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Daily Archives: July 7, 2019

Air Peace assigned national carrier status on Lagos-Dubai route

Nigeria’s Bilateral Air Services Agreement (BASA) with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) recognises Air Peace as Nigeria’s flag carrier on the lucrative Lagos-Dubai air route, a Nigerian envoy has announced in Dubai on Sunday.

“Air Peace is now recognised as a national carrier, based on the BASA and whatever the airline is doing will be linked to Nigeria,’’ Nigeria’s Ambassador to the UAE, Mr Mohammed Rimi, announced at a ceremony to formally welcome Air Peace to the Arab nation.

He, however, warned the airline to avoid anything that could tarnish the image of Nigeria, while servicing the route, advising the company to ensure on-time flight services to sustain confidence and patronage.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Air Peace commenced flight operations from Lagos to Dubai en route the Sharjah International Airport in Dubai on July 5.

The ambassador recalled that some Nigerian carriers had previously serviced the Dubai route but could not sustain their operations, due to competition and other factors.

Rimi assured that Nigeria was keen to meet the terms of its BASA deal with the UAE, pointing out however, that Nigeria had yet to service four slots in the air services agreement with the Middle East nation.

The Chairman of Air Peace, Mr Allen Onyema, said the airline’s foray into long-haul flights was aimed at connecting Nigeria to the world and creating jobs for its teeming populace.

“In less than four years, Air Peace has created 3,000 direct jobs and over 9,000 ancillary jobs for Nigerians and that is what is driving us.

“We believe that if more Nigerians are meaningfully engaged, the problem of kidnapping, militancy and ethnic violent clashes will reduce in our country.”

According to Onyema, the airline is targeting to increase its B777 aircraft being deployed for long-haul flights to six before the end of the year to accommodate more routes.

He said that flights from Lagos to Johannesburg would come before the end of August while Guangzhou, Mumbai, London and Houston routes were also being planned.

Onyema said that Nigeria’s BASA with UAE and other countries were one-sided and had left Nigeria open to exploitation by foreign airlines.

He said the Federal Government should protect domestic carriers by halting the granting of multiple entry points for foreign airlines.

The Air Peace boss commended the Federal Government for the support being given to the airlines, citing the removal of value-added tax and waivers on aircraft spares.

He also thanked Nigerians for their support to the airline, which had seen it emerge as the biggest airline in West Africa.

FRSC boss calls for more dedication to duty


The Corps Marshal of the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), Dr Boboye Oyeyemi has called for greater dedication among personnel of the Corps in the efforts to ensure safer road environment, saying indolence among staff would not be condoned by the Management.

He gave the charge at Udi, Enugu State while delivering his address to the graduating cadets of the FRSC Academy Udi, during their passing out parade held on Friday.

In a press release signed by the FRSC spokesman, Corps Commander Bisi Kazeem, the Corps Marshal while congratulating the cadets for enduring the rigours of the six months training enjoined them to sustain the disciplinary standards they attained during their training, noting that all that they had learnt within the period would become useful to them in their subsequent assignments.

Oyeyemi charged them to embrace hard work, honesty and dedication to duties as they formally got inducted into FRSC family stressing that as a service oriented organisation, the Corps remains committed to improved service delivery. He further restated the commitment of the Corps to ensuring safer road environment and urged all staff to recommit themselves to the spirit of hard work, selfless service and quality service delivery.

The FRSC boss reminded the new officers to avoid acts that could undermine discipline, integrity and positive image earned by the Corps over the years, saying as a world class organisation, the standards attained by the Corps would not be allowed to be compromised.

He particularly expressed gratitude to President Muhammadu Buhari for his unwavering support to the FRSC, noting that in the last four years of his administration, the Corps has continued to enjoy unprecedented provision of logistics and staff capacity development programmes.

While praising the host community for showing hospitality to staff and cadets of the institution since its relocation in the area, Oyeyemi specially thanked the Governor of Enugu state for providing office accommodation and other logistics support at the Academy, stating that very soon the Academy would become a degree awarding institutions after it has been designated as the African Centre for study of Road Safety. He called on the Governors of the five Eastern states to emulate the Enugu example by investing in the institution.

