Showing posts with label News. Show all posts
Showing posts with label News. Show all posts

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

NEWS:Akeredolu laments rising cases of kidnapping

Rotimi Akeredolu

Gov. Oluwarotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State on Wednesday decried the rising cases of kidnapping across the country, urging security agencies to address this.

Akeredolu spoke in Akure when the General Officer Commanding, 2 Division, Nigerian Army, Ibadan, Maj.- Gen. Chukwunedum Abraham, paid him a courtesy call.

According to the governor, kidnapping remains one of the greatest problems confronting Ondo State and other parts of the country.

“There is insecurity in Nigeria and total breakdown of law and order. People are being kidnapped here and there, causing panic.

“It is getting alarming and I am not too sure it’s something within the powers of the police.

“ It’s totally out of their hands and if we don’t get the military to assist, then we will all be at the mercy of kidnappers.

“This is an opportunity to re-emphasise this key issue as an area of concern to us all, an area we believe you have to deploy more men to give us security in the state,” he said.

Akeredolu further suggested an increase in the regularity of changing military posts in the state as a solution to the problem.

“ We cannot just allow these hoodlums to operate at will. We want more effective military roadblocks,” he said.

Responding, the GOC commended Akeredolu for the assistance to the army in the state.

“We are here for the Warrant Officer and Sergeant competition.

“ We chose 32 Brigade, Akure, as host, to use the opportunity to visit the governor personally and appreciate him for his show of love to us,” he said

He said the competition was to train the warrant officers and sergeants on weapon handling, map reading, physical fitness and also to create an atmosphere for espirit-de-corps among officers in the division.

Abraham said the GOC of 2 Division, comprising Oyo, Ondo, Ekiti, Osun, Kwara and Edo, was saddled with the responsibility of protecting Nigerians.

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NEWS:Osinbajo to inaugurate $1.5bn fertilizer plant in Port Harcourt

Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo

Acting President Yemi Osinbajo will on Thursday, inaugurate a new world-class fertilizer plant built by Indorama Eleme Fertilizer and Chemicals Limited in Port Harcourt.

Mr Laolu Akande, the Senior Special Assistant to the Acting President on Media and Publicity, made the announcement in a statement issued in Abuja on Wednesday.

According to the presidential aide, the plant with production capacity of 1.5 million metric tons of Urea fertilizer is considered the world’s largest single-train Urea plant.

Eleme Petrochemicals Company Ltd, now Indorama Eleme Fertilizer and Chemicals Limited, was privatised in 2006 after the sale of Federal Government’s 75 per cent shares to a core investor through competitive bidding process.

The statement said that the plant, with production capacity of 4,000 metric tons of nitrogenous fertilizer per day, was built with .5 billion dollars.

It said that the construction of the plant would lead to green revolution in the agriculture sector in Nigeria other parts of Africa and beyond, in line with the economic diversification policy of the Buhari administration.

The statement said that besides making fertilizer available to farmers nationwide at affordable cost, the plant will boost crop yield for farmers and help in minimizing food grain deficit in Nigeria.

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NEWS:Troops rescue NNPC kidnapped Staff, recover corpses

Nigerian Army spokesman Brigadier-General Sani Usman

The Army said it had rescued all the NNPC staff kidnapped by suspected Boko Haram terrorists in Borno on Tuesday.

The Director, Army Public Relations, Brig.-Gen. Sani Usman, who disclosed this in a statement on Wednesday, also said that the corpses of an officer, eight soldiers and a civilian, who died in the incident had been recovered.

Usman said the corpses had been evacuated to 7 Division Medical Services and Hospital.

“Suspected Boko Haram terrorists ambushed the escort and team of Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) staff returning from oil exploration at Barno Yasu, Magumeri Local Government Area of Borno on Tuesday.

“On receipt of the information, the Brigade mobilised and sent reinforcement, search and rescue party that included the Armed Forces Special Forces and guides that worked and pursued the terrorists throughout the night.

“So far, they have rescued all the NNPC staff and recovered the corpses of the Officer, 8 soldiers and a civilian who have been evacuated to 7 Division Medical Services and Hospital.

“The team recovered 4 vehicles one of which include a gun truck mounted with an Anti-Aircraft Gun,two white Hilux taken away from NNPC staff and one blue Hilux belonging to CJTF.

“The team also recovered large quantities of arms and ammunition, several spare tyres, many jerry cans containing Petroleum, Oil and Lubricant, assorted drugs, Improvised Explosive Device (IED) making materials, reflective jackets and a Motorola handheld radio, among others.

“The team also neutralised many of the terrorists,” the army spokesman said.

According to him, the troops are not relenting in the pursuit, search and rescue effort.

A source told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that suspected Boko Haram insurgents attacked a convoy of oil workers at a village along Gubio and Magumeri local government areas on Tuesday.

It said the attackers ambushed the oil workers, who were staff of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), who were traveling in a convoy of about 10 vehicles.

It said the oil workers were engaged in oil exploration in the Lake Chad Basin.

According to the source, some staff of the University of Maiduguri were also part of the team.

It added that nine soldiers and some members of a Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF), who were also part of the team, were killed during the attack.

