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Ebonyi CP Orders Arrest Of Policemen On Guard Duty At Burnt INEC Office

16 March 2019 - 2:07am

Hyelasinda Musa Kimo, Ebonyi State Commissioner of Police, has ordered the arrest of six policemen detailed to guard the office of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Okposi Umuoghara, Ezza North Local Government Area, before it was burnt.

Loveth Odah, spokeseperson of Ebonyi State Police Command, said this in a press statement issued on Friday.

The materials for Registration Area Centres (RACs) in Ezza LGA were set ablaze during the preparation for the governorship and national assembly elections in the state.

A total of 36,392 registered voters in three out of 11 wards in the council area were disenfranchised due to the inferno that gutted voting materials meant to be used in Oriuzo 009, Okposi Umuoghara 007, and Ekaa 002 RACs.

The statement by Odah read: “Two mobile policemen were posted to each of the wards that were attacked. We didn’t post them there because we knew such attack would come or for them to counter the attack, but because they needed to be closer, while they call on tactical unit once there is any eventuality.

“But we were surprised that the invaders came and got all the materials and the building burnt unchallenged. So the Commissioner of Police ordered for their arrest. They have been under investigation to ascertain whether their claims were true.

“The most senior among them said that as soon as those thugs arrived, they switched off the generator and everywhere became dark to the extent that someone could not see. So seeing the light go off they knew there was problem. But the problem is where do you shoot from because any careless shooting could lead to the loss of innocent citizens they were meant to protect. He stated that that idea made them not to act at all.

“But that was not enough. You know we do not believe any story told by anybody to defend himself because it might be to prevent themselves from being punished. That is why they have been subjected to our internal investigation to enable us ascertain if actually what they are saying is true. But for now investigation is still on. The six of them were posted to the three wards that the incident happened. We are waiting for INEC officials who were posted to come and give their own statement, which is vital information in the investigation and it will help us to ascertain if what the police officers said was true.”

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Our Victory In Ogun Is A Miracle, Says APC

16 March 2019 - 2:03am

Afolabi Afuape, a former Commissioner for Youth and Sports in Ogun State, says the victory of the All Progressives Congress (APC) at the March 9 governorship election in the state is nothing short of the miraculous.

He made the statement during a victory party in Oke Ejigbo, Abeokuta, on Friday.

Afuape, who is chieftain of the APC in the state, said Dapo Abiodun, the Governor-elect, would bring about development through his leadership style.

He said the party worked hard and contended with the incumbent Governor Ibikunle Amosun, who threw his weight behind his preferred candidate during the poll.

“We want to start by giving glory to Almighty God for this opportunity. It is miraculous. We worked hard, but, He who crowns effort, who is the Almighty God, has crowned our effort," he said.

The event was attended by APC leaders, chieftains and other members of the party in Abeokuta-South.

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The Chinese Suspended Iju-Abeokuta Free Train Rides, Says Amaechi

16 March 2019 - 1:57am

Rotimi Amaechi, Nigeria's Minister of Transportation, says the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC), in charge of the construction of the train station in Iju-Abeokuta suspended the free ride during elections for security reasons.

Speaking at the inspection of the Lagos-Ibadan modernisation project in Ibadan, the minister apologised to Nigerians over the suspension of the Iju-Abeokuta free train ride.

He said: “It was suspended by the Chinese and the excuse they gave me was that they cannot allow it run because of safety, since they have not completed the second line, but they are almost through with it.

“It is almost completed from Iju to Abeokuta. I want to apologise to Nigerians that they suspended it when they left the country, which I didn’t envisage, they will go back soon."

Amaechi also said he has been tasked by President Muhammadu Buhari to create jobs through the project.

“I know you will say I’m stressed up but as a minister, I have a responsibility passed to me by Mr. President and I must deliver on it.

“Also, the economy of Nigeria can be driven most importantly, if we can link the seaport to the hinterland because when cargoes come, they must go.

“The more you are able to move goods and services to the hinterland, the more you will create jobs and the more you create jobs, the more growth that you will have and that is my drive."

Amaechi added that whoever would take over from him would have the passion to complete the projects.

He said: “You see, me and passion, if you watched me as the Governor of Rivers,  that same passion was there. I was restless at delivering my responsibility.

“I pray that whoever will be the Minister of Transportation should have the same passion and focus on that responsibility. You can never tell; that passion is everywhere.”

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3,000 Persons Displaced In Kajuru, Says Council Chairman

16 March 2019 - 1:57am

Cafra Caino, Chairman of Kajuru Local Government Area of Kaduna State, says no fewer than 3,000 people were displaced by the recent attacks on some communities in the council.

Caino said this while addressing a news conference in Kajuru on Friday.

He said steps have been taken to address the incessant attacks and wanton killings by hoodlums and criminals in the area, noting that the local government held a stakeholders' Security Summit on Thursday to find lasting solution to the crisis affecting the area.

