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Showing posts with label Punch Newspapers. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Punch Newspapers. Show all posts

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

16:58

Buhari calls Ganduje during prayer session, thanks Nigerians

Ted Odogwu, Kano

President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday phoned the Kano State Governor, Dr. Abdullahi Ganduje, at about 6:30pm during a prayer session at the Government House, Kano, for the speedy recovery of Buhari.

During the telephone conversation, Buhari was overheard thanking those, who attended the prayer session led by Ganduje, alongside many Islamic scholars, prominent politicians and imams.

Ganduje said, “Your Excellency, you are calling at the right time — when we have gathered here praying to Almighty Allah for your quick recovery. All the participants said they are extending their heart-felt greetings to you. “

As Ganduje started his remarks at the prayer session, one of his aides handed over a cell phone to him even as those present at the event expressed surprise to hear the voice of the President.

Many people who gathered for the prayer session burst into tears as soon as they heard the President’s voice while some were relieved to hear his voice.

“We are very grateful for all the efforts Nigerians are putting in — praying for my quick and successful recovery. May Almighty Allah reward you abundantly. My sincere regards to all,” Buhari was quoted as saying.

Also, Ganduje disclosed to the President that, on Friday, there would be special prayer session in over 7,000 mosques of the state, emphasising that the call from the President was a sign of good things to come to the country.

Shortly after the telephone conversation with the President, Ganduje said there was nothing more to pray for as Buhari’s call was a reflection that Allah had answered their prayers.

“We are very happy that Allah has showed us that He answers prayers because the voice of the person we have gathered to pray for shows that he is recuperating quickly and happily,” the governor said.

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16:58

Badeh: EFCC to show video clip of $1m cash recovery

Ade Adesomoju, Abuja

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission is set to show to a Federal High Court in Abuja a video clip of how its operatives recovered a cash sum of $1m from the Abuja home of a former Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh (retd.) in February, last year.

An operative of the anti-graft agency, Mr. Mohammed Goji, while testifying as the 15th prosecution witness in Badeh’s trial on Tuesday, narrated how the $1m cash was recovered from a wardrobe in Badeh’s house at 6, Ogun River Street, Maitama, Abuja.

The EFCC initially scheduled to play the video clip to the trial judge, Justice Okon Abang, on Wednesday, but the plan was stalled as the defence blocked the tendering of the Video Compact Disc as an exhibit.

Objecting to the admissibility of the VCD, Badeh’s lawyer, Mr. Lasun Sanusi (SAN), said it would amount to an ambush if the court admitted it as an exhibit since it was not part of the proof of evidence served on the defence.

But Justice Abang at some point interjected, querying if Sanusi’s objection could constitute a valid ground for the court to refuse to admit a document as an exhibit.

Prosecuting counsel, Mr. Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), agreed with the judge, contending that the admissibility of an exhibit had nothing to do with whether or not it was included in the proof of evidence.

But Jacobs said, from experience, whenever such a situation arose, the best option was to defer the tendering of such an exhibit till another time within which such a document could be served on the opposing party.

The prosecuting counsel suggested that he should be allowed to withdraw the VCD and let Goji complete his evidence-in-chief.

He suggested that after serving the VCD on the defence, he would re-tender it along with some other documents through the Investigative Police Officer in the case.

Justice Abang, in a ruling, agreed with Jacobs.

The judge ordered the prosecution to serve the defence with a copy of the VCD and other documents it intended to tender, but had yet to be served on the defence.

Ahead of Wednesday’s proceedings, some officials of the EFCC had set up a projector and a large screen at one side of the court for the playing of the video clip.

But barely 30 minutes into the proceedings, it became clear that the plan to play the video clip was no longer realistic.

The EFCC officials waited for the proceedings to end on Wednesday, to dismantle the devices set up to show the clip.

Earlier in the proceedings on Wednesday, Justice Abang delivered a ruling in which he dismissed Tuesday’s objection by the defence to the admissibility of some items, including the search warrants executed on a house said to be owned by Badeh, last year February.

The other search warrant said to have been executed on another property in Badeh’s presence was not opposed by the defence.

Both search warrants were admitted as exhibits, along with a red box as well as two waybills recovered during the search.

Goji concluded his evidence-in-chief on Wednesday, but the court adjourned until March 20 to 24 for the cross-examination of the witness and further trial.

The EFCC is prosecuting Badeh and a company, Iyalikam Nigeria Limited, on 10 counts of money laundering involving an alleged fraudulent diversion of N3.9bn belonging to the Nigerian Air Force.

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16:58

Killings: IGP deploys special forces in Southern Kaduna

Godwin Isenyo, Kaduna

Following fresh attacks on four villages in Southern Kaduna, the Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, has deployed special forces to end the killings in the area.

Suspected Fulani herdsmen had, between Sunday and the early hours of Monday, invaded four communities in Southern Kaduna.

The attacks claimed 26 lives while several houses were burnt during the attacks.

Besides, the state Police Commissioner, Mr. Agyole Abeh, on Tuesday, confirmed that he lost two of his men in Sunday’s attack on Bakin Kogo village in Jema’a Local Government Area.

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16:58

Buhari didn’t bribe Justice Ademola, says Presidency

Olalekan Adetayo, Abuja

The Presidency, on Wednesday, denied that a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Kola Awodein, gave Justice Niyi Ademola, currently standing trial for alleged corruption, N500,000 at the behest of President Muhammadu Buhari.

Justice Ademola of the Federal High Court, Abuja, was said to have been given the money by Awodein at a time Buhari, who was the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress, was battling a suit challenging the authenticity of his secondary school certificate.

The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, recalled that Buhari challenged the outcome of the elections of 2003, 2007 and 2011, up to the Supreme Court and was never named as trying to compromise any judge.

He said any attempt to sully that reputation was bound to fail.

The presidential spokesman said even Awodein himself had denied the allegation.

