News

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Former President Goodluck Jonathan

The Federal Government has urged former President Goodluck Jonathan to stop engaging in finger-pointing over the issue of the Chibok girls who were abducted under his watch, calling such action an unnecessary distraction from ongoing efforts to secure the release of the girls who remain in captivity, long after they were abducted.

The advice was contained in a statement issued in Abuja on Monday by the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, following the former President’s reaction to the report by a British newspaper that the British armed forces’ offer to attempt to rescue the girls were rebuffed by then President Jonathan.

”While former President Jonathan reserves the right to defend his Administration, he should not engage in finger-pointing by saying, in a statement, that ‘some people who have obviously been playing politics with the issue of the Chibok girls will stop at nothing to further their interest’,” the Minister said.

He said if anyone ever played politics with the issue of Chibok girls, it was the Administration under whose watch the girls were abducted.

”After the girls were kidnapped and the Jonathan Administration did nothing for all of 15 days or make any determined efforts to rescue them thereafter, our party, the then opposition APC, told the nation several times that the whole Boko Haram crisis was allowed to escalate by the PDP-controlled Federal Government so they can use it as a political tool ahead of the 2015 elections.

”In a statement on 8 Sept. 2014, we said: ‘President Jonathan-PDP’s political manipulation of the Boko Haram has to be understood as part of its poker-like calculus for clinging on to political power ahead of the 2015 elections. The Boko Haram crisis is readily used by the PDP to rationalize the Jonathan Government’s abdication of its constitutional responsibilities, including visits and assistance to areas affected as well as effective response to abductions (e.g. the GEJ government was silent over the Chibok girls kidnaps for over 15 days)’,

”Two-and-a-half years after that statement, we have been vindicated by the report that claimed President Jonathan rebuffed an attempt by the British government to help rescue the girls. We hope the former President will now refrain from stoking further controversy over the lingering abduction issue and allow the government of the day to focus on its ongoing negotiations to secure the release of the Chibok girls,” Alhaji Mohammed said.

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Nigerian Senate

The Senate has resolved to probe the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) over the raiding and carting away of goods in shops at a rice market in Sango-Otta, Ogun State.

The Upper Chamber came to the decision after a brief debate over a motion moved by Senator Gholahan Dada under Order 42 & 52, over the unlawful seizure of rice and invasions of shops by the customs in Ogun State.

While the Senators agreed that the Customs  has power under the law to carry out raids, it resolved to carry out the investigation to know if the Customs did not step out of the ambit of the law.

The decision to probe the Customs’ actions was reached after Senate Majority Leader Senator Ahmed Lawan argued that it was necessary for the legislature to look into if the Customs did not do anything wrong while carrying out the raid.

A protest by angry youths and rice sellers in Ogun is reportedly turning violent at the Sango-Ota area of the state with the participants blocking the two ends of the Lagos-Abeokuta expressway.

Recall that a violent protest by rice traders broke out on Wednesday, February 22, over alleged invasion of their markets by officers of the Nigerian Customs.

The rice sellers alleged that the customs officers stormed their shops and stalls at the Sango-Ota market around 1 a.m. to confiscate their goods even though not smuggled such.

Scores of the rice sellers later on Thursday, February 23, protested to Ogun state Governor Ibikunle Amosun’s office at Oke Mosan in Abeokuta to register their displeasure at the actions of the Customs.

 

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Willie Obiano, Anambra state governor

The Joint National Association of Persons with Disabilities (JONAPWD) in Anambra State has hailed the appointment of one of its member as a permanent secretary by Governor Willie Obiano.

Azuka Ofomata, who is visually impaired, was sworn in yesterday as permanent secretary in the Ministry of Social, Children and Women Affairs.

Ofomata, a former Director in the Rehabilitation Department, was among the nine sworn in yesterday in Awka, the state capital.

Others were Linus Nwankwo; Chukwudi Ike; Nneka Ezeanya; Patricia Ezeaku; Emeka Ohuoha; Stephanie Keri-Uzor; Caroline Njaka and Pauline Nwandu.