The council chairman added that the people, including the Adara, Hausa and the Fulanis, in a communique issued after the summit, noted that there was the need for continuous consultations with stakeholders for lasting peace.

“The people, who agreed to live in peace and harmony with one another, also noted the need for more security intelligence gathering in the area. They have also agreed that a Truth and Reconciliation Committee be established to receive memorandum from all the people living in the LGA on what is causing the crisis and the way forward.

“The people equally took a collective step to ensure cease-fire in all communities affected in the crisis, and called on the state government to ensure equity and fairness to all people in the LGA.

“They equally resolved that incessant killings and burning of houses and properties must be stopped, and to also hold quarterly stakeholder’s security meetings as mitigation measures.”

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Workers, Patients Stranded As Security Officers Lock Up UCTH

16 March 2019 - 1:49am

Security Personnel of the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital (UCTH), have locked up the office of Thomas Agan, the Chief Medical Director (CMD).

According to the security officers, the action is to protest their 18 months’ unpaid salaries.​

The security personnel, most of whom are casual staff, also locked up other key offices, thereby preventing key management staff from access into their offices.

The CMD later had a meeting with the striking workers and promised to speak with journalists much later on the issue.

Patients and medical personnel were equally stranded as they could not access the facility.

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Ihedioha As A PDP Man Is Only Interested In Imo's Treasury, Says Okorocha

16 March 2019 - 1:46am

Rochas Okorocha, Governor of Imo State, says he is not surprised by the actions of Emeka Ihedioha, the governor-elect in state, because as a “Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) man”, his interest is in the state treasury.

He stated this in response to a warning issued by Ihedioha on transactions of business with the Imo State government.

According to Okorocha, the governor-elect has no constitutional powers to issue such directives to banks.

In a statement issued by Sam Onwuemeodo, his chief press secretary, on Friday in Owerri, Okorocha said the governor-elect was behaving like a typical member of the Peoples Democratic Party.

Okorocha asked Ihedioha to exercise patience until May 29 before he starts issuing directives to banks on the financial dealings of the state.

He said: “Emeka Ihedioha, who was declared the winner of the governorship election in the state by Prof Francis Ezeonu, does not have the right or locus standi yet, to harass or give directives to financial institutions in the state over their dealings with the state government.

“The media report quoting Ihedioha to have given such directive is unfortunate and a sign of ugly things to come. Otherwise, Ihedioha should not have been the first, of all the governors-elect in the country, to issue such directive.

“We are also not surprised at his issuing the directive, because as a PDP man, his interest, first and foremost, will be the treasury of the state, and the policy or the slogan of 'share the money' will soon come back, but he should exercise patience and wait till he is sworn in.

“He shouldn’t be in a hurry. There is a government in place and until May 29, 2019, that government should continue.”

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INEC To Conclude Rivers Election On Wednesday... Blames Soldiers For Disrupting The Process

16 March 2019 - 1:44am

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) says it will issue "detailed timelines and activities" for the completion of the governorship and state house of assembly elections in Rivers State on March 20, 2019.

This was contained in a statement issued by Festus Okoye, Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, late on Friday, in which the commission blamed "some soldiers and armed gangs" for invading collation centres, resulting in the intimidation and unlawful arrest of election officials, thereby disrupting the electoral process".

According to the commission, a meeting was held on Friday to deliberate on the outcome of the report by the fact-finding committee sent to Rivers State.

The electoral process had been suspended on March 10, 2019, following irregularities that characterised the election.

The statement by INEC on the outcome of the fact-finding committee read: "That the governorship and state assembly elections took place in most of the polling units and results were announced.

"That the results of 17 out of 23 Local Governments are available and in the commission's custody.

"That the declaration and returns for 21 State Constituencies out of 32 were made prior to the suspension.

"That collation centres were invaded by some soldiers and armed gangs resulting in the intimidation and unlawful arrest of election officials, thereby disrupting the electoral process."

The commission expressed displeasure with the situation and promised to engage security agencies and key stakeholders on ensuring smooth electoral process, noting that it will issue "detailed timeline and activities for the completion of the election on Wednesday, March 20th, 2019".

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'20 Died, 45 Survived' — Health Commissioner Releases Official Figure Of Victims Of Lagos Building Collapse

16 March 2019 - 1:41am

Jide Idris, the Lagos State Commissioner for Health, has said at least 20 people were brought to the General Hospital in Lagos dead from the building that collapsed in Ita Faji area of Lagos.

The commissioner said this during a visit to the hospital on Friday, adding that all the corpses have been released to the family members for proper burial.

Isaac Adewole, Nigeria's Minister of Health, also warned hospitals to release corpses to family members at no charge.

Speaking further at the hospital, the Commissioner said 45 persons survived the collapse and are being managed across some of the state health facilities, including Lagos Island General Hospital, Massey Street Children’s Hospital, Onikan Health Centre and Gbagada General Hospital.