Adesina stated, “Nigerians know that President Buhari challenged the elections of 2003, 2007 and 2011, up to the Supreme Court, and not once was he named as trying to compromise any judge, though some of them were his schoolmates or contemporaries at one time or the other.

“It is in keeping with the President’s time-tested reputation as a man of truth and integrity. Any attempt to sully that reputation is bound to fail, inexorably.”

He reproduced Awodein’s statement on the matter as follows, “I am constrained to make in absolute good faith, in good conscience and in the interest of justice and fair play, the following very short statement on account of the distorted news story currently being peddled as affecting the person of Mr. President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and  my good and very noble self.

“The very simple and plain facts are as follows:

“I have known as a friend and for well over 35 years Mr. Justice Niyi Ademola, a notorious fact known to majority of lawyers who have practised especially in Lagos for over that same period more or less and also to so many other professionals of other disciplines and other prominent and not-so-prominent Nigerians.

“It is a fact that the sum of money mentioned was personally paid by me as a friend to Mr. Justice Ademola as a personal gift, as our custom well recognises and demands, on the occasion of his daughter’s high society wedding, solemnised at the Cathedral Church of Christ, Marina, Lagos, on May 9, 2015, which I attended in person.

“I was fully convinced then, as I remain today, that I could do no less as a friend of longstanding to fairly reasonably support him on that memorable occasion of his daughter’s wedding.

“Anyone and everyone, who knows me, would readily and unquestionably testify that I am and have always been a man of impeccable integrity on and off the courts and that such a record speaks always loudly for itself.

“I would conclude by stating categorically and without any equivocation that  any link whatsoever with Mr. President, or any court case or cases, of my personal gift from my personal resources delivered to Justice  Niyi Ademola by myself on that occasion or any suggestion whatsoever that it was anything but such a gift or that it ever came from Mr. President or at his instance or that I was acting, under any circumstances, on his behalf, is most malicious, utterly ridiculous and in very poor and revolting taste and most undeserving of any further comments.”

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16:43

29 babies, 211 B’Haram suspects die in detention – AI

Olaleye Aluko, Abuja

The Amnesty International said 240 persons, including 29 babies, who were fleeing from the Boko Haram insurgents in Borno State, were arrested by the Nigerian Army and died in military detention in the last one year.

The AI, in its 2016/2017 report published on Tuesday, alleged that the victims, from Banki and Bama areas of the state, were clamped in overcrowded cells, adding that the humanitarian crisis caused by the Boko Haram insurgents had affected more than 14 million people in the North-East.

The Defence Headquarters, Abuja, on Wednesday, however, refuted the AI’s report, saying it was full of fabrications and an attempt to ridicule the military.

The Director, Defence Information, Brig. Gen. Rabe Abubakar, said the AI lied about its figures, adding that the organisation did not praise the efforts and sacrifices of Nigerian soldiers.

 The AI, in its report to review the last one year, said the 240 persons who died in military detention, were secretly buried by the officials of the Borno State Government.

The report partly read, “The military arbitrarily arrested thousands of young men, women and children who fled to the safety of recaptured towns, including Banki and Bama, Borno State. These arrests were largely based on random profiling of men, rather than on reasonable suspicion.

“The mass arrests by the military of people fleeing the Boko Haram led to overcrowding in military detention facilities. At the military facility in Giwa Barracks, Maiduguri, cells were overcrowded. Diseases, dehydration and starvation were rife.

“At least, 240 detainees died during the year. Bodies were secretly buried in Maiduguri’s cemetery by the Borno State Environmental Protection Agency workers. Among the dead were at least 29 children, aged between newborn and five years.”

The report added that Nigeria still had 2 million Internally Displaced Persons in the North-East.

“The Boko Haram group continued to carry out attacks and small-scale raids throughout the year. The national and regional armed forces recaptured major towns from the Boko Haram’s control. In its response to the attacks, the military continued to carry out arbitrary arrests, detentions, ill-treatment and extrajudicial executions of people suspected of being Boko Haram fighters.

“There remained at least 2 million IDPs in northern Nigeria. Eighty per cent of them live in host communities, while the remainder lived in camps. The camps in Maiduguri are overcrowded, with inadequate access to food, clean water and sanitation,” it added.

But the DHQ spokesman, Abubakar, said the AI’s report was full of fabrications and ridiculous.

He said, “The report published by the AI alleging death of 240 people in Borno and 177 pro-Biafran agitators is a spurious fabrication, aimed at tarnishing the image of the military. The allegations are inconceivable and have no place in the military. The report is a lie and orchestrated to ridicule the armed forces.

“The military has an open door in terms of information on the North-East. The military rejects this AI reports in its entirety and appeals to all to disregard it. We reassure our citizens of our commitment to terminate the security challenges facing our country.”

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15:28

Rivers rerun: INEC report is disservice to police, says FPRO

Leke Baiyewu, Abuja

A member of the Senate representing Kaduna South Senatorial District, Shehu Sani, on Wednesday, took a swipe at the elite in the northern part of Nigeria, blaming them for the high rate of poverty in the region.

He said while there were wealthy northerners, the North still had high poverty rate.

Sani said this when he hosted leaders of lepers, the deaf and dump, the blind and the cripple in Kaduna State in his office.

The lawmaker said the visit by the group was in fulfilment of his campaign promise to bring them “for the first time to see the office of the person they elected into public office.”

He said it was unfortunate that the poor were the ones who “toiled and worked for us, and laboured hard to see us elected into public office.”

He lamented that while politicians looked out for the poor and the physically-challenged during campaigns, the people were usually abandoned when elections had been won.

Sani said, “It has always been the same pattern; each time we are aspiring for political offices, we search for them in the nook and crannies but at the very time we have won the election, the best thing is how to clear them from our cities.

“You cannot end (street) begging in any part of Nigeria without making provisions for uplifting their socio-economic and living standards. It has always been the case. Public begging and loitering is an economic problem. You cannot legislate people out of poverty; you cannot decree people out of poverty; you have to lay an economic roadmap for which these people can stand and fend for themselves.

