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Daily Archives: April 10, 2019

FRSC to commence implementation of penalty point system for traffic violations

 

The Federal Road Safety Corps has revealed that it will commence full implementation of the Penalty Point System on traffic offender come 1st June, 2019. By this development, offenders who violate traffic regulations for a stipulated number of times will be sent back to driving schools for a retraining, while others will be subjected to compulsory community services according to number of offences committed.

According to Bisi Kazeem, the Corps Public Education Officer, the Corps Marshal, Dr Boboye Oyeyemi stated this on Wednesday, during a critical summit on Information Technology at the national headquarters, Abuja.

Oyeyemi decried that the continues violation of traffic laws by motorists simply suggests that either most of drivers on Nigerian roads did not attend a driving school or attended but did not learn what they were taught in those schools. While others violate traffic laws deliberately.

He explained that the Penalty Point System is already operational in most safety conscious countries of the world to deter motorists from traffic violation.

Speaking further on this, the Corps Marshal said that penalty points are Points allotted to traffic offences accumulated in the driver’s record.

According to him ” If a driver receives a statutorily maximum number of
points, the driver shall be warned and or have his licence suspended or
withdrawn. For between 1-10 point offence, the offender pays a certain amount of money as fines. While on the other hand, a warning notification is to be issued to a traffic offender who has accumulated 10
– 14 penalty points”

Buttressing this further, he stated thus, “offenders who commit between 15-20 penalty points will face the temporal removal or interruption of authority or right to
drive a vehicle or ride a motorcycle/tricycle, as a punishment for a period of
time. While motorists who have accumulated 21 and above penalty points will face withdrawal of their drivers licence which means the condition of taking away the authority or the denial
of the right to drive a motor vehicle or ride a motorcycle/tricycle on Nigeria
roads”.

Army wipes out Boko Haram terrorists in Damaturu

Troops of the Nigerian army wiped out a band of Boko Haram terrorists who attempted to attack Damaturu, the capital of Yobe on Tuesday.

Troops of 233 Battalion, upon receiving intelligence that the terrorists were coming to the city, laid ambush for them at the outskirts on Kukareta Road. The terrorists were completely overwhelmed by the Nigerian soldiers in the surprise counter-attack.

Many were killed and some escaped from the scene.

Lt. Njoka Irabor, acting assistant director Army Public Relations for Sector 2 Operation Lafiya Dole explained the battle in a statement on Tuesday night:

Boko Haram gun truck demobilised by Nigerian troops
Some of the ammo abandoned by the terrorists

“Following credible information of planned efforts by Boko Haram terrorists to attack Damaturu, troops of Sector 2, Operation LAFIYA DOLE, successfully laid an ambush which led to the extermination of many Boko Haram Terrorists (BHTs), that attempted to attack Damaturu, Yobe State at about 5:15 pm, Tuesday the 9th of April 2019.

“The vigilant troops effectively ambushed the criminals few metres ahead of Maisandari community at the outskirts of the city of Damaturu.

“The terrorists were overwhelmed by the superior fire power of the gallant troops and the well coordinated air support, from the Air Component of Operation LAFIYA DOLE.

“Consequently, many terrorists met their waterloo. Some were also wounded.

Among the items recovered from the terrorists were two Gun Trucks, two Anti Aircraft Guns, one 60 Millimetre Mortar, four AK 47 Rifles, one General Purpose Machine Gun and 1,245 Rounds of 7.62 mm ammunition.

Irabor said Nigerian troops have embarked on hot pursuit of the terrorists who fled from the attack.

IMF ranks Nigeria second worst in the world in use of sovereign wealth fund

 

The International Monetary Fund has ranked Nigeria as the second worst country in the world in the use of sovereign wealth funds.

According to the Fiscal Monitor report released on Wednesday, Qatar was the only country worse than Nigeria on the index.

The Bretton Wood institution said the index was compiled using the corporate governance and transparency scores of the sovereign wealth funds and the size of assets as a percentage of 2016 GDP of the countries considered.

The fund said it used data compiled by the Natural Resource Governance Institute and Worldwide Governance Indicators.

“It is critical to develop a strong institutional framework to manage these resources—including good management of the financial assets kept in sovereign wealth funds—and to ensure that proceeds are appropriately spent,” the report read.

“This remains a significant challenge in many resource-rich countries that, on average, have weaker institutions and higher corruption

“The governance challenges of commodity-rich countries— that is, the management of public assets— call for ensuring a high degree of transparency and accountability in the exploration of such resources.

“Countries should develop frameworks that limit discretion, given the high risk of abuse, and allow for heavy scrutiny.”

Explaining that sovereign wealth funds have to be transparent, the IMF advised that countries should ensure that the natural resources of countries should be channelled properly to the people that need them.

Of the 10 African countries considered, Ghana was ranked the highest.

Courts have legitimised vote buying – Falana

Femi Falana, human rights lawyer, says the courts have legitimised vote buying.

Speaking on Wednesday at the ninth forum of the anti-corruption situation room in Abuja, Falana said since 1999, the purchase of votes has been the order of the day.

He said measures should be put in place in a bid to reform the country’s process “in a way that we will not be all collectively disgraced.”

