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Daily Archives: July 8, 2019

Election Tribunal: Galadima testifies against Buhari, insists he’s still an APC member

Buba Galadima, a spokesperson for the Atiku Campaign Organisation, says he is still a member of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

He made this statement while speaking at the presidential tribunal sitting in Abuja.

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) had, on Monday, presented Buba Galadima, as its witness.

During cross-examination, Wole Olanipekun, the APC’s counsel, asked Galadima why he was no longer on good terms with the president.

In response, he said he supported Buhari’s presidential ambition in 2003, 2007, 2011 and 2015 because he believed Buhari as qualified to lead the country.

He said bad governance has made him change his mind about Buhari’s competence.

“I’m still a member of APC. I have not been sacked. We are in court. I don’t want to be subjudice,” he said, adding he is the chairman of the Reformed APC, even though it is not a registered party.

“I’m not a member of PDP, but we have a memorandum of understanding with the PDP to produce God-fearing, good and educated leader.”

PDP and its presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, are challenging the February 23 election in which Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC) was declared winner.

Galadima was formerly an ally in the Buhari camp and was one of the nine signatories that signed the merger agreement to form the All Progressives Congress.

He was called to the witness stand at the proceedings, after Livy Uzoukwu, PDP’s lawyers, tendered some result sheets from four local government areas of Kano state.

Adams Oshiomole, the APC chairman, also attended the sitting for the first time since the sitting began on June 10.

Before now, Uche Secondus, the PDP chairman and Peter Obi, the party’s vice-presidential candidate, had attended proceedings at different times.

Atiku had tendered 26,175 exhibits against the election.

In a statement through Paul Ibe, his spokesman, Atiku had said the exhibits include result sheets from polling units, wards and local governments in eight states namely Katsina, Kebbi, Borno, Jigawa, Gombe, Bauchi, Kaduna and partly Kano.

He claims that the results show that he won the election.

We’ll no longer deal with British envoy to US, Trump says

US President Donald Trump declared on Monday he would have no further contact with Britain’s ambassador to Washington, following the leak of diplomatic cables in which the envoy described him as “inept.”

“I do not know the Ambassador, but he is not liked or well thought of within the U.S,” Trump tweeted of Kim Darroch, as Britain scrambled to stem the damage to relations caused by the incident.

“We will no longer deal with him,” added Trump, who hit out in a series of tweets at Theresa May and her “representatives,” and welcomed the prime minister’s impending departure from office.

(AFP)

Tinubu among promoters of Ruga – Odumakin

Afenifere chieftain, Yinka Odumakin, says All Progressives Congress chieftain, Bola Tinubu, is one of the promoters of the Ruga initiative which seeks to give free land to herdsmen for cattle grazing and other forms of animal husbandry.

Odumakin drew the attention of Nigerians to Tinubu’s speech at a national summit on conflict resolution organised by The Nation and TV Continental with the theme, ‘Towards an Enduring Peace.’

He noted that at the event which held at the Nigerian Air Force Centre, Abuja on October 8, 2018, Tinubu said, “The government must help herders gradually shift from their traditional nomadic existence to a more static lifestyle. We have to face the reality that modernity is making the nomadic way counterproductive and inefficient.

“Unoccupied, isolated land can quickly be turned into grazing areas in the affected states. In the long run, this will enable herders to better maintain their livestock and thus their own livelihood.”

Speaking with our correspondent during an interview on Monday, the Afenifere spokesman said it was for this reason that Tinubu could not join other prominent Yoruba leaders in rejecting the Ruga programme.

Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka; the Aare Oona Kakanfo, Otunba Gani Adams, the Ooni of Ife, Enitan Ogunwusi; and other prominent Nigerians have all condemned the scheme.

Odumakin said, “It would be a waste of time to expect Tinubu to say anything on the Ruga matter. Don’t forget that in 2018, it was reported in The PUNCH that he said all unused lands should be given to herdsmen for grazing. I spoke up then but he lambasted me.

“What we are witnessing today is a manifestation of what he said. So, how can he come out today to oppose Ruga? He advocated Ruga.

“To expect Asiwaju to speak against Ruga is like expecting a shadow to shed tears. It will never happen.”

The Afenifere spokesman also noted that the Ruga initiative and the National Livestock Development Plan being handled by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo were not different from each other as claimed by President Muhammadu Buhari’s Spokesman, Garba Shehu.

Customs officer hospitalised for mental health illness

 

An assistant superintendent of the Nigeria Customs Service has been hospitalised after showing traits of mental ailments at the office on Monday.

Nura Dalhatu resumed office at the Customs Headquarters, Abuja, on Monday morning, wearing the uniform of a deputy comptroller general, a poition far above his official rank, a spokesperson for Customs, Joseph Attah, said.

Attah said Mr Dalhatu was questioned about his action but replied in a manner that indicated he was mentally challenged.

“It was obvious that he was not in the right frame of mind,” Mr Attah said. “From the question and the answer he gave.”

Attah said the official has been taken to the hospital for appropriate evaluation and treatment, urging Nigerians to show sympathy towards his condition and pray for his quick recovery.

He urged Nigerians to dismiss social media rumour that Dalhatu wanted to take over the position of comptroller-general, saying the development was too serious for any serious citizen to mock or use to further a sinister agenda.

The spokesperson also said additional information about the development would be provided to the public as soon as possible.

Customs officer promotes self to CG, asks Hameed Ali to hand over

Nura Dahiru, an Assistant Superintendent of Customs, on Monday promoted himself to the rank of Deputy Comptroller-General of Customs (DCG), claiming he was directed by President Muhammadu Buhari to assume the office of Comptroller-General (CG).

Sources at the Customs headquarters in Abuja said that Dahiru walked in Monday morning wearing the new rank, and went into the office of Hameed Ali, the comptroller-general.

“As he came in, officers were saluting him because he was wearing that rank,” one of the sources said.

“Sometime in May, he had posted on Facebook that he had been directed by the president to take over from Hameed Ali, and today when we saw him in the new rank, we thought, indeed, he has been promoted and so directed by the president. He went inside the CG’s office, sat in the waiting room, expecting the CG to handover to him.”

He has since been arrested and detained pending investigation, sources said.

 

Police arraign Senator Abbo over sex toy shop assault

The police have arraigned Elisha Abbo, senator representing Adamawa north, for allegedly assaulting a woman at a sex toy shop in Abuja.