He said: “Out of the 45 survivors known to the government as at this morning, 14, including 10 children and four adults, are still receiving medical attention at Lagos Island General Hospital. More survivors will still be discharged to their families before the close of work today, “ he said.

Meanwhile, Adewole has commended the state government for the prompt response and efficient healthcare management of survivors of the accident.

He also commended the government for granting free medical care to the victims in order to remove any barriers to prompt, qualitative and comprehensive care needed or the rehabilitation of victims.

“I am greatly impressed by the promptness of the emergency response of the state and the efficient healthcare deployed to ensure that the survivors of the sad incident are stabilised and kept alive, “ he said.

The minister added that there were plans to strengthen the healthcare system across the state in order to address emergencies and save lives from emergency situations.

He urged other states of the federation to emulate Lagos State in order to attend to emergencies and save lives.

“I also want to appeal to the media and Nigerians to report suspected unregistered schools in an environment not ideal for learning," Adewole said.

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APC Victory In Zamfara Is Divine Intervention, Says Yari

16 March 2019 - 1:33am

Abdulaziz Yari, Governor of Zamfara State, has attributed the successes recorded by the All Progressives Congress (APC) during the February 23 and March 9 elections in the state despite crisis in the party to “divine intervention’’.

According to NAN, Yari disclosed this when he fielded questions from State House correspondents in Abuja on Friday.

APC was allowed to field candidates for the elections in the state only a week before the first day of elections (February 23) when a Court of Appeal in Sokoto, reversed an earlier decision of a lower court, which had banned the party from the elections.

The Zamfara State Collation Officer, Kabir Bala of the Ahmadu Bello (ABU) Zaria, had announced that the APC presidential candidate, President Muhammadu Buhari, won the February 23 presidential election in the state with 438,682 votes, while the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Atiku Abubakar, scored 125,423 votes.

Bala also disclosed that the APC won the three senatorial seats and the seven seats in the House of Representatives from the state in the presidential and national assembly elections.

Yari said he was happy with the outcome of the elections, saying that it was God that gave the political victory to the APC in the state.

He said: “You know the turmoil that Zamfara elections put on Nigeria; disagreements upon disagreements, from the party to court and then to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) which disagreed.

”Then, we went back to court and finally under 24 hours, we were cleared and we were back on the ballot box.

“Only God has done this and given us the victory.

“I am very happy with the outcome of the elections. I also want to appreciate my people, despite the fact that some people felt I was carried away by the activities at the centre, insinuating I abandoned the seat, especially with the security problem, but the people are aware of what the administration has been doing and they appreciate it.

“Despite the daily attacks, the security agencies were up and doing and their presence in the state was well appreciated by the people.

“They also appreciated the efforts of Mr. President which took us to where we are. Like I said only God could have done it."

The governor also disclosed that he had succeeded in reconciling all the aggrieved APC aspirants in the state.

He said his past experience as party chairman in the state, member, House of Representatives and governor for eight years had helped him restore peace and tranquillity within the APC in the state.

“In my state, there were only seven or eight people contesting for the governorship position and I have said it that if I could preside over primaries where 18 people contested and succeeded, why can’t I manage eight, nine or 10 in my state?

“I have been on ground since 1999 till date and I know the system and how it works. I have been party secretary, party chairman, member of the House of Representatives and a two-term Governor, and with this experience, I was able to manage.

“Unfortunately, there was a lot of misunderstanding between the party in the state and the national body but in the end, we ended in the court and the court gave the verdict and INEC compiled.

“Though it came late, if you are with the grassroots, definitely everything must work well.

“The people appreciated what we have been doing and when it came to voting, they voted wisely."

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PDP Asks INEC To Declare Candidate Winner Of Imo North Senatorial District

16 March 2019 - 1:30am

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has called on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to declare its candidate, Ndubueze Patrick, as winner of the election for Imo North senatorial district. 

Kola Ologbondiyan, spokesman for the party, said this in a statement on Friday. 

Ologbodiyan said the delay in announcing Patrick, who he claimed has clear lead in the polls conducted within the district, might cause tension in Imo State.

He said: “From the collated results in the February 23 elections, the PDP won in all the local governments in Imo North before polls in two local governments; Isiala Mbano and Ehime Mbano were cancelled and scheduled for rerun.

“Already, from the results declared, the PDP led in Okigwe, Onuimo, Obowo and Ihite/Uboma Local Government Areas with 21,254, ahead of APC and AA, which scored 12,756 and 12,236 respectively.

“At the March 9 rerun elections, when the AA and the APC realized that the PDP was winning, they resorted to mutilation and alteration of results, particularly with the collaboration of collation officers in Ehime Mbano, before the intervention of the state Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), who called for proper scrutiny of documents following protests by the people.

“The PDP believes that INEC had completed its investigation on the documents and results of the rerun election, which established our victory in that election.