“Begging has been a major problem in northern Nigeria but it couldn’t in any way be stopped because the economic basis that would address the problem has not been done. Many rich northerners, who own oil blocks and are in position of power, are seeing these people as pests in the society that should be cleared off. And they cannot be cleared off.”

He added, “We have enough people who are rich in the northern part of Nigeria and who could have ended this problem. But what we should understand is that philanthropy alone cannot address the problem of socio-economic inequality; we need to have an entrenched social system and social justice in which people of this social status can have their standard uplifted.”

Sani also said that it was “very unfortunate” that governments at all levels budgeted trillions of naira without consideration for the physically-challenged, to have their problems and plights addressed.

He said, “We live in a very oppressive and exploitative society; the class of the the few are the ones who are consistently supported; they are the ones who have been enriched consistently. And we have a mass of people who are in abject poverty.

“Government should not measure its achievement by the number of rich people it has created but by the number of poor people it has been able to lift out of poverty. That should be the guiding principle. But successive governments in Nigeria have been very unfair to our physically-challenged people. They were the ones who were on the queues on election day. They were the ones who were brutalised and persecuted by previous administrations. They need to see, feel and benefit from change at hand.”

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15:28

Protests as Osinbajo withholds assent to four bills

Leke Baiyewu, Abuja

The Senate has said it will consult with its legal team for advice on the decision of the Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, to withhold assent to four bills passed by the National Assembly.

The bills are Dangerous Drugs (Amendment) Bill 2016, National Lottery (Amendment) Bill 2016, Agricultural Credit Guarantee Scheme Fund (Amendment) Bill 2016, and the Currency Conversion (Freezing Orders) (Amendment) Bill 2016.

In the four letters sent to the Senate, dated February 7, 2017, the Acting President gave various reasons for his decision “Pursuant to Section 58(4) of the Constitution.”

On the Agricultural Credit Guarantee Scheme Fund (Amendment) Bill 2016, Osinbajo said, “The reasons for withholding assent to the bill are the concerns surrounding board composition, funding arrangements, limitation of liability of funds, and proposals to increase levels of un-collaterised loans from N5,000 to N250,000.”

For withholding asset to the Currency Conversion (Freezing Orders) (Amendment) Bill 2016, the Acting President said, “The rationale for withholding assent to the bill is the concern regarding modalities for the communication of asset forfeiture orders.”

Osinbajo also said the Dangerous Drugs (Amendment) Bill 2016 could not be assented to, saying, “The rationale for withholding assent to the bill are the concerns regarding certain words and phrases utilised in the draft bill that may be inconsistent with the Principal Act (for example, Section 6 of the bill with Section 21 of the Principal Act) and the spirit behind the proposed amendments.”

Also, the Acting President said he withheld assent to the National Lottery (Amendment) Bill 2016 due to “the existence of pending legal challenge to the competence of the National Assembly to legislate on the subject matter.”

After the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, read Osinbajo’s letters to senators at plenary on Wednesday, Senator Dino Melaye, who sponsored the National Lottery (Amendment) Bill, raised a point of order and dismissed the Acting President’s reason for not assenting to it.

Citing Section 4 of the constitution, the senator described the court process and the decision by Osinbajo as against the principle of separation of powers.

Melaye said, “Mr. President, the explanation for withholding the assent as stipulated in the letter by the Acting President is because there is a pending litigation on this matter. Mr. President, democracy is standing on the basic principles of separation of powers and it has divided this into three; the executive, the legislature and the judiciary.

“Mr. President, the role of the executive is to carry out its fundamental objective by signing anything that has been passed by this House and anyone who has a problem with it can go to court in compliance with the provisions of Section 6 of the constitution. May it not be a bad day for democracy if we keep quiet and allow the powers of the legislature to be usurped by the non-compliance to the provisions of the constitution.”

Saraki, in his response, said the chamber would seek legal advice on the matter as it had to do with separation of powers.

He said, “I think the procedure is that we will refer this (issue) to our legal department to give us advice on interpretation on some of the things that you have said, for us to be properly guided. But, I agree with you that it is a matter that we must take seriously because it goes down to the issue of separation of powers. We would get the opinion of the legal department.”

But Senator George Sekibo, rose up to say that the National Assembly had the powers to override the veto of the President.

He said, “The way the constitution is framed, they have their own roles to play and we have our own role to play. We check each other. I know that the matter is in court and based on our rules, we cannot discuss it; it is a different thing. But if it is just that the President did not give assent, we have to look at the merit of the particular bill if it meets the standards and if the court matter is not going to impede what we are going to do. Then, we can override the veto of the President.”

Again, Saraki stated that the issue should be referred to the legal department for interpretation and counsel.

Osinbajo had last week assented to seven bills passed by the legislature.

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15:28

Elite failing to address poverty in North — Sani

Leke Baiyewu, Abuja

A member of the Senate representing Kaduna South Senatorial District, Shehu Sani, on Wednesday, took a swipe at the elite in the northern part of Nigeria, blaming them for the high rate of poverty in the region.

He said while there were wealthy northerners, the North still had high poverty rate.

Sani said this when he hosted leaders of lepers, the deaf and dump, the blind and the cripple in Kaduna State in his office.

The lawmaker said the visit by the group was in fulfilment of his campaign promise to bring them “for the first time to see the office of the person they elected into public office.”

He said it was unfortunate that the poor were the ones who “toiled and worked for us, and laboured hard to see us elected into public office.”

He lamented that while politicians looked out for the poor and the physically-challenged during campaigns, the people were usually abandoned when elections had been won.

Sani said, “It has always been the same pattern; each time we are aspiring for political offices, we search for them in the nook and crannies but at the very time we have won the election, the best thing is how to clear them from our cities.

“You cannot end (street) begging in any part of Nigeria without making provisions for uplifting their socio-economic and living standards. It has always been the case. Public begging and loitering is an economic problem. You cannot legislate people out of poverty; you cannot decree people out of poverty; you have to lay an economic roadmap for which these people can stand and fend for themselves.