The lawmaker was arriagned at a magistrate court in Zuba on Monday.

Anjuguri Manzah, spokesman of the federal capital territory (FCT) police, confirmed the development.

Abbo has been under fire after a video clip of him hitting the woman, simply identified as Briba, went viral.

On Thursday, the police arrested the senator after he surrendered himself to the FCT police command.

He was detained and released on bail on Friday.

The senator has since asked Nigerians for forgiveness over the incident at the shop. His apology came after outrage on social media and protest against him.

Abbo said he had learnt his lessons and would be of good conduct henceforth.

“I personally apologize to Bibra and her family for my action towards her, which has brought immense discomfort in our body polity,” he had said.

“I have never been known or associated with such actions in the past.”

The senate also set up a committee to investigate Abbo. The report of the committee is expected in within two weeks.

Lecturer goes to jail for insulting President Museveni in poem

Ugandan feminist and lecturer Stella Nyanzi, has been jailed over a poem about ‘Vagina’ she wrote and shared on Facebook in September.

The Ugandan feminist in the poem, used a graphic description of the birth of the Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, and his mother’s vagina to criticize his “oppression, suppression and repression” in the country.

Stella who was arraigned before Buganda Road Court, was charged with “cyber harassment and offensive communication”.

She was accused of intending to disturb the peace and privacy of President, Yoweri Kaguta Museveni and his mother the late Esteeri.

The poem she wrote, read:

Yoweri, they say it was your birthday yesterday.

How bitterly sad a day!

I wish the smelly and itchy cream-coloured candida festering in Esiteri’s cunt had suffocated you to death during birth.

Suffocated you just like you are suffocating us with oppression, suppression and repression!

Yoweri, they say it was your birthday yesterday.

How painfully ugly a day!

I wish the lice-filled bush of dirty pubic hair overgrown all over Esiteri’s unwashed chuchu had strangled you at birth.

Strangled you just like the long tentacles of corruption you sowed and watered into our bleeding economy.

Yoweri, they say it was your birthday yesterday.

How nauseatingly disgusting a day!

I wish the acidic pus flooding Esiteri’s cursed vaginal canal had burnt up your unborn fetus.

Burnt you up as badly as you have corroded all morality and professionalism out of our public institutions in Uganda.

Yoweri, they say it was your birthday yesterday.

How horrifically cancerous a day!

I wish the infectious dirty-brown discharge flooding Esiteri’s loose pussy had drowned you to death.

Drowned you as vilely as you have sank and murdered the dreams and aspirations of millions of youths who languish in the deep sea of massive unemployment, and under-emplyment in Uganda.

Yoweri, they say it was your birthday yesterday.

How traumatically wasted a day!

I wish the poisoned uterus sitting just above Esiteri’s dry clitoris had prematurely miscarried a thing to be cast upon a manure pit.

Prematurely miscarried just like you prematurely aborted any semblance of democracy, good governance and rule of law.

Yoweri, they say it was your birthday yesterday!

How morbidly grave a day!

I wish that Esiteri’s cursed genitals had pushed out a monstrously greenish-bluish still-birth.

You should have died at birth, you dirty delinquent dictator…

You should have died in birth, Yoweri Kaguta Museveni.

She concluded by saying: “If you want to beat me for my heartfelt birthday poem, come and find me at my home.

“Ask the bodabodamen to direct you to Mama Stella’s house with a red gate. I refuse to be gagged!

The academic had stated that she has no case to answer and pushed for her immediate release, but the judgment wasn’t in her favor. Her request for the court to summon 20 defense witnesses, including President Yoweri Museveni himself was also turned down.

Nyanzi is battling three other legal cases among which is “cyber harassment and offensive communication” trial for a poem calling the President a “pair of buttocks,” which she was granted bail.

She is also in dispute with her former employer Makerere University, which dismissed her for staging a naked protest, and a case disputing her inclusion on Uganda’s “no-fly” list initiated by her critical Facebook commentary.

Nyanzi is still being held at Luzira prison where she has been since November 2018.

Heritage Bank: Of Moral Hazards and the Unravelling of a Deposit Money Institution

 

Three months ago Proshare had cause to commit resources to investigate and produce an hitherto unpublished Confidential Report on Heritage Banking Company Limited, in direct response to the promptings of the advisory board members who wanted to know the true state of the bank which had another financial institution handling clearing operations for it at some time.

By this time, and curiously; it wasn’t such a big news that some of the bank depositors had experienced recurring challenges with withdrawals and staff exits did little to help matters. Yet, the restraint was important in order to ensure and support financial system stability as well as give the institution an opportunity to execute its resolution strategies without hindrance. After all, the institutional frameworks were in place to protect depositors and the system in general.

The task involved a lot of stakeholder engagements including sources we understood to be in a position to recognize, appreciate and make informed decisions. The revelations offered little comfort from history to, interventions up to the current state. We limited ourselves however to facts, data and evidence and submitted the report.

Further to the completion of this initial review, and in the interest of giving the financial system an opportunity to resolve the bank’s challenges through normal regulatory intervention and management effort at recapitalizing the institution or determination of the banks going concern status through a merger and acquisition (M&A) arrangement; the report remained private.

The burden of a moral hazard however appeared a bigger burden than tolerable or envisaged, especially given the evident ‘sailors survival’ approach that appears to have kicked in as seen through senior management exit, non-improving conditions, non-progressing talks around mergers and acquisitions; and recapitalization plans.

It has become compelling to highlight concerns about the bank formally; with the hope that ‘some intervention’ can happen to alter the trajectory of an inevitability. and remove the spectre of a bank waiting to die that overshadows the institution, unfortunately.

Proshare’s investigation into the bank revealed a few major concerns related to corporate governance and operational stability/sustainability. The primary issues included, but were not limited to the following:

• The acquisition of Enterprise Bank which is turning out to be a major strategic error;

• HBL’s non-performing loans (NPLs) portfolio, which are amongst the most challenged in the industry. Impairment charges in H1 2018 was estimated at N37.5bn but by year end, we extrapolated that the figure should settle around N634.5m;

• The bank posted an operating loss before tax of N38.5bn in H1 2018 and a loss of N4.4bn in the unaudited figures for the month of December 2018;

• The bank’s leverage has been a major sore point for management. The banks debt to equity ratio was -0.17. The negative value reflected negative shareholders fund which could be impaired by as much as $1bn

• Equity capital has been virtually wiped out by accumulated losses, a legacy issue;

• The bank’s regular recourse to the CBN’s short term borrowing window highlights persistent liquidity resolution issues;

• Corporate governance has been a challenge as a number of the bank’s directors have allegedly been involved in a series of poor performing insider loan transactions, and little known about such resolutions (if any);

• The bank’s 2018 unaudited financial figures shows a dire situation in several operational metrics; and

• The bank has not been engaged in direct cheque clearing for a while, HBL’s instruments have been cleared through a third party first tier bank which got a full CBN guarantee against clearing loses.