The passing out parade which involved 753 graduating cadets and replicated in Jos and Kotangora, Niger state for Marshals Inspectorate and Road Marshals Assistants cadres respectively involved a total of 4,300 personnel.

The Udi ceremony attracted large number of members of the public and had in attendance representatives of the Governor of Enugu state, service chiefs and other invited guests.

Highlight of the event was the award of prizes in different categories to the cadets who exhibited exceptional performance in the course of the training.

Uganda fires coach Desabre after AFCON exit

Uganda have parted company with coach Sebastien Desabre in spite of performing above expectations at the ongoing Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) in Egypt where they reached the last 16.

The Ugandan Football Federation (FUFA) said in a statement in Cairo on Sunday that it had “mutually agreed” to end the Frenchman’s contract.

“The reasons for termination of the employment contract are for the benefit and growth of both parties,” it said.

Desabre is the second coach to part company with his team at the tournament.

This was after hosts Egypt sacked Javier Aguirre immediately following their shock elimination against South Africa in the round of 16 on Saturday.

Uganda’s announcement was surprising as Desabre had led the team into the knockout round for the first time in 41 years.

He had also spoken about the importance of developing football in the country.

Uganda, playing a bold attacking game, beat Democratic Republic of Congo in their opening game and outplayed hosts Egypt in spite of losing 2-0.

They also gave Senegal a run for their money in the round of 16 before losing 1-0.

However, their campaign was also hit by a payment row with players at one point refusing to train.

It was settled after FUFA said it had offered the players an additional $6,000 each.

“FUFA recognises the contribution by Mr Desabre for the improvement of the sporting and professional organisation of the Uganda Cranes, inclusive of qualification to the AFCON 2019 Finals and also to the Round of 16,” said the statement.

“Mr Desabre is grateful to the people and the government of Uganda, FUFA, sponsors, staff and the players who have provided him a good environment to fulfil his obligations in his first time role as a National Team Coach.”

Desabre, 42, only played football semi-professionally and abandoned his career early to concentrate on coaching.

Before being appointed by Uganda in December 2017, he coached clubs in Cote d’Ivoire, Cameroon, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Algeria, Morocco and Egypt.

Egypt sack coach, FA president quits over AFCON exit

Egypt coach Javier Aguirre has become the first casualty of the ongoing Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON).

He was sacked just hours after the hosts were bundled out of the tournament by South Africa in the round of 16 on Saturday in Cairo.

Hosts Egypt lost 0-1 after an 85th minute goal from Thembinkosi Lorch.

It was for Egypt a lacklustre display in which their talisman Mohamed Salah looked out of sorts and they produced few goalscoring chances.

Egypt Football Association president Hany Abo Rida announced the firing of the Mexican coach.

Abo Rida also announced his own resignation, less than three hours after the game as a stunned host nation digested the defeat.

He also called on his board members to step down, calling his resignation a “moral obligation, although the football association had given the national team full material and moral support”.

Aguirre had told reporters after Saturday’s defeat that he took sole responsibility but was proud of all of his players.

“The game was open and saw many chances. The only difference was that South Africa managed to score,” he said.

Aguirre, 60, departs after less than a year in the job but not before setting a unique record by coaching at four different continental championships.

He won the CONCACAF Gold Cup with his native Mexico in 2009.

Aguirre took them to the final of the Copa America and was in charge of Japan four years ago when they went out in the Asian Cup quarter-finals.

U.S. beat Netherlands 2 – nil to retain World Cup

The USA have won the Women’s World Cup for the fourth time after beating the Netherlands 2-0 in Sunday’s final.

Megan Rapinoe opened the scoring with a second-half penalty, which was awarded by VAR after Stefanie van der Gragt brought down Alex Morgan.

Rose Lavelle then made certain of the victory with a powerful strike from the edge of the area.

Rapinoe’s goal also meant she won the Golden Boot after finishing with six goals and three assists.

The USA’s triumph adds to previous World Cup victories in 1991, 1999 and 2015.

The Netherlands, in the final for the first time in their history, had done well to frustrate the USA for long periods before they finally made the breakthrough, with goalkeeper Sari van Veenendaal making a string of fine saves in the first half.