“Begging has been a major problem in northern Nigeria but it couldn’t in any way be stopped because the economic basis that would address the problem has not been done. Many rich northerners, who own oil blocks and are in position of power, are seeing these people as pests in the society that should be cleared off. And they cannot be cleared off.”

He added, “We have enough people who are rich in the northern part of Nigeria and who could have ended this problem. But what we should understand is that philanthropy alone cannot address the problem of socio-economic inequality; we need to have an entrenched social system and social justice in which people of this social status can have their standard uplifted.”

Sani also said that it was “very unfortunate” that governments at all levels budgeted trillions of naira without consideration for the physically-challenged, to have their problems and plights addressed.

He said, “We live in a very oppressive and exploitative society; the class of the the few are the ones who are consistently supported; they are the ones who have been enriched consistently. And we have a mass of people who are in abject poverty.

“Government should not measure its achievement by the number of rich people it has created but by the number of poor people it has been able to lift out of poverty. That should be the guiding principle. But successive governments in Nigeria have been very unfair to our physically-challenged people. They were the ones who were on the queues on election day. They were the ones who were brutalised and persecuted by previous administrations. They need to see, feel and benefit from change at hand.”

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15:28

Abuja Airport closure: FG names eight emergency centres

Friday Olokor, Abuja

The Federal Government has named eight primary response centres and 10 governmental and non-governmental organisations to provide emergency medical services in case of accidents.

The eight health facilities which are situated in Kaduna and Niger states include Umar Yar’Adua Specialist Hospital; Anglican Mission Hospital, Katari; General Hospital, Doka; and the Federal Road Safety Corps Clinic, Kakau.

Others are the Primary Healthcare Centre, Duste; Rigasa Health Centre; St. Gerard’s Hospital, Kakuri; and the National Eye Centre, Kaduna.

Ten partners have been listed to coordinate and manage emergency situations. They are the FRSC, Nigeria Police Force, NEMA, Federal Fire Service and the National Blood Transfusion Service.

Others are the Association of Medical Social Workers of Nigeria; Kaduna State Ministry of Health; Niger State Ministry of Health; Federal Capital Territory Health and Human Services Secretariat; and the Ministry of Defence.

The decision was taken in preparation for the closure of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja and the transfer of its services to the Kaduna Airport, with effect from March 8, 2017.

The Minister of State for Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, made the announcement during a press conference in Abuja on Wednesday to inform the public on plans for the NAIA temporary closure.

According to him, the centres have been contacted and are linked with trauma centres of four referral hospitals including the National Hospital, Abuja; University of Abuja Teaching Hospital, Gwagwalada; 44 Army Referral Hospital and Nigerian Airforce Base Medical Centre in Abuja and Kaduna respectively.

He said there would be reflective signboards every 10-kilometre along the highway to display emergency call numbers and directions to the nearest health facility.

Ehanire said, “Plans reached by partners include equipment upgrade and full staffing of the health centres for 24-hour readiness. We have requested for funds to provide the centres with medication and commodities and also with small generators and needed infrastructure upgrades. Functional ambulances shall be stationed at these centres.

“A total of seven ambulances, staffed with trained personnel will be stationed at the designated facilities along the highway; of these, five are provided by the FRSC, two each by the Kaduna State Government and the Federal Ministry of Health, one from the National Eye Centre and one from NEMA.”

He expressed optimism that the exercise would serve as a “pilot project to test a consolidated, coordinated, multi-agency response system, which Nigeria urgently needs.”

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15:28

Elite failing to address poverty in North — Sani

Leke Baiyewu, Abuja

A member of the Senate representing Kaduna South Senatorial District, Shehu Sani, on Wednesday, took a swipe at the elite in the northern part of Nigeria, blaming them for the high rate of poverty in the region.

He said while there were wealthy northerners, the North still had high poverty rate.

Sani said this when he hosted leaders of lepers, the deaf and dump, the blind and the cripple in Kaduna State in his office.

The lawmaker said the visit by the group was in fulfilment of his campaign promise to bring them “for the first time to see the office of the person they elected into public office.”

He said it was unfortunate that the poor were the ones who “toiled and worked for us, and laboured hard to see us elected into public office.”

He lamented that while politicians looked out for the poor and the physically-challenged during campaigns, the people were usually abandoned when elections had been won.

Sani said, “It has always been the same pattern; each time we are aspiring for political offices, we search for them in the nook and crannies but at the very time we have won the election, the best thing is how to clear them from our cities.

“You cannot end (street) begging in any part of Nigeria without making provisions for uplifting their socio-economic and living standards. It has always been the case. Public begging and loitering is an economic problem. You cannot legislate people out of poverty; you cannot decree people out of poverty; you have to lay an economic roadmap for which these people can stand and fend for themselves.

“Begging has been a major problem in northern Nigeria but it couldn’t in any way be stopped because the economic basis that would address the problem has not been done. Many rich northerners, who own oil blocks and are in position of power, are seeing these people as pests in the society that should be cleared off. And they cannot be cleared off.”

He added, “We have enough people who are rich in the northern part of Nigeria and who could have ended this problem. But what we should understand is that philanthropy alone cannot address the problem of socio-economic inequality; we need to have an entrenched social system and social justice in which people of this social status can have their standard uplifted.”

Sani also said that it was “very unfortunate” that governments at all levels budgeted trillions of naira without consideration for the physically-challenged, to have their problems and plights addressed.

He said, “We live in a very oppressive and exploitative society; the class of the the few are the ones who are consistently supported; they are the ones who have been enriched consistently. And we have a mass of people who are in abject poverty.

“Government should not measure its achievement by the number of rich people it has created but by the number of poor people it has been able to lift out of poverty. That should be the guiding principle. But successive governments in Nigeria have been very unfair to our physically-challenged people. They were the ones who were on the queues on election day. They were the ones who were brutalised and persecuted by previous administrations. They need to see, feel and benefit from change at hand.”

