but none was returned.

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On April Fool’s Day, Real Winners Emerge In Home Lottery Draws

5 April 2019 - 1:06am

Winners have emerged in the ‘win-a-home-today’ initiative of the Home Lottery Limited.

In a well-attended event held at the De Santos Hotels in Lagos on Monday, April 1, the audience, comprising bettors and would-be bettors, organisers, regulators – Consumer Protection Council of Nigeria, Nigeria Lottery Commission, and Lagos State Lottery Board – and members of the press, witnessed a live electronic raffle draw that produced six winners.

The grand prize of a three-bedroom bungalow was won by Ticket Number 1529564392946 and Phone Number 0806758****. Two Category A prizes of a 32-inch TV went to Ticket Number 1528378751686 with Phone Number 0806026**** and Ticket Number 1533624661389 with Phone Number 0803384****. Three Category B prizes of a 1.2KV generator went to Ticket Number 152880223234 with Phone Number 0903202**** and Ticket Number 1528126343860. A bettor with Ticket Number 1534243547513 with Phone Number 0703683**** completed the list. 

None of the winners were in the audience, however; they were called and placed on a speaker to the hearing of all present. 

In an April Fool season, it wasn’t a surprise that skepticism got the better of the winners. 

“Are you sure that this is not a prank?” Joy***, the star prize winner, said when informed of her win.

However, Oladayo Oyelaja, the project lead of Dreamview Enterprises a partner of Home Lottery Limited, doused her fears.

“You are on phone with a live audience and they are interested in knowing you are real and the winner of the house,” he said. 

“It is not a Fool’s Day prank. Congratulations.”

Now in a joyous mood, albeit with a little doubt, the lucky winner continued: “I bought the ticket last year and I have even forgotten about it. You have to send me a mail and until the key of the house is handed over to me I won’t believe you.” 

But Nkiru Onusili, a Deputy Director and Coordinator of National Lottery Regulatory Commission, was full of conviction.

“You know that anything lottery requires transparency so the commission went for inspection to ensure everything was in place. And today we came to witness the event and so far, so good. We are quite impressed. The process was free and fair,” she said. 

“But our work wont end here. We shall go further to ensure that the winners get their prizes. After that, we have what we call winners’ verification. It is a follow-up exercise. After presenting the house and other gift items to the winners, we make sure the organisers don’t go and take back from them.”

Home Lottery Limited offers Lagosians the opportunity to own a home in a most accessible and affordable way by providing hundreds of homes annually through a credible, sustainable and trusted lottery scheme properties in Lagos developing to all over Nigeria.

The next is scheduled for July 2019. To participate, send an SMS ‘home’ to 718 on an MTN network.

 

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Kachikwu Urges Indigenous Oil Companies To Take Over IOCs’ Operations

5 April 2019 - 12:52am


Ibe Kachikwu

Ibe Kachikwu NAN

Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, Nigeria's Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, tasked indigenous operators in the oil and gas sector to step up their investments and take over major operations from international oil companies (IOCs).

Kachikwu made the assertion at the opening ceremony of the 2019 Nigeria Oil and Gas Opportunities Fair (NOGOF) in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, on Thursday.

The 2019 NOGOF conference which featured about 1,500 participants was tagged: 'Maximising Oil and Gas Industry for Benefit of Nigerian People'.

The minister said it became important, especially as many were considering divesting and charting new paths.

According to him, changes in the global oil and gas industry are presently challenging the present exploration and investment strategies. This, he said, was because, "oil is fast becoming a degenerating asset with alternative sources of energy taking over and attracting new investments".

Kachikwu said while the world was moving on from fossil fuels, Nigeria has yet to take advantage of the opportunities in the sector and design strategies to harness advantages of renewables.

The minister urged indigenous firms to take over and stop playing safe if they would benefit from the opportunities availed through new trends in the industry.

Kachikwu said government had reduced the cost of crude production to 23 dollars per barrel from about 32 dollars, adding that some companies in the joint venture with NNPC had already driven the cost down to 15 dollars.

The minister said henceforth, approval for projects in the petroleum industry would be based on the cost of producing oil and gas, noting that efforts are on to further ensure the cost was brought down to below 15 dollars per barrel.

He added that efforts to bring down cost of production should not be by the government or through policies, but should be driven by the private sector.