In a statement yesterday in Awka by the Chairman and Secretary, Lawrence Nwanolue and Ugochukwu Okeke, the group described the Ofomata as a person with proven records of dedication and diligence.

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The Federal Government has approved a payment guarantee assurance by the CBN for power generating companies (GENCOS) to solve liquidity problems in the energy sector. The approval was made yesterday by the Federal Executive Council (FEC), the highest decision making body in the country.

The Minister of Works, Power and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola, who announced this to State House Correspondents, said the CBN would hold N701 billion for regular payment for power generated onto the national grid.

He said that the government’s bulk energy buyer, Nigeria Bulk Electricity Trading (NBET) had series of liquidity problems which made it difficult to fulfil its delivery obligations.

“The liquidity problems that have characterised the market have affected the Nigeria Bulk Electricity Trading (NBET’s) ability to deliver on its PPP obligations to the Gencos. So going forward in order to strengthen the NBET, CBN is providing a payment assurance guarantee for energy produced by any Genco, so that Gencos can pay their gas suppliers when they are paid so that the hydros can continue to operate.

“What we seek to achieve here is to bring some stability to the production side of the power value chain and also give confidence to investors who want to come in, who are concerned about how to recover their money.

“They see now payment assurance and also people who are planning to invest in the gas sector which is being championed by Ministry if Petroleum also are seeing the same thing in terms of payments for gas produced.

“So the approval of council was to provide this guarantee for NBET which is a 100 per cent government owned company to pay on a monthly basis its obligations, for what was actually produced onto the grid , to the Gencos that are its customers.’’

Fashola said that the nation’s power transmission capacity had moved from 5,000 megawatts to 7,000 megawatts while generation had moved up from below 2,000 megawatts to 4,000 megawatts.

The minister denied that the transmission company of Nigeria (TCN) did not have the ability to take in all the energy generated adding that government was regularly expanding its transmission infrastructure.

He said that it was observed that there was un-evacuated power on the Eastern part of the Delta adding that the ministry had solved the transmission of power in the Ikot Ekpene axis to evacuate 1,000 megawatts but the gas producers were not being paid.

“As to the quantum of the guarantee, it is for two years from January this year through Dec. 2018. It is capped at a maximum of N701 billion but it is to be drawn monthly.

“That is the cap, it is possible it will not reach that but we have projected on the total cost that NBET is likely to pay and that is for power generated on the grid only,’’ he said.

He said the measure was part of the reforms being done in the sector adding that government had plans to recover the power sector and keep its fundamentals.

Fashola also announced that FEC approved that government should take over the financing of the Second Niger Bridge and the Lagos – Ibadan road projects from the private sector operators for speedy delivery.

He said that the decision was taken after the PPP status of the infrastructure projects were reviewed and government took the option of leading in financing where there were problems in the PPP.

He said that while engaging the private sector as it remained committed to PPP in infrastructure renewal, it would take some initiatives to improve infrastructure.

“Government as a matter of strategy thinks that it can continue until financial closures, agreements and all of that are put in place when PPPs become ready and viable to help deliver infrastructure.

“It was a strategy memorandum. The conclusion essentially is that government is committed to doing both self-financing as much as possible and encouraging PPP as much as possible,’’ he added.

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Acting President Yemi Osinbajo

Akwa Ibom Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr Charles Udoh, says plans have been concluded for the state visit of the Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo on Thursday.

Udoh said in a statement on Wednesday that acting President Osinbajo would inspect the ongoing construction of the second runway at the Akwa Ibom International Airport shortly on his arrival by 1.00 p.m.

According to him, the Acting President is billed to pay a courtesy visit to the royal fathers in the state.

“Osinbajo is expected to also address a Town Hall meeting with stakeholders at the state Banquet Hall in Government House before departing the state,’’ Udoh said.

He listed those expected at the Town Hall meeting to include members of the state elders council, royal fathers and representatives of the oil producing host communities.

Others are the socio-cultural organisations, women leaders, and representatives of youths in the state.

Udoh said that the visit was part of the ongoing efforts by the Federal Government to interact with the stakeholders and end crisis in the oil-rich Niger Delta region.