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15:28

Court freezes Stella Oduah’s firms’ accounts over $16.4m, N100m debt

Ramon Oladimeji

The Federal High Court in Lagos has frozen the bank accounts of four companies linked to a former Minister of Aviation, Stella Oduah, over alleged indebtedness of $16,412,819.06 and N100,493,225.59.

 The four companies whose accounts were frozen in 21 commercial banks in the country are Sea Petroleum and Gas Company Limited, Sea Shipping Agency Limited, Rotary Engineering Services Limited, and Tour Afrique Company Limited.

 Justice Abdulaziz Anka, who made the freezing order, barred Oduah and the directors of the four companies from making any withdrawal from their bank accounts pending the determination of a debt recovery suit filed against them by Sterling Bank Plc.

 The bank, in an affidavit deposed to by one of its managers, Mr. Segun Akinsanya, averred that the debt stemmed from a loan of  $10,069,620.25 granted Sea Petroleum and Gas Company on October 8, 2012, to finance one unit 5,000MT tanker vessel.

 Adesanya further averred that the company also obtained other loans of $449,600.00, $642,954.00 and $350,000.

He said the bank resorted to filing the suit following the alleged refusal of the oil company to liquidate the loans, which, he said, stood at $16,412,819.06 and N100,493,225.59 as of November 2016.

 Counsel for the bank, Mr. Kemi Balogun (SAN), on Wednesday obtained an order to serve court processes on the defendants by substituted means by advertising same in the newspaper.

 Justice Anka adjourned till March 20, 2017 to take the preliminary objection filed by Oduah’s companies in opposition to the suit.

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15:14

Reps condemn xenophobic attacks on Nigerians in S’Africa

John Ameh, Abuja

Members of the House of Representatives were angry on Wednesday as they condemned the renewed xenophobic attacks on Nigerians in South Africa.

They criticised the apparent inaction of key Nigerian Government officials and agencies to respond adequately, particularly the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

They were also unhappy that the authorities in South Africa looked the other way while Nigerians were either killed or had their workplaces destroyed by xenophobic South Africans.

The House, acting on a motion moved by the Chairman, House Committee on Diaspora Affairs, Mrs. Rita Orji, resolved that the National Assembly and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs should appoint a delegation to engage the authorities in Pretoria over the development.

It said the delegation should remind South Africa of the “consequences of these ongoing xenophobic attacks against Nigerians and the likely repercussions.”

The resolution added that, “The House should mandate the Justice Department of the Foreign Affairs Ministry to independently investigate the immediate and remote causes of the attacks so as to arrive at acceptable conclusions.

“The delegation should assure Nigerian citizens in South Africa that the Nigerian Government is well positioned to aggressively defend the rights of Nigerians overseas, using the complete choice of obtainable means — from political and economic, to operations under international right of self-defence.”

Many members expressed sadness as they contributed to the debate, saying they could not understand why fellow blacks in South Africa always picked on Nigerians.

A former Minority Whip of the House, Mr. Mohammed Garba-Dhatti, recalled how Nigerians championed the liberation struggles during the apartheid era in South Africa.

“It is even more painful that today, the South African Government doesn’t do much to protect Nigerians living over there. Nigerians funded the liberation struggles in that country. We were contributing money to liberate them.

“What the government should do is to educate its citizens, particularly the younger generation, on these issues,” Garba-Dhatti added.

The Chairman, House Committee on Telecommunications, Mr. Saheed Fijabi, also condemned the attacks.

“What happens if Nigerians also start attacking South African business interests in Nigeria? They should stop what they are doing,” he stated.

On his part, the Minority Leader, Mr. Leo Ogor, advised the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to “wake up” to its responsibilities.

“They should let South Africa know that Nigeria has options. The issue of resorting to attacks is not a right of a particular country.

“But, we must act fast before we will be unable to contain the patience of Nigerians,” Ogor added.

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15:14

Dickson disagrees with Ijaw leader on mismanagement

Simon Utebor, Yenagoa

THE Bayelsa State Governor, Chief Seriake Dickson, has dismissed claims by the former President of the Ijaw National Congress, Prof. Kimse Okoko, that he (Dickson) mismanaged funds belonging to the state.

 Dickson challenged Okoko to tell Nigerians how he mismanaged state funds, describing the allegations against him as baseless.

 Okoko had on Tuesday accused the governor of mismanaging funds meant for the people of the state, alleging that despite the billions of naira received by the state as monthly allocation, the state had nothing to show for it.

But speaking through his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Daniel Iworiso-Markson, the governor stressed that he (Dickson) was known as a transparent and accountable man.

 He said, “He (Okoko) is an academic. He should tell us how the governor has mismanaged the funds of the state. Is it that governor put the funds in his private bank account? If that is the case, he should publish the private bank account.

 “That allegation is baseless. You cannot just wake up and say governor has mismanaged the resources of the state. In what area? This governor and government are known for transparency and accountability.

 “By virtue of the law put in place in the state, every month, we account to the people of the state every money that comes into the state and every money spent. He (Okoko) should not speak in the air; let him come out and speak.”

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15:14

Emir Sanusi’s regulation of polygamy

Abimbola Adelakun

The Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi, recently made a valuable point about the social problems engendered by forced marriages and polygamy. A number of men, he noted, take more wives than they can provide for, breed children they cannot dignifiedly raise, and their unrestrained loins eventually become a source of social menace. Sanusi says he will be proposing a law to regulate the practice of polygamy and other social ills in his territory. While the scope of the law Sanusi proposes is superfluous (some of them are already covered in the constitution), and enforcement will be usurping existing laws, it is commendable he is thinking of curtailing the way people exploit religious laws to unshackle their libidinal urges.