“The party therefore urges Prof. Yakubu to douse the tension in Imo State by directing the declaration of the final results and return our candidate, Ndubueze Patrick, who has been legitimately elected by the people of Imo North, to represent them at the Senate."

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'Opposition’ Killing Innocent People Because I Won, Says Taraba Gov

16 March 2019 - 1:24am

Darius Ishaku, Governor of Taraba State, has accused the main opposition party of killing innocent people, because he was declared winner of the governorship election in the state.

Simon Dogari, the Commissioner for Information, said this at a press conference on Friday. 

Ishaku, who contested on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), was declared winner in the just concluded governorship election in Taraba State.

Ishaku polled a total of 520,432 votes to beat his closest rival and candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC),  Sani Abubakar Danladi, who polled 362,735 votes.

The victory at the poll secure a second term for Ishaku, who is the incumbent governor.

However, speaking on incidents that have trailed the outcome of the elections, the state Commissioner for Information said the attacks were intended to give the impression that the governorship election in the state was not credible.

Dogari said: “There have been several cases of attacks on innocent and defenceless people in Jalingo by miscreants hired and armed by those who lost the elections.

“Their intention is to create tension and anarchy in the state, such that the impression would be created that the elections were not credible.

“The state government is happy that this motive has not been achieved. We give the credit to God and to all the good people of Taraba State, who have ignored the call to arms and have, in various ways, helped to defuse tension rather than yield to the temptation to react violently.

“The elections were generally free, fair and peaceful. There were no major incidents, as voting took place in all the centres.

“It is also instructive that one of the major contestants in the gubernatorial election, Senator Aisha Alhassan, also rated the election as free, fair and credible, even though she lost.

“Yet, the main opposition group has embarked on a mission of organising armed youth to confront people who came out in their numbers to celebrate the PDP victory.

“The most unfortunate and dangerous dimension to this campaign was the religious colour their group tried to assign to the crisis. It is disheartening that a man who is aspiring to a high position of leadership of this state would resort to religious bigotry to achieve his ambition.

“Again, we thank God and the larger section of the populace for refusing to cooperate with him to cause more tension and damage to lives and properties.”

He said the Governor “deeply appreciates the contributions of all the good people of the state in achieving peace and wishes to thank everybody, including Christian and Muslim leaders, who have been part of the peace building process.”

The state government said it would ensure that all law abiding people are protected in order to go about their lawful activities without molestation.

“Governor Ishaku also wishes to remind all of you that peace is the bedrock on which every positive human endeavour can thrive, hence his peace mantra: Give me peace and I will give you development.

“We urge you to refuse to be used as political thugs, to shun violence and all forms of drug abuse and to support the government to build that future you deserve.”

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Arakunrin Akeredolu, ‘Kunle Adebayo And The Dying Ondo Radiovision Stations By Arakunrin Ajos

15 March 2019 - 1:30pm

For days now, I have kept myself updated with the countless allegations against the Interim Chairman of OSRC and OrangeFM, Mr ‘Kunle Adebayo, from concerned Ondo state people who are really desirous of a true and working radiovision outfit. I have also read from different groups, domiciled in Ondo State too, who have raised their voices against the person and character of the Chairman and his poor, autocratic management of the stations.

 I waited for his response. I wanted to confirm if those allegations are baseless so the ‘project’ could easily be abandoned by the accusers while the public wave it off as one of those media trial against a very upright, decent, working and responsible official of the Ondo State government. 

I was disappointed!

His defence, which came out as some sort of accusation, was watery, undefendable, political and had, written all over it, the writings of one who is condescending, arrogant, power drunk and confident he has the ears and assurances of the real power brokers inside the Alagbaka Government House. He accused the ‘perpetrators’ of being willful tools in the hands of the PDP, the major opposition party in Ondo. He also fingered many unnamed current and ex staff of OSRC and OrangeFM as the brains behind the social media attacks on his person. He asked why he won't deal with some staff members who got undue advantage(s) from the PDP before the coming of Arakunrin Akeredolu.

I do not get involved in character assassination or laundering of images of both private and public officials, yet some of the things few of us know about Mr ‘Kunle Adebayo must be brought to the public for His Excellency, Arakunrin Akeredolu, to wade in and save the stations and also his political career hanging in the loose if he continues to associate with and retain him as the boss of our own OSRC and OrangeFM.

May I ask why Mr. Governor, listening to the ‘professional’ advice from his GM, shut down our old and lovely 96.5fm? This is a station inside the massive compound of OSRC, using the same generator and staff. 96.5fm would compete with any Nigerian radio station with just little upgrade to the facilities, rebranding and repackaging, renovating the buildings and bringing on more competent hands and it'd be on top the ladder. Why shut down the station when it can make more money into the coffers of the state government?