He said: “The ministry is going to come up with a benchmark to analyse and compare companies who do business in Nigeria and what cost of production they are running. This is because any unbelievable cost of production, basically impacts on the revenue stream of the country.

“We need to start finding out how companies awarded recognition are doing, and why are the others not going in that direction. However, excuses of the environment being different or absent infrastructure can no longer hold water, because there are a lot of countries with peculiar situation as ours that are producing oil at relatively lower level.

“One of the mandates that I am giving the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) is that as we begin to look at new projects, the cost at which we are going to produce is going to become critical to our ability to approve those projects for you.

“This has brought us to another milestone in the industry where the crude oil loading and export can be effectively monitored from my office. So, it is becoming a major front burner item."

He said government had invested tremendously in the oil and gas sector towards building capacity and investing in human development.

According to the minister, government had also ensured increase in production activities, and completion of Egina Project and AKK Pipelines among others, and was also working towards ensuring zero gas flare by 2020.

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Buhari: I'll Preserve Sanctity Of The Rule Of Law

5 April 2019 - 12:48am


Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari has said he would not waiver in his commitment to due process and preserving the sanctity of the rule of law.

The President made the statement at the final day of the 50th Convocation Ceremonies of the University of Lagos, on Thursday. 

Represented by Professor Rasheed Yakubu, the Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission (NUC), Buhari's speech read: “With the 2019 general election that have come and gone, we as a nation have once again reiterated our choice of democracy as the system of government by which we hope to imbibe an all-round development.

“Our administration is committed to ensuring that the sacredness of that choice is preserved. With this policy enunciated and every programme instituted, we shall ensure that our democratic culture takes firmer roots and legacies further consolidated.

“Let me reiterate that my administration will not waver in its commitment to following due process, preserving the sanctity of the rule of law, battling grand corruption, securing the lives and property of our people and rehabilitating or upgrading our critical infrastructure.

“We will continue to be unrelenting in enthroning hard work, honesty and place the welfare of our citizens above everything else.

“We recognise the place of our intellectuals to undertake cutting edge researches that will address the challenges of development and contribute to making lives better.

“We acknowledge that our advancement as a nation will be driven by a robust human resource base. It should, therefore, be our collective determination to do our best to guarantee a peaceful and stable future for Nigerians through education.

“We shall continue to interface with the unions of universities in our bid to ensuring that we have a stable higher education sector that contributes to the nation’s global competiveness.

“As you make your ways into the world beyond this ivory tower, let me assure you of our administration’s commitment to ensuring that the skills and knowledge you have acquired are put to use and be productively engaged.

“While many of you will be gainfully employed in the public and private sectors, some of you may choose to explore the entrepreneurial route by founding and co-founding small and medium scale businesses.

“In a special way, the knowledge and competences you have developed in the course of acquiring Nigeria’s degrees, diplomas and certificates are to be applied to the noble course of national development."
 

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Nigeria Now Owes N24.4trillion, Says Debt Management Office

5 April 2019 - 12:45am


Patience Oniha

Patience Oniha Guardian Nigeria

Patience Oniha, Director-General, Debt Management Office (DMO), says Nigeria's debt profile is now N24.4trillion having added N2.96trillion to the old debt in the space of a year.

The DG made this known on Thursday in Abuja, where its statistics showed that  the country’s debt profile which was at N21.725trillion in 2017, had increased by 8.74 per cent.

The DMO boss said the funds were borrowed to finance projects, fund budget deficit and meet maturing obligations, noting that 68.18 per cent of the debt are domestic.

Oniha said some foreign debts were borrowed so as to refinance treasury bills because of the short tenor of the bills. 

She went on to say that the CBN Official Exchange Rate of US$1/N306 as at December 31, 2017 and US$1/ N307.00 as at December 31, 2018 were used for the exchange of external debt stock to Nigerian currency.

According to the DMO boss, N331.12billion promissory notes issued to oil marketing companies and state governments in December 2018 are part of the government’s domestic debt stock.

She revealed that the country’s Debt Management Strategy, which had some targets set, had been almost achieved. This includes the plan to achieve a tenor of 75:25 ratio and that the target had been passed because the country now had a 78:22 ratio in favour of long term debts.

She said: “The share of domestic debt dropped to 68.18 per cent from 73.36 per cent as of December 31, 2017, thereby achieving a mix of 68.18 per cent and 31.82 per cent in the debt stock.

