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Man remanded in custody over alleged plot to kill UK Prime Minister

 

A man has been remanded in custody after appearing in court accused of a plot to bomb Downing Street’s security gates and then kill Theresa May.

Westminster Magistrates’ Court heard that Naa’imur Zakariyah Rahman, 20, from north London, planned to detonate a homemade bomb and attack the PM with a suicide vest and a knife.

A second man also appeared in court charged with preparing terrorist acts.

Both men will appear at London’s Old Bailey on 20 December.

Mr Rahman is charged with the preparation of terrorist acts and is also charged with assisting another man to prepare separate acts of terrorism.

The second charge relates to allegedly helping Mohammad Aqib Imran, 21, from Birmingham, who is accused is charged with preparing acts of terrorism.

He is alleged to have taken several steps in an attempt to travel to Libya.

That included saving money, trying to secure a false passport, and researching extremist ideologies and travel options.

The men were arrested by Metropolitan Police officers on 28 November within 90 minutes of one another.

During the seven minute hearing, the men – dressed in light grey sweatshirts and trousers – confirmed their names, addresses and dates of birth.

Mr Rahman gave his nationality as Bangladeshi-British, while Mr Imran gave his as Pakistani-British.

Chief Magistrate Emma Arbuthnot remanded the men in custody ahead of the Old Bailey appearance.
The magistrates’ court appearances comes a day after a security review said it was “conceivable” that the Manchester Arena bombing in May, in which 22 people were killed, could have been prevented.

But MI5 chief Andrew Parker told Mrs May and the Cabinet on Tuesday that about nine alleged Islamist terror plots have been foiled since March.

Ortom: Buhari did not ask governors to clear salary arrears before Christmas

Samuel Ortom, Benue state governor, says President Muhammadu Buhari did not direct state governors to pay salary arrears before Christmas.

Buhari had on November 27 said state governors should ensure payment of salaries backlog from the balance of the outstanding Paris Club refund which would soon be paid to them — to enable workers “smile to banks” during the festive period.

But in an interview with Vanguard, Ortom said Buhari only asked them to use 50 per cent of the refund to pay salaries, not necessarily to clear all arrears.

“The fact is that on that matter, the President is being misquoted. Mr. President didn’t say we should clear arrears of salaries,” Ortom said.

“He said the last tranche of the fifty percent, please get it very well, the last tranche of the Paris Club refunds that was approved by him should be released to states so that civil servants too can enjoy their Christmas like every other person.

“We already have a template of what we agreed with the President and that is that when this money comes that at least a minimum of 50 percent of the amount should be used for the payment of salaries.

“That was the agreement we had. But here in Benue State each time we get it we use more than that.

“The last time we used more than 80 percent for the payment of salaries arrears, even the one that we are about to receive, we will use more than 70 percent to pay arrears. That is what we intend to do.”

Ortom further said Buhari remains the best person to lead the country “at this our very trying time”, adding that he sees no alternative to him ahead of the 2019 presidential election.

“You may have an alternative, but for me, and as far as I am concerned I have not seen an alternative to President Buhari at this our very trying time,” he said.

“It is interesting to note that despite all the challenges he met on ground on assumption of office, a period when the country went into a deep recession, he took far reaching decisions that got us out of the recession; that is no mean achievement.

“I believe that we will get there someday as a nation, challenges may abound but I believe that we will overcome them.

“So I still remain committed to my belief that President Buhari remains the leader that we need at this particular time of our history and development as a nation.

“He is a selfless leader who has instilled discipline in our people. That is the kind of person we need at this particular time of our development and history as a nation.”

Okorocha renames happiness ministry, blames mix up on ‘printer’s devil’

 

The Imo state government says there was a misrepresentation in name of the new ministry of happiness.

Rochas Okorocha, the state governor, had on Tuesday appointed Ogechi Ololo, his sister, as commissioner of the ministry.

Just like the statues he erected in the state, the development was met with criticism from Nigerians.

But in a statement by Sam Onwuemeodo, his chief press secretary, Okorocha said the intended name is ‘ministry of happiness and purpose fulfillment’, not couple’s fulfillment.

He said a typographic error, caused by the printer’s devil, led to the misrepresentation, NAN has reported.

In the statement, Okorocha also justified the essence of the new ministry, its purpose and the choice of his sister to head it.

“There was a typographic error in the first statement issued on the swearing in of the new commissioners. The word “Couple” was inadvertently written, instead of the word “Purpose,” we regret that,” the statement read.

“The real essence of life is to be happy and to fulfil one’s purpose in life; Government officials are elected to address this.