Van Veenendaal also prevented the USA from winning by a bigger margin as she denied Morgan and Crystal Dunn late on.

Cameron Boyce, Disney Channel star, dead at 20

Why we can’t jump to conclusions about rape allegations against Fatoyinbo —CAN

The Christian Association of Nigeria has explained why it has refused to ‘jump to conclusions’ about the rape allegations against the Senior Pastor of Commonwealth of Zion Assembly, Mr. Biodun Fatoyinbo

It however stated that, no matter who is involved, rape is ungodly and reprehensible.

CAN, in a statement by its General Secretary, Joseph Daramola, on Sunday expressed displeasure that Christendom has been subjected to ridicule on account of the allegations leveled against Fatoyinbo, who the apex Christian body in the country described as “one of the nation’s leading pastors.”

It said, “The leadership of the Christian Association of Nigeria is seriously concerned about the disturbing situation concerning Pastor Biodun Fatoyinbo, the General Overseer of Commonwealth of Zion Assembly, one of our leading pastors in the country, on whom an allegation of rape has been leveled by one of our daughters, Mrs. Busola Dakolo.

“It is disheartening how some commentators and columnists have been insulting the Body of Christ in Nigeria as a result of this incident. Like we have earlier stated, it doesn’t matter who is involved, rape is ungodly and reprehensible.

“But we have resisted the temptation to jump into any conclusion since a body like ours will be expected to have uncovered the truth about any matter before making public statements and not base its position merely upon media reports.”

According to CAN, its stance that Fatoyinbo’s church has not been an active member of CAN does not put COZA outside the spiritual watch-care of the apex Christian organisation.

It said, “CAN is the umbrella body for every Christian and church in Nigeria. Jesus Christ, the head of the Church, does not turn back anyone that comes to him and CAN also does not.

“The ministry of the Church, according to Jesus Christ, is the ministry of reconciliation, which is centred on true love and forgiveness of those who repent.

“The Bible states it clearly that ‘God demonstrates his own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us’ (Romans 5:8, 11). Having reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, God has committed to us the ministry of reconciling the world unto Himself and to one another (2 Corinthians 5:19-21).

“Since both Pastor Fatoyinbo and Mrs. Dakolo are Christians, the leadership of CAN is already seeking ways to address the issues in order to heal every wound already inflicted on the parties concerned and the body of Christ in general.”

CAN stated that its hope was that steps, which would exacerbate the current damages already done, would be avoided.

“As we seek the help of CAN elders and the Holy Spirit in resolving the current problem, it is our prayer that both parties will sheathe their swords and stop the media war in the interest of the Church and for the greater glory of God,” it added.

Ex-Delta APC factional chair, Adolor Okotie-Eboh is dead, Uduaghan mourns

A former factional chairman of the All Progressives Congress in Delta State, Adolor Okotie-Eboh, is dead.

Adolor, son of late First Republic Finance Minister, Festus Okotie-Eboh, died on Saturday aged 64.

The deceased, an American trained pilot, was also the former chairman of Delta State chapter of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria.

Sources within the APC told our correspondent on Sunday that the deceased died after a brief illness on Saturday at undisclosed hospital.

He was among the founding members of the APC from Delta.

The late Adolor was a factional APC chairman after he lost in the state to Mr. Jones Erue.

However, a former Delta State governor and chieftain of the APC, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, has described the passage of Adolor, who hails from Koko in Warri North Council Area of the state, as a big loss.

Uduaghan, who said he was shocked by the incident, noted that the deceased was a committed party man and contributed immensely to the growth of APC in the state.

The former governor in a statement signed by his media assistant, Mr. Monoyo Edon, on Sunday said the deceased was a patriot and his death a big blow to the Itsekiri Nation.

He said, “Chief Adolor’s death is depressing to the Itsekiri nation, the All Progressives Congress and Delta State due to his gigantic contributions to the political narrative of not just Delta State but also Nigeria in general.

“I pray that God would strengthen and console his family in this difficult time.

Five things to know about AfCFTA

President Muhammad Buhari has finally signed the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement.

The president signed it at the 12th extraordinary session of the assembly of the union on AfCFTA and the first mid-year coordination meeting of the African Union (AU) and the regional economic communities (RECs) in Niamey, Niger Republic.