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NEWS:NCC says intervening in Etisalat issue to attract $2bn from UAE

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) says resolving the Etisalat debt issue is an incentive to attract the two billion dollars Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) expected from Mubadala of United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Prof. Umar Danbatta, the Executive Vice Chairman (EVC) of NCC said this in a statement by Mr Tony Ojobo, the Director, Public Affairs of the commission in Abuja on Wednesday.

The EVC was speaking when he received, Mr Boye Olusanya, the Chief Executive and the Vice-President, Regulatory Affairs, Mr Ibrahim Dikko of 9Mobile in his office in Abuja.

“Resolving the issue was partly to forestall any form of disincentive to the FDI from UAE hanging,’’ he said.

He said that if the company had gone under, this would have created a social problem, especially with the job of over 2,000 Nigerians on the line.

“About 20 million subscribers would have been affected if we did not intervene in the matter with a view to finding an amicable resolution,” he said.

Danbatta said that the situation was capable of creating security challenges for the country.

He said that it took the interest of investors, subscribers and employees of Etisalat, now 9Mobile into consideration before intervening in its crisis.

“We consider the interest of stakeholders of Etisalat (now 9Mobile) before we resolved to align with the CBN to resolve the issue along with the consortium of 13 banks.

Danbatta said that NCC collaborated with CBN to avert a looming economic disaster.

“We therefore want to see a viable and thriving 9Mobile and we want to cooperate with you so that things can move seamlessly and be successful.”

Danbatta assured the 9mobile team of the commission’s cooperation to grow its network.

Earlier, the Chief Executive of 9Mobile, Olusanya, thanked the EVC and the NCC management for the cooperation that led to a seamless change.

He asked for concessions, especially in the area of spectrum assignment, revisit of data floor price, review of interconnect rates to asymmetric platform, concessional foreign exchange access.

“National roaming and others in order for 9Mobile to shore up its revenue and meet its financial obligations accordingly,” he said.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Etisalat Nigeria Ltd., Nigeria’s fourth largest telecommunication firm, had been facing some financial crisis since Mubadala Development Company of UAE, the company’s largest shareholder pulled out its investment from the country.

Mubadala, an Abu Dhabi government-owned investment and development company, controls about 70 per cent of the shares in Etisalat along with Etisalat UAE mobile.

The Emerging Markets Telecommunications Services (EMTS), promoted by Hakeem Bello-Osagie, owns the remaining 30 per cent.

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NEWS:National petroleum policy will increase investments in oil, gas sector – Kachikwu

The Minister of State for Pretroleum Resources Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu PHOTO: TWITTER/NNPC

The Ministry of Petroleum Resources says the new National Petroleum Policy will ultimately remove barriers affecting investment and development of the oil and gas sector in Nigeria.
A statement in Abuja on Wednesday by the Director of Press in the ministry, Mr Idang Alibi, said that the policy articulated the vision of the Federal Government for improving the petroleum sector.

The Federal Executive Council (FEC) had on July 19, approved the policy.
The Minister of Petroleum Resources, Dr Ibe Kachikwu, had explained that the 100-page document was very comprehensive on all aspects of the oil industry.
Kachikwu had also reiterated that the ministry was pushing for a refining processing environment to move away from exporting to refining petroleum products, given the volatility in crude oil price regime.

Alibi said that the set goals and strategies inherent in the new policy would promote a level-playing field between state owned-enterprises and the private operators in the sector.
“The policy defines the strategy of the Federal Government on Nigeria’s oil resources.
“It establishes the medium to long-term targets for oil reserves growth, utilisation and strategies to be pursued to ensure the successful implementation of the policy in accordance with Nigeria’s national socio-economic development priorities.”

He said that the policy also proposed for a fundamental reforms to improve the operational efficiency and performance of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
He said that the document proposed the long-needed overhaul and modernisation of the existing petroleum industry legislation.

According to him, the policy will be reviewed and updated periodically to ensure consistency in government policy objectives at all times.

He listed the main components of the policy to include governance, comprising legal and regulatory framework; industry structure, with proposal for establishment of a new National Oil Company of Nigeria (NOCN) and restructuring of NNPC into autonomous business units.

Other components of the policy included strategies to develop resources in the upstream sub-sector, development of the midstream operations, and downstream subsectors of the industry.
He said the policy also proposed measures to develop the national human resources, the sector with emphasis on local content and export skills development.

“The policy also highlights internal and external communications strategies and roadmap for its implementation,” he said.

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NEWS:NAPTIP rescues 4,724 victims of human trafficking in 4 years


The National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Person (NAPTIP) said it had rescued 4,724 victims of human trafficking from 2013 to June 2017.

Mrs Rosemary Okoro, an Assistant Director, Research and Planning Department of the agency, disclosed this at the 22nd National Stakeholders Consultative Forum on Wednesday in Abuja.

Okoro explained that the victims comprised 1,549 males and 3,175 females, adding that they were rehabilitated at the agency’s various shelters across the country.

She said that Edo had the highest figure of trafficked persons with 923, followed by Delta, 395 and Kano State, 328.

The official also listed Sokoto State as having a high number of trafficked persons with 239 while the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) recorded the lowest with four victims within the period under review.

The assistant director further disclosed that the agency received 2,648 cases of human trafficking and investigated 1,108 cases within the period under review.

She said 161 suspected traffickers were prosecuted and convicted in various courts of law across the country.