“Some of the objectives were to create more space for other borrowers in the domestic market, extend the average tenor of the debt stock in order to reduce refinancing risk and increase external reserves.

“The implementation of the strategy led to an injection of N855billion through the redemption of Nigerian Treasury Bills in 2018 and a general drop in the FGN’s borrowing rate in the domestic market from over 18 per cent per annum in 2017 to 14 to 15 per cent per annum in 2018."

The DMO boss also said borrowing for 2019 would be split 50-50 between domestic and external in line with the Debt Management Strategy 2013-2019.

She said: “Relatively low-interest rates mean the government can issue longer-dated bonds to continue to fund infrastructure projects.

“Revenue generating initiatives are expected to improve revenues and reduce the debt service to revenue ratio.”

Speaking on the issuance of promissory notes, Oniha said: “The Federal Executive Council approved the establishment of a Promissory Note Programme.

“The purpose is to use it to settle inherited local debts and contractual obligations of the Federal Government. The programme is estimated at N3.4tn.

“It will provide stimulus to the economy and unlock investment across a number of sectors currently having liquidity issues.”

Nigeria's debt profile since Buhari came to power in 2015 are as follows: 2015, N1.457trillion; 2016, not available; 2017, N2.321trillion; 2018, N1.643trillion; and 2019 (as proposed) N1.649trillion.
 

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Ibadan Poly Shut Down Over Violence

5 April 2019 - 12:43am


The Polytechnic, Ibadan, has been shut down after a football match turned violent.

Violence erupted on Thursday after a football match between the Faculty of Engineering and the Faculty of Business and Communications Studies.

The Students' Union Sport Minister was feared to have been stabbed, while a  number of students were injured.

In the meantime, the university management has suspended the activities of the students' union on campus.

Making the announcement, Adewole Soladoye, the Public Relations Officer of the institution, said the decision was made on the heels of the failure of the students' union body to obey and follow rules and regulation guiding its activities on campus.

Soladoye said: “The management has suspended the students' union activities on campus. The management has taken the decision by suspending the students union activities on campus.

“The students had a football match Thursday and it resulted into a fracas. It is an in-fight between them and the school authority has taken the necessary action. All students' union activities have been suspended.

“Parents and guardians are advised to request their children and wards to return home immediately as the management of the institution will not be responsible for the care of any student during the mid-semester break.”
 

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MASSOB Accuses Nigerian Security Agents of Secretly Abducting Its Members

5 April 2019 - 12:40am


The Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) has pointed accusing fingers at Nigerian security agencies for allegedly abducting some of its members in Ebonyi and Imo states.

In a press statement signed by Edeson Samuel, National Director of Information, and made available to newsmen in Abakaliki, the Ebonyi State capital, the group said five of its members were secretly abducted on various occasions by Nigerian security agents.

The statement read: “Five of our members in both Ebonyi and Imo states were secretly abducted by Nigerian security agents on different occasions.

“The wives of our members, Moses Nwinyinya and Cletus Nwagu, were abducted at Ishieke in the Ebonyi Local Government Area by Nigerian security agents in mufti because their husbands ran into the bush when the security agents drove into their compounds in the night to arrest them.

“They arrested their wives, claiming that their entire families were members of MASSOB. Another member of MASSOB, Peter Okorie, was abducted at Ishiagu in the Ivo Local Government Area of the state, while coming back home from the MASSOB national meeting. He was arrested because he wore the Biafra insignia.

“In Imo State, Mazi Okechukwu Anyanwu and his wife were arrested in their house in Enyiogugu Mbaise after returning from the MASSOB national meeting; they were ambushed by security agents in their increasing search for members of the non-violent MASSOB and other pro-Biafra groups.

“MASSOB demands that our arrested and abducted members must be released now or arraigned before a competent court of justice. Nigerian security agents have no right to detain our non-violent members illegally and unconstitutionally.”
 

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Nigeria Loses N400bn Annually To Medical Tourism, Says Buhari

5 April 2019 - 12:36am


Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari has decried the huge amount Nigerians spend annually seeking medical care outside the country. 

The President expressed his concern at the inauguration of new participants of the Senior Executive Course of the National Institute of Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS).

Buhari, who was represented by Simon Lalong, Governor of Plateau State, called on course participants to find solutions to problems and gaps in the institutional, legal and policy for financing universal healthcare. 

He encouraged them to go on researches and study how other countries in Africa, Asia, Europe and Americas finance universal healthcare delivery, and make their findings beneficial to the country.