Buhari had delayed signing the agreement, explaining that he needed to understand the terms.

“Already, some of the treaties we are a party to have been significantly abused, resulting in massive smuggling which has crippled many of our local industries and destroyed millions of jobs,” Buhari had said.

But in June, a committee he set up on AfCFTA recommended signing of the treaty. Receiving the report, Buhari had said the treaty will have positive and negative impacts on Nigeria and its neighbours.

Here is all you need to know about AfCFTA:


The free-trade zone is the largest in the world since the creation of the World Trade Organisation in 1995.

AfCFTA is a trade agreement between 54 AU member states, with the goal of creating a single, unified market for goods and services followed/facilitated by free movement and a single-currency union.  At exactly 10:48am on Sunday, Nigeria became the 53rd country to append its signature to the document.


Adamah Barrow, president of Gambia signing the AfCFTA

On April 2, 2019, Gambia became the 22nd country to ratify the agreement, a year after it was first introduced.

Deliberations on the free-trade zone begun in 2015 and was originally projected to capture 55 countries.

A minimum number of 22 countries are needed for the treaty to be implemented.


Nigeria was absent in March when leaders from 44 African countries signed the agreement to form a combined gross domestic product of more than $2.5 trillion continental free-trade zone.

According to the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), the agreement is estimated to boost intra-African trade by 52 percent by 2022.


Buhari signs in Niamey

AfCTA is expected to help African countries eliminate high tariffs and enhance intra-African trade. Permit producers to benefit from economies of scale and to access cheaper raw materials while consumers have access to cheaper imported products from other African countries. Enable access to a larger market of around 1.2 billion people which will, in turn, promote industrial development across the continent.


At the extraordinary summit, the union also launched the operational instruments of the agreement establishing AfCFTA. The supporting instruments are rules of origin; schedules of tariff concessions on trade in goods; online non-tariff barriers monitoring and elimination mechanism; digital payments and settlement platform; and, African Trade Observatory Portal.

Photo credit: Bayo Omoboriowo and African Union

Buhari finally signs Africa free trade deal

President Muhammad Buhari has finally signed the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement.

AfCFTA is a trade agreement between AU member states with the goal of creating a single market followed by free movement and a single-currency union.

The president signed it at the 12th extraordinary session of the assembly of the union on AfCFTA and the first mid-year coordination meeting of the African Union (AU) and the regional economic communities (RECs) in Niamey, Niger Republic.

The president signed the agreement at exactly 10:48am, making Nigeria the 53rd country on the continent to append its signature to the document.

Buhari had said he delayed signing the agreement “to give room for extensive consultations with stakeholders”.

He had set up a committee to assess impact of Nigeria joining the free trade area. In June, the committee submitted its report to the president, recommending that Nigeria sign the treaty.

Twenty four countries have already ratified the AfCFTA which is expected to be the world’s largest free trade area since the formation of the World Trade Organization. It has a potential market of 1.2 billion people and a gross domestic product (GDP) of $2.5 trillion, across all 55 member states of the AU.

The extraordinary session of the assembly of the union also launched the operational instruments of the agreement establishing AfCFTA.

The instruments are AfCFTA rules of origin, tariff concession portals, portal on monitoring and elimination of non-tariff barriers, digital payments and clearing systems and African Trade and Observatory Dashboard.

Buhari signed the deal one week after members of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) agreed to launch ECO, proposed single currency in the region.

The heads of the 15-member countries reached this decision at the 55th ordinary session of ECOWAS in Abuja.


NAFDAC recalls contaminated Eva table water


The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) has directed Nigerian Bottling Company Limited to recall Eva Premium Table Water 75cl as a precautionary step pending investigation by the Agency.

The company voluntarily reported to NAFDAC on June 20, 2019, a change in colour of the product from colourless to light green and presence of particles in two lots.

According to a NAFDAC statement, the affected Eva Premium Table Water 75cl was produced between 22nd and 23rd May, 2019 at Nigerian Bottling Company Limited, Asejire, Ibadan, Oyo State.