The event was organised by the Human and Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA) in collaboration with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC) and some civil society groups.

“Unfortunately, under the current political dispensation, our courts have legitimised vote-buying and other violations of the provisions of the electoral act,” Falana said.

“I will refer to few cases. In the case of Falae and Obasanjo, in 1999, it was proved in the court of appeal that bags of rice, salt and garri were distributed to entice voters for the candidate of the ruling party, general Olusegun Obasanjo.

“The court of appeal so found such infraction of the law, however it turned round to say even those distributing were said to be PDP stalwarts, the court of appeal said it was not proven that there were winners of the election.

“Since then, the purchase of votes, bribing of voters have been the order of the day.

“The battle ahead is how we are going to reform the democratic session in a way that we will not be all collectively disgraced. We have never gone this low where publicly people are trading in votes. We never went that low.”

Mahmood Yakubu, chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), said vote buying comprises the free choice of the voter.

Yakubu, who was represented by Festus Okoye, national commissioner, urged the national assembly to clearly define what vote buying is and provide stiff sanctions.

446 Nigerians in UAE prisons, says ambassador

Mohammed Rimi, Nigerian ambassador to the United Arab Emirates, says a total of 446 Nigerians are currently serving different terms in the UAE prisons.

Rimi disclosed this during President Muhammadu Buhari’s town-hall meeting with Nigerians in the Emirates on Tuesday.

The ambassador said the 446 Nigerians are serving different jail terms for crimes ranging from possession of hard drugs to engaging in robbery.

“Although there is no exact record of our citizens in the UAE, owing to the inability to register them on arrival, the number of Nigerians resident in the country is estimated at about 10,000. Out of this number, about 2,017 are students in various universities,” he said.

“It is disheartening to state that 446 Nigerians are currently serving different terms in prisons across UAE on account of committing various crimes including possession and consumption of hard drugs and engagement in armed robbery.”

Rimi also said in the spirit of forgiveness, tolerance and accommodation, the UAE government granted amnesty to all irregular residents in the country.

“In 2018, a total of 5,774 standard passport were issued by the embassy, out of which, 3,164 were specifically issued during the amnesty programme. Further 1,346 emergency traveling certificates were issued to Nigerians to facilitate their return home,” he said.

He added that 5,021 Nigerians were granted amnesty to enable them live and pursue their legitimate businesses in the Emirates.

Atiku denies hiring US lobbyist, blames APC for ‘fabrication’

Atiku Abubakar, presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), has denied hiring a US lobbyist firm to advance in his bid to take over power from President Muhammadu Buhari.

In a statement on Wednesday, Atiku, a former vice-president, said the reports of the alleged contract is a handiwork of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

Atiku is at the presidential election tribunal to challenge the declaration of Buhari as winner by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

According to a report by Centre for Responsive Politics (CRP), Bruce Fein, former justice department official and his firm Fein & DelValle PLLC registered as foreign agents of PDP and Atiku on March 24.

The report said the firm is expected to “encourage Congress and the executive to forbear from a final declaration and recognition of Nigeria’s February 23, 209 presidential election until outstanding legal challenges to the initial government of Nigeria assertion that incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari was the victor are impartially and independently resolved by the supreme court of Nigeria without political or military influence, intimidation or manipulation.”

But in the statement issued on his behalf by Paul Ibe, his spokesman, Atiku dismissed the report as “total fabrication” by the APC, adding that it “didn’t come as a surprise to us because lying has become their only bragging rights of competence.”

The statement added that “since Atiku resisted pressure not to go to court, the APC has been behaving like a cat on hot bricks because the outcome of the 2019 elections has exposed and shattered the facade of their dubious integrity.”

“The APC are behaving nervously like a thief living under the fear of being exposed and shamed; they are now using fake news against Atiku instead of focusing on defending themselves in the court,” the statement read.

“For a party that has broken the worst record in election rigging, the APC doesn’t have any iota of integrity to be taken seriously by anybody.

“Atiku’s court case has become their biggest burden because it exposes their integrity as a sham, and instead of defending their stolen mandate in court, they are now using fake news to divert public attention from the historic electoral heist they have committed against Nigerians.

“No amount of diversionary propaganda and fake news campaign by APC will stop Atiku Abubakar from continuing the court action he started to reclaim the stolen mandate.”

I’m going slowly because I want to survive – Buhari

President Muhammadu Buhari says he is going slowly because he wants to survive.

Speaking on Tuesday while responding to questions at a town hall meeting with the Nigerian community in Dubai, Buhari said he does not care if he is called “Baba go slow” as long as he is not looting the country’s treasury.

He said he did not want to make the mistake he made as a military head of state when he landed in prison for being so much in hurry.

“I may be ‘Baba go slow’ but I didn’t loot,” he said.

“So, whoever calls me ‘Baba go slow’, I’m very cautious of historical antecedent. Since I was in a hurry, I was locked up, I’m going slow so that I can survive.”

“I ‘bark but I cannot bite, Baba go slow,’ I have once ruled this country, some of you know that once upon a time I came in uniform and what I did was to arrest from the president downward. The president, Vice President, the governor’s and ministers, other than the president and the Vice President, the others, I put them in Kiri-Kiri, and I told them they are guilty until they can prove themselves innocent.