The President said his administration is determined to re-energise the health sector in other to reduce the rate of medical tourism, saying his government made available N55.1billion in 2018 to fund basic healthcare system in accordance with the National Health Act signed in 2014.

He said: “I am pleased to be at the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies, Kuru, on the occasion of the inauguration of the Senior Executive Course 41, 2019 of the National Institute. When in 2018, I approved the theme of your study, Funding Universal Healthcare Delivery in Nigeria, the decision was borne out of the sincere desire of my administration to tackle the challenges of health sector funding in Nigeria. 

“The essence of this programme is to ensure that quality basic healthcare services are delivered to the majority of Nigerians across the country irrespective of their locations. Early in 2018, the government provided N55.1billion, which is the 1 per cent Consolidated Revenue Fund, to cater for the Basic Healthcare Fund, provided for in the National Health Act. 

“Government has shown strong commitment in the revitalization of the health sector. These efforts notwithstanding, our health sector is still characterized by low response to public health emergencies, inability to combat outbreak of deadly diseases and mass migration of medical personnel out of the country. 

“This has resulted in increasing medical tourism by Nigerians in which Nigeria loses over N400billion on an annual basis. Thus, I consider the theme for 2019 very apt, timely and important because the primary purpose of governance is to ensure the security and well-being of the citizens including health security.”

Isaac Adewole, the Minister of Health, delivered the inaugural lecture on health, while Justice Yakubu Dakwak, Chief Judge of Plateau State, administered the oath of office on the 66-course participants.

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NCC: Even If Every SIM Card Is Properly Registered, There'll Still Be Crime

5 April 2019 - 12:35am


Professor Umar Garba Danbatta, Executive Vice Chairman of Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC), says crime would still exist in the country even if all SIM cards were registered.

Speaking at the ongoing 40th Kaduna International Trade Fair, Danbatta said kidnappers use pre-registered SIM cards to carry out their nefarious act. 

Noting that unknown to the criminal elements the SIM cards are being tracked by the commission, he added that a task force had been put in place to curb the trend. 

The Chairman, represented by Okechukwu Aninweke, Head of Internal Policy Review Unit, also cautioned against clicking on unfamiliar emails, as it might be a fraudulent attempt to compromise account.

He said: “You know one thing with these criminals is that they are always one step ahead of you, and even if every SIM card is properly registered, there will still be crime. The commission is doing everything possible to track these elements and has even set up a task force to that effect.” 

He reiterated that the commission would not relent in its bid to ensure that service providers are up and doing in their service to consumers by applying regulatory actions and sanctions against inefficient service providers.

Danbatta advised SIM users to take advantage of 'Do-Not-Disturb (DND)' code to end all unsolicited text messages and also the free-toll telephone number, 622, with which customers can lodge complaints to the commission if their service provider ignores or fails to resolve such complaints when it is reported to them.
 

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Osinbajo Says Nigeria Has Implemented Over 140 Reforms To Make Doing Business Easier

5 April 2019 - 12:30am


Yemi Osinbajo, the Vice-President of Nigeria, has said the Nigerian government has so far implemented 140 reforms which are aimed at making business dealings easier in the country.

The Vice-President made this known at the 2nd Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC) Awards, where he also revealed that the World Bank reported that 32 states in the country have grown in their ease of doing business environment in 2018.

He stated: “In the past three years, Nigeria has implemented more than 140 reforms to make doing business in Nigeria easier. 

“Some of the successful reforms include the ability to: Reserve a business name within four hours; complete the registration of a company within 24 hours online; apply for and receive approval of a visa-on-arrival electronically within 48 hours; file and pay taxes online; and access specialised small claims commercial courts in Lagos and Kano states.

“The World Bank also reported in 2018 that 32 states of Nigeria improved their Ease of Doing Business Environment led by Kaduna, Enugu, Abia, Lagos and Anambra states.

“In 2019, PEBEC set a goal to move Nigeria into the top 100 on the 2020 World Bank Doing Business Index (DBI). To achieve this, we will be pursuing the continued implementation of reforms across all indicators, including the implementation of legislative reforms, specifically the passage of the new Companies and Allied Matters Act and the Omnibus Bills; the expansion of the regulatory reform programme which started with National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) and National Insurance Commission (NAICOM), and now to include other regulators; the establishment of a National Trading Platform for ports; and the concession of our major international airports."