Okoro said that Nigeria Police Force, Nigeria Immigration Service, Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps, foreign police and NGOs were among organisations that helped in the rescue of victims.

The NAPTIP official said that some Nigerian embassies in foreign countries also contributed immensely to the rescue of victims who had been trafficked and exploited by their traffickers.

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NEWS:EFCC says it recovers N328.9bn from Conoil, Oando, others

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) says it has recovered a total of N328.9 billion from nine major oil marketers in one year.

Spokesman of the commission, Mr Wilson Uwujaren, disclosed this in a statement on Wednesday in Abuja.

Uwujaren identified the marketers as Conoil Plc, Total Plc, OVH Energy Plc, Oando Plc, Forte Oil and Gas Plc, Mobil Plc, MRS Oil Plc, and NIPCO Oil Plc. He said the recovery was made by the Kano office of the commission between July 2016 and July 2017.

According to him, the recovery followed a petition against the management of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and its subsidiary, Pipelines and Product Marketing Company (PPMC).

He said the petition alleged that N40 billion had been diverted by the major oil marketers in connivance with the leadership of the NNPC and PPMC.

“The EFCC, in a swift reaction, referred the petition to a special task force which swung into action by conducting a discrete investigation.

“Findings by the operatives of the EFCC revealed that the oil marketers were actually indebted to the Federal Government of Nigeria to the tune of N91.5 billion between 2010 and 2016.

“Further investigation into the allegation also revealed that the oil marketers had continued to obtain petroleum products from the government without proper payment, in violation of the NNPC/PPMC credit facility regulations.

“A probe of which further led to the discovery of N258.9 billion.’’

Uwujaren explained that the total amount of debt stood at N349.8 billion following the latter discovery.

He further said that upon conclusion of the preliminary investigation, officials of NNPC/PPMC and all the managing directors of the companies concerned were invited to the Kano zonal office of the commission.

There, he added, their statements were recorded following which the recovery process began.

“So far, a sum of N328.9 billion has been recovered from the major oil marketers. The outstanding debt now stands at N20.7 billion,’’ he said.

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NEWS:NCC says active lines in June is 142. 6m

The Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC) says the number of active lines have decreased from about 144.9 million in May to 142. 6 million in June.

This is made this known in NCC’s monthly Subscriber/Operator Data made available on its Website.

NCC said that the figure showed a decrease by 2.289 million subscribers in June.

The Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) had 217,566 users in June same with the result in May.

NCC report said that the Fixed Wire Less for June was 142,316 and 142,496, also recording a decrease of 180.

According to the report, Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) for June was 49,870, while in May it was 46,348 recording an increase of 3,522.

Teledensity for May was 102.19 and June 103.82 recording a decrease in teledensity .

Teledensity is the number of telephone connections for every hundred individuals living within an area. It varies widely across the nations.

NCC said that the number of connected lines in June was 236.8 million and for June it was 238. 7 million, showing a decrease of 1. 8 million.

The Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) had 3.5 million in June same with the result May

The number of fixed wire/wireless for June was 342,011as against 341,574 in May recording an increase of 437.

According to NCC, Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) for June was 177,406 while that of May was 164,861 with an increase 1,254.5.

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NEWS:EFCC seals multi-billion naira Enugu Mall

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Wednesday sealed the multi-billion naira Enugu Mall occupied by SPAR, a multinational retail outlet.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that EFCC officers stormed the building in the early hours of the day and dispersed all the workers.

Mr Chris Oluka, the Head of Public Affairs of EFCC, confirmed the incident, saying that the managers of the building flouted the directive of EFCC on the construction of the building.

Oluka said that the officers from Abuja raided the mall and dispersed workers who were recently recruited preparatory to official opening of business on Friday.

“Yes, our men went there to disperse them because they flouted our instructions.

“We had sealed the premises and wrote ‘under EFCC investigation’, but they covered the write-up with paint,” he said.

It would be recalled that the commission had earlier in the year sealed the mall, located beside the Enugu State House of Assembly, by writing the inscription ‘Under EFCC Investigation’.

However, construction work continued at the site.

Mr Johnson Babalola, the Zonal Head of Operations in EFCC South East, had during an earlier interaction with newsmen, said it was not against any known law for the owners to go ahead with construction work.

Babalola said that since the property was not yet under permanent forfeiture to the government, “construction work can still go on while investigations continue”.

On the new development, Oluka, however, said that allowing the business to operate in the building could jeopardise investigations.

“I do not have much to say about this because the officers that dispersed the workers this morning came from Abuja,” Oluka said.

On the invitation of the managee of the mall to the zonal office of the commission after the workers were dispersed, Oluka said it should not be misconstrued as an arrest.

“They were invited to come and explain why they did what we told them not to do,” Oluka said.

Some workers at the mall, however, expressed displeasure over the incident, describing it as anti-labour.

Some of the newly recruited workers, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said they were worried because EFCC officials swooped on the mall just two days to the official opening.

One of the workers said: “we are surprised this can happen at a time the government is preaching job creation.

“Over 250 of us were employed by this company and we are not certain what will happen next.

“We are appealing to the authorities concerned to look into it urgently and save us from continued hardship.”

Efforts to reach the managers failed as they were all at the EFCC office for interrogation as at the time of this report.