“And you know subsequently what happened- we put about six tribunals base on the geopolitical zones, and those who were ministers and governors were asked to justify what they have in the banks and physical on the ground relative to their legitimate earnings.

“There were only two Nigerians then to my knowledge who were found to be very Honourable, both of them are dead now: Biliaminu Usman, a junior minister, from Jigawa State, and Adamu Chiroma, a minister of finance and governor of central bank.

“They were incredible Nigerians. But you know what happened, eventually, I myself was arrested, I was put in detention for three and a quarter years, luckily for me, I was not stupid, I didn’t take anybody’s money, so there was no bad publicity for me because they couldn’t find anything against me.

“Eventually I was released, and that was why I made up my mind since the bulk is partisan politics, I joined the partisan politics. You also know what happened, I tried three times, and I managed to succeed the fourth time.”

Stanbic IBTC Bank, Enegas Power Ltd battle over N344m debt shifts to court

In a bid to recover a debt of ₦344m  Stanbic IBTC bank Plc has renewed its legal battle against a shipping company, Enegas Power Limted and two Directors of the company  Mr Frank Karkite and Christian Anenih who are the guarantors of the loan.

However, in their statement of defence and conter claims the defendants are counter claming in the sum of ₦200 million and $250,000. Joined as Co-defendant is Bluebarrel Limited.

In an amended statement of  claim filed before a Federal High  Court in Lagos, by Stanbic IBTC bank Plc, the bank alleged that by letter dated 24th September 2013  Enegas Power Limited requested for a $2,300,000 Asset acquisition facility from the bank to enable it acquire Liquefied  Petroleum Gas (LPG) Vessel  MT ANGAS to enhance its operations

Consequently the bank granted the credit facilities in the following manner: Value and Asset finance:₦ 155,040,000, letter of credit facility: $I,615,000, Import finance facility:₦ 155,04,000 to the company to finance:60% of the cost of purchase of the said vessel named MV ANGAS from Starway Management Property Limited Company.  The banking facilities was later varied by the bank by the request made by the defendants. 

The credit were accepted on behalf of the company by Mr Frank Karkite and Mr Christian Anenih in their capacities as directors of the company. They also secured the loan by their personal guarantee in writing. 

 As part of the conditions for granting the credit facilities the bank demanded additional  security to cover it’s total exposure to the company but the company failed to provide same as demanded .

The bank alleged further that the company breached the terms of the credit facilities in that after the bank had disbursed the credit facilities to it and utilized them it failed to deliver to  Nigeria the financed bessel for which credit facilities were granted, contrary  to its agreement with the bank, the company also failed to pay-back the credit as at when due, as it has refused to pay the balance of the  loan amounting to ₦343,895,137.00

Wherefore the claims of Stanbic IBTC Bank Plc against the defendants jointly  and  severally are as follows. 

The sum of N343,895,13,000, interest on the said sum at the agreed rate of 34 per cent per annum  from  1st of January 2017. The sum of ₦5million being the cost of litigation solicitors fee.

However, in an amended joint statement of defence and counter claims of the defendants filed before the court by a Lagos lawyer, Barrister Matthew Egbadon, the defendants averred that the facility was not paid  to them but disbursed directly to Starway Management Property limited sellers of the Vessel MT ANGAS by the bank as the bank agreed to finance 60 per cent  of the cost of purchasing the vessel  while the defendants agreed to provide equity  of 40 per cent towards purchase.

There was delay in bringing the vessel to Nigeria which was caused by the refusal of issuance of travelling visa  to the Nigeria crew members because of the unforseen  Ebola Epidemic outbreak in Nigeria coupled with the consequential maintenace and harbour services led to the incurring of bills on the vessel. 

The sum which was eventually approved but not fully  disbursed by the bank to meet the cost and other incidental matters to  facilitate the movement of the vessel to  Nigeria from Istanbal, Turkey was ₦193,716,912.13 and addition of temporary import bond of ₦37,855,600 was to be  issued by the bank, but this was not done.

Consequently the bank also allegedly  violated the terms of the credit facility and  reneged on the release of additional funds which made it impossible for the company to fulfill her own terms and  conditions and bring the vessel into Nigeria. The defendants deny, the amount  in the sum stated in the bank’s claim and alleged that  the banks unilaterally altering the interest rate of the facility is unconscionable, fraudulent and meant to embarrass  the defendants.

The defendants averred further that after a long wait without disbursement of funds by the bank and with the funds required to fix the vessel increasing, coupled with accumulated crew wages, port charges, and maintenance  fees soaring, It was agreed that the company should source for funds to carry out the repairs, pay port charges and other debts relating to the vessel pending  when funds would be made available by the bank.

The defendant then obtained loan from Bluebarrel company  through the bank cover as follows N45million from Sterling Bank N35million from Skye Bank and $250,000 sourced from overseas.

Eventually, the additional facility was approved in April, 2015 by Stanbic IBTC Bank and the company accepted the offer and again, the bank cynically and unilaterally varied the terms of the offer.