Speaking further, Osinbajo said PEBEC has embarked on the fourth 60-day National Action Plan (NAP 4.0) on EoDB, from March 1 to April 29, 2019.

"We have highlighted key action items in all of the focus areas to ensure that they do not unravel, and to ensure we drive sustainability,” he said.
 

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TASCE Workers Eject Provost, Bursar From College Over 30 Months Unpaid Salaries

5 April 2019 - 12:27am


Main entrance of Tai Solarin College of Education.

Lukmon Kiladese, Provost of Tai Solarin College of Education in Omu-Ijebu, Ogun State, and Gbenga Olusanya, the acting Bursar, have been barred by workers of the school from gaining access into the college over 30 months unpaid salaries.

Speaking with newsmen on Thursday in Ijebu-Ode, the Provost noted that the college has not been working in full capacity, which is beginning to have a negative impact on administrative and academic activities in the school.

Since last November, Kiladese and Olusanya have been operating from the Governor’s office, Oke-Mosan, Abeokuta after they were refused entry into the school.

The two senior management staff were given the mandate to persuade Ibikunle Amosun, the state governor, to pay their salaries, or not come back to the school.

This directive was said to have been given by workers under the Coalition of TASCE Staff.

He said: “They (the workers) did not allow the bursar and me into the college, they are just taking the law into their own hands and at the appropriate time we will take a decisive action.

“There is no effective teaching because we are not allowed to enter the college. So, we are running epileptic services; sometimes, I will be in Abeokuta at the Ministry of Education and they will bring files for me to sign.

“We will sanction them. Any moment from now, we will take decisive action. I will get Police protection and enter the school. Any moment from now there will be action from the management and the government."

According to Kiladese, the union had been proscribed, but the workers berthed another group called COTAS, a group he described as unlawful.  

In response, the Chairman of COTAS, Daniel Aborisade, said they barred the two senior management officials from the school because they noticed that the Governor was not making any efforts to meet their demands. 

"We thought not allowing him to enter the college was the best because the governor appointed him and definitely the governor should be able to answer him. What we are saying is that he must not come to the college until our money is paid," the union leader said.

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Skeptical Africa: Charming Insecurity In A Sharia State? By Leo Igwe

4 April 2019 - 2:57pm


In recent times, Zamfara state in northern Nigeria has been plagued by incessant attacks and killings. Fulani herdsmen have reportedly carried out vicious attacks against local farmers. These attacks have led to heavy loss of lives and the displacement of persons. Efforts by state and federal governments to contain these security challenges have proved ineffective.

However, some solution may be around the corner. The government of Zamfara has proposed to employ local charmers. Yes, local charmers! The government wants to deploy traditional magicians against bandits and criminals in the state. According to a state official, the government would recruit 1,700 charmers to join a task force in addressing the security challenges in the state.

The Zamfara state commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy, Alhaji Bello Dankande, said in Gusau, the state capital: “In each of the 17 emirates, we are going to recruit 100 local charmers in addition to the 500 recruited per emirate earlier”. So the local charmers would for part of the Zamfara state security apparatus along with the vigilante group, and the state security operatives in addressing these challenges.

Unfortunately, the statement by the commissioner fell short of explaining how the recruitment will be done, the connection between charms and insecurity or how the magical materials are going to help enhance security in the state.

This move by Zamfara is quite interesting because it highlights the ambiguity in the Nigerian Islamic religious practice. Zamfara is a muslim majority state. In fact Zamfara was the first state to enforce the islamic law and prides itself as the home of sharia. Thus the impression is that the state has nothing to do with traditional charms. Right? Moreover, the protection by Allah was a key element in the narrative that was used to justify the imposition of sharia law in Zamfara. So what is a sharia implementing state officially doing with charms and charmers? I mean, how is the use of charms in addressing insecurities compatible with the sharia law? What happened to the supposed protection and security that Allah should be providing the Ummah in Zamfara?

In addition, the belief in the potency of charms has no basis in reason, science or in reality. It is superstition. There is no evidence that charms are effective in combating insecurities or that a charm can enable the arrest of criminals or the killing of bandits. Such propositions are absurd, mistaken and misguided. Zamfara should not waste state funds by procuring charms or by employing local charmers. Rather it should adopt evidence-based measures, enhanced policing and intelligence gathering, in addressing the security challenges in the state.