Sanusi’s address of this issue is encouraging because people tend to tiptoe around religion and its politics and therefore fail to raise certain issues. One of the reasons religious leaders rarely address the menace of uncontrolled breeding is because the children swell the population. We have been Nigerians long enough to know the political implications of numbers. A former First Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan, tactlessly alluded to the issue of the almajiri as “born throway children” during the 2015 electioneering. Post-election, a former Kano governor, Rabiu Kwankwaso, responded that her husband, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, lost the presidential election because they (the northern establishment) galvanised their almajiri crowd to vote him out. In this wise, Sanusi is at least more forthright than Kwankwaso who cannot see the teeming almajiri population as anything more than thumbs that stamp on ballot papers.

However, I am still curious to know when Sanusi arrived at this epiphanous understanding of the retrogressions of polygamy. In September 2015, Sanusi himself had taken an 18-year-old girl as his fourth wife, an act which generated some controversy. An Emir racking up wives would not have been news if not for two things: One, the age of the girl involved. Two, Sanusi’s previous role as a high-ranking public official got us thinking of him as a “progressive” and an intellectual of sorts. Snagging a woman, the very moment she reached legal adulthood, seemed out of sync with the Sanusi we thought we knew. Sanusi responded to his critics that his marriage had to do with northern royal culture which the over-westernised southerners simply did not understand. He argued for respect for cultural differences saying that marriage is a social and political transaction. Blue blooders like him, he said, take wives to forge geopolitical relationship.

African men, when confronted on polygamy, bring out their favourite whipping boy – homosexuality in western culture. Sanusi resorted to the same argument of cultural relativity (polygamy vs. homosexuality) to defend the legitimacy of his marital choices. In 2014, Kenyan lawmakers approved a law that allowed a man to take as many wives as he wanted and defended the law based on some suspect celebration of their Africanity. These defences of “African culture” as a deliberate pushback against westernisation bandied by the same people who use all the appurtenances of western modernity is sheer hypocrisy.

Polygamy, as practised by our ancestors, was useful because people lived in agrarian communities and large family structures were their workforce. Those societies defined their ideas of wealth and masculinity through large households because it was the reality of their times. We live in different times and polygamy is less economically expedient. Monogamy is not about westernisation; it is the realisation that larger families are unnecessary to till the land in the age of mechanised farming. Kano State has more than 1.5 million almajiris and such a high number would have been tolerable if they take to farming but they are not economically resourceful.

That said, I am ambivalent about polygamy as long as it is not coercive. People – male and female – choose to be in polygamous relationships for various reasons. Just a few weeks ago, the famous Bello Masaba who married 90 wives in his lifetime died at the age of 93 and left about 130 children behind with virtually nothing for them to survive on. Everything in me screams at his irresponsibility but as long as those women made their choices, he has not done anything illegal (immoral, maybe).

Therefore, when Sanusi made the argument about cultural respect and difference in 2015, I saw his point even if I did not fully agree with him. Now, in 2017, he wants to regulate the choices of poorer people who, like him, chose polygamy. Isn’t it contradictory for Sanusi to argue that he can take multiple wives because he is a “Northern Nigerian Fulani Muslim aristocrat” but his subjects (as he once addressed them) cannot aspire to do the same? Did Sanusi consider that poorer people who take up multiple wives look up to the royal families as role models? In principle, I agree with Sanusi but I cannot reconcile his new ideas with his previous adamancy.

Sanusi of 2017 seems to be looking down from his royal high horse to proscribe what he had previously endorsed. Rather than stand at a height, he should fashion a bottom up approach to development that will progressively attack social structures and cause improvement in cultural lifestyles. Religious saturated cultures place too much emphasis on sexual morality. That invariably leads to compulsive coupling and with that comes certain problems. Some men can barely feed themselves yet they take a wife, go further to take a second, and a third, and then a fourth! For some of these men, poverty deprives them of any means of self-assertion and the only route to any self-gratification is to take wives and impregnate them. There can be no positive change to the problems Sanusi lists out without addressing the sociological conditions that facilitate breeding children people cannot care for. Any cultural ethos that deems women vassals and baby-producing factories is doomed to stunting. The battle cannot be fought with the law, it is a matter of qualitative education and cultural evolution.

Changes in cultural attitudes to women’s status will also require the overhaul of mass weddings, an idea borne out of policing female morality and which has gradually turned into facilitator of poverty. Since 2012 when Kano State started organising mass weddings for those financially incapacitated, they have “married off” more than 4,400 women by adding them to the harem of those who want to shore their ego with another wife but cannot afford the costs. In July 2016, the AFP reported that due to the recession Nigeria was facing, the Kano mass wedding programme had been suspended for lack of funding. According to the AFP, more than 10, 000 women were on the waiting list, ready to be introduced to the men who will take them off the shelf. When the state itself sanctions coupling so as to preserve public pretenses to morality, but does not simultaneously promote ideas of reproductive justice and bodily autonomy for the women, there will definitely be overbreeding.

Regulating polygamy without addressing the disproportionality of the social status of men and women in Kano can go nowhere. When women are poor and disempowered, marriage becomes an outlet of self-validation. Kano State has fostered the legitimacy of this attitude through the culture of mass weddings, making it seems that being paired with a man is the only option available to these women. Truly, if the women had other choices, they would explore them rather than tuck their heads into the household of a man who cannot even buy his own boxers. To regulate polygamy, they should be thinking of creating avenues of self-empowerment projects, and massively educating people so they can outgrow outdated cultural practices. I frankly do not think polygamy is a problem religious regulation can solve. After all, there are many Muslims who do not take more than one wife.

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15:14

Sanusi warns of imminent herdsmen, farmers’ clash in Kano

The Emir of Kano, Mallam Muhammadu Sanusi II, on Wednesday, warned of a possible clash between herdsmen and farmers in Kano if the sale of grazing reserves by some local government council chairmen was not stopped.

Specifically, the emir called on the state government to check the alleged practice by the local government council chairmen.

The royal father, who gave the warning at a two-day workshop organised by the Kano State Ministry of Local Government, said many local government chairmen had sold grazing reserves to individuals.

The theme of the workshop was “Managing Security at Local Government Level.”