Meanwhile, while the waiting game was on to get the banks disbursement of funds under the additional facility, the vessel continued to incur debts on repair works, crew wages, port dues and other related fees at the Port of Turzla in Turkey to the prejudice and embarrassment of the defendants.

The forth defendant Bluebarrel Ltd later secured a bank guarantee for $3million from a finance company, General Equity Aukland New Zealand in favour of the bank to enable the vessel to get to Nigeria, however after the Enegas Power company accepted the offer, Stanbic IBTC Bank again  unilaterally varied the term of the security and requested the company to provide a new collateral to cover the entire facility both the sums already disbursed and the sums yet to be disbursed, which condition the company accepted out of frustration. 

Eventually the vessel was sold and scrapped pursuant to court order in Turkey in 2016 obtained by the creditors due to the banks negligence  and breach of contractual obligation to the defendants. The bank then began to write letters to the defendants demanding for payment of the facilities which, was guaranteed by bank guarantee in the  sum of  $3million, which the bank had negligently failed to act on.

In the particular of fraud and material breaches, the defendants stated that, upon Enegas Power Limited’s payment of the sum of N120million as its initial 40 per cent equity contribution to the purchase of the vessel, the bank after deducting charges advertently and fraudulently added the equity sum of 40 per cent to its own 60 per cent and recorded both as principal loan in the sum of N255,105,400.00 and began to charge interest thereon against the company.

The statement of account issued to the company and pleaded by the bank shows a deficit of N7,885.301.20 while the bank claims the sum of N343,895,137 on the facility

The bank’s claim that there is an agreement between the parties to be charging 34 per cent on the facilities was dubious fraudulent, and unconscioanble.

The bank’s laid claim to 100 per cent ownership of the money which both parties have contributed on  the  Vessel and also began to charge exorbitant interest on same against the defendants.

The defendants stated that they are not liable or indebted to the bank in the sum  of N343,895,137.00 or any sum of money whatsoever.

Consequently the defendant counter claim as follows:

The sum of N120million being their initial 40 per centequilty contribution towards the purchase of the Vessel MT ANGAS.

The sum of N80million being a further sum of money paid by the defendants on the maintenance and services of the vessel as a  result of the refusal of the bank to meet its contractual obligation on the vehicle finance facility. 

The sum of $250,000  being additional sum of money paid on the maintenance wages,repair  and other incidentals on the vessel by the defendants through the bank.

General damages in the sum of N500million against Stanbic IBTC bank Plc to the Enegas power limited to counter claim for the good will, loss of business opportunities, reputation and specifically for the serious  mental agony suffered by the directors of the company as a result of the negligence breaches and fraud caused by Stanbic IBTC bank Plc to the defendants. 

The presiding Judge, Saliu Saidu has adjourned till May 16, 2019 for hearing of the case  to commence.

Shell emerges Nigeria’s most impactful Local Content company

Shell Companies in Nigeria have emerged the International Oil Company with the most impactful Local Content Initiatives in the upstream category at the 2019 edition of the Nigerian Oil and Gas Opportunity Fair (NOGOF) held in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State on April 4, 2019.

Shell beat other competitors ,Total and Exxon Mobil to the second and third positions respectively at the 2nd edition of the fair organised by the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB).

The Executive Secretary of NCDMB, Mr. Simbi Wabote, who presented the award, singled out Shell Companies in Nigeria for exemplary support to local vendors and suppliers in the oil and gas industry, which, he said, enabled greater participation of Nigerians in the service value chain.

Receiving the award, Managing Director of The Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited (SPDC) and Country Chair, Shell Companies in Nigeria, Mr. Osagie Okunbor, described the recognition as an important acknowledgement for the impressive work Shell companies continue to do in Nigeria content development.

He said, “This award is a strong recognition of our leadership in the Nigerian content development space. Nigerian content development remains a very important step in our growth aspiration as Shell Companies in Nigeria roll out the next phase of major projects.”

Shell’s Nigerian Content Development Manager, Olanrewaju Olawuyi, described the NOGOF award as well-earned given the pioneering initiatives and strides by Shell companies in Nigeria which he said had put the oil and gas industry in the hands of Nigerians. “We are motivated by the award to continue to pursue in-country value addition in the oil and gas sector as this aligns with the government’s aspiration in local capacity development.”

The NOGOF award is a confirmation of the leadership position of Shell in local capacity development in the oil and gas industry. In 2018, Shell Companies were named the Local Content Operator of the Year at the Annual Oil Industry Achievement Awards Dinner of the Petroleum Technology Association of Nigeria (PETAN,) an association of indigenous technical oilfield service companies in the upstream and downstream sectors.

PETAN had also honoured SPDC with the Distinguished Achievement Award (Corporate) in 2016 while the Managing Director of Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company (SNEPCo), Bayo Ojulari, received PETAN’s Professional Award in the same year for his notable contributions to the development of Nigerian content in the oil and gas industry.

In addition to awards from PETAN, Shell Companies in Nigeria have also been honoured in Nigerian content development by the Nigeria Oil and Gas (NOG) Conference, the Nigerian Association of Petroleum Explorationists (NAPE), the Nigerian Chamber of Shipping and at the Social Enterprise Report and Awards (SERAs).