IEI’s Pound of Flesh

It is instructive to recall how this sorry pass all began. Records indicated that Heritage Bank was in a difficult place from the start. It’s managing director and chief promoter, Ifie Sekibo, was the former Executive Vice Chairman (EVC) of International Energy Insurance (IEI) Plc from where a sizable amount of the acquisition money for the old SGBN was raised. Sekibo has been in a stretch of back and forth with the Board of his former company on this subject, as the directors of the company insist that Heritage Bank should be considered as part of the assets of the Insurance group; going as far as alleging that Sekibo had invested the insurers money in the bank without the approval of then Board members; or indicating/stating IEI’s consideration in the bank acquisition, if any.

The matter of using IEI resources to acquire the former Societe Generale Bank of Nigeria (SGBN) which was renamed Heritage Banking Company Limited has been the subject of a longstanding Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) investigation and continues to hound the bank’s CEO till date. Our background work on the matter then, enabled us to sight documentations that lends credence if not validity to the role played IEI as reflected in presentations made to its board.

Mr. Sekibo has over the past few years tried to work out an amicable settlement with the IEI Group and directors, but matters are still fluid with necessary concessions being made on both parts. That said, the CEO’s travails still continue as he has had to deal with a few other issues concerning related-party transactions that have crystallized and left the bank’s books in a difficult position.

Weak Governance and Control

Heritage Bank’s problems have most certainly not been about Sekibo, alone. Far from it, the bank’s Board of directors (including former directors) has created a permissive culture that led to this.

Heritage Bank’s erstwhile chairman was also known to have used the banks tills to acquire two electricity distribution licenses’ the underlying cash flow difficulties of the businesses were subsequently and promptly transmitted to the bank, resulting in large repayment defaults. Indeed the loans have become ‘hardcore’ non-performing assets sitting on the bank’s books and creating both liquidity and profitability difficulties.

Managers of the bank, particularly branch managers, were in the past profligate in granting authorized and unauthorized loans to associates. Temporary overdrafts (TODs) routinely skipped repayment dates while structured loans also habitually missed the terms of the loan indenture, resulting into phantom profits and worsening liquidity.

Huge public sector deposits were beauties turned into monsters. The introduction of the Treasury Single Account (TSA) policy by the federal government in 2015 subsequently left the bank’s Asset and Liability Management (ALM) position in tatters.

The TSA policy did four things to undermine the bank’s fiscal stability:

• Sharply reduced the bank’s deposits;
• Significantly raised the banks cost of Funds (CoF);
• Reduced the bank’s ability to give short term loans; and
• Weakened the bank’s already fragile profitability.

Since the bank was already nurtured on a culture of entitlement, finding strategic options to wriggle from, under the weight of government policy and patronage became impossible.

Heritage Bank’s narrow retail base and its poor quality risk assets put inevitable pressure on profitability and liquidity. To compound matters, the bank’s internal control and compliance functions appears to have operated under a cloud of breaches than in the protection of standard corporate governance requirements, as directors willy-nilly violated single obligor limits. The poor internal control and audit process and administration at the bank thus complicated an already combustible bad loan and poor liquidity situation.

 

Coup de Foudre (Unintended Consequences)

As a way out of its myriad of challenges, the bank fell in love with another entity, committing a tragic error. In a bold but ill-digested move, Heritage Bank decided to acquire the Asset Management Company of Nigeria’s (AMCON’s) legacy deposit money institution, Enterprise Bank, this was the decision that let all the evil spirits out of Pandora’s box. The acquisition of Enterprise Bank was the classic example of a Cobra Effect or a situation where a cure becomes worse than the original disease.

The decision to acquire Enterprise Bank for N56bn in 2014 resulted in unintended consequence. At the time, the bank’s Board rationale in acquiring Enterprise Bank from AMCON was to rapidly expand the retail end of HBL’s operations and reduce its cost to income ratio based on representations that informed their decision. That gambit has proven to be a disaster and a cautionary tale on acquiring distressed banks unfortunately.

The Enterprise Bank wedlock, as consummated, turned into a fiasco as it added a further two hundred (200) branches to the banks operations and cut interest expense while improving net interest income (see chart 1 below). This led to the following outcomes:

• A sudden and significant rise in the bank’s bad debt to asset ratio;
• A leap in the bank’s debt provisioning or loan impairment requirements;
• A major rise in operational costs;
• A rise in the banks cost to income ratio (99% in FY 2018, as against the 53% of a bank like StanbicIBTC). (See chart 2 below);
• Stretching human capacity by lifting managers to their highest levels of administrative and technical (in)competence (The Peter Principle); and
• Low Interest Income (as a result of slowing lending activities, (see chart 3) and high interest expense (as a result of a relatively low retail customer base, (see chart 4).

Chart 1 Net Interest Income FY2018, Heritage Bank and StanbicIBTC Bank


Source: Reported Financials Submitted / Estimated

Chart 2 Operating Expenses/Income FY2018,Heritage Bank and StanbicIBTC Bank


Source: Reported Financials Submitted / Estimated

Chart 3 Interest Income FY2018, Heritage Bank and StanbicIBTC Bank


Source: Reported Financials Submitted / Estimated

Biting into the Heritage Saga – What The Report Says

To understand the nexus between weak corporate governance, hubris, regulatory indulgence and Heritage Bank, the reader needs to carefully read the PDF report.

The report attempts a holistic look at the bank’s realities and lays bare the challenges that occur when individuals and institutions fail to live up to the exacting standards that are required to turn fragile ideas into enduring legacies.

The report was carried out as an intervention guidance to prompt action from the various parties and interested entities; all in the overall interest of the financial system.