It's even on record that OrangeFM is now the only station making money for the government while OSRC TV, with all monies pumped into it, has remained like a horse galloping away in a book, useless and making no financial return into the government purse. It's also confirmed that the ‘rebranded’ OSRC TV we watch at home is the work of excellent software guys showing what's not for us. I'm a frequent visitor to OSRC and I know better.

There's a serious allegation that the Interim Chairman of OSRC and OrangeFM, Mr ‘Kunle Adebayo, was dismissed from Adeyemi College of Education, Ondo on crimes of rape. He was alleged to have committed the crime, relieved of his job and had to change his name from ‘Kunle Ogunwale to ‘Kunle Adebayo. Someone of such questionable and flawed character shouldn't handle the media houses of the good people of Ondo State. Or what do we tell our children when we grow up? That a serial rapist once headed OSRC?

And while hundreds of competent, qualified, professional hands of Ondo State are ready to move the stations forward, ‘Kunle Adebayo, from Osun State(or the State of Osun like the former governor wanted) heads our OSRC. It's unacceptable, unwise and unreasonable. Ondo state is blessed with media gurus that could turn the fates of OSRC around in no time. Would Arakunrin Akeredolu overlook this? Would he retrieve our media houses from him and hand it back to the professionals who wouldn't toy with the standard of the stations? Why would Arakunrin Akeredolu allow an outside destroy our heritage?

About the standards, I have stopped listening to most of the programs shoved down our throats by OrangeFM. That station is dying. The programs are losing followers. The station's rating is getting lower. The equipment are becoming outdated. The other day, I was on a program for an hour and sweated all through. The AC wasn't working and I had to make do with a paper to fan. In the 21st century? A radio station with the studio heating up?

There's also an allegation that Mr Kunle Adebayo collects monies from OSRC and OrangeFM for workshops and seminars only to sit at home and wine and dine away with our money. I saw a mighty mansion he’s allegedly building at the Ijapo Extension of Akure. This edifice could only be erected by one who wasn’t a landlord few months ago but just had access to some slush funds. He has also been accused of suffocating and stifling staff members with opposing views and opinions to his autocracy and highhandedness.

The straw that broke the camel's back was the allegation I read this evening against him by a group accusing him of using OrangeFM for some political programmes without remitting the millions of naira to the coffers of the station. I remember Arakunrin Akeredolu made a pronouncement that state-owned media houses must not be used for free by candidates and aspirants from his own party. This prompted this long epistle and I'm committed to seeing it to the end.

Arakunrin Akeredolu, for his own good, must do the needful by revamping our dying OSRC and set us back on the right path by:

Setting up a Panel of Enquiries to investigate these weighty allegations;

Relieving Mr. ‘Kunle Adebayo of his duties pending the reports from the panel;

Bringing back our beloved and upgraded 96.5fm;

Separating these three stations by appointing substantive General Managers for each of them. OSRC TV, OSRC 96.5FM and Orange 94.5FM;

Reviewing all the anti-worker policies that have dampened the morale of the staff.

Arakunrin Akeredolu must, in earnest, save our dying heritage as we would leave no stone unturned to retrieve the lovely stations from the bad manager of men and our media houses.

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Buhari Perhaps Even Poorer Now Than In 2015, Says Osinbajo

15 March 2019 - 1:00pm

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo says President Muhammadu Buhari is “perhaps” poorer now than when he was elected in 2015.

Osinbajo stated this during a dinner in honour of volunteer supporters of the All Progressives Congress (APC) for the 2019 general election, held at the Presidential Villa, Abuja on Thursday night.

He also used the occasion to canvass for votes for the APC in the supplementary elections scheduled for March 23, 2019.

He said: “When I looked at his assets declaration form; I was checking it in 2015, I said to him, ‘Mr President, I am so much richer than you, it is an embarrassment.’

“He said, ‘I am only a soldier, you are a big lawyer so you should have more money than me.’ I can tell you that he is perhaps, even poorer than he was in 2015 when I saw his declaration of assets form.”

Speaking on the elections, he added: “We are still not done with the elections. On the 23rd of March, we still have some outstanding states and as you know we are re-running in about six states. And all of the efforts we need to put into those six states, we still need to do. We can’t afford to slack off and say the job is done; we still have some things to do.”

He appreciated the support of Nigerians during his campaign before the elections.

“I think that one of the main characteristics of the Nigerian is how so supportive and trusting many of our people are and they don’t ask us for too much. They never really ask for anything that is impossible to do. And that’s why, for many of us that went around this country, we realized the tremendous amount of work that there is to do and our capacity to do so much work.

“What our people need, as we discovered, isn’t that much. As a matter of fact, I do not know any nation where the people are so generous no matter how poor they are. It just struck me that what we really need to do a lot more is to connect with the people. All the people need is opportunity for us to interact with them. We should have a way by which everybody is involved one way or the other.

“One of the complaints that people made about our government is that we were not communicating enough and that people did not know what had done.”

He restated the commitment of the APC administration to doing more on communicating better with the people.