 

 

 

 

 

L-R: Managing Director, The Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited (SPDC) and Country Chair, Shell Companies in Nigeria, Mr. Osagie Okunbor; Shell’s External Relations Manager, Mr. Evans Krukrubo; Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu; Senior Technical Adviser to Minister on Refinery, Downstream and Infrastructure, Mr. Rabiu Suleiman; and the Executive Secretary, Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board, Mr. Simbi Wabote, at the 2nd edition of the Nigerian Oil and Gas Opportunity Fair in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State… last week.

 

Fuel scarcity hits Port Harcourt

Residents of Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, and its environs are currently experiencing fuel scarcity as long queues have returned to filling stations.

Our correspondent observed that the scarcity started around 3pm on Monday when fuel dealers decided to close majority of the filling stations in the state capital.

It was gathered that the fuel dealers closed shop due to speculations that the main depot in Port Harcourt was no longer distributing fuel.

The sudden closure of the filling stations caused a long queue at the popular Mobil filling station at Waterlines, along the Port Harcourt-Aba Expressway as motorists had a tough time before they could purchase Premium Motor Spirit.

Though the filling station was selling at the normal price of N145 per litre, some motorists had to wait for over an hour before they could purchase fuel.

One of them, who identified himself simply as Chinonyerem, said he could not find fuel at other filling stations inside town, adding that he had to join the queue when he noticed that the Mobil filling station was selling the commodity.

“I don’t know what the cause of the scarcity is, but it is good to notice that they did not increase the fuel price here (Mobil filling station). I have been here for over one hour. I know I will get fuel before I leave here,” Chinonyerem said.

As of 10am on Tuesday morning, most of the filling stations were still locked up as the owners refused to sell, hoping that the scarcity would force an increase in the pump price of petrol.

At the Karibi filling station on Iwofe Road in the Obio/Akpor Local Government Area, fuel was sold at the normal price as the queue continued to build up.

A commercial tricycle rider, who identified himself simply as James, told our correspondent that the scarcity was as a result of the rumour that the depot in Port Harcourt was no longer distributing fuel.

“Immediately the rumour got to these fuel dealers, they began to close their filling stations. The few ones that opened did not believe the rumour. That is what is causing this scarcity,” James stated.

When contacted, the Media Officer, Port Harcourt Refining and Petrochemical Company, Ikenna Okpani, said he was not aware of any fuel scarcity, adding that there was no reason for dealers to close their fuel stations.

“I am not aware that there is any fuel scarcity. There is no reason for such because from our end here, we are producing,” Okpani said.

Kidnapped Lagos Fire Service boss, others freed

Kidnapped Director of Lagos State Fire Service, Rasaki Musibau and six others have been released, the police said Wednesday morning.

They were released at about 11:45pm inside the forest where the kidnappers kept them by a joint security force.

Already some suspects have been arrested in the operation still ongoing in the forest at the time of this report.

The victims were kidnapped at about 8pm on April 6 along the Ikorodu-Epe Expressway while on their way to Lagos.

According to the statement by police spokesman Bala Elkana, a Deputy Superintendent (DSP), they were released unhurt and have been reunited with their families.

“The victims have since reunited with their families. The command’s tactical teams are still in the creeks and forests combating the hoodlums.

“Water-tight security measures are emplaced across the state to forestall future occurrence. The command deeply appreciate the supports of Lagos State Government and the good people of Lagos who stood by us and also provided useful information that facilitated the prompt rescue of the victims. Together we will continue to make Lagos State one of the safest states in Nigeria,” he said.

Boko Haram launches fresh attack in Yobe

Boko Haram launched a fresh attack on Damaturu, the Yobe State capital, on Tuesday. The attack made soldiers to turn back vehicles, as no movement was allowed in the area.

Many of the residents were forced to stay indoors as the military engaged the insurgents, who were said to have tried to enter Damaturu through Maisandari, a settlement on the outskirts of the town.

Some of the residents of Maisandari, who spoke to our correspondent, said the attackers came through the eastern part of the town and started shooting sporadically.

One of them, Yusuf Maina, said he saw the assailants coming into the area in Hilux vans, which had anti-aircraft guns.

“Immediately we saw them, we had to scamper for safety. We can still hear an exchange of gunfire and we surely need your prayers.”

Some of the residents of Damaturu, confirmed on the telephone that they saw heavily armed soldiers in four armoured personnel carriers and many Hilux vans advancing towards Maisandari, from where the insurgents were said to have entered the town.

One of the residents, Bukar Alamin, said the shooting was first heard at about 5pm. He said some suspected Boko Haram members attempted to invade the Red Bricks Housing Estate along Maiduguri Road.

He said there were heavy sounds of gunshots and explosions and that a fighter jet was seen hovering over Damaturu around 5.30pm.

PenCom again fails to provide documents to account for N33bn

The National Pension Commission (PenCom), on Tuesday, again failed to provide required documents to the House of Representatives ad hoc Committee investigating the alleged withdrawal of N33 billion from the commission’s account.

At a hearing in Abuja, the Chairman of the Committee, Johnson Agbonayinma (APC-Edo), said that the committee had written to PenCOM 10 times, requesting for various documents to enable the investigation but the commission had consistently failed to supply.