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49 Farewells And More (For Professor Tunde Oduleye, 1944 - 2019) By Niyi Osundare

4 April 2019 - 2:37pm


Niyi Osundare

Niyi Osundare

These, no doubt, are seasons of painful farewells and sudden departures. The news of Professor Tunde Oduleye's passing reached me this morning and threw me into a welter of memories and reminiscences.  Calling that news shocking would be a gross understatement.

Tunde was bright and bold, firm and fair, resilient and dependable in a country and in an era in which these virtues count for little.. A professional scientist by training, he possessed more savvy - and wisdom – about the science of  politics  than many "experts" who study that subject and (mis)teach its  principles either out of  self- interest or unpardonable  ignorance, Oduleye brought to labour unionism a perception and commitment that were tremendously inspirational to those of us in the  ASUU (Academic Staff Union of Universities) family. Calm, controlled, and re-assuring  even under the most severe pressure, he pacified stormy moments with a disarming sense of humour and bonhomie.   This was why he became  some kind of  'Moses'  for the now legendary Ilorin 49, that group of patriotic and  intrepid women and men "purged" from their academic positions at the University of Ilorin in 2001  through the diabolic machinations of  the university's Vice Chancellor at that time  and the sadistic connivance of the Obasanjo government.

Their crime? Fighting for a university system that is wholesome, meaningful, purposeful, and functional; a system that understands the real meaning and importance of  EDUCATION and the globally acceptable ways of disseminating it. It took many years of joblessness,  hunger, demonization, and other afflictions before legal justice came, at last. But, alas, not for everyone, as the case of one of the ranking leaders of the 49 is still snailing its way through the Nigerian judicial system today, while his rightful,  long overdue  professional elevation hangs in a needlessly  agonizing balance. And, as is commonly known in every decent society, justice partially done is often worse than justice never done at all.

Throughout those nearly 10 years in the wilderness, Ilorin 49 stood firm, the present within their grasp, the future before their gaze. Today, they have become the symbol of steadfast courage and beacon of hope in a country where rank opportunism trumps principled resistance, and genuine fighters for the public good are roundly mischaracterized as trouble- makers and “undue radicals”.  Today, the  Ilorin 49 stalwarts wear the laurels as our long-distance runners. Tunde Oduleye was one of the runners of that race.  His feet were  firm on the track, his eyes set on the prize.

Sleep well, then, worthy  Comrade. Sleep well. Tell Gentleman Adegbija the struggle is anything but over. Let Festus Iyayi know  Nigeria’s criminals are still there, Awaiting Court Martial. Let your spirit be our shield as we strive to bring the universe back to Nigeria’s  eviscerated  university system.

Niyi Osundare.

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Private Jet Owned By Atedo Peterside Robbed At Lagos Airport

4 April 2019 - 2:23pm

A private jet belonging to ANAP Jets, owned by entrepreneur Atedo Peterside, has been vandalised by robbers at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos.

According to a source at the airport, some unidentified persons opened the cargo hold of an arrival private jet and stole a bag.

After the aircraft landed, ATC Avition Services asked the aircraft to hold for traffic reasons. However, while the aircraft was holding, some thieves popped out from the bush and opened the cargo hold door, stealing a bag.

According to airport standard procedure, there should be an escort van to tail all arriving and departing aircraft prior take-off or entry into the ramp. But there were no vehicles to escort this aircraft.

This is not the first time in recent years that an aircraft will be robbed at the airport. In February 2018, burglars attacked an Air Peace aircraft at the airport while it was taxiing for takeoff to Abuja. 

The aircraft, a Boeing 737, was attacked at about 7:35 pm by unknown bandits on the domestic runway of the airport. The forced opening of the cargo of the aircraft led to delay in the departure of the aircraft for close to two hours, as security operatives attached to the airport searched the airplane before allowing it depart the airport.

In December 2017, a private jet conveying two top Nigerian musical artistes, Ayodeji Ibrahim Balogun, better known as Wizkid, and Tiwa Savage from Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State capital, was robbed at the airport while taxiing on the runway.

The aircraft, a Bombardier Challenger 605 jet with Registration Number T7-A00, arrived Lagos at about 8:33pm and was slowly taxiing to the arrival hangar when the cargo compartment was burgled.

Two weeks earlier, a business jet from Istanbul that arrived the Lagos airport to pick a passenger was also attacked on the same taxiway.