“Happiness and Purpose Fulfilment Ministry therefore, is established for the lost time to correct the policy framework to guide ministries and departments on what they must do to guarantee the citizens’ happiness and contribute better to the society.

“This is the very reason people elect their leaders: to guarantee their happiness and purpose fulfilment. A great leader therefore, is one who provides happiness to the people.

“Unfortunately, this vital element of our social lives has not been properly addressed. Governments at different levels have created several ministries and departments to achieve this, yet people are bitter, angry with hate speeches which lead to crisis, war and even terrorism.”

“The choice of Mrs Ogechi Ololo, a Masters Degree Holder in computer Science, USA who has been the Deputy Chief of Staff to the Governor on Domestic Matters and Food Security can be described as a round peg in a round hole.

“Before her appointment as the supervisory commissioner, she was charged with the responsibility of liaising with the Federal Government on N-Power Project, CBN Anchor project and BOI, Empowerment Projects.”

Foreign reserves hit $38bn, says Emefiele

Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele, says the nation’s foreign reserves have risen to $38.2 billion, its highest point in 39 months.

Emefiele made this known on Tuesday while commissioning Unilever Plc’s 10,000 metric tonnes Blue Band factory in Agbara, Ogun state.

“We have seen reserves move up from the $23 billion I talked about in October 2016, but as I speak today, external reserves are $38.2 billion.”

The governor said the Unilever plant was possible because of the foreign exchange restrictions placed on 41 items.

“When the restriction of foreign exchange (forex) for the 41 items came on board about two years ago; before that time, Unilever had a factory producing Blue Band margarine. But margarine was also part of the 41 items.

“The managing director and the executive team of Unilever Nigeria visited me in Abuja and said they wanted us to grant them some form of forbearance. I said there was not going to be any forbearance, but that if he promised to re-establish the factory in Nigeria because as at that time their factory had been dismantled in Nigeria and taken to another country.

“And he (Unilever managing director) made a promise that between 12 to 18 months the factory would be re-established in Nigeria. Based on that, we granted them some form of forbearance that made it easy for them to import margarine into Nigeria, but we kept monitoring them and we were discussing.

“The entire essence is to say that by re-establishing that factory here in Nigeria, he has created direct jobs for Nigerians in this factory. He created indirect jobs for Nigerians by virtue of the fact that he buys palm oil which is part of the formulation that he uses in producing margarine.

“What does it take produce margarine? It is mixing oil and water. By creating indirect jobs by buying from people producing oil in Nigeria, he feeds millions of people.

“That is the entire idea. I keep saying we do not have foreign exchange to allocate to import products that can be produced in Nigeria. I am happy that Unilever has proved us right that Blue Band margarine can be produced in this country.

“So far they are doing about 10,000 metric tonnes per annum and he has promised that he is going to ramp it up to 50,000 metric tonnes. By doing so you create jobs, which is what we are talking about. By creating jobs, you save the country forex that is needed to create jobs.”

Dangote is only African among Bloomberg’s 50 most influential people

 

Aliko Dangote, Africa’s richest person, has been honoured for his contribution to increasing local food production and lessen food imports in Nigeria.

Dangote was among the 50 most influential names honored by Bloomberg for their contribution to humanity at Bloomberg’s annual gala dinner in New York.

According to Bloomberg, Dangote has been honoured for “his outstanding commitment of over 4 billion dollars to increase Nigeria’s food production capacity”.

He was also commended for focusing on domestic production of sugar and dairy, with 500 million litres of local milk to be produced by 2019.

Earlier this year, Dangote announced $50 billion dollplan to invest in renewable energy.

Represented in New York by the CEO of his Foundation, Dangote was joined by electric car visionary Elon Musk; Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salmon; Beatrice Fihn, anti-nuclear weapons advocate and Nobel Peace Laureate.

Also honoured, were Amazon’s Jeff Bezos; Robert Mueller, special counsel investigating Donald Trump’s potential collusion with Russia and Vitalik Buterin, whose invention of the cryptocurrency Ethereum is revolutionizing the new blockchain craze.

“What sets The Bloomberg 50 apart from other lists is that each person chosen has demonstrated measurable change over the past year,” said Bloomberg Businessweek editor Megan Murphy.

SEC begins forensic audit on Oando

The Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) has begun its forensic audit on Oando, two months after the commission notified the company of a possible audit on October 17.

In a letter sent to Wale Tinubu, Oando’s group chief executive officer, SEC advised the company to expect auditors any day from Wednesday, December 6.

The fiasco started when some shareholders of the company accused the board of infractions.

Shares of the company were also suspended on the Nigerian Stock Exchange and Johannesburg Stock Exchange.