The details of the affected Eva Premium Table Water 75cl are:

Name of Product. Production Date. Best Before Date
Eva Premium Table Water 75cl. 22/05/19.14.27 AC4220520

Eva Premium Table Water 75cl. 23/05/19.15.15 AC4230520

Eva Premium Table Water 75cl produced by Nigerian Bottling Company is registered by NAFDAC. The NAFDAC Registration Number is 01-0492.

The production of Eva Premium Table Water 75cl at Nigerian Bottling Company Limited, Asejire, Ibadan, Oyo State has been suspended pending the outcome of investigation being conducted by the Agency.

NAFDAC implores distributors, wholesalers and retailers to immediately stop the distribution and sale of the affected Eva Premium Table Water 75cl. They should return the stock of the affected product in their possession to Nigerian Bottling Company Limited, Asejire, Ibadan, Oyo State.

Consumers are advised to report adverse events related to use of this product to the nearest NAFDAC office, NAFDAC PRASCOR (20543 TOLL FREE from all networks) or via

Air Peace begins flights on Lagos-Dubai route

Air Peace has expanded its flight operations to include the Lagos-Sharjah-Dubai route.

The airline’s first long-haul flight was scheduled to depart Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Ikeja at 8.00p.m. to arrive in Dubai at 5.00a.m. on Saturday.

Sabiu Zakari, permanent secretary in the federal ministry of transportation (aviation), commended the airline for its expansion efforts.

Zakari, who was represented by Hassan Musa, director of air transport management, said the government would continue to support Nigerian airlines for them to sustain their operations.

“We are proud of you. The government on its own will continue to assist domestic airlines,” he said.

“We have gotten waivers on aircraft spares and also opened a special foreign exchange window for them which shows the commitment of the government to our carriers.”

According to Musa, the government is ready to approve new international routes for domestic airlines and assist them in liaising with foreign governments through the ministry of foreign affairs.

Speaking at an event to commemorate the inaugural flight, Allen Onyema, Air Peace chairman, thanked Nigerians for their patronage, which he said, had made the company the largest airline in West Africa within four years of operations.

Onyema noted that the entry of the airline into long-haul services would end the exploitation and short-changing of Nigerians by foreign airlines.

“A six-hour flight from Lagos to Europe costs more than an 11-hour trip from Johannesburg to the same destination,” he said.

“So, we want to put an end to the exploitation of our people. We want Nigerians to know that patronising us instead of our competitors will put back their money into the country’s economy.

“We are optimistic that even if our competitors begin to drop their fares that Nigerians will be wise to stick with us.”

NAN reports that Air Peace has scheduled to operate flights on Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays to Dubai while Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays would be for flights back to Lagos.

The airline is currently the only Nigerian carrier operating on the route, after flights services by Medview Airlines were suspended in March 2018.

N6.5trn pension funds borrowed by FG

Out of the total N9.03tn pension assets as of March 31, 2019, about N6.5tn, representing 72.06 per cent of the entire fund, was invested in Federal Government securities by Pension Fund Administrators.

The figures are contained in a report for the industry obtained by our correspondent on Friday from the National Pension Commission.

An analysis of the report showed that while the Federal Government’s securities took a huge chunk of the pension assets, state government bonds and corporate bonds took the balance of 27.94 per cent.

A breakdown of the figures showed that the highest amount of N4.46tn was invested in Federal Government bonds alone.

This was followed by N1.94tn investment in Treasury bills while N94.11bn, N11.9bn and N8.5bn were invested in Sukuk bond, agency bond and green bond, respectively, indicating that the Federal Government remains the biggest borrower in the economy.

The N8.5bn agency bond, according to the commission, was invested in two government agencies, namely the Nigeria Mortgage Refinancing Company and the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria.

The commission said in the report that the sum of N144.3bn was invested by PFAs in state governments’ securities.

For the private sector, an analysis of the report showed that the sum of N590.61bn was invested in domestic ordinary shares, while foreign ordinary shares had a total investment of N62.6bn.

Other security instruments where funds were invested were corporate bonds, with N478.1bn; infrastructure bonds, N29.4bn; and supra-national bonds, N5.37bn.

Similarly, the sum of N22.54bn was invested by the PFAs in foreign money market securities; N24.96bn in mutual funds; N231.34bn in real estate properties; N32.34bn in private equity fund, while cash and other asset investments had N25.17bn.