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NEWS:Osinbajo swears in Ocheni, Hassan as ministers

Acting president Yemi Osinbajo swearing in the two new ministers

Acting President Yemi Osinbajo on Wednesday in Abuja swore-in two new ministers, Stephen Ocheni from Kogi state and Suleiman Hassan from Gombe state as members of the Federal Executive Council (FEC).

Speaking at the event, Osinbajo challenged the new ministers to actively participate in the task of turning around the nation’s economy and making life better for all Nigerians.

He stated that the Federal Executive Council was committed to implementing its far-reaching reform programmes as contained in the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan and other such documents.

“We have focused our intention on key areas of that economic reform programme and those key areas have become really what we believed need to be done to make a difference in the Nigerian economy and in the life and livelihoods of Nigerians

“So, we expect that our new ministers will also join in this Herculean task of turning around the Nigerian economy and making life better for the citizens of this country.

“You know aside from economy we have two major areas which of course as you know were highlighted by the president during the course of the campaign and after and have become the centrepieces of our administration’s programmes.

“Security and anti-corruption being the other two aside from the economy and we expect of course members of the Executive Council to focus on these key areas as well,’’ he said.

The acting president noted that the administration had recorded appreciable progress in the area of security in spite of minor security challenges in some parts of the country.

He, however, assured that the security challenges were being tackled “on a day-by-day basis’’.

Osinbajo also enjoined the new ministers to join the anti-corruption crusade.

“And also our conducts should be exemplary so that we are able to show by practice not just by words that we are determined to ensure that this country is where there is good governance and where there is honesty and integrity in service to the people.’’

It would be recalled that Ocheni and Hassan were confirmed by the Senate in May.

Ocheni replaces the late Minister of State for Labour, Mr James Ocholi, who died in a ghastly auto-crash along Kaduna-Abuja highway in 2016, while Hassan takes the place of Amina Mohammed.

Mohammed resigned as Minister of Environment to take up the job of Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations.

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NEWS:Three Nigerian university students arrested for armed robbery

The Police in Nasarawa State have arrested three students of the Nasarawa State University, Keffi (NSUK) in connection with an alleged arm robbery.

Briefing newsmen on Wednesday in Lafia, the state Commissioner of Police, Abubakar Sadiq-Bello, said that the trio was arrested on Sunday night on the Keffi-Akwanga road, near the institution’s campus.

Sadiq-Bello said that on that night, the Keffi Area Command received a distress call of a robbery incident on the Keffi-Akwanga road, about a kilometre from the school gate.

“Our men swung into action immediately, mobilised to the scene and arrested three suspects while others escaped.

“The police are on the trail of the fleeing members of the gang and the suspects would be charged to court as soon as the investigation is concluded,” he said.

The commissioner also disclosed that three residents of the state had willingly handed over their arms in compliance with the deadline for amnesty given to members of the public to submit unregistered arms.

He explained that the one-month deadline for people to summit unregistered arms was given after due consultation with critical stakeholders in the state.

“However, with this response, we would go back to the drawing board and evaluate the situation in order to decide on the next line of action,” he said.

Sadiq-Bello said that the command already had intelligence reports about locations where firearms were being manufactured in the state and would soon bring the culprits to justice.

He added that in the course of daily surveillance and with the assistance of members of the public, the police had recovered more arms and arrested many criminals.

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NEWS:10 kidnapped on Nigeria oil exploration mission

Gunmen believed to be Boko Haram Islamists have kidnapped 10 members of an oil exploration team in northeast Nigeria, colleagues and the state-run oil firm said on Wednesday.

"About 10 staff from the survey and geological department of the University of Maiduguri were abducted on Tuesday," said Ndu Ughamadu of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation.

Ughamadu said the NNPC had contracted the team to carry out research work on oil exploration activities taking place in the Lake Chad basin.

"They were kidnapped around Jibi village in Borno state after a gun duel between the security agents accompanying them and suspected Boko Haram fighters," he told AFP.

Efforts were under way to track down the captors before a possible rescue operation. Jibi village is in the Magumeri area of Borno, northwest of the state capital, Maiduguri.

University of Maiduguri spokesman Danjuma Gambo confirmed the abduction and said the institution was awaiting further details from security operatives.

"There is no denying the fact that this incident happened, involving our staff, NNPC workers and security escorts from the military and the (civilian militia)," he added.

"Our staff who were recruited as consultants were on the team that was ambushed."

The oil prospecting team had been working in the Magumeri area of Borno state for the last month, according to another member of staff, who asked not to be identified.

"It was clear Boko Haram studied their movements before attacking them," he said.

Oil production has been concentrated in Nigeria's southern Niger Delta region since it was first found in commercial quantities in 1956.

But repeated attacks by militants wanting a fairer share of profits for local people has forced the government to look elsewhere.

Exploration has been started in inland basins ranging from central Benue state to Boko Haram's heartland in northeast.

But insecurity caused by the jihadists' insurgency over the last eight years has disrupted work, with the latest kidnapping underlining the continued threat.

Boko Haram has used kidnapping as a weapon of war in the conflict. Thousands of women and girls have been seized while men and boys have been made to fight in the Islamist ranks.

Recent kidnappings of more high-profile targets appear to have a financial motivation, possibly to raise ransom money for the cash-strapped group.