Osinbajo had visited Delta, Rivers, Imo and Bayelsa States

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Nigeria’s former president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, has condemned the xenophobic attacks against immigrants in South Africa, blaming the leadership under President Jacob Zuma.

More especially, he condemned the intimidation of Nigerians living in the country.

Obasanjo condemned the attacks on Wednesday in Abeokuta when he received the leadership of the National Institute of Policy and Strategic Studies,(NIPSS) Kuru, Jos who paid him a courtesy call.

He blamed the development on the `laxity and insincerity’ of the South African government.

He described the development as `betrayal’ of the struggle for the emancipation of the country against the apartheid regime.

Obasanjo called on African heads of government to provide good leadership for their citizens as part of efforts to enhance regional integration.

He also stressed the need for the leaders to ensure good governance for the overall development of the continent.

He said: “I will apportion more blame to the leadership of the South African government.

“While the immaturity of the youths can be excused, the leaders ought to realise the importance of unity and brotherliness in Africa.

“While I blame the youths of the country for the attacks, I will blame the leaders of any country more that allows xenophobic attacks against fellow Africans for whatever reason.

“African leaders should also step up measures at developing their countries and improve the living standards of their citizens.

“This will discourage our youths who because of under development and poor living standard seek greener pastures outside their countries.

“I feel disheartened learning that many of our youths perish while crossing the Sahara Desert or the Mediterranean Sea.’’

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Justice Walter Onnoghen has been confirmed by Nigeria’s Senate as substantive Chief Justice of Nigeria. Onnoghen was confirmed after he appeared before the upper legislative chamber on Wednesday.

He fielded questions from the lawmakers who asked him on his plans to take the judiciary forward.

Onnoghen was before the senate’s committee on whole which was presided over by Senate President Bukola Saraki for 45 minutes.

The supreme court justice assured the senators that judiciary would be independent under his stewardship.

He was confirmed after a voice vote.

Ben Ayade, governor of Cross River state, and Ita Enag, adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari on senate, were present during the confirmation hearing.

 

 

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Lagos State acting Commissioner for Transport, Mr. Lanrewaju Elegushi, has said there is no plan to ban yellow buses, known as Danfo. He said they would be upgrades to international standard.

Elegushi said this, yesterday, during a stakeholders’ forum, at the new bus terminal, at Tafawa Balewa Square (TBS). The parley was to deliberate on how to improve the transport system in the state. He said plans of the state government was to restructure the transportation system to international standard.

“What we are planning is to restructure the transportation system in the state to meet international standard.

“That is why we organised this forum to seek the contributions of the people involved. We are changing the face of the transport system in Lagos state with fully air condition buses, charging port, CCTV and other infrastructure for the benefit of commuters,” he said. Elegushi said the government had also embarked on building of standard bus terminus in various locations across the state, to standardise the transport system. The acting commissioner appealed to the stakeholders to make judicious use of the new bus terminal at TBS.

In his remarks,  Chairman, National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), Idumota branch, Mr. Kunle Azeez, commended the government for building befitting bus terminal for members of the union. He assured the government the union members would obey rules and regulations as well as ensure proper maintenance of the terminal.

“We appreciate the government for carrying us along in its development plan. I am sure our members will not let the government down in its plan to make the state a Mega City,” he said.

It is not clear how a rickety danfo bus would be upgraded to international standard without it being replaced. Elegushi’s statement is in contrast to the governor, Akinwunmi Ambode who  announced that the government plans to banish Danfo buses and restructure the transportation system in the state for an  efficient, well-structured and world-class mass transport system. According to the governor, a well-structured transport system will ease movement within the state and make Lagos cleaner.

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Khadija Abba Ibrahim, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs

Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Mrs Khadijah Abba Ibrahim, told the Senate yesterday that no Nigerian died in the renewed xenophobic attacks in South Africa.

The minister based her statement on the information from the Nigerian High Commission in South Africa.

The Senate and the House of Representatives also yesterday decided to take the case to the South African parliament. They are to send delegations to table the matter before their counterparts.