He advised the state government to be proactive in addressing the situation so as to forestall bloodshed in the affected areas.

Apart from urging the general public to prioritise personal security, the monarch also urged local government chairmen as well as district heads to unite against any security threat in their domains.

In his opening remarks, the Kano State Commissioner for Local Government, Murtala Garo, noted that the incessant attacks in Borno State and other parts of the North-East informed the decision to hold the workshop.

In his response to the emir’s remarks, the commissioner promised that the Kano State Ministry of Lands would be involved in identifying grazing reserves in Kano, just as he cautioned the chairmen to stop selling designated grazing reserves to private individuals.

Meanwhile, the World Bank has procured three brand new vehicles and some medical equipment worth N300m for the Kano State Agency for the Control of AIDS.

The donation was part of a collaborative initiative between the bank and the Kano State Government.

Kano Commissioner for Health, Dr. Ibrahim Getso, confirmed the procurement during an inspection tour to some health facilities in Kano, on Tuesday.

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15:14

Tears as FEC bids environment minister farewell

Olalekan Adetayo, Abuja

Emotion ran high on Wednesday as the Federal Executive Council held a valedictory session in honour of the Minister of Environment, Mrs. Amina Mohammed, who is leaving the cabinet to take up an appointment at the United Nations.

She has been appointed as the Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations.

Mohammed, who is billed to resume at the UN headquarters in New York, in March, attended her last council meeting on Wednesday.

The session, which was presided over by the Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, saw the minister as well as the Minister of State for Environment, Ibrahim Jibril, shedding tears.

Ministers took turns to eulogise Mohammed before Osinbajo rounded the emotion-laden session off with his remarks.

The ministers described her as a role model, a goal-getter and a source of pride to Nigeria.

Osinbajo lauded the contributions of Mohammed to the present administration’s achievements.

He said the minister seemed to be knowledgeable in practically all fields, including law.

Mohammed later thanked her colleagues for the honour.

She promised to keep Nigeria’s flag flying at the world stage when she resumes at the UN headquarters soon.

At the end of the session, the cabinet members took pictures with the outgoing minister.

She later told State House correspondents that Nigeria stood to gain a lot from her appointment.

She said, “Being there, you are closer to some of the decision-making. We do have some major challenges that are of concern to the global village.

“In the next two weeks or so, the UN Security Council should be visiting Nigeria and when it does, we will be showing them exactly what the President has been highlighting and that nexus between poverty, conflict and climate change.”

“They will visit the North-East and they will see some of the root causes of our young people being dragged to terrorism.”

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15:14

Nigeria lost N217bn to gas flaring in 2016 – NNPC

’Femi Asu

The country lost at least N217bn last year as oil and gas companies flared a total of 244.84 billion standard cubic feet of natural gas in that period, data from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation have shown.

The latest monthly report from the NNPC showed that 22.32 billion scf of gas was flared in January; 20.38 billion scf in February; 20.11 billion scf in March; 18.7 billion scf in April; 15.8 billion scf in May, and 14.8 billion scf in June.

In the second half of the year, the country recorded the highest volume of gas flared in November at 24.54 billion scf, up from 22.60 billion scf in October; 21.5 billion scf in September; 21.14 billion scf in August, and 21.79 billion scf in July.

A total of 21.15 billion scf of gas was flared in December, according to the NNPC data.

With the price of natural gas put at $2.90 per 1,000 scf as of February 16, 2017, the 244.84 billion scf flared translates to a loss of $710m or N217bn (using the official exchange rate of N305.25/dollar).

The NNPC said, “Total gas supply for the period, January 2016 to December 2016, stood at 2,581.42 billion scf, out of which 1,448.91 billion scf (307.16 billion scf and 1,141.75 billion scf for the domestic and export market, respectively) was commercialised while non-commercialised stood at 1,132.52 BCF.

“Out of the 788.11million scf per day of gas supplied to the domestic market in December 2016, about 480.64 million scfpd of gas, representing 60.99 per cent, was used for gas-fired power plants while the balance of 307.47 million scfpd or 39.01 per cent was supplied to other industries.

“Similarly, for the period of January 2016 to December 2016, an average of 839.70million scfd of gas was supplied to the domestic market, comprising an average of 517.92 million scfd or (65.72 per cent) as gas supply to the power plants and 321.77 million scfd or (40.83 per cent) as gas supply to industries.”

According to the draft of the National Gas Policy recently released by the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, the flaring of natural gas that is produced in association with oil is one of the most egregious environmental and energy waste practices in the Nigerian petroleum industry.

The draft policy states, “While gas flaring levels have declined in recent years, it is still a prevailing practice in the petroleum industry. Billions of cubic metres of natural gas are flared annually at oil production locations, resulting in atmospheric pollution severely affecting host communities.

“Gas flaring affects the environment and human health, produces economic loss, deprives the government of tax revenues and trade opportunities, and deprives consumers of a clean and cheaper energy source.”

The ministry said under the gas policy, the government intended to maximise utilisation of associated gas to be treated for supply to power generation or industry.

“To ensure that flared gas is put to use in markets, the government will take measures to ensure that flare-capture and utilisation projects are developed and will work collaboratively with industry, development partners, providers of flare-capture technologies and third party investors to this end,” it added.

According to the gas policy, the current gas flare penalty of N10 per 1,000 scf of associated gas flared is too low, having been eroded in value over time, and is not acting as intended, as a disincentive.

“Consequently, the low penalty has made gas flaring a much cheaper option for operators compared to the alternatives of marketing or re-injection. The intention of government is to increase the gas flaring penalty to an appropriate level sufficient to de-incentivise the practice of gas flaring, whilst introducing other measures to encourage efficient gas utilisation,” it added.

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15:14

BEDC plans to install 39,000 meters

’Femi Asu

Benin Electricity Distribution Plc has said it will roll out 39,000 meters in the first half of the year in compliance with the directive of the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission to distribution companies on massive metering of customers.