In his remarks, Salamatu Eluma, the APC Woman Leader, commended the volunteers for their support.

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Over 2,500 Nigerians Ask Buhari To Increase Budgetary Allocation To Education

15 March 2019 - 12:51pm

Nigerians have urged President Muhammadu Buhari to prioritise funding for the girl child.

A statement issued on Friday  by representatives of four human rights groups noted that encouraging the education of girls will bring about positive change in the country.

To ensure improvement in the education sector for the girl child, the groups published the Girls’ Education Charter, which has got more than 2,500 endorsements so far.

A statement to that effect was signed by Abubakar Askira, Malala Fund Gulmakai Network Champion and Program Manager, Hallmark Leadership Initiative, Borno; Kiki James, Malala Fund Gulmakai Network Champion and CEO, ACE Charity, Abuja; Habiba Mohammed, Malala Fund Gulmakai Network Champion and Team Leader, Centre for Girls Education, Zaria; and Rotimi Olawale, Malala Fund Gulmakai Network Champion and Executive Director, Youth Hub Africa, Abuja.

The statement read: “Nigeria has more out-of-school girls than any other country in Africa — and the numbers are rising. To encourage the government to prioritise girls’ education, a coalition of nonprofits in the education sector worked with girls themselves to make specific demands for improvement and published them in the Girls’ Education Charter. This charter now has over 2,500 endorsements.

“The Girls’ Education Charter calls for the Nigerian government to increase its education budget, amend the Universal Basic Education and commit to halving the number of out-of-school children by 2030.

“To ensure that the voices of active citizens and girls across the country who signed the charter are heard, education advocates will continue to use the charter to engage policymakers and political leaders in the new political dispensation as education policy and budgeting takes shape.”

According to the groups, the Girls’ Education Charter makes the following demands on the government:

1. Commit to increase the education allocation to least 20% of the national budget and 6% of GDP — ensuring the planning, budgeting, and the Medium Term Sector Strategies (MTSS) processes are transparent and open to civil society organisations.

2. Amend the Universal Basic Education Act (2004) to extend its coverage from junior to senior secondary education thereby guaranteeing compulsory, free, safe and quality education with increased UBE Fund increment from 2% CRF to 5%. The UBE ACT amendment should also removed barriers and hidden costs while providing schools with adequate running costs so as to eliminate the need for hidden fees and levies imposed by school administrators.

3. In partnership with state governments, expand the National Homegrown School Feeding Program to cover all public schools in all states of Nigeria.

4. Commit to working with state and local governments to ensure the domestication and enforcement of the Child Rights Act.

5. Commit to halve the number of out-of-school children by 2030. Launch a targeted strategy for girls’ inclusion focused on increasing enrolment and retention of girls, improving the quality of secondary education for girls and addressing missing facilities and security. Indicators should be developed in order to measure progress.

6. Provide a comprehensive quality girls’ education programme in safe spaces that is responsive to the needs of young girls and adolescents.

7. Improve and scale up on a National Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) programme in schools that includes separate toilets for boys and girls as well as take cognizance of girls’ sanitary needs including the provision of sanitary pads where applicable.

8. Invest in female leadership in education by appointing tested female professionals as education minister, commissioners, education secretaries, chairmen and members of governing council and boards and other leadership positions in education.

9. Scale up Learning Resource Centres in public schools stock with gender-sensitive books and materials in line with the national curriculum.

10. Reintroduce school inspectors properly trained on all aspects of enforcement of minimum standards; properly trained on effective and efficient monitoring of gender equitable outcomes and mechanisms, and supportive of teachers in enhancing learning outcomes.

11. Improve on teacher remuneration, training and appreciation to include prompt payment of teacher salaries, better welfare packages as well as implementing programs to appreciate outstanding teachers and school administrators

“On behalf of Civil Society Organisations, education stakeholders and concerned citizens we are demanding the attention and commitment of the President of the federal republic of Nigeria and policymakers to the Girls’ Education Charter,” the statement added.

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EFCC Witness Reveals How Okupe Ran A Government Office Without Vouchers

15 March 2019 - 12:42pm

Hassan Saidu, prosecution witness of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), has told the Federal High Court in Abuja, how Doyin Okupe, a former Senior Special Assistant (SSA) to former President Goodluck Jonathan, engaged in financial transactions without vouchers.

Saidu said this before Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu on Friday, during the trial of N702million fraud allegations against Okupe.

Okupe is standing trial along with Value Trust Investment Ltd and Abrahams Telecoms Ltd on a 59-count charge of money laundering and criminal diversion of funds.

Saidu, who is head of EFCC's Extractive Industries and Fraud Section, told the court that “though there were transfers to persons and companies, we could not tally it to the expenditure that Okupe incurred in the running of the office, because vouchers which were supposed to be produced for running of a government office were never produced".