He said that the committee requested for account statements of the commission, minutes of its 46th board meeting among other documents.

The lawmaker said that the aim of the investigation was to correct the wrongs in the commission and to move the nation forward saying that it was not about witch-hunt.

He said that many retired officers had died trying to accessing their benefits many years after retirement.

Agbonayinma said that every officer will grow old and retire one day and if not corrected, the issues of accessing retirement benefits would get more complicated for the aged.

He chairman said that all other parties in the investigation which includes the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Office of the Accountant General of the Federation, the Head of Service, Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Pension Fund Administrators(PFA)  had all provided documents requested for by committee.

According to him, some of the submission contradicts the explanations made by PenCom on the alleged missing N35 billion in the cause of the hearing.

The chairman said that the investigation was in line with President Muhammadu Buhari’s drive to end corruption in the country.

In his explanations on the alleged missing funds, the Head of Contribution Bond and Redemption Department of PenCom, Mr Loyinmi Lana said that there was a process the funds must follow before it gets to the final stage where the retired gets the benefits.

He said that in some cases, other agencies such as he Office of the Account General of the Federation were involved in the process which should be funded by the Federal Government.

Accounting to him, at the contribution stage, there is no problem but we have a problem at the Federal Government counterpart funding stage.

On the failure to present document requested for by the committee, Lana said that there were some ambiguity in the letters from the committee.

He said that the committee did not specifically demand for account statement but requested for evidence of commission’s activities within a given period which it complied.

He, however, said that the commission will finish the committee with every other relevant document requested for by Thursday.

The House of Representatives had in December 2018 resolved to investigate the activities of PenCom from April 2017 to date.

The aim was to account for N33 billion pension fund allegedly missing from the coffers of PenCom.

Ambode inaugurates transition committee

Governor Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos State, on Tuesday, inaugurated a 20-man transition committee to ensure a smooth transition of power from the outgoing administration to the incoming.

Ambode was represented at the event, which was held in Ikeja, by the Secretary to the State Government, Mr Tunji Bello, who is also Co-Chairman of the committee.

He said that the inauguration was imperative to ensure that the machinery of government continued to roll smoothly.

Ambode said the committee was organised to maintain stability, build on solid status of the state and ensure seamless transition to incoming administration of All Progressives Congress (APC) Governor-elect, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu and his deputy, Dr Obafemi Hamzat.

In his response, APC Deputy Governor-elect and Co-Chairman of the Committee, Hamzat assured that the handover would be a seamless one.

Earlier in his welcome address, Lagos State Head of Service, Mr Hakeem Muri-Okunola, described the transition as a result of the success of the APC in the last elections.

Muri-Okunola said that on May 29, the baton of leadership of the state would be handed over to a new administration, hence the need for a transition committee.

Members of the Committee include the Head of Service, Muri-Okunola; Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr Adeniji Kazeem; Commissioner for Finance, Mr Akinyemi Ashade; Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure, Mr Ade Akinsanya; Special Adviser to the Governor on Education, Mr Obafela Bank-Olemoh; and Special Adviser on Urban Development, Mrs Yetunde Onabule.

Other members are Permanent Secretary, Works and Infrastructure, Mr Jimi Hotonu; Accountant General and Permanent Secretary Treasury Office, Mr Abimbola Umar; Permanent Secretary, Economic Planning and Budget, Mr Abayomi Kadiri.

Mr Ayo Gbeleyi; Sam Ngube; Dr Muyiwa Gbadegesin; Mr Tayo Bamgbose-Martins; Mr Bayo Sotade; Solape Hammond; Mrs Bunmi Fabanwo; Mrs. Bukola Odoe and Mrs Toke Benson Awoyinka are also members.

Insecurity: Buhari cuts Dubai trip short, returns to Abuja

President Muhammadu Buhari returned to Abuja on Tuesday night, a day ahead of schedule.

The president was initially scheduled to return to Abuja from Dubai, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Wednesday about 1.30a.m.

However, the presidential aircraft carrying the president, his aides and some members of his entourage landed at the presidential wing of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Abuja about 10.45p.m.

The president’s decision to cut short his official engagements in Dubai might not be unconnected with security developments in Zamfara, Kaduna and some other parts of the country.

Buhari had on April 4 departed Abuja for Amman to honour an invitation by King Abdullah II bin Al-Hussein of Jordan to participate in the World Economic Forum (WEF).

He delivered an address at the opening of the plenary alongside King Abdullah II bin Al-Hussein and United Nations (UN) Secretary General, António Guterres.

The president, who on Sunday moved to Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE), participated in the ninth edition of the Annual Investment Meeting.

While in Dubai, Buhari also held bilateral talks and met with various groups of investors at the sidelines of the Annual Investment Meeting.

Buhari group asks security agencies to investigate Atiku

The Buhari Media Organisation, BMO on Tuesday asked security agencies to investigate what it described as the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Atiku Abubakar’s “unholy romance with foreign bodies especially the United States of America, in pursuit of a mandate he never had.”