SEC had accused the board of insider trading, declaring false profits amongst other infractions.

“The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has commenced the forensic audit of Oando Plc, contrary to media reports that the audit had been stopped following the suspension of the director general of the commission, Mounir Gwarzo,” the letter to Wale Tinubu read.

Another letter signed by Abdul Zubair, acting director general of SEC, said there is no restraining order stopping the forensic audit.

The letter was titled: ‘Re: Forensic Audit into the affairs of Oando Plc’.

“Further to our letter to you dated November 27, 2017 and another letter to your lawyers dated November 28, 2017, wherein the commission had notified Oando Plc of its decision to go ahead with the forensic audit, the commission in the light of recent development wishes to reiterate the following:

“That the commission is aware, that suit no: FHC/L/CS/1601/17: OANDO PLC V. SEC & ANOR was struck out on November 23, 2017 by his Lordship Hon. Justice Aikawa of the Lagos Division of the federal high court.

“That the commission is not aware of the existence of any valid or subsisting order of court restraining the commission from proceeding with the forensic audit.

“While we acknowledge that a notice of appeal has been filed to challenge the judgment of the federal high court, this notice does not serve as an order of court restraining the commission from conducting the exercise.”

Zubair was appointed on November 30 after Kemi Adeosun, minister of finance, ordered the suspension of Mounir Gwarzo.

It had also been reported that the minister suspended Gwarzo for refusing to halt the Oando probe.

Convention: PDP governors revolt against IBB, Jonathan

To have a rancour-free convention and install the national chairman, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governors will compile a “unity list” of candidates who delegates will vote for, The Nation reported.

The list is said to be the governors’ joker to checkmate the influence of ex-military President Ibrahim Babangida and former President Goodluck Jonathan on delegates.

The “unity list” may be out on Friday, about 24 hours to the December 9 convention.

It was learnt that the North’s delegates had become divided over two candidates – former Acting National Chairman Uche Secondus and former Education Minister Prof. Tunde Adeniran.

Before the split, Adeniran was having a clear edge in the North over Secondus whose campaign has changed the game.

But the governors’ grip on the party has caused anxiety in the camp of ex-Vice-President Atiku Abubakar whose main backers are Babangida and Jonathan.

The tension in Atiku’s camp is over the fear that if the governors seize the machinery of the party, they may determine its choice of a presidential candidate.

Babangida on Sunday raised the alarm on huge deployment of cash to woo delegates.

The governors have reached out to ex-governors, ex-ministers, National Assembly caucuses and some members of the Board of Trustees (BoT).

They are believed to have allayed the fears of stakeholders who think that they are out to hijack the party. Their mission, the governors are quoted as saying, is to change the old order.

To carry all stakeholders along, the governors have chosen to consult and agree on a Unity List, which will be “representational”.

A governor, who spoke in confidence, said: “We want to have a stress-free elective national convention. We have been spending the past few days to build consensus on how to preserve the unity of the party.

“As I talk to you, we are working on a “Unity List” which will accommodate all interests and make the convention great.

“The list will also correct the perception of the loyalists of Babangida and Jonathan that we are out to destroy the party. This is our own way of checkmating the forces who have held the party hostage since 1998.

“The speculations about use of money are unfounded. As a new generation of leaders in PDP, we know what is good for the party too. We won’t allow the imposition any pre-determined agenda on delegates.”

Asked of who the governors will support for national chairman, the source, who pleaded not to be named for “strategic reasons”, added: “We are working on Secondus but the delegates will have the final say because we will allow a free and fair process.”

A member of the Board of Trustees (BoT) said: “Some of us are in agreement with the governors on the Unity List to douse the tension surrounding the convention.

“I think the governors will release the Unity List on Friday. What is important is for peace and harmony to reign in our party.”

Northern delegates are split over two Secondus and Adeniran.

“Initially, the Northern delegates had agreed on block voting but things have changed in the last 72 hours.

“Delegates from Plateau, Benue, Jigawa, Taraba, Gombe and Kano may not go ahead with block voting. The intrigues have been intense,” another source said, adding:

“As it is now, Northern delegates cannot talk with one voice at the convention on Saturday.”

It was gathered that the recourse to unity list by governors has caused anxiety in Atiku’s camp because the method may whittle down the influence of Babangida and Jonathan who lured the ex-Vice President back into PDP.”

A former governor said: “Once the governors take over PDP structure, it will be difficult for Babangida and Jonathan to impose Atiku as the party’s presidential candidate.

“This is why Babangida and his loyalists have been jittery about the activities of the governors. Even Atiku is aware of the danger ahead because he knows the capacity of governors.