On June 20, armed gunmen abducted 10 women after an attack on a convoy of vehicles travelling towards the town of Damboa from Maiduguri.

In May, Britain and the United States updated security advice for their nationals in northeast Nigeria, warning that Boko Haram was "actively planning" to kidnap foreign workers.

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NEWS:Lagos ejects illegal occupants around Obalende Bridge

The Lagos State Government, on Monday gave 48 hours to people trading or living under and around Obalende flyover to quit.

The Chairman of Lagos State Taskforce on Environment, SP Olayinka Egbeyemi, gave the order when he visited the area to intimate the people of the government’s plan to demolish illegal structures within the vicinity.

Egbeyemi said that the people had been served quit notices four years ago and that Gov. Akinwumi Ambode visited the area six months ago to restate the need for them to move.

” Lagos State Government has resolved that no bridge would be a hideout for criminals and illegal activities.

‘’Everyone under Obalende Bridge is there illegally.

“We don’t want to arrest or carry people’s property away, hence, 48 hours grace is given to them to move on their own or they will be forced to do so,” he said.

Some of the structures are churches, mosques, traders, food vendors, mechanics and residences.

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NEWS:15 rescued, dozens feared dead, one body recovered in Lagos building collapse

Scene of the building collapse yesterday

For the umpteenth time, tragedy struck the city of Lagos as a four-storey building collapsed in Lagos Island, injuring at scores of residents with dozens others still trapped under the rubble feared dead.

Yesterday’s collapse is coming barely days after a similar accident occurred in Abule Egba area of the state on Saturday, killing a woman and her baby. At as press time yesterday, only one body had been recovered with 15 victims rescued.

The Guardian gathered that the building located at No. 3, Massey Street, Lagos Island, is owned by Kafo Family and managed by Isola Costa before its collapse on Tuesday afternoon. A source told The Guardian that the structure was initially a three-storey building before another storey was added to increase the level of the structure.

Confirming the tragedy, Director of Lagos State Fire Service, Rasak Fadipe, said 15 persons have been rescued, noting that efforts were still ongoing to rescue dozens who are still trapped under the rubble.

At the scene of the incident, the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA), men of the state fire service, as well as police operatives, were deployed to secure the property from looters.

According to an eyewitness, the building suddenly gave way and collapsed around 2:30p.m. shortly after the rain without any prior warning or crack.

In another development, a collision between a commercial bus and a private car by Aswani bus-stop along Apapa-Oshodi Expresseway, left many passengers and passers-by injured.

Present at the scene to contain the situation were personnel of LASEMA Response Unit (LRU), who administered first aid treatment to the victims in the mobile ambulance.

Also, a tanker, fully loaded with aviation fuel, disconnected from the head of the heavy-duty vehicle and fell at Barracks, inwards Ojuelegba area of Lagos. Although no casualties were recorded, the emergency responders were swiftly mobilized to the scene to prevent any explosion.

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NEWS:London visit: How much does it cost Nigerian taxpayers?

Last Sunday, five governors from the All Progressives Congress (APC) including the party chairman, John Oyegun and Aviation Minister Rotimi Amaechi visited President Buhari who has been on medical vacation in London since May 7.

The recent visit by a dozen party leaders to London, United Kingdom where President Muhammadu Buhari is recuperating costs only a few hours. But the visit has cost Nigerian taxpayers an estimated sum of N50 million.

The same amount can pay for the West Africa Examination Council fee of over 4,000 candidates in Kogi or Zamfara State, or build at least two blocks of 10 classrooms in Oyo State.

Last Sunday, five governors from the All Progressives Congress (APC) including the party chairman, John Oyegun and Aviation Minister Rotimi Amaechi visited President Buhari who has been on medical vacation in London since May 7.

Barely 48 hours after their departure, another six PDP governors drawn from six geo-political regions of the country also paid the president a one-day visit.

It is summer time in the United Kingdom, so the inbound flight is costlier. As at yesterday when six governors led by the Zamfara governor who is the chairman of the Governors Forum departed for London, first class British Airway return ticket cost $9800.

At the official rate of N315 to a dollar, the airfare of each governor amounts to N3 million. For the 12 visitors, the airfare therefore adds up to N37 million.

Meanwhile, The Guardian has learnt that most Nigerian politicians, who visit metropolitan London, lodge at Hilton Hotel on Parklane. And the Abuja House, the Nigerian High Commission in the United Kingdom where President Buhari is being accommodated since May, is 17 minutes’ drive to the Hilton hotel on Parklane.

The least room rate at Hilton is 332 pounds per night. But Hilton Cosmopolitan Suite is considered the preference of most Nigerian VIPs. Currently, the rate is 2000 pounds per night. At N411 to a pound, each governor would be spending over N800, 000 per night.

For the 12 visitors, the total rent is almost N10 million.  By the time the feeding expenses are added, the governors’ visit  to London would cost Nigerians about N50 million.

Other public officials who have recently visited Buhari in London were the acting President Yemi Osinbajo and the Ogun State Governor Ibikunle Amosun.

Early in the year, the Chairman of the Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF), Abdulaziz Yari of Zamfara State, had said it was needless for state governors to abandon their responsibilities and travel to London to visit the ailing president. Yari has gone back on his words. He led his fellow governors to Abuja House in London yesterday.