To protect the financial system from contagion, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) may need to move into the affairs of Heritage Bank and any of three actions are now plausible:

• Wind up the institution with shareholders losing their money (as things stand today shareholder’s funds have been completely eroded) while depositors resort to the National Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC) for part recovery of deposited funds;
• Find fresh investors interested in the institution and intermediate a best effort basis sale of exiting shareholder interest and recapitalization of the institution as a going concern; and
• Liquidation of the institution and the running of the bank under a new franchise as a legacy institution managed by AMCON and available for purchase by third party investors.

The preferred solution would appear to be either the second or third options.

The second option would be of particular preference as it would not involve heavy ‘menu cost’ by way of rebranding but would involve a new ownership – Board of Directors and management staff. The fresh capital inflow would eliminate the need for initial treasury support from public coffers and would likely result in fresh/foreign capital inflows which would be beneficial for the local currency while also protecting domestic employment. This approach would appear plausible given that the CBN recently gave out new licenses to start up banks; premised on their understanding that there exist room for new entrants with fresh ideas and approach.

The CBN would however have to work fast if Heritage Bank is not to be dark blight on the Governors no-failure record.

From indicators received, there is a small window to achieve a technical resolution of the Heritage Bank situation, lest it could find itself taking remedial action(s) at a much higher economic cost later than it would now.

Heritage Bank’s weak liquidity, impaired shareholder funds and high loan impairment, according to analysts, needs action not tolerance. The time to act is now!

 

Senate to probe alleged diversion $322m Paris Club funds

The Senate is set to investigate alleged diversion of over $322 million Paris club refunds meant for the 774 Local Government Areas in the country, it was learnt on Sunday.

The Senator representing Delta North, Peter Nwaoboshi, disclosed this at a press conference in Abuja

Nwaobosh told reporters that a formal motion would be presented on the floor of the Senate for the investigation of the diverted funds.

The aim of the probe, he said, was to unearth the faces behind the alleged diversion under the guise of consultancy fees.

Nwaoboshi said that measures would also be mounted to recover the diverted funds.

The Delta north senator also flatly denied recent media reports that 22 various bank accounts belonging to him were frozen by the Special Presidential Investigation Panel (SPIP).

He challenged those behind the reports to publish the amount recovered.

Nwaoboshi said: “Let me assure Nigerians that as soon as the case is settled, I shall bring a motion to investigate the $322 million of the 774 local governments in Nigeria allegedly taken by consultants from the Paris Club refund. It must be investigated by Nigerians. Nothing will stop it.

“If the Senate fails to investigate it, I will take it up and make it a one-man show to ensure that faces behind the diversion of the funds are unmasked. Nigerians should expect that from me.”

On his legal tussle with SPIP, he said: “I don’t have 22 bank accounts. That is not to say that there is any law that forbids me to own up that number of bank accounts or more than that in Nigeria.

“Most of the alleged bank accounts belong to companies of which they thought I have interest in, but I am not a signatory, a director, or a shareholder in any of the companies.

“It is therefore wicked, malicious, frivolous, scandalous, and a height of irresponsibility.
“It, therefore portrays the level of the understanding of the law by the leadership of the SPIP. I challenge the SPIP to publish the names of the shareholders, directors, and signatories to the accounts for the public to judge.

“I wonder why the SPIP failed to carry out due diligence before rushing to the court to tarnish my image by securing a forfeiture order on firms that I have nothing to do with. I went to court on June 10th this year and obtained an injunction ordering SPIP to maintain the status quo ante on my case as of May 31, 2019.

“I wonder why a party to the suit should go ahead to secure this forfeiture order when the injunction had not be lifted.

Ten of the bank accounts belong to companies while most of the other 12 accounts were opened for me by the various banks representatives operating in the National Assembly when I became a senator, are already dormant.

“My attention has been drawn to a purported forfeiture order although I am yet to be served with the proceedings of the court, I only read it in the print media.

“I don’t have 22 bank accounts. That is not to say that there is any law that forbids me to own up that number of bank accounts or more than that in Nigeria.

“Most of the alleged bank accounts belong to companies of which they thought I have interest in but I am not a signatory, a director, or a shareholder in any of the companies.

“It is therefore wicked, malicious, frivolous, scandalous, and a height of irresponsibility.

It, therefore portray the level of the understanding of the law by the leadership of the SPIB.

“I challenge the SPIB to publish the names of the shareholders, directors, and signatories to the accounts for the public to judge. “

Obaseki to probe Oshiomhole’s hospital contracts

The Edo Government says it will probe contracts for construction of structures and supply of equipment to Benin Central Hospital, awarded by the administration of Adams Oshiomhole.

Mr Cruise Osage, Special Adviser to Edo Governor on Media and Communication Strategy, disclosed this in a statement issued on Sunday in Benin, saying a Commission of inquiry would soon be constituted to probe the contracts.

According to the Governor’s Aide, the action for probe was necessitated by numerous calls on the government to look into the contracts in which billions of taxpayers’ money were expended on poorly executed projects under the regime of Adams Oshiomhole, past Governor and incumbent APC National Chairman.

He said the Commission of Enquiry would have a mandate to ascertain if details of contract terms were adhered to, especially the quality of materials used for the building.

Osagie said the Commission of Enquiry would also determine the extent of irregularities regarding the purchase of equipment among others.

“The state government will investigate allegations of fraud and irregularities with the contract for procurement of the hospital equipment,” he said.

The aide stated that the commission would unravel why the equipment contracted were yet to be supplied and other claims made by the contractors.

He said, “the contractors who handled the building had questions to answer including the shoddy jobs done among others.

Osagie said works were ongoing at the hospital to patch up parts of the Hospital, as parts of the poorly constructed facilities leading to collapse of the roof in some sections.

Lagos pastor arrested for raping, impregnating teenager

Men of the Lagos State Police Command have arrested a pastor, Pope Paul, for allegedly raping and impregnating a 15-year-old girl at his place of residence in the Igando area of the state.

The state Police Public Relations Officer, Bala Elkana, in a statement on Sunday, said the mother of the victim discovered that her daughter was pregnant after she brought her to live with the suspect in Lagos.

He stated that the victim, during interrogation, said the suspect was responsible for the pregnancy, adding that he started having sexual intercourse with her in January 2018.