He explained that the EFCC received a petition, which among other things, revealed that various sums of money running into millions of Naira were transferred to Okupe, his company and one other company, Abrahams Telecoms, by the former Director of Finance and Administration in the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA).

According to him, the intelligence was referred to the Special Task Force.

"The Director of Finance and Administration in the Office of the NSA was quizzed in respect of the payments made to Okupe and the two companies through a voucher tagged ‘Special Services.

“Sometime in June 2016, we invited the defendant to the EFCC, where he was interrogated in respect of the payment he received from ONSA on ‘Special Services’ and payments made in the name of the two other companies".

According to Saidu, during interrogation, Okupe submitted the name of Value Trust, which received N50million on August 3, 2012, while the company, Abraham Telecoms, received N35million, on October 3, 2014.

"Okupe received cash payment of N50million through a voucher No 1526, which he said was for the take-off of his office (Office of the Senior Special Adviser to the President on Public Affairs)," Saidu said, adding that Okupe claimed he first received the sum of N6million, through a voucher tagged, 'Special Services'.

He continued: “Okupe said he received various sums of money in N10million, which was also tagged ‘Special Services’, which he said was later reduced to N5million, from January 2015, to May 2015”.

According to the EFCC witness, Okupe told investigators during the interrogation that there was a request that was approved by Jonathan to the National Security Adviser, which necessitated such payment, but when EFCC requested for the approval, Okupe told them he could not lay his hands on it.

Saidu told the court that when the investigative team requested for vouchers of expenditures on payment of staff, uptake of the office and payment of a programme on NTA programme, ‘The Insight’, Okupe could not provide any payment slip of the staff and could not give vouchers for the expenditure in the office.

"The only receipt he was able to provide was N120,000, payment made to Infinity Security Services," he said.

He further disclosed that when the EFCC invited the then DFA, Shuaibu, to provide more information on the payments made to Okupe and the two companies for ‘Special Services’ rendered, Shuaibu told investigators that he was still looking for it but would forward it to the EFCC, when found.

Investigations, according to Saidu, revealed that Okupe was the Director of Value Trust Investment Limited, and he was not listed among the directors of Abraham Telecoms, but "he is a sole signatory to the account".

"The account balance of Value Trust before the N50million was credited into the account of the company was not up to N2,000 (Two Thousand Naira) only. The account balance of N36,000 (Thirty-six Thousand Naira) only was found in Abraham Telecoms before N35million was credited into the account. The disbursement of funds showed that there was no trace to show, if payment was made to staff,” he said.

Saidu also told the court that NTA personnel were quizzed by the EFCC to shed more light on the NTA programme, ‘The Insight’.

“We needed to know how the programme was run and it was discovered that the programme was ‘Corporate Social Responsibility of NTA’ and so, was done pro bono, and no payment was made to any staff and also no payment was made to NTA for any transaction from any of the two companies, though there was transfers to persons and companies," he added.

Justice Ojukwu has adjourned the case till April 1, 2019, for cross examination of the witness, and continuation of hearing.

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CONFIRMED: Patience Jonathan To Forfeit N2.4bn To Nigerian Govt As Supreme Court Throws Out Appeal

15 March 2019 - 11:57am

The Supreme Court has dismissed an application filed by Patience Jonathan, wife of former President Goodluck Jonathan, seeking to upturn the interim forfeiture order by a Federal High Court in Lagos placed on the sum of N2.4billion linked to her.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had traced the said sum to her and alleged that it was proceeds of illegal activities.

According to the EFCC, the N2.4billion was surreptitiously kept in the bank account of La Wari Furniture and Baths Limited, domiciled with Ecobank Plc.

Justice Mojisola Olaterogun had in 2017 ordered the interim forfeiture of the money, and held that anyone interested in it should appear before the court to show cause why it should not be finally forfeited to the Nigerian government.

Dissatisfied with the ruling, Mrs. Jonathan had approached the Court of Appeal, Lagos Division, seeking to upturn the ruling of the lower court.

However, ruling on the appeal on January 12, 2018, the appellate court, in a lead judgement read by Justice Mojeed Owoade, rather upheld the interim forfeiture order.

Not satisfied with the ruling of the appellate court, Patience, through her counsel, Mike Ozekhome (SAN), again filed an appeal challenging the ruling before the Supreme Court.

However, the five-man panel of Supreme Court justices, in a unanimous ruling delivered on Friday, upheld the interim forfeiture order of the N2.4billion.

A five-man panel of Supreme Court justices had on Friday, March 8, 2019 in a unanimous judgement, also dismissed Patience’s appeal against the interim forfeiture order of a Federal High Court, Lagos, of another $8.4million traced to her by the EFCC and believed to be proceeds of illegal activities.

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BREAKING: After Lagos, Building Collapses In Ibadan

15 March 2019 - 11:25am

Breaking News

Barely 72 hours after a three-storeyed building collapsed in Ita Faji area, Lagos Island, another building has collapsed in Ibadan, Oyo State.