The report reads in part, “A breakdown of pension industry portfolio indicates that the pension fund assets were mainly invested in Federal Government Securities, with an allocation of 72 per cent of the total pension assets.

“The value of investments in domestic ordinary shares was N590.61bn as at 31 March, 2019, indicating a decrease of N15.59bn compared to the value of N606.2bn as at 31 December, 2018.

“The decrease in the value of investments in domestic ordinary shares was primarily due to the market price depreciation of some stocks during the period, as the Nigerian Stock Exchange All Share Index, and market capitalisation depreciated by 1.24 per cent and 0.43 per cent respectively, from N11.72tn, as at 31 December, 2018 to N11.67tn, as at 31 March, 2019.”

Senator Abbo may face assault charges this week

Barring any last-minute changes, the police will this week file criminal charges against Senator Elisha Abbo for allegedly assaulting a nursing woman at an adult toy shop in Abuja.

The Senate on Wednesday condemned the Senator for allegedly assaulting the woman in the Wuse area of Abuja on May 11.

The red chamber subsequently set up a bi-partisan ad hoc committee headed by a former governor of Ebonyi State, Sam Egwu, to probe the action of the Peoples Democratic Party Senator.

The embattled senator, who represents Adamawa North in the Senate, allegedly slapped the woman following a brief argument.

The viral video footage had generated outrage among Nigerians with activists marching to the Force Headquarters and the National Assembly to demand Abbo’s prosecution for assault.

It was learnt that police detectives had been able to establish a prima facie case against the lawmaker.

Apart from the evidence deduced from the video, which showed Abbo repeatedly slapping his victim for intervening in an argument between him and the shop owner, the admission by the Senator in a statement last week was also said to have added to the weight of evidence against him.

The Federal Capital Territory Police Command interrogated Abbo on Thursday and subsequently detained him for 24 hours.

He was released on bail on Friday and directed to return for further questioning this week.

SUNDAY PUNCH learnt on Saturday that the force planned to arraign Abbo on Friday, but shelved the move due to the inability of the investigators to obtain the original footage of the assault from the Closed Circuit Television camera which captured the incident.

It was learnt that the investigators wanted to subject the original video to a forensic analysis in order to ascertain that it had not been manipulated.

A source, who is familiar with the investigation, told one of our correspondents that the detectives could not secure the original footage because the shop owner was out of town.

The senior police officer stated that they would arraign Abbo to show to the world that it did not condone gender violence in any form regardless of the social status of the perpetrator.

The officer stated, “Our preliminary investigation has indicted the senator and the plan was to arraign him on Friday for assault but the detectives were not able to obtain the original video from the CCTV which we needed to vet to ensure that it had not been manipulated. So, the arraignment would hold this week.”

Another source explained that the police did not want to rush the arraignment to avoid mistakes or legal loopholes that could be exploited by Abbo’s lawyer.

He stated that the force decided to delay the arraignment while ensuring a diligent investigation to avoid costly mistakes during the prosecution of the lawmaker.

The source also noted that the police needed to access the original video to confirm whether the lawmaker damaged any property in the shop which could increase the counts against him.

He added, “We don’t want to sacrifice diligent investigation on the altar of speed. Rather, we want to strike a balance between the need to charge him to court timeously and the need to do the right thing.

“When you are investigating a case involving a high calibre person, you have to be sure you have a watertight case, because the accused would hire the best lawyers who could exploit every technicality and loophole to get their client off the hook.”

SUNDAY PUNCH learnt that detectives had questioned the victim, but had yet to interact with the shop owner who would serve as the key prosecution witness during Abbo’s trial.

When asked if the Senator would be arraigned this week, Force Public Relations Officer, Frank Mba, said investigations into the case had not been completed.

However, he said “the right thing would be done as the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, has assured Nigerians that justice will be served.”

Apology not enough to save Abbo –Senate, women activists

Meanwhile, the Senate said on Saturday that despite the public apology tendered by Abbo, it would proceed with the Senator’s probe.

The President of the Senate, Ahmed Lawan, constituted a panel to investigate the assault, following a point of order raised by the Senator representing Kaduna Central, Uba Sani, on the issue.