Elkana said, “On Tuesday, July 2, 2019, around 3pm, the mother of the victim (name withheld), from Akure, Ondo State, reported at the Igando Police Station against one Pastor Pope Paul of No. 10/11 Aminu Street, Ishuti Road, Egan-Igando. The complainant alleged that sometime in August 2017, her daughter (name withheld) was brought to Lagos to live with the suspect and his wife.

“She further stated that she discovered that her daughter was pregnant sometime in June 2018, and that when she interrogated her, she mentioned the suspect as being responsible for the pregnancy. The victim revealed in her statement that the suspect started having sexual intercourse with her in January 2018, and got her pregnant. She stated further that she gave birth to a baby girl in April 2019. The suspect has been charged to court.”

In another development, a 68-year-old man, Yisah Showunmi, has been arrested by the personnel of the command for allegedly raping his 15-year-old daughter.

Elkana said Showunmi’s daughter reported that he had been having sexual intercourse with her for over three years, adding that her two friends, who stayed with them, were also sexually assaulted by her father.

He stated that when arrested, Showunmi confessed to the crime.

Elkana said, “On Thursday, June 27, 2019, around 2pm, the 15-year-old victim (name withheld) reported a case of defilement at the Imota Police Station against her father, one Yisah Showunmi, 68. The victim alleged that her father had been having sexual intercourse with her for the past three years.

“She further alleged that when her two friends (names withheld), aged 15 and 16, came to stay in their house, her father also had sexual intercourse with them. She added that the last incident happened on June 23, 2019. The suspect confessed to the crime. He has been charged to court.”

In a similar development, the personnel of the command have arrested one Akin Olatilu for allegedly molesting his 19-year-old step daughter.

Elkana said the victim alleged that Olatilu had been molesting her since she was 14, adding that whenever she reported him to her mother, she would not take action.

He stated that the victim spoke out when Olatilu lied against her after she turned down his request to have sexual intercourse with her.

Elkana said, “On Friday, June 14, 2019, around 1pm, the victim, 19, alleged that her stepfather, Akin Olatilu, had been sexually abusing her since she was 14. She alleged further that she reported the matter to her mother, who did not take any action. She further stated that the abuse did not stop until she turned 18, and that the suspect also had sexual intercourse with her in March 2019.

“She added that when she turned down the request of the suspect in June, he lied against her to her mother and she was beaten up and this made her to speak up. The suspect has been charged to court.”

Meanwhile, one Aliyu Mohammed has been arrested by the command for allegedly raping a 14-year-old girl in an uncompleted building.

The PPRO stated that one Harrison Chukwereuke, who caught Mohammed in the act, reported him to the police.

“On Tuesday, July 2, 2019, around noon, one Harrison Chukwereuke of the Peace Estate reported at the Iba Police Station that he caught one Aliyu Mohammed having sexual intercourse with a 14-year-old girl (name withheld) inside an uncompleted building in the estate. The suspect has been charged to court,” Elkana stated.

AfCFTA: Nigeria targets $30bn annually, 500,000 jobs from non-oil sector

Nigeria can earn $30 billion and create 500,000 export-oriented jobs through 22 products from the non-oil sector.

Segun Awolowo, executive director of Nigerian Export Promotion Council, disclosed this to state house correspondents at the weekend.

Awolowo said the country could generate huge revenue from cocoa, cotton, cement, leather, cashew, sesame, shea butter, palm oil, fertiliser, petrochemicals and rubber.

“What we hope to achieve is to raise more revenue for Nigeria from other sources. You know 90 percent of our revenue is from oil and we cannot survive,” he said.

“Even though oil prices are rising a bit because of Iran, there is problem there. But we should not rest on our oars because, those days of $140 per barrel is gone forever. So we have to look inwards and produce more.

“The zero oil plan is about raising production and productivity, we identified 22 sectors where we can earn foreign exchange apart from oil. We are hoping that in the next 10-15 years we will be able to raise $150 billion from sources outside oil.

“That is what we are working on and we are galvanizing the whole states behind us in other to raise production and productivity. We are working with the relevant Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to achieve this. You know the Central Bank of Nigeria CBN just announced an initiative on five of our products and giving them low interest rates to farm and raise production.”

He also spoke about The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) which President Muhammadu Buhari signed at the 12th extraordinary session of the assembly of the union on AfCFTA in Niamey, Niger Republic.

Nigeria is the 53rd state on the continent to append its signature to the document.

“The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement is the biggest in the world. We didn’t want to be a dumping ground, that was why Mr. President refused signing the agreement until now. We must be competitive, we must produce more, and we must help our manufacturers get into this market,” he said.

Awolowo said he presented to Buhari, some tomatoes and “Bell peppers” being from Benin, and Casanovas, cassava chips from a cottage industry producing in Idu Industrial Estate, Abuja.

He said the chips are being exported to Germany.

He said he briefed the president on the zero oil implementation plan after he was asked for an update.

“Cocoa is an immediate win for us because, its been our number one none oil revenue making. But we are on less than 300,000 metric tons, Ghana is heading to 900,000, Cote d’ Ivoire almost two million metric,” he said.

“So, how do we compete? Meanwhile if you see the landmass in Nigeria you can imagine what we can do. Another sector is Shea nut, cashew is another breadwinner for us, so let’s raise production, let’s give our farmers, plantations low interest loan so that they can raise production for us. We are also looking at value addition for all because that is the way you create jobs, we cannot continue to sell the raw materials.”

Power ministry official nabbed for forging Fashola’s signature

Maikudi Haruna, a senior official of the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing, has been arrested for allegedly forging the signature of a former minister.

In a statement by Sunday James, spokesperson of the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS), Haruna was accused of forging the signature of the minister in charge of his ministry to help one Abubakar Mustapha, his client, obtain an official passport.

An official passport is given to senior federal government officials, state executives and senior military personnel.

However, James did not mention the minister whose signature was forged. Until May, Babatunde Fashola was the minister of power, works and housing.

The statement said Haruna collected the sum of N250,000 from Mustapha and created the ministry’s staff identity card for him in order to process the passport with the NIS.

He said despite knowing that Mustapha was not a staff of the ministry, Haruna went ahead to forge the minister’s signature on the identity card.

The spokesperson stated that the suspects have been charged before Taiwo Taiwo, judge of the federal high court, Abuja, to serve as a deterrent to others who might want to exploit the system in the future.

He was charged with conspiracy and making false statement for the purpose of procuring Nigerian passport and engaging in forgery.