The group which made the call in a statement by its Chairman, Niyi Akinsiju; and Secretary, Cassidy Madueke, accused Atiku of seeking to destabilise the country in a bid to realise his failed presidential ambition.

It claimed that the former vice president had been lobbying the US authorities to recognise him as Nigeria’s President despite his electoral defeat in the February 23 election.

The BMO said Atiku’s action was treasonable with dire consequences. “We had in the past drawn attention to the desperation of the failed PDP presidential candidate to rule Nigeria at all cost, and it is becoming more obvious with his latest gambit.

“Not satisfied with pushing out cooked-up figures which he and his party claimed they got from the server of the Independent National Electoral Commission and are using as the basis of their legal challenge at the Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal, Alhaji Abubakar is now using lobbyists in order to con the United States to his side.

“We at BMO are not surprised because we had raised the alarm even before the election that the PDP elements had been preparing ground for what they called a ‘Venezuelan option’ by instigating the international community against the President Buhari-led administration, and by raising all sorts of false alarms.

“Now that news has filtered out that Atiku has hired some prominent American lawyers to lobby the US Congress and the Executive to recognise him as President, it is shocking that a man who rose to the position of vice president can be engaging in acts that amount to treasonable felony, especially as the legally authorised body in election matters, INEC, declared that he lost the presidential election.”

The group further claimed that increasing insecurity in parts of the country was planned to make President Muhammadu Buhari appear helpless.

It added, “We have seen how banditry has suddenly threatened to spiral out of control in Zamfara State and some other parts of North-Western Nigeria almost immediately after the election.

“These are places that were relatively peaceful before and during the election and which also had a reasonable turn out of voters.

“It should not be a surprise that this spectre of violence is deliberately orchestrated and coordinated as part of a game plan to make the incumbent President look helpless and win US support for the failed PDP presidential candidate who is not even known to be popular in that part of the country.”

The pro-Buhari group urged the US authorities to guard against being used by those it described as unpatriotic Nigerians to work against an election that their representatives in the country had hailed as largely free and fair.

It added that main local election observer groups validated Buhari’s victory as declared by INEC.

Defence minister: Some traditional rulers conspire with bandits

Mansur Dan-Ali, minister of defence, has accused some traditional leaders of providing information to bandits.

In a statement which Tukur Gusau, his spokesman, issued on his behalf, Dan-Ali said the intensified air strikes by the Nigerian air force in Zamfara has led to the killing of many bandits and the rescue of innocent persons.

He said the government is concerned about the security challenges in the north-west, particularly in Zamfara, Sokoto, Katsina states and Birnin Gwari axis of Kaduna state.

“The Nigerian Air Force has also intensified air strikes against the bandits in Zamfara. So far, the combined efforts have yielded to lot of successes leading to the killing of many bandits, rescue of many innocent persons including the renowned Islamic scholar Sheik Ahmad Suleiman,” he said.

“The government is also addressing the remote and immediate causes that gave room to high spate of armed banditry in the states.

“Recently the government acted on the advice of the Ministry of Defence to suspend all mining activities in Zamfara State and environs following intelligence report that suggest close collaboration between the activities of the bandits and illegal miners.

“It is instructive to mention here that insurgency and terrorism are global phenomena that cannot be addressed through military actions only. The whole society has to rise in unison to support the government’s efforts to address the problem.

“However, in spite of the concerted efforts of the Armed Forces and other security some unpatriotic persons including highly placed traditional rulers in the areas were identified as helping the bandits with intelligence to perpetuate their nefarious actions or to compromise military operations.”

Over 30 APC senators are ‘backing Ndume’ for senate presidency

At least 36 senators of the All Progressives Congress (APC) are backing Ali Ndume, senator representing Borno south, for the position of senate president, a senator-elect who did not want to be named, has said.

The senator-elect, who is from the north, disclosed this on Tuesday while speaking with select journalists on the sidelines of the induction exercise for members of the incoming national assembly at Transcorp Hilton hotel in Abuja.

Although, the APC has already thrown its weight behind Ahmad Lawan, senate leader, for the position, Ndume is insisting on running.

After a meeting with Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo on Monday, Ndume told reporters that he would still contest for the number one position in the senate.

The senator-elect said some of them are angry because “juicy” committees have been shared among those supporting Lawan.

“There are about 36 senators-elect who are rooting for Ndume and that is because we are angry about how they are going about this senate presidency thing,” he said.

“How will Lawan suggest that APC senators have donated their senators-elect for him to realise his senate presidency bid. They have gone ahead to share committees already excluding us.

“Things are not done that way.”

He said those supporting Ndume are angry over the “bullying” by Adams Oshiomhole, APC national chairman.

The APC won 62 senate seats in the 2019 election.

Recently, Eyinnaya Abaribe, senator representing Abia south, said Oshiomhole was not in a position to dictate to them on who to elect into the office of number three citizen.

Fayemi to commissioners, advisers: Perform or resign

Ekiti State Governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi, has told the newly sworn in Commissioners and Special Advisers to perform or be prepared to resign their appointments for non-performance.

Inaugurating the new commissioners and special advisers in Ado Ekiti on Tuesday, Fayemi urged the new council members to get accustomed to government programmes, and agenda, stressing that a familiarization induction programme has been planned after which “performance agreement” will be signed between the Governor and respective Commissioners and Advisers.