The Senate Leader, Abdullahi Yahaya; Minority Leader, Enyinnaya Abaribe; and Senator Opeyemi Bamidele supported Sani by condemning Abbo’s alleged action.

Lawan said it would be unfair to both the lawmaker and the victim if the Senate should pass a judgment based on the viral video clip without listening to Abbo.

However, hours after the ad hoc panel was constituted, Abbo, who was absent from the Senate plenary on Wednesday, rushed to the National Secretariat of the PDP in Abuja where he addressed journalists and apologised to Nigerians and his victims for his action.

But the Chairman, Senate ad-hoc Committee on Media and Publicity, Senator Dayo Adeyeye, said on Saturday that the public apology by Abbo was not enough to stop the Senate panel from going ahead with its assignment.

He said, “The Senate has not taken any definite position on the issue. We only constituted an ad hoc committee to investigate the matter. We have not passed any verdict on the Senator.

“We are aware that Senator Abbo has tendered a public apology and regretted his action but that does not stop the Senate from going ahead with its own investigation.

“A responsible institution like the Senate should follow due process in a matter like this by ensuring that all parties are giving fair hearing.

“The Senate will base its decision on the report of the ad hoc committee whenever it is submitted and considered.”

Also, despite his apology, women activists have insisted that Abbo should face trial to teach others a lesson.

The President, Women in Politics Forum, Ebere Ifendu, described the action of the Senator as “both barbaric and animalistic.”

She said, “Senator Abbo has also by his misconduct desecrated the ethos of the revered public institution of the Nigerian Senate. The generality of Nigerian women consider his action to be repugnant and appalling as with all other forms of violence against women.

“We request that Senator Abbo be charged to court for prosecution as his action is tantamount to both a crime and a tort. It is our view that to do otherwise will be a blatant disregard for the rule of law and the principles of equality before the law of the land.”

Also, the Executive Director, The Cece Yara Foundation, Grace Ketefe, said Abbo should be suspended for six months from the Senate without pay.

She said, “Apology should be just a part of the bargain; it should not completely insulate a wrongdoer from facing the consequences of their action.

“Alternatively, the Senate may suspend Abbo for something like six months without pay. In any case, the man should not be allowed to go scot-free simply for tendering an apology. The apology should be accompanied by due punishment, but in less severe form.”

The Chief Executive of Nigerian Women Trust Fund, Hajiya Mufuliat Fijabi, said, “His apology is not acceptable for several reasons, including the fact that he would not have slapped a woman like that and because there are several more like him out there who may be thinking that if they commit violence against women and girls, all they need do is to apologise. Nigeria has the VAP Act in place and the law should be allowed to take its full course. Nobody is above the law.”

The Executive Director, Women Advocates Research and Documentation Centre, Dr. Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi, said apology was not enough.

“I am not satisfied; it’s an assault and it’s an offence. So, he should face the law and be convicted for his offence. His apology is an admission of guilt. This will send a strong message to batterers that those who occupy positions of power should not abuse it. Nobody is above the law.”

Northern Nigeria similar to Afghanistan, says El-Rufai

Governor Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna State on saturday, painted the picture of Nigeria as that of two countries in one: a developing South and a backward, less educated and unhealthy north, with the highest number of poor people in the world.

He also drew similarities between the development indicators of the North and those of war-torn Afghanistan.

The governor spoke at the Northern Youth Summit in Kaduna organised by Northern Hibiscus, an NGO.

He said that for the problems to be tackled effectively, the governors of all the 19 northern states have to work together.

His words: “Looking at the statistics, Nigeria appears to be a middle income country. But, if we segregate those statistics across states and zones, you will see that, in terms of human development indicators, Nigeria consists of two countries; there is a backward, less educated and unhealthy northern Nigeria, and a developing, largely educated and healthy southern Nigeria.

“We have to speak the truth to ourselves and ask why is it that northern Nigeria has development indicators similar to Afghanistan, a country still at war?

“We have the largest number of poor people in the world, most of them in northern Nigeria. Nigeria also has the largest number of out of school children, virtually all of them in Northern Nigeria.