“The same Atiku used the governors to hold ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo to ransom in 2003 before the ex-President could get a second term ticket.”

Army replaces general leading war against Boko Haram

The Theatre Commander, Operation Lafiya Dole, Major General Attahiru Ibrahim, has been removed from that position.

His redeployment comes three days after Boko Haram insurgents carried out one of the deadliest attacks on Biu town in Borno where at least 18 people were killed and 52 others seriously injured.

Ibrahim, a major general, took over the command of the ongoing counterinsurgency operations in the North-east in May 2017. The former occupant of that position was Lucky Irabor who was redeployed to coordinate the Multi-National Joint Task Force, MNJTF.

Boko Haram attacks appear to have increased since Mr. Ibrahim assumed duties with scores of suicide bombings, mostly by teenage girls, occurring between May and December.

The Chief of Army staff, Tukur Buratai, apparently unimpressed with the way the operation was going, had in August issued a rare ultimatum of ‘40 days’ for the theatre commander to arrest the Boko Haram leader, Abubakar Shekau, and put an end to the incessant Boko Haram attacks. Neither was achieved.

The insurgents continued to stage daring attacks including on military formations.

Though a large number of Boko Haram hideouts were raided and many terrorists including kingpins reportedly killed by soldiers during the period, well over 50 soldiers including officers were killed between May and now.

Some of the most recent cases were the ambush in Magumeri that caused the death of about 19 soldiers and kidnap of some oil explorers.

The military also suffered a major loss of some 15 soldiers including a commander in November when Boko Haram insurgents attacked troops’ location in Sassawa village near the Yobe State capital, Damaturu.

Also in November, Maiduguri, the Borno State capital, witnessed one of the worst suicide bombings in recent times when four female suicide bombers attacked Muna Gari, a suburb of the city, killing 14 persons.

About 45 persons were also killed and 47 critically injured in November after a suicide bombers detonated their explosives in a mosque in Yola, Adamawa State.

Another suicide bombing was witnessed on December 2 when two teenage suicide bombers attacked Biu market killing at least 18 persons and injuring 52 others.

About two weeks ago, the Chief of Defence Staff, Gabriel Olonisakin, paid a sudden visit to the Command and Control Centre in Maiduguri. Mr. Ibrahim had a closed door session with the defence chief. No reason was given for the CDS’ visit without other service chiefs.

Ibrahim has now been replaced by Rogers Nicholas, also a major general.

The new Theatre Commander was, until his appointment, the Chief of Logistics at Army headquarters in Abuja. Before that, he was Commander of the Special Security Task Force in Jos as well as Chief of Civil Military Affairs at Army headquarters.

Ibrahim is believed to have been redeployed to the Army headquarters as the Deputy Chief of Policy and Plans.

Although the army has not officially announced the new deployments to Nigerians, the military radio in Borno has already made the announcements.

1,070 people died on Nigerian roads in third quarter – Report

No fewer than 1,070 Nigerians died in road accidents in the third quarter, the National Bureau of Statistics, NBS, said.

This indicates that in the 92 days that make up the third quarter, July 1 to September 30, an average 11 people died from road accidents daily.

The NBS Road Transport Data for Third Quarter, 2017 posted on its website on Wednesday showed that majority of the victims were adults.

The report stated that 981 of the 1,070 Nigerians that died, representing 91.7 per cent of the figure, were adults while the remaining 89 Nigerians, representing 8.3 per cent of the figure were children.
The breakdown of the figure showed that 815 of the number were males, representing 76.2 per cent while 255 were females, representing 23.8 per cent.

According to the report, 2,478 road accidents occurred in the third quarter.

It, however, attributed the major cause of accidents to speed violation, which it said accounted for 44.51 per cent of the total accidents reported in the quarter.

It stated that loss of control and dangerous driving followed closely as they both accounted for 10.41 per cent and 9.52 per cent of the total accident recorded respectively.

Meanwhile, the report stated that a total of 6,803 Nigerians got injured in the accidents.

It stated that 6,419 of the 6,803 Nigerians that got injured, representing 94.4 per cent of the figure were adults while the remaining 384 Nigerians, representing 5.7 per cent of the figure were children.

It further stated that 5,110 male Nigerians, representing 75 per cent, got injured in road accidents in the quarter while 1,693 female Nigerians, representing 25 per cent got injured.

According to the report, estimated vehicle population in Nigeria as at third quarter was put at 11,547,236 with the total population of the country puts at 193.3 million in 2016.