List of governors and other party leaders who have visited President Buhari in London are:
Rochas Okorocha (Imo)
Umaru Tanko Al-Makura (Nasarawa)
Nasir El-Rufai (Kaduna)
Yahaya Bello (Kogi)
Aviation Minister, Rotimi Amaechi
Party Chairman, John Oyegun
Udom Emmanuel (Akwa Ibom),
Dave Umahi (Ebonyi),
Abdulaziz Yari (Zamfara) and Abiola Ajimobi (Oyo).
Ibikunle Amosun (Ogun)
Acting President Yemi Osinbajo.

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NEWS:FAAC distributes N652.229b to FG, states

Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun

The Federation Accounts Allocation Committee (FAAC) has announced the disbursement of N652.229billion to the Federal Government and states. The Accountant General of the Federation (AGF) Idris Ahmed announced this after the FAAC meeting.

Ahmed, who represented the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, said the money was generated from Value Added Tax (VAT), Petroleum Profit Tax (PTT) and customs duty collection.

This is coming one week after the Paris Club loan refunds to the states. Some states received N4 billion, while others got as much as N10 billion from the Federal Ministry of Finance.

The committee meets every month to collate and distribute federation revenue to the three tiers of the federation. According to the minister, the gross statutory revenue for June was N570.584 billion, pointing out that it was N253.022 billion higher than N317.562 billion which was realised in May and shared in June last month.

Giving further breakdown, he revealed that non- mineral revenue increased by N181.2 billion from N157.5 billion in May to N338.8 billion in June. He added that N29.8 billion was shared to oil- producing states as their 13 per cent oil derivation, while Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) refund stood at N22.1 billion.

He announced that going by the sharing formula arrangement, the Federal Government got N286.650 billion, while states got N178.619 billion. The 774 local governments were allocated N134.927 billion.

The AGF also disclosed that the decrease in the average price of crude oil from $55.18 to $50.27 per barrel and a significant decrease in export volume by 3.20 million barrels resulted in decreased revenue from export sales for the federation by $183.68 million.

“Crude oil production suffered due to leakages, shut-ins and shut-downs at terminals for maintenance as the force majeure declared at Forcados Terminal since February 2016 subsisted.

“There were significant increases in Companies Income Tax (CIT) being the peak period for its allocation and PPT. Also VAT, import and excise duties recorded marginal increases,” he said.

On the status of Lagos as an oil producing state, the AGF said: “Lagos has been identified as an oil producing state and that is the first hurdle it crossed.
Now, the regulatory agencies will assess the state to determine the quantum of oil the state possesses.

“That job is on course and Lagos knows its position that it would be entitled to 13 per cent of value of oil obtained from the state.”

The Chairman of the Forum of States’ Finance Commissioners, Mahmoud Salihu Musa from Adamawa State, said all states were working hard to improve their internally generated revenues.

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NEWS:No ‘killer’ anti-malaria drugs in Nigeria, says NAFDAC

Dr. Yetunde Oni, who stated this yesterday at a news conference in Lagos, said the reports in the social media on the ‘kidney-killer’ malaria drugs were false as there are no such drugs in the country.

• Plans clampdown on hawkers, illegal drug stores
• Recommends Artemisin Combination Therapies
• To deploy software to check information

The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) has said that there are no ‘killer’ anti-malaria drugs in Nigeria.

The Acting Director-General, NAFDAC, Dr. Yetunde Oni, who stated this yesterday at a news conference in Lagos, said the reports in the social media on the ‘kidney-killer’ malaria drugs were false as there are no such drugs in the country.

Against the backdrop of the dangers posed by the drugs, the Senate had flayed the NAFDAC and Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) for not adequately waging the war against the influx of fake and sub-standard items into the country.

The NAFDAC boss said the allegedly banned drugs are oral monotherapies containing single Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (API) such as Artesunate as contained in Arinate tablet, Amodiaquine contained in Comoquine, Dihydroartemisinin contained in Alaxin tablets and Pyrimethamine contained in Daraprim tablets which are not recommended for the treatment of malaria in Nigeria.

She said the agency is committed to the well-being of Nigerians and so wishes to douse the tension and correct the misinformation on the social media and mainstream media about the banned drugs.

Oni said: “We want to douse the tension and correct the misinformation on the social and mainstream media about the 42 anti-malaria medicines purportedly banned by the European Union (EU) but allegedly circulating in the country.

The Acting DG, therefore, urged Nigerians to use the recommended anti-malarial medicine Artemisin Combination Therapies (ACTs) for the treatment of malaria, which is in line with the guidelines according to the WHO and the Nigeria National Anti-malarial Treatment Policy.

She, however, noted that with the progress made in the anti-counterfeiting technology device (Scratch and Text) put in place by the agency to monitor fake drugs, the agency would in some weeks deploy software on phones to checkmate the status of any NAFDAC regulated products.

Responding on the use of chloroquine as an anti-malarial drug, Director, Registration and Regulation Affairs, NAFDAC, Mrs. Titi Owolabi, said though the drug is in the market, it does not serve as anti-malaria as it has its own functions.

She urged Nigerians to stop using the drug in the treatment of malaria as it serves another purpose.