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Court Orders Striking LASPOTECH Unions Not To Obstruct Official Activities

4 April 2019 - 12:49pm


Lagos State Polytechnic front gate


The National Industrial Court, Lagos Division, on Thursday ordered the striking staff unions of Lagos State Polytechnic (LASPOTECH) to eschew violence and maintain peace.

The order will subsist, pending the determination of the motion on notice. The parties to the suit are the unions, the Lagos State Government, the Attorney-General of Lagos State and LASPOTECH. The dispute is over the implementation of the Consolidated Tertiary Institution Salary Structure (CONTISS 15). See Also Breaking News BREAKING: NASU Shuts Down LASPOTECH After 'Most Fraudulent Examination In The history Of The School' 0 Comments 2 Weeks Ago

The suit was filed by the local chapters of the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP), Non-Academic Staff Union of Educational and Associated Institutions (NASU) and Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Polytechnics (SSANIP).

Justice E. A. Oji said the unionists must maintain peace since they have brought the matter to court for adjudication.

“The counter-claimants (the three unions) must maintain peace and respect the fact that they have brought their dispute to court.

“It is now ordered as follows: The counter-claimants are to maintain the peace and not to engage in actions that will obstruct the official activities of the third defendant (LASPOTECH) to the counter-claim pending the determination of the motion for interlocutory injunction."

The motion will be heard on June 18.

Meanwhile, the polytechnic has apologised to the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) over the molestation of two of the board’s officials by some non-teaching workers.

In a statement, the polytechnic’s Deputy Registrar, Information and Public Relations, Mr. Olanrewaju Kuye, said the matter was being handled by the Police, adding that culprits would be punished.

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Anglican Bishop Suggests Bank Officials Knew About Murder Of Bursar In Ondo

4 April 2019 - 12:11pm


Gabriel Abiodun

The Anglican Bishop of Akure Diocese has suggested that bank officials had a hand in the shooting of the church bursar on Thursday.

Gabriel Abiodun, the church bursar murdered in Akure, the Ondo State capital, on Thursday, was due for retirement in 2020.

This was disclosed by Right Reverend Simeon Oluwole Borokini, the Lord Bishop of Akure Anglican Diocese, who also called on security agents in Ondo State to fish out Abiodun's killers.

Abiodun, the 60-year-old Bursar of the Akure Anglican Diocese, was killed on Thursday morning by men suspected to be robbers, shortly after cashing a sum of N500,000 at a new-generation bank.

SaharaReporters had reported how the bursar was trailed to the diocesan office of the Akure Anglican Communion in Alagbaka axis of the state capital, where the money was collected.

Borokini, who described the killing of Abiodun as “saddening and unfortunate”, said the Police should see to the prosecution of the perpetrators.

Speaking with SaharaReporters, the Bishop said Abiodun was a very hardworking man who lived all his life in service to the church.

He said: "It is sad and very unfortunate that we lost the Diocesan Bursar and we both reported to the office this morning around 8am.

"There are some funds that needed to be paid in cash and we didn't want to use cheques for the payment. So, he had to visit the bank to cash it. It was after cashing the money that they trailed him from the bank to the office, and he was killed here. The man was dutiful and committed to his duty. He was planning to retire next year. Sadly, his death is a big loss to the diocese:. 

He expressed gratitude to the response team, mostly the security men who came on time, but lamented that the bandits had already escaped before they arrived.

"I do hope the security agencies will try their best to track these bandits, because it seems they have formed themselves into a gang. The security men should intensify efforts to arrest the perpetrators, and also make sure their network is effective around the banks, because the robbers hang around the bank.”

Noting that the diocese had once witnessed a similar robbery attack, he advised the Police to investigate the officials of the bank.

"Don't forget that a few months ago, one of our priests went to collect money from the bank and he was trailed to the school and the money was stolen from him. We suspect some of the people who work in these banks, and we think there is a form of networking between them. These bank officials should be warned."

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JUST IN: Police Sack Officer Who Shot And Killed Kolade Johnson

4 April 2019 - 10:49am

The Lagos State Police Command has announced the dismissal of Inspector Ogunyemi Olalekan, the policeman who allegedly shot and killed Kolade Johnson on Sunday.

He has also been handed over to the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), Panti, for prosecution in conventional Court.

According to Bala Elkana, a Deputy Superintendent of Police and Public Relations Officer of the Police in Lagos, the decision to dismiss Olalekan was reached after a four-day orderly trial that began on Monday and ended on Thursday.