“The Comptroller General of Nigeria Immigration Service Muhammad Babandede MFR has vowed not to spare individual or groups involved in passport related offences from getting away with it,” he said.

“The warning came at the wake of the prosecution of a senior protocol officer in the Ministry of Power, Works,and Housing Maikudi Haruna involved in the Forgery of documents meant for the procurement of Nigerian Passport.

“He conspired by forging official Identity Card and signature of the Minister of the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing on a letter issued to one Abubakar Mustapha Bida to procure “Official Passport” thereby collecting #250,000:00 (Two Hundred and Fifty Thousand Naira) as proceed knowing fully well that the subject is not a government official.

“The Comptroller General of Nigeria Immigration Service advise prospective applicants seeking Nigerian passport to avoid false declarations, forgery and use of fake breeder documents, but follow due process by paying online, applying online and desist from patronising touts, noting that both the procurer and the applicant will be prosecuted in accordance with the provision of the law related to Passport Offences.”

Eight Lagos pipeline explosion victims die in hospital

At least  eight hospitalised victims of the pipeline fire incident in the Ijegun area of Lagos State have reportedly succumbed to death as a result of the severe burns they suffered.

The inferno resulted from an explosion at a vandalised point of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation’s product pipeline in the Ijegun area of the Igando-Ikotun Local Council Development Area on Thursday, which led to the death of two persons, while scores of residents were injured and properties worth several millions of naira destroyed.

Despite frantic efforts by doctors to save the victims, PUNCH reported  that a mechanic, Murphy Afolabi; his wife, Rashidat; their three-year-old son, Ridwan; and their daughter, Opeyemi; as well as Idayat Mondiu; her daughter, identified simply as Iya Jumoke, all gave up the ghost.

A couple, identified simply as Daddy and Mummy Warris, were also said to have passed away where they were being treated three days after the fuel spillage and the attendant fire.

Footage in the possession of our correspondent showed how some of the hospitalised victims were writhing in pain as they were being bandaged from head to toe due to the severity of the burns they suffered.

The spillage occurred when some yet-to-be identified vandals were ambushed by security agents, while scooping fuel from a punctured NNPC pipeline.

The vandals, in an attempt to escape from the scene, were said to have left the punctured point open as fuel spilled all over the area, including the drainage channel connecting Irede Street and the canal on the Catholic Church Street.

While an account had it that the vandals set the spilled fuel on fire in order to escape arrest, another stated that a motorist, who had attempted to start his engine in the area, caused the explosion.

Mondiu’s family of 12, Afolabi’s family of seven and the Warris’ family of four, among others, were said to be asleep in their various homes around the canal on the Catholic Church Street when the incident occurred and were burnt by the raging inferno.

They were all hospitalised at the Gbagada General Hospital and the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, Ikeja, while the surviving members of the families were said to be battling to survive the tragedy.

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The Chief Executive Officer, Lagos State Emergency Management Authority, Dr Oluwafemi Oke-Osanyintolu, while speaking to journalists at the scene of the incident, assured Lagosians that Governor Babajide Sanwolo-Olu was closely monitoring the situation, adding that the injured victims were receiving treatment in hospitals.

But the families of the hospitalised victims, while lamenting the loss of their loved ones, refuted Oke-Osanyintolu’s claim, saying the government had abandoned the victims in hospitals.

A member of the Afolabi family, Qausarat, who appealed to Sanwo-Olu to come to the aid of the victims, said she had lost four members of her family.

She said amidst tears, “I lost my younger brother, Ridwan, on Friday; my daddy’s wife, Rashidat, on Saturday; and before I received your call, someone at the hospital informed me that my father died today (Sunday). My sister, Opeyemi, has also died. This is getting too much; I am not sure I can continue to bear all these losses as I still have four siblings in critical conditions.

“Ever since they were admitted in hospital, we have been the ones sourcing for the money to treat them; they have not received any free treatment and this means that the government has abandoned my family.

“Even Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu has not done anything for us. We want Sanwo-Olu to urgently come to our aid so that adequate treatment can be given to my four siblings, Amudat, Opeyemi, Fatiu and Mariam, because I don’t want to lose them.”

Mondiu’s brother, Kehinde, while mourning the death of his brother’s wife, daughter and grandchild, also accussed the government of abandoning the vicitms in hospital.

He stated, “Our family members have been donating money for the treatment of my brother’s family. In fact, whenever I get to hospital, the doctors would have prescribed drugs to buy for their treatment and the money for the drugs is prohibitive.

“If you see my brother and his wife and some of their children, they are bandaged from head to toe. We are surprised that the government has abandoned us; we want the government to intervene so that they can be treated properly.”

PUNCH Metro learnt that residents of the Catholic Church Street and environs had been contributing money to support the medical treatment of the victims of the fire incident.

A landlady, Habibat Ojoolowo, said she had mobilised women in the area to contribute money for the treatment of the hospitalised victims.

“When the doctors at the general hospitals were not attending to our neighbours properly and most of them were dying due to poor treatment, we had to mobilise support for them through donations so that they could be treated properly,” Ojoolowo stated.

The Oba of Ijegun, Nureni Akinremi, also appealed for government’s intervention to ensure that the victims were adequately treated to avoid further loss of life.

“My people in hospitals are highly in need of government’s financial support and I also seize this opportunity to thank the firefighters for their quick response to the fire incident,” Akinremi said.

The Director, Public Affairs, Lagos State Ministry of Health, Tunbosun Ogunbanwo, said the government was on top of the situation, adding that the victims were not abandoned.

Ogunbanwo said, “Presently, the government is picking the medical bills of the victims; some of them have high degrees of burns and in spite of that, the government is still responsible for their care.

The Chief Executive Officer of LASEMA said he had been to the hospitals today (Sunday) to check on some of the victims.

“Some of these families may not know that the medical treatment has various stages, but if they see their family members suffering, they may be reacting and start making some wild allegations. The burns unit in Gbagada and the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital in Ikeja are specialists’ hospitals capable of taking proper care of the victims. They (victims) cannot be abandoned.”

When contacted, Oke-Osanyintolu said he had done an on-the-spot clinical ward round to ensure that the victims received adequate medical care, adding that he had yet to get reports from the medical directors on the death of any of the victims.

