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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.

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:

LARGEST FREE TRADE ZONE IN THE WORLD

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.

THA GAMBIA AS A ‘GOLDEN CHILD’

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 ABSENT AS OTHER COUNTRIES SIGNED

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 FINALLY SIGNS

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.

LAUNCH OF SUPPORTING INSTRUMENTS

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 pharmacovigilance@nafdac.gov.ng.