“The two police officers alleged to have been involved in the shooting of Kolade Johnson on 31/03/2019 were apprehended and subjected to internal disciplinary proceedings, known as Orderly Room Trial by the Command,” he said.

“The Orderly Room trial commenced on Monday 01/04/2019 and ended on Thursday 04/04/2019. They were tried on three-count charges: (1) Discreditable Conduct (2) Unlawful and Unnecessary Exercise of Authority and (3) Damage to Clothing or Other Articles contrary to Paragraph E (iii), Q (ii) and D (i) First Schedule, Police Act and Regulations, Cap 370 LFN 1990. The trial started with the reading of charges and taking of plea. Five witnesses testified. 

“At the conclusion of the trial, the first defaulter, Inspector Ogunyemi Olalekan, was found guilty of discreditable conduct by acting in a manner prejudicial to discipline and unbecoming of members of the force by shooting and killing Kolade Johnson; Unlawful and Unnecessary exercise of authority by using unnecessary violence, by using AK 47 rifle on the deceased in total neglect to the provisions of Force Order 237 on the use of Firearms.”

Elkana also said the Adjudicating Officer, CSP Indyar Apev, awarded the punishment of dismissal from service and prosecution to the first defaulter.

“There was no evidence linking the second defaulter, Sergeant Godwin Orji, to the shooting; he was therefore found not guilty and discharged and acquitted,” he said.

“The first defaulter, Inspector Ogunyemi Olalekan is handed over to Criminal Investigation Department, Panti for prosecution in conventional Court.”

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BREAKING: Court Voids Ogboru’s Nomination As Delta APC Governorship Candidate

4 April 2019 - 9:38am


Justice Nnamdi Dimgba of the Federal High Court sitting in Asaba, Delta State, has nullified the candidature of Great Ogboru as the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the primary election conducted by the party in the state. 

In a suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/1085/ 2018, Victor Ochei, former Speaker of the Delta State House of Assembly, and APC governorship aspirant, had challenged the declaration of Ogboru as the governorship candidate of the party in the September 2018 primary held in the state.

Ochei, through Ahmed Rahi (SAN), his counsel, prayed the court to declare that the APC governorship primary election that held on September 30, 2018, was illegal on the grounds that unknown delegates were used for the exercise.

Ochei urged the court to, among other things, invalidate the results of the APC primaries, arguing that the list of delegates used at the primaries was not that envisaged by the consent judgment. He held that aspirants did not get any advanced list of delegates prior to the APC primaries.

Delivering judgment on Thursday, Justice Dimgba ordered the cancellation of the APC governorship primaries that produced Great Ogboru, and granted four of the five reliefs sought by the plaintiff. The Judge, however, refused to grant relief four.

"All the reliefs sought in this suit are similar with those for which Justice Tosin Adegoke pronounced judgement on, so reliefs 1, 2, 3, 5 are granted, but relief 4 is refused, because the governorship election is over and the relief is spent,” the Judge said.

Dimgba said the Federal High Court has one jurisdiction and, as such, cannot be seen giving discordant judgement, adding that "having considered the decisions reached by the Federal High Court in the case of Cyril Ogodo, which has similar reliefs, and the fact that some of the defendants in this suit are the same, the court has decided to follow the decisions arrived at in the Ogodo case”.

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IN FULL: Everything Onnoghen Told NJC To Defend Himself Against EFCC's Allegations

4 April 2019 - 9:03am

On Thursday,  Walter Onnoghen, the suspended Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), defended himself a petition filed before the National Judicial Council (NJC), at its sitting on Wednesday, containing allegations by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), that he received money in his account in 2015, allegedly paid to influence the cases before the Supreme Court at a time Onnoghen was on the Supreme Court panel.

In a written address submitted by his counsel, which was scheduled for service on Rotimi Oyedepo, counsel to the EFCC, Onnoghen said the money constituted gifts for his daughter’s wedding, in line with custom.

He aslo defended himself against alleged linkage of the gifts to cases before the Supreme Court, allegations of receiving estacodes in US dollars, allegations of converting public funds under guise of estacodes for the wife of the CJN, appearance of Joe Agi (SAN) in Suit No. sc/3/2010 and alleged receipt of Mercedes Benz GL 450 valued N7million from Joe Agi (SAN).

Here's his response in full.

 

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