Oke-Osanyintolu stated, “I am just leaving the Gbagada General Hospital and as I speak to you, the medical workers are giving all of the victims adequate medical treatment. I have posted some of the doctors working with me to the Gbagada General Hospital and LASUTH to assist in the treatment, because some of the victims sustained 80 per cent to 90 per cent burns.

“When we talk about burns, it comes with different kinds of complications. I have made arrangements for some of the drugs that they don’t have in the hospitals and I will be moving advance ambulances there on Monday (today).

“I have done an on-the-spot clinical ward round and also spoke with relatives like Mr Gabadin, whose driver was a victim, and I have assured them that they should not panic. I cannot say anyone has died until I receive comprehensive medical reports from the medical directors.”

Ruga: Southern, Middle-Belt leaders allege plot to repeal Land Use Act

The Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum, (SMBLF) has  said there was a surreptitious plan by the Federal Government to repeal the Land Use Act and take over the control of lands from state governors.

This, it said, was to enable the government to subsequently implement the suspended Ruga project.

The forum said it gathered that the Federal Government suspended the Ruga settlement programme due to the Act, which restricted its access to land, adding that the government might move to repeal the law in order to facilitate the implementation of the Ruga grazing scheme.

The SMBLF, therefore, cautioned the southern lawmakers in the National Assembly to be vigilant and to guard against the introduction of any bill intended to repeal or amend the Land Use Act.

The forum said this in a statement in Abuja on Sunday by its co-spokespersons, Yinka Odumakin (South-West), Prof. Chigozie Ogbu (South-East), Senator Bassey Henshaw (South-South), Dr Isuwa Dogo (Middle-Belt).

The group stated that it was not any way impressed by the suspension of the Ruga settlement project, which it declared as an expansionist agenda on behalf of the Fulani nomads.

The statement partly read, “It is being alleged that there will be moves to repeal the Land Use Act in the (Ruga) suspension period so the Federal Government can have authority over land which is currently under the states.

“We therefore call on all our members in the National Assembly to be vigilant about any surreptitious bill that may be introduced to tamper with control of land and thwart such without any waste of time. The 2014 National Conference debated this issue at length and resolved to retain the Land Use Act in the constitution.”

The forum further warned the lawmakers against passing the ‘Bill to establish a Regulatory Framework for the Water Resources Sector in Nigeria,’ sponsored by the executive, noting that it was meant to give the Federal Government the sole authority and control over the nation’s rivers and underground water.

The group added, “When this obnoxious Water Bill is taken alongside the Ruga programme and the speculated assault on Land Use Act, the internal colonialism agenda is complete.

“It is pertinent to ask why the Federal Government is not going ahead with Ruga in some northern states that have accepted the policy if the whole idea was not about land-grabbing in the South and Middle Belt states.”

The political pressure group stated that the Federal Government’s support for local government autonomy was hinged on the Ruga scheme to allow aliens to take over allotted land under the programme.

It vowed not to relax its opposition to the project, stressing that only outright cancellation of the initiative was acceptable to the forum.

“The whole policy has equally opened our eyes to the reason why the President has been harping on local government autonomy now.

On its part, the Christian Association of Nigeria in southern Nigeria warned the people of the area to remain vigilant, adding that the Ruga project was not over.

In a statement on Sunday, the Secretary of CAN in the 17 southern states, Dr Joseph Ajujungwa, said despite its suspension, government was still working on the project.

Southern CAN called on every southerner “to be watchful,” stressing that “even as we pray, we don’t need to keep quiet.”

The statement partly read, “We do not have any land to give to anybody as a grazing field or a colony and we call on the South-East governors to maintain their stand that they do not have such a place. Do you know what it means to give 10 hectares of land to herdsmen? We say no to that.”

“As CAN, we will preach it from our pulpits, every Imam should peach from the mosque and the traditionalists should stand against it. Nobody should relent. No land should be given. Any traditional ruler that does that should be dethroned.

“In the North, they have largest hectares of land. Very vast land that nobody is occupying. Why are they not building the ranches or Ruga there? They can come here, take grass and go, and we buy cows in exchange, just like the governors said.”

Also, the Akwa Ibom State chapter of CAN said the suspension of the Ruga project by the Federal Government was not a guarantee that the programme had been cancelled.

It said the overwhelming rejection that greeted the policy across the country was enough reason for government to completely cancel it and not to announce its suspension.

The state chairman of the association, Rev. Dr Ndueso Ekwere, in a statement on Sunday, said the Federal Government could revisit the programme.

According to the statement, Ekwere stated this when he led other members of the association on a visit to the OkuIbom Ibiobio, Solomon Etuk.

Ekwere said, “The recent suspension of Ruga settlements by President Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government is not a guarantee that Ruga is dead or is done away with. The policy can still be resurrected with a full force anytime.

“We are, therefore, calling on the OkuIbom and his council to lend voices to the aspiration of Christians in the state and other parts of Nigeria to persuade the Presidency to withdraw Ruga permanently.’”

He said farmers in Akwa Ibom State would not surrender any part of their lands for Ruga.

He also called on the OkuIbom to advise traditional rulers and their subjects in the state to stop selling lands to strangers in their communities.

Meanwhile, the President of the Ijaw Youth Council, Eric Omare, said the ultimatum issued by the northern coalition was senseless.

Omare said, “With respect to the ultimatum given to the governors, I think it is a senseless ultimatum. In the first place, they are a faceless group that has not demonstrated any capacity to do anything.

“They (northern coalition) should be completely disregarded. The ultimatum is a voice from an inconsequential element.”

On the assurance given by the group that it would resolve the crisis between the herdsmen and farmers, the IYC president said, “A problem that cannot be resolved by the Federal Government cannot be resolved by an inconsequential group from the remote part of the North.”

However, the Coalition of Niger Delta militants called on southerners in the northern part of the country to consider returning home or be ready to defend themselves.

The coalition of militant groups in the Niger Delta in a statement on Sunday described the threat by the northern group as ill-advised.

It said, “We are earnestly waiting for the northern youths to start the fight and see what would happen. Any killing would be responded to. We are not afraid of your threat.

“Our land is not for Fulani herdsmen. We therefore advise all the southerners in the North to return home or be ready to defend themselves. We also advise all northerners in the South to either leave or be ready for any eventuality.”

The statement was signed by General John Duku, the Leader of the Niger Delta Watchdog and Convener of the Coalition of Niger Delta Agitators and 12 others.