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NEWS:Ijaw youths insist on 70 per cent ownership of modular refineries

Ijaw Youths Council (IYC) has threatened to frustrate the operations of licensed modular refineries if the Federal Government fails to give the Niger Delta 70 per cent ownership.

Demand restructuring to address resource control

The Ijaw Youths Council (IYC) has threatened to frustrate the operations of licensed modular refineries if the Federal Government fails to give the Niger Delta 70 per cent ownership.

The factional President of the IYC (Worldwide), Oweilaemi Pereotubo gave the warning at a press conference yesterday in Warri.

He said the Ijaw nation’s support for the country’s restructuring was anchored on resource control and fiscal federalism. He warned that to evade discussion on restructuring would only postpone the tragedies ahead.

Also, the new Chairman of the group’s central zone, Tari Porri, said in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital, that the country has not met the yearnings and aspirations of the Ijaw people.

Porri said in his address that restructuring was needed to address issues of marginalisation, resource control and the negative environmental impact on the people.

The group gave a 90-day ultimatum, starting from July 12, 2017 to all multinational companies that have field operations in the region, but headquarters outside.

Pereotubo, who urged such companies to relocate their headquarters, said the location of the firms’ headquarters in other states, especially Lagos has robbed the region of its due benefits and growth.

He said: “Over the years, monies that were supposed to accrue to the Niger Delta states and their people have been paid to Lagos State, thereby boosting its Internally Generated Revenue (IGR). Relocating the headquarters would not only boost the revenue base of the Niger Delta states, it would also bring employment opportunities, thereby reducing youths restiveness in the region.”

Pereotubo lamented that the 56 licences issued for the refineries were given to non-Niger Delta private investors. They demanded that the conditions for obtaining the licence be relaxed to make them affordable for indigenous people.

The youth leader threatened to do everything possible to make the companies to relocate to liberate the people from their oppressors.

“We will invoke the Ijaw gods of war to go before us and we will triumph over evil. We have no fear and we have no doubt. No gunboats would stop us, not even fighter jets,” he said.

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NEWS:Seven governors visit Buhari in London today

Media and Publicity Advisers to the President, Mallam Garba Shehu (left); Femi Adeshina and Senior Special Assistant to the Vice President on Media and communication, Laolu Akande briefing the State House correspondents on the planned visit of another delegation of state governors to President Muhammadu Buhari  in London today in Abuja...yesterday. PHOTO: PHILIP OJISUA

Mixed reactions at Abuja House

The Governor of Zamfara State, and Chairman of the Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF), Abdullaziz Yari and six others departed the country yesterday on “a goodwill visit” to President Muhammadu Buhari in London today.

President Buhari’s personal photographer, Bayo Omoboriwo is also expected to be on the entourage. The five All Progressives Congress (APC) and two opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governors are to represent the six geopolitical zones of the country at the instance of the NGF.

They are: Dave Umahi (Ebonyi), Abdullahi Ganduje (Kano), Kashim Shettima (Borno), Samuel Ortom (Benue), Udom Emmanuel (Akwa Ibom) and Abiola Ajimobi (Oyo).

Briefing State House correspondents on the visit‎, Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina who was joined by his colleagues Garba Shehu and Laolu Akande, both Senior Special spokesmen in the presidency, said the visit was a follow-up to the one by Governor Okorocha.

On why Governor Ayo Fayose is not part of the delegation, Adesina in a terse response explained that the selection “was done by the governors forum.” On why the President has failed to address Nigerians via a broadcast, Mallam Shehu said :”It is a question of what he prefers and this is what he prefers for now.

He would rather receive that delegation and that is what is happening. If the president opts for an address he will do it.”

Meanwhile, at Abuja House, the official house of the Nigerian high commissioner to the Court of St. James’s, aides of the president and staff of the embassy occasionally moved around the building , discussing in groups yesterday.

Calls of “excuse me sir, is the president returning soon and how’s the president?” were not answered. However, one responded briefly after waving down the car driving him out of the property around 2:00p.m. When asked “how’s the president?” He replied “He’s doing well, he’s okay, “ before asking: “which media house are you from?”

Another aide who spoke with The Guardian through the gate, told the reporter to go through the proper channel. “Go to the embassy or the media head” - making reference to the president’s special assistant on media, Femi Adesina.

When told that they had no information concerning the president’s situation and then asked if the president would be returning within a fortnight, he said: “You know there are things that should not come from me, you have to go through them.”

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NEWS:Uproar in Senate over review of constitution

The issue became so contentious that the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, severally intervened to calm frayed nerves as he declared that the leadership of the National Assembly had not taken any position on any proposal.

• Reps begin voting on clauses today
• Scrapping is the answer, says Akande
•’All angels in heaven can’t make it work’

There is uncertainty over the constitution amendment by the National Assembly as lawmakers disagreed on key issues in the exercise yesterday. Among them is whether to retain the position of the Land Use Act which vests control in the the Federal Government or reverse it in favour of the states. This became contentious when the Senate opened a debate on the constitution review yesterday.

Also, the issue of granting autonomy to local governments by scrapping the state and local council joint account as well as empowering the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to conduct local government polls generated a heated debate.

Constitution Alteration Bill No. 32, 2017 as proposed by the Senate Committee on Constitution Review recommended the deletion of the Land Use Act.