The BEDC said in a statement that the initiative stemmed from the conclusion of the company’s first quarter customer forum across its coverage states of Edo, Delta, Ondo and Ekiti, with a pledge by the management to improve service delivery.

He said the meters would be given to customers across the BEDC franchise areas, with a view to ensuring that power generated and distributed to customers was utilised in a most efficient manner and to avert illegal consumption of electricity.

The Head of Metering, BEDC, Mr. Meshaic Okhumeode, said the meter installation would be preceded by enumeration of customers on feeders servicing the earmarked locations to reduce power theft through bypass and illegal connections.

He said the meters would be mounted on poles as against the practice of putting them on residential premises, adding that this would engender collective monitoring by residents within a neighbourhood and the service provider.

He also affirmed the BEDC’s readiness to ensure total metering of its customers within the next five years, urging customers to be patient as the metering would be done in batches.

The Head of Key Clients Services Group, Mr. Abel Enechaizam, said the forum was designed to discuss with customers on ways to serve them better, adding that issues affecting operations and services and the customers’ expectations were being resolved.

Enechaizam told customers that there were five major stakeholders in power sector business, namely: gas suppliers, generation companies, transmission, distribution companies and consumers.

He explained that on the part of the BEDC, some critical issues such as non-payment of bills, low power generation, high energy theft, illegal connections and funding constraints occasioned by capital expenditure limit were affecting its ability to give customers the expected service delivery.

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15:14

Edo, PDP clash over Obaseki’s 100-day performance

Alexander Okere, Benin

The Edo State Government and the opposition Peoples Democratic Party have disagreed over the performance of Governor Godwin Obaseki since he assumed office on November 12, 2016.

The leadership of the PDP, in its assessment of Obaseki’s 100 days in office on Wednesday, accused the governor of alleged mismanagement of the state’s finance and running a government devoid of transparency.

But the state government has dismissed the allegations, describing them as false and attempt to blackmail the governor.

The state PDP chairman, Chief Dan Orbih, who spoke at a press briefing in Benin, alleged that the governor made approvals in the sum of N191.5m for the cash purchase of six government’s vehicles with audit waivers and without due process.

Orbih also alleged that the governor made a budgetary allocation of N3m for the purchase of drugs for his office.

He said, “On December 2 last year, the governor approved the sum of N191.5m which was paid in cash to a contractor, who supplied two Nissan pickups, one Prado jeep and three ordinary jeeps.

“Is Obaseki a sick man? Why is he buying drugs for N3m every month for his office? That same appropriation did not make provisions for the general hospitals we have in the state.”

The state chairman also criticised the pensions scheme initiated by the state government, which he said included an unlawful deduction of 14 per cent from workers’ salaries.

Orbih explained, “The 100 days of Obaseki as Governor of Edo State is a classic example of how people mismanage state resources. We have observed that the government of Godwin Obaseki is fast turning into a one-man show.

“After over 100 days in office, the state has no commissioner, no elected representatives of the people at the local government areas and no board members.”

But the government, in a statement by the interim  Chief Press Secretary to the governor, John Mayaki, said, “Section 14, (Schedule 4) of the 1999 Constitution states that the composition of government in Nigeria shall be carried out in such a manner as to recognise the diversity and dynamics within that government constituency.

“Therefore, it cannot be expected that the appointments of cabinet members are to be done overnight, if this provision has to be adhered to. Orbih must be reminded that there is a process of appointment and if he is busy plotting how to get an appointment, then why will he not simply say so?

“If that is the case, he should apply from his ward and the party will consider his papers if he is eligible. His character, if worthy, will make way for him. However, the public is quite perceptive to his dubious academic credentials, which can block his eligibility in the Obaseki-led government.”

On the contributory pensions scheme, it noted that the Pension Reform Act of 2004 gave the state government “authority to implement its provisions in favour of workers.”

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15:14

Ambode, Magu blame corruption for Nigeria’s woes

Sesan Olufowobi and Tosin Omojuyigbe

The wife of the Lagos State Governor, Mrs. Bolanle Ambode, and the Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Ibrahim Magu, on Wednesday said corruption was one of the major factors responsible for the current state of the Nigerian economy.

The duo spoke at the South-West edition of the ‘Nigerian Women Against Corruption Initiative’ in Ikeja, Lagos.

The initiative is a project of the EFCC in collaboration with the Office of Wife of the President, Mrs. Aisha Buhari.

Ambode said it was time for Nigerian women to take a stand against corruption by ensuring that their children were given the right upbringing based on honesty, integrity, fear of God and dignity of labour.

The Lagos governor’s wife, who spoke on behalf of wives of South-West governors, said, “Corruption is one of the major factors responsible for the current state of the Nigerian economy. However, women are strategically positioned by their role as moulders of characters to lead the way in the anti-graft war.

“Let us start the fight from our homes by discouraging any act, behaviour or attitude that aids and abets corruption. If we succeed as individuals in our various homes, there will be no room for corruption and corrupt practices in the larger society.”

Magu noted that the long years of the unbroken chain of corruption had created socio-economic problems for the country.

He stated that the power of women to change the destiny of a nation could not be underestimated, urging them to join the anti-corruption crusade.

“We call on you to be change agents and help in the difficult task of building a better Nigeria for both present and future generations. We cannot continue to sit and watch our country drift into intolerable poverty,” he added.

A guest speaker at the event and renowned human rights lawyer, Ayo Obe, urged women to set the pace for the desired level of morality in the country.

Other notable figures at the event are wives of Oyo, Ogun and Ekiti states’ governors, Mrs. Florence Ajimobi; Mrs. Funso Amosun; and Mrs. Feyisetan Fayose; the Lagos State Deputy Governor, Dr Idiat Adebule; a former Lagos State Deputy Governor, Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire; the Oba of Lagos, Rilwan Akiolu; wife of the General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God Worldwide, Mrs. Folu Adeboye; President of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Chief Nike Akande; and wife of Ooni of Ife, Olori Wuraola Ogunwusi, among others.

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