 

Ruga controversy: Ooni, Soyinka urge Nigerians to defend their lands

The Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi, and Nobel laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, have called on Nigerians across state demarcations to defend the sanctity of their ancestral lands against usage for Ruga cattle settlements.

The call was contained in a communiqué issued on Sunday to document highlights of last Thursday’s meeting between the monarch and Soyinka at the latter’s home in Idi-Aba, Abeokuta, Ogun State. The meeting focused on the state of the nation.

Oba Ogunwusi and Soyinka made the call just as the Southern and Middle Belt Leaders’ Forum raised the alarm that the Federal Government was plotting to repeal the Land Use Act, which conferred the power to control lands in states on governors.

The Ooni of Ife and the Nobel laureate, in the communiqué on Sunday, said their call on Nigerians to defend themselves became necessary as the Coalition of Northern Groups gave a 30-day ultimatum to the Federal Government to implement the Ruga project for Fulani herders despite its suspension after a public outcry against it.

The communiqué stated, “In this regard, the recent ultimatum delivered by a sectarian order to the President of this nation to set up the so-called Ruga cattle settlements across the entire nation within a stipulated time, despite the national outcry, should be acknowledged as an entitlement under the bounty of freedom of expression.

“In return, we exercise ours, and call upon Nigerian nationals across state demarcations to defend the sanctity of their ancestral lands. This birthright has never been annulled, not even under colonial occupation.”

The Ooni and Soyinka, who is the Akogun of Isara and Akinlatun of Egba, noted in the communique that the colonial contraption known as Nigeria could not survive another upheaval in the nature of the civil war of the Biafran secession.

They advised that all efforts must, therefore, be made to anticipate and douse socio-political flare-ups advancing the chances of a recurrence of such a conflict, no matter how reduced in scale, its devastating effects on the Nigerian humanity.

The traditional ruler and the Nobel laureate added, “Among such issues of urgent import are the ongoing insurrectional movements that derive from religious fanaticism and intolerance, exemplified by Boko Haram and allied tendencies, as well as aspects of commercial enterprise, in which some groups consider themselves especially privileged, singular, and above the laws and entitlements that are binding on other sectors of commercial and industrial undertaking. We have in mind destructive forms of social transactions that characterise groups such as nomadic cattle herdsmen, and their umbrella groupings in the nature of Myetti Allah.

“We confess ourselves increasingly distressed and appalled, that the hitherto harmonious cohabitation, even routine collaboration, among the productive arms of society that Nigerians have taken for granted even from pre-colonial times, have deteriorated to unprecedented levels of barbarity, contempt for human lives and a defiant trampling on the civic entitlements of other productive sectors such as farmers, the providers of both food and cash crops. This abhorrent, yet consistent pattern of sectarian, and homicidal arrogance is obviously not merely counter-productive but inhuman, criminal and divisive.”

Besides, they re-affirmed their commitment to the rights of every individual, community, collectivity of human beings as primary and pre-eminent above other parameters of human development or formal associations.

They further called on Nigerians to recognise that the internal colonisation project was ever recurrent and that there were backward, primitive, undeveloped minds that failed, and continued to fail to overcome delusions in the antiquated belief in sectarian domination as the key to social existence.

They charged the Nigerian people, both at state and community levels, to convoke a series of frank encounters, across various interests and concerns to debate and determine in full freedom the future structure of the nation.

Both of them said, “We consider it a primary imperative of nation existence that the constitutive parts of the nation take steps to preserve and enhance their distinct cultural identities, including tested and relevant pre-colonial values, their spiritual apprehension of phenomena and worship, all without detriment to the principles and ideals of mutual co-existence.

“To this end, we undertake to create state-of-the-art ethnic museums for our people both at home and in the Diaspora, where present and future generations can access their histories and cultures vividly, as living expressions of their very humanity, not simply as relics of eras vanished for ever or irrelevant to the present.”

Yoruba won’t forgive governors who adopt Ruga, says Gani Adams

Aare Ona Kakanfo of Yorubaland, Chief Gani Adams has warned that the Yoruba  will not forgive governors that adopt Ruga settlement, a scheme initially proposed by the federal government to tackle crisis between farmers and herdsmen.

According to Nigerian Tribune, he likened the federal government’s plan for Ruga settlement to an “Afonja scenario,” saying the scheme will only contribute to more damage to the country.

The Oodua Peoples Congress leader said that the initiative is a dangerous policy which will drive the country into more chaos.

“Yoruba people had never wanted Ruga. It is unwarranted, needless and a dangerous policy. It is a policy that can break this nation, just as it has overheated the polity,” he said.

“The governor who does that would put himself in problem. It would not even be a four-year or eight-year problem; it would be an everlasting problem. And given the tension this issue generated, the Yoruba, especially, won’t forgive such a governor for life.

“Do you know the Yoruba? We haven’t forgiven those who betrayed us in the 60s. We haven’t forgiven those who betrayed Chief Obafemi Awolowo in the 60s. We haven’t forgiven those who betrayed us in the cause of June 12.”

The aare ona kakanfo also condemned the federal government’s alleged proposal of N100 billion for Miyetti Allah.

He said the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration is only supporting a wrong plan, as actions of the herdsmen have chased out investors and prevented farmers from going to their farms due to the fear of being kidnapped.

“From the beginning, you would see the way the Federal Government had been making steps. They wanted to give The Miyetti Allah N100 billion; the people rose against it and they stopped it,” he said.

“Now, the issue of giving them communities, spending billions of naira on those locations, making them modern communities is the least. Why?

“We have our farmers in Yorubaland. Even from the bogus budget of the Ministry of Agriculture, they were not giving loans as similar packages. They were discouraging our farmers and running their agricultural system in their area.

“Now, even concerning private initiative, many people want to be involved in agriculture; they want to spend their money, but are afraid that if they go to farm, they (kidnappers) would kidnap them. The way this thing is going, within a period of time, there would be shortage of food. There would be famine in Nigeria.”

Wole Soyinka, Nobel laureate, had also discredited the initiative, saying it “is going to be an explosion if not handled with care.”

Following public outcry, the federal government suspended the plan to implement Ruga.

Inuwa Yahaya, governor of Gombe state, however, said his administration will proceed with the initiative despite its suspension.

The coalition of northern groups (CNGs) also issued a strong warning to governors who are opposed to the Ruga settlement programme to reconsider their decision within 30 days.