“Northern Nigeria has become the centre of drug abuse, gender violence, banditry, kidnapping and terrorism. We have also been associated with high divorce rate and breakdown of families. These are the challenges that confront us. This is the naked truth that we have to tell ourselves.

“We must therefore, as leaders at all levels, have conversation about the way forward for our part of the country. Because increasingly, as many of you must have seen on social media, we are being considered as the parasite of the federal economy, even though, that is not entirely true. Because northern Nigeria still feeds the nation. The richest business man in Nigeria is still Aliko Dangote, not someone from Southern Nigeria, thank God for that.

“So, we still have a lot to be proud of. We should be proud of our culture and tradition, as well as unity. You hardly can find someone from northern Nigeria convicted of 419 or being a Yahoo boy. That is something we should be proud of.

“We are generally considered to be more honest and less corrupt than other Nigerians. That is something we should be proud of. In addition, our demographic superiority gives us a very powerful tool to negotiate in politics. And that is something we should be proud of and we should preserve. So, we have every reason to unite and not be divided.”

He asked northern youths to rise up to the challenge.

He said:”I therefore call on you the youth, you account for 80 per cent of the northern population and the future of this region lies in your hands, not in the hands of dinosaurs like me.

“I’m 59 and among the oldest five per cent of the northern population. I shouldn’t even be governor; I should have been governor 10 years ago. But ‘na condition make crayfish bend’, so we are here.”

He said the theme of the summit -’Awakening the Arewa Spirit’- was apt as it would help in preparing the next generation of northern leaders.

He told the summit organizers to send recommendations from this talks to the Chairman of northern State Governors Forum.

“We have to do something about the situation of northern Nigeria and we must do so as a group of 19 Governors, not individual state Governors,” El-Rufai said.

Also speaking, the sponsor of the event and immediate past Chairman of House of Representatives Committee on Appropriation, Abdulmumini Jibrin said while the North is currently in a dire situation, it has not lost everything.

He stressed the need to reawaken the Arewa spirit and called for role models across board, adding that “we have to mould leaders, we have to create ourselves into leaders.”

In her opening remarks, founder of Northern Hibiscus Initiative, Aisha Falke, said the summit organised to examine the numerous challenges of the north, with a view to finding lasting solutions to them.

She said the NGO has also taken the bull by the horn with a 16-year action to empower the youths with useful skills, especially those who are not privileged to have the formal education.

Dollar rain for Super Eagles as NFF hails dignitaries for support


The Nigeria Football Federation has commended top Nigerian dignitaries who were in Alexandria, Egypt on Saturday and cheered the Super Eagles to victory over Cameroon in an interesting AFCON 2019 Round of 16 clash.

The NFF commendation came admist  the shower of dollars on the team following the significant victory that has secured a quarter finals ticket for Nigeria.

Acting President of the NFF, Barrister Seyi Akinwunmi listed the top officials and said the Federation is immensely grateful to them not only for their presence but their passion in cheering and believing in the Super Eagles to overcome even when the team fell behind in the game.

“We want to specially thank the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila; the Executive Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Babatunde Sanwo-Olu; the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr. Godwin Emefiele and; Captain Hosea Wells Okunbor, a staunch financier and supporter of the Super Eagles.

“These distinguished personalities not showed up at the Alexandria Stadium; they oozed passion and love for the game of football and for our dear nation. They were so much involved and always believed the Super Eagles would carry the day.”

Three –time champions Nigeria put the Cup holders to the sword with two quick goals in the second half that took the scoreline to 3-2 after the Lions topped the first half 2-1 also with two quick goals late in the half.

Nigeria will take on South Africa in a much –anticipated quarter final duel at the 75,000 –capacity Cairo International Stadium on Wednesday night.

Apart from their presence at the match venue, Captain Hosea Okunbor gifted the Super Eagles with the sum of $20,000 per player, while Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu showered the players with $5,000 each. The President of AITEO Group, NFF’s Optimum Partner, Mr. Benedict Peters weighed in with the sum of $75,000 for the entire team for the three goals scored, at $25,000 per goal as he promised before the match.

These financial gifts are aside the $12,500 per player that the Nigeria Football Federation will pay the players for a place in the last eight.