Specifically, the bill seeks to alter the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 to delete the Land Use Act from the constitution so that it can be subject to the regular process of amendment.

But many lawmakers argued against the proposal, insisting that the position of the Land Use Act should be left intact. This, however, met strong opposition from another group of senators who argued that the time had come for real change to be effected on the control and ownership of land.

The issue became so contentious that the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, severally intervened to calm frayed nerves as he declared that the leadership of the National Assembly had not taken any position on any proposal.

Meetings were to be held last night to conclude negotiations on the matter before the Senate resumes in chamber today to vote on the bills. The Ekweremadu-led committee proposed 32 bills on different issues to amend the constitution.

During the debate yesterday, and in its bid to redeem the local government areas from the control of state governments, the Senate resolved to amend the constitution to transfer the responsibility of conducting local government elections to the INEC.

This is the 33rd item for amendment which came via the adoption of a motion which was sponsored by Dino Melaye (APC, Kogi West) and seconded by Sunny Ogbuorji (PDP, Ebonyi State).

The Senate said there was a compelling need to strengthen the third tier of government. If passed into law, the 1999 Constitution would be altered, striping states of powers to constitute electoral commissions to conduct local government elections. The alteration is part of constitutional reforms by the legislature to make local governments become autonomous and independent of states.

While contributing to the debate on constitutional review, Melaye said the proposal that the state-local government joint account be separated for the purpose of guaranteeing local government autonomy could not be achieved as long as the state electoral bodies are allowed to conduct council elections.

“The electoral bodies constituted by the state government are practically a joke. The council election has to be conducted by INEC in order to guarantee its credibility nationwide.

‘’What used to happen is that governors sit in the comfort of their offices and select who to be pronounced as chairmen of local governments by the electoral commissions in their states. There is always no conduct of actual local council election in any state. Allowing states to oversee the conduct of local government elections will continue to make a mess of the call for council autonomy,’’ Melaye said.

The Ekweremadu’s panel report had included proposal for democratically elected local government councils which can directly receive allocations from the federation accounts. The bill also proposes that no local council should receive allocation except it is democratically constituted.

The members of the House of Representatives will today begin clause-by-clause consideration and voting on areas of the 1999 Constitution that have been proposed for amendment.

According to the Deputy Speaker of the House, Yusuf Lasun, who is the chairman of the House ad hoc committee on the review of the constitution, the voting would be done electronically and might extend to tomorrow.

Announcing the commencement of the voting at yesterday’s plenary, Lasun urged members to shelve their engagements within and outside the National Assembly so that they could participate actively in the legislative exercise.

Lasun, who said the plea was apt in view of two-thirds requirement for adopting each of the clauses that have been proposed for amendment, added that the adopted clauses would be forwarded to state legislatures for consideration and possible endorsement.

But a former interim chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief Bisi Akande, said no amount of amendment to the 1999 Constitution would make it work.

According to him, the ongoing review efforts by the National Assembly would be a mere waste of time. He insisted that no amount of amendment would solve the defects of the constitution.

Akande, a former governor of Osun State, made the comments yesterday at the Federal University of Technology, Akure (FUTA) during the launch of a book Nigeria: The path we refused to take written by the Secretary General of Afenifere, Bashorun Seinde Arogbofa.

Akande, who was the chairman of the occasion, advised that the constitution should be scrapped and a new one written for the benefit of the people, rather than amending it.

“The 1999 constitution is the greatest Nigeria’s misadventure since Lord Lugard amalgamation of 1914. The constitution puts emphasis on spending money rather than making it.”

This, he said, would continue to “intensify the battles for supremacy between the legislature and the executive while the judiciary is being corruptly tainted and discredited.”

“The constitution breeds and protects practices and criminal impunity in governance. It can never be beneficially reviewed and the ongoing adjustment or amendment can only totally bloat the essence of national values and accelerate the amalgamation of Nigeria. All the angels coming from heaven cannot make that constitution work for the progress of Nigeria. It would plunge the nation into disastrous and catastrophic bankruptcy.”

The APC leader suggested that the 1999 Constitution should be scrapped and replaced with the 1963 regional constitution until a new one is written, saying the current document would continue to hamper the nation’s economy and stifle the country’s social structure.

“It should be scrapped as a bad relic of military mentality and it ought to be temporarily replaced with the 1963 Republican constitution to enable a transition for the writing of a suitable constitution.

“Today Nigeria is at a stage of what we can call criminal revolution. We gathered here today to present a book titled Nigeria: the path we refuse to take by Arogbofa.

“To me, it is a pleasure and privilege to be asked to be the chairman of this occasion but I choose to talk not on the path we refuse to take but on the path of misadventure that led Nigeria to the present crossroads.

“The military involvement in politics for 29 years out of Nigeria 57 years of independence has done bad to the sense of democracy and good governance among the political leaders, so much that political discussions are no longer issue-based and are no longer interesting.”

Among those present at the book launch were Afenifere leader, Chief Reuben Fasoranti; Deputy Governor of Osun State, Titi Laoye Tomori; Chief Olu Falae; Afenifere spokesman, Mr. Yinka Odunmakin.

Others were: Chief Kole Omololu, former governor of Kano State, Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau; Ondo State Governor Rotimi Akeredolu and members of the academic community.

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