The incident occurred in Bode area, after Molete Bridge, of Ibadan on Friday.

At the time of this report, the casualty toll was not clear but a crowd was gathered at the scene of the building collapse.

SaharaReporters understands that rescue efforts are currently minor, leaving the lives of many people at risk.

Details later...

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Army Sets Up Committee To Investigate Soldiers’ Conduct During 2019 Elections

15 March 2019 - 11:02am

The Nigerian Army has set up a committee to investigate the allegations of misconduct levelled against its officers in the just concluded general election.

A statement issued by Colonel Sagir Musa, acting Director, Army Public Relations on Friday, noted that nine officers make up the committee, which is headed by Major General T.A. Gagariga.

The committee has a deadline of March 31, 2019 to submit its report.

The statement read: “As a way of ensuring that NA troops deployed for election security duties during the 2019 general election conducted themselves within laid down Rules of Engagement and the Code of Conduct, the NA has set up a nine-member investigative committee, headed by Major General T.A. Gagariga with Brigadier General J.M. Ali, Brigadier General G.O. Adeshina, Brigadier General M.A. Obari, Colonel A.T. Bitiyong, Colonel A. Tanko and Colonel W.A. Bakare, as members and Lieutenant Colonel P.A.J. Ebuk as Secretary, to investigate all allegations of misconduct against the NA during the just concluded general elections. The committee is to submit its report not later than 31st of March, 2019.

“The committee, which has already commenced action, was inaugurated by the Chief of Administration (Army), Major General K.A.Y. Isiyaku on behalf of the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lieutenant General Tukur Yusuf Buratai, and admonished to carry out their duties objectively, fairly and transparently in line with its Terms of Reference.

“The committee’s Terms of Reference centred on thoroughly investigating the activities, actions and/or inactions of NA Personnel in all the states that alleged one infraction/wrong doing or the other. The Committee is also to collate and thoroughly analyze all reports to determine the veracity of the allegations including the alleged assassination attempt on Rivers State Governor and the circumstances that led to the shooting to death of Lt. Kurmi, as well as that leading to serious injuries to an officer and some soldiers in the state.

“The Committee is further mandated to visit all states where issues have been raised about the conduct of NA during and after the elections and also interact with Civil Society Organizations, sister security agencies and state governors with claims against the Army.

“It would be recalled that the COAS, Lt. Gen. T.Y. Buratai has on many fora, consistently (both in words and actions), soundly indicated that, under his watch, NA personnel must remain apolitical, respect human rights and abide by the rule of law in all its official engagements within or outside Nigeria and in or out of conflict situations. NA troops were deployed for the elections under Operation SAFE CONDUCT that was set up to provide support to the NP and other security agencies to ensure hitch free and successful elections in the country.

“The Chairman of the committee, Major General T.A. Gagariga has assured the COAS and all Nigerians of the committee's commitment, resolve and determination to objectively and professionally address the major issues as contained in the Committee's Terms of Reference.”

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Frank Donga, Banky W, Ebuka Cheer On As Waje, Omawumi Make Movie Production Debuts

15 March 2019 - 9:49am

Nigerian singers Aituaje Iruobe, popularly known as Waje, and Omawumi Megbele, popularly known as Omawumi, have joined forces to create a movie to address issues women face in today’s world.

The movie, which is titled ‘She is’, was premiered on Sunday, March 10, 2019, at Filmhouse in Lekki, Lagos.

Making their debuts as producers, Omawumi and Waje were supported by their colleagues such as Bovi, Ebuka, Seyi Law, Frank Donga, Banky W, Adunni Ade at the premiere.

‘She is’ tells a story of an average Nigerian woman, Frances, played by Somkele Iyamah Idhalama, who, upon achieving success in her chosen career, finds it hard to settle down in marriage. 

The movie features seasoned actors such as Frank Donga, Chiwetalu Agu, Linda Ejiofor, Somkele Iyamah Idhalama, Desmond Elliot and Segun Arinze.

Also, Waje and Omawunmi brought their musical skill to use as they wrote and performed the soundtrack of the movie. 

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Eight Days After, Abductors Free 80-Year-Old Mother-In-Law Of Katsina Governor Masari

15 March 2019 - 9:33am

Eight days after her kidnapping, 80-year-old Hajiya Maistiyari, mother of Binta, the wife of Katsina State Governor Aminu Masari, has been released by her abductors on Thursday. 

Hajiya Maistiyari was kidnapped last Friday morning at her residence, No 13, Dandume Crescent, Sabon Gari area of Katsina State.

Spokesman for the command, SP Gambo Isah who confirmed her release, said: "I am very happy to inform you that, the old woman has been released by her abductors yesterday 14/03/2019 by 16:00hrs. She is hale and hearty. She has already reunited with her family after necessary medical checkups."

It is however not clear if a ransom was played to secure her release.

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