The governor said he would not hesitate to ask appointees who are accustomed to grumbling about inadequate financial gain to resign because he is not prepared to expend the available resources on office holders but mainly on the people”.

While stating that his administration is committed to transparency, Fayemi urged the appointees to shun graft and judiciously expend State resources as he would not tolerate any act that will breach the trust that Ekiti people have for his government.

“You were favoured among several other eminently qualified individuals. You should therefore see your appointment as a call to service. This is an opportunity for you to write your name in gold as a valuable member of Ekiti restoration team. Do your best to justify the confidence reposed in you by your people and this government”.

“While government will endeavour to satisfy our political appointees in accordance with the provisions of the RMAFC as it affects the remuneration of political office holders, let me stress that you all must avoid exaggerated expectations of political office as a vehicle for personal enrichment.

“The truth is that Ekiti has limited resources and we will be extremely prudent in its utilization. However, for those who are accustomed to grumbling about inadequate financial gain, let me also stress that we won’t hesitate to ask for your resignation if you are unhappy that we are expending the resources available mainly on Ekiti people, and not on political office holders”, Fayemi said.

Fayemi while acknowledging the contributions of other members of the party in its victory at the last governorship election stated that it was impossible to appoint everyone but assured that everyone would feel the impact of his administration in many positive ways.

He urged Ekiti people not to relent in giving suggestions, pieces of advice and constructive criticisms to his government as this will constantly keep the administration in line with our avowed commitment to the Ekiti project.

In her response, one of the Commissioners, Dr Moji Yahaya-Kolade thanked the governor for appointing them to serve Ekiti people; saying that they will not fail in working to deliver the dividends of democracy to the people.

Four of the newly inaugurated commissioners served in Fayemi’s first term. They are Prof Adio Afolayan (Local Government and Community Development ); Mr Sola Adebayo (Works and Transport); Alhaji Ayodele Jinadu( Special Duties and Regional Integration) and Chief Folorunso Olabode (Agriculture and Rural development).

Other newly sworn- in commissioners are Mr Muyiwa Olumilua (Information, Tourism and Values Orientation); Engr. Dele Faparusi (Infrastructure and Public Utilities); Dr (Mrs) Moji Yaya Abatan (Health and Human Services);and Chief Mrs Moji Fafure (Women Affairs and Social Development)

Others are Mr Emmanuel Foluso Daramola (Education, Science and Technology )Mr Gbenga Agbeyo (Environment and Natural Resources); Mr Olusoga David(Investment, Trade and Industries); Mr Michael Awopetu (Youth and Sports Development); Mr Femi Ajayi ( Budget and Economic Planning); Mr Febisola Adewale (Lands, Housing and Urban Development)

The fourteen commissioners are to join two other colleagues -Mr Dapo Kolawole, Commissioner for Finance and Mr Wale Fapounda, Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice who were inaugurated last November.

Netanyahu wins record 5th term in Israel

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has won the national election, securing a record fifth term in office despite running neck-and-neck with his challenger Benny Gantz.

With 97 percent of the votes counted, the country’s three main television channels gave Netanyahu victory on Wednesday, although neither of the candidates’ parties had captured a ruling majority.

Netanyahu was believed clearly in a strong position to form a coalition government with other right-wing factions that have backed him.

The closely contested race was widely seen in Israel as a referendum on Netanyahu’s character and record in the face of corruption allegations. He faces possible indictment in three graft cases, and has denied wrongdoing in all of them.

The veteran right-wing leader’s Likud party and Gantz’s new centrist Blue and White party both won 35 seats, according to the Knesset website and the Israeli TV channels. That would mean a five-seat gain for Likud.

“It is a night of colossal victory,” the 69-year-old Netanyahu told cheering supporters in a late-night speech at Likud headquarters, while cautioning that a “long night and possibly day” lay ahead awaiting official results.

Fireworks flared behind him as his wife Sara applauded and kissed him. “He’s a magician,” the crowd chanted.

Final results were expected by Friday, though the provisional results showed 65 of the Knesset’s 120 seats would go to the right-wing bloc of parties led by Netanyahu, against a total of 55 seats for centre-left factions.

Netanyahu, 69, is on track to be the longest-serving prime minister in Israel’s 71-year history. Netanyahu said he had already begun talks with prospective coalition allies.

He had a first term in the 1990s and then returned to power in 2009.

Rival Gantz, a popular 59-year-old former general, had also claimed victory earlier, citing preliminary exit polls published soon after voting ended on Tuesday that showed his party had won more seats than Likud.

“We are the victors,” said Gantz, a former military chief fighting his first election. “We want to thank Benjamin Netanyahu for his service to the nation.”

Despite both men claiming victory on Tuesday night, a clearer picture emerged by Wednesday morning as the results began streaming in, painting Netanyahu as the winner.

During the campaign, the rival parties accused each other of corruption, fostering bigotry and being soft on security.

Netanyahu highlighted his close relationship with U.S. President Donald Trump, who delighted Israelis and angered Palestinians by recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in 2017 and moving the American Embassy to the holy city last May.