The minister said nobody was convicted as a result of previous attacks and no compensation was paid by the South African government.

The Chairman of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, Senator Monsurat Sunmonu, told the minister that Nigerians were interested in what the government was doing to protect them in South Africa.

“We want to hear from the ministry that the Acting High Commissioner has actually invited Nigerians to talk to them to give them solace because tomorrow, nobody knows what is going to happen again.

“We are only telling them (Nigerians), to please hide to give a low profile. That means we have told them not to engage in their businesses again that they should be in hiding which is not good for Nigerians.

“To the committee we are not happy, we are highly disappointed and what we would expect is that your delegations, we have the mandate of the two Houses for us to go to South Africa. We will all go together see them and look at the memoranda of understanding or bilateral of what you are signing.

“It has to be give and take. If it is necessary Nigeria will not hesitate to put sanctions on South Africa.

After about one hour of deliberation, the Senate yesterday resolved to dispatch a “powerful” parliamentary delegation to South Africa to express the displeasure of the Nigerian parliament over the attacks.

The lawmakers however turned down the prayer for the Nigerian Government to reconsider its diplomatic ties with South African.

Senator Rose Oko Cross River North) and three others presented a motion on “Resurgence of xenophobic attacks and extra-judicial killings of Nigerians in South Africa.”

The Oko specifically asked the Senate to ask the Federal Government to reconsider Nigeria’s diplomatic ties with South Africa if the ugly incidents of the attacks of Nigerians do not stop.

The prayer was rejected as some of the Senators contended that the ripple effect of such action would be overwhelming.
Senate President, Abubakaer Bukola Saraki, noted that the government could no longer fold its hands and allow its citizens to be attacked and killed.

Saraki said that henceforth, Nigerian ambassadors in other country’s would be given specific assignments to defend the dignity and rights of Nigerians living abroad.

The Senate President said that the Senate would work to ensure that funding for foreign missions are increased.

The House of Representatives yesterday directed its Leader Femi Gbajabiamila to lead a delegation to the South Africa parliament .

A statement by Gbajabiamila’s media aide, , Olanrewaju Smart, said: ” the House Leader will be joined by the Chairman House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Nnena Okeje (PDP, Abia); Sadiq Ibrahim (APC, Adamawa); Henry Nwawuba (PDP, Imo); Nasiru Zango Daura (APC, Katsina) and Shehu Aliyu Musa (APC, Bauchi) as members of the delegation.

“The House resolved that the delegation of legislators and ministry of foreign affairs officials engage the parliament of South Africa and Nigerians in South Africa on the xenophobic attacks with a few to stop the attacks and any further occurrence in future”.

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Abdullahi Dikko Inde, former Head of Nigeria Customs

Barely six days after 17 “exotic” vehicles were recovered from a Kaduna warehouse belonging to former Comptroller-General of Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) Abdullahi Dikko Inde, by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), another set of items including vehicles, tricycles and motorcycles, have been seized.
The items, which were recovered on Monday and Tuesday from another warehouse said to be the property of the former Customs boss include a 2013 model 32-seater Nissan bus, 42 cargo tricycles, one tipper truck, 16 motorcycles, over 500 rug carpets and two fire-proof safes.

Zonal Head, EFCC in Kaduna, Bappa Ibrahim said yesterday that the recovery was made following tip-off .
He said the operation, which led to the recovery of the items was a continuation of the anti-graft agency’s investigation on the former Customs boss.

Ibrahim said the items were recovered from a warehouse, off Nnamdi Azikwe Expressway, around NASFAT village in Igabi Local Government Area of Kaduna State.

The two safes, which were forced open by EFCC operatives in the presence of reporters, contained documents, an iron stamp, 50 and 20 naira notes, amounting to N1,560 and polythene bags.
The Zonal EFCC boss declined comments on the documents found inside the safes, saying further investigations would be carried out on them.

“The fresh operation, which started on Monday, 27th February, 2017 till today is a continuation of last week operation, which led to recovery of 17 exotic vehicles.”

He called on the public to always assist the anti-graft agency with information, as the war against corruption is everyone’s and should not be left for the EFCC alone.