It stated Nigeria’s vehicle per population ratio was put 0.06

In addition, it stated that data on the category of vehicles involved in road accident reflected that 58 per cent of vehicles were commercial (2,000), 40.6 per cent were private (1,401), 1.4 per cent were government (48) and the remaining were diplomat (0).

It stated that FCT recorded the highest number of road crashes in the quarter, closely followed by Kaduna and Kogi States while Borno and Bayelsa States recorded the least.

The report stated that 200,565 national driver’s licenses were produced in the period under review.

It stated that Lagos and FCT produced the highest number of driver’s licenses while Zamfara and Kebbi produced the least numbers of national driver’s license.

Similarly, it stated that 75,958 vehicle number plates were produced in the quarter.

It also stated that Delta and FCT produced the highest number of vehicle plate numbers while Ekiti and Rivers produced the least numbers of vehicle plate numbers in the quarter.

The data also showed fewer than 3, 743 people died in road accidents in the last nine months.
This NBS Road Transport Data for first, second and third quarters of the year showed that 1, 466 people died in the first quarter (January to March), 1,207 in the second quarter (April to June) and 1,070 in the third quarter (July to September).

The data, however, indicated that the number of deaths through road accidents had gradually reduced.

The report showed that a total of 7,537 road accidents occurred in the period.

A breakdown of the report showed the first quarter data reflected that 2,556 road accidents occurred during the period while the second quarter data reflected that 2,503 occurred in the period.

According to the report, a total of 2,478 road accidents occurred in the third quarter.

It, however, attributed the major cause of accidents to speed violation, loss of control, and dangerous driving.

Meanwhile, data available showed that the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) recorded the highest number of road accidents in the second quarter, followed by Kaduna and Niger States, while Borno and Bayelsa recorded the lowest number of accidents.

The bureau put the estimate of the number of vehicles in the country in the second quarter at 11.51 million for the country’s population of 193.40 million at the end of 2016.

According to the data, a total of 218,060 national drivers’ licences were produced in the second quarter.

It stated that Lagos State and the FCT produced the highest number of licences, while Zamfara and Kebbi States produced the lowest numbers.

For the third quarter, the report said that Lagos and the FCT also produced the highest number of driver’s licenses, while Zamfara and Kebbi produced the least number of national driver’s licence.

Similarly, it stated that 75,958 vehicle number plates were produced in the third quarter.

It also stated that Delta and the FCT produced the highest number of vehicle plate numbers, while Ekiti and Riverss produced the least numbers of vehicle plate numbers in the quarter.

Three flights delayed every hour by Nigerian airlines between July and September

 

Domestic airlines operating in Nigeria delayed an average 89 flights daily between July and September 2017, according to official figures.

This implies that at least three flights were delayed every hour by domestic airlines every day for those three months.

The airlines recorded 8,173 cases of delayed flights between July and September this year.

The information is contained in a report released by the Consumer Protection Unit of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority in Ikeja on Wednesday.

The report showed that 13,255 flights were operated by eight airlines during the period with 96 flights cancelled by the airlines for various reasons.

It listed the airlines involved in the flight operations as Aero Contractors, Arik Air, Air Peace, Azman Air, Dana Air, First Nation, Med-View and Overland Airways.

The report said that Air Peace, which operated 3,811 flights, topped the chart of delayed flights with 2,166 and five cancelled flights.

According to the report, Arik Air follows with 2,057 delayed flights and 32 cancellations out of its 3,285 flight services in the period.

The report said that Dana Air operated 1,762 flights with 1,079 cases of delayed flights and five cancellations.

Med-View Airline recorded 986 and seven delayed and cancelled flights, respectively out of the 1,394 flights operated by the airline during the period.

Azman Air operated 1,127 flights with 712 delayed and 16 cancellations, while Overland operated 542 flights with 391 delayed and seven cancellations.

First Nation Airways had 239 flights with 98 delayed and three cancellations.

The airlines blamed the delays and cancellations on operational reasons, high cost of aviation fuel and inadequate navigational aids at many airports in the country.
(NAN)

Another 154 Nigerians return from Libya

A few hours after 144 Nigerians voluntarily returned from Libya, another aircraft carrying 257 of their compatriots on Wednesday landed at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos.

The spokesperson for the Lagos Airport Police Command, Joseph Alabi, confirmed this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos.

Mr. Alabi said the returnees arrived aboard a Libyan Airlines aircraft at the Cargo Wing of the airport at about 1.30 a.m.

He said they were assisted back to Nigeria by the International Organisation for Migration, IOM, and the European Union, EU, after being stranded in the volatile North African country enroute Europe.

Mr. Alabi said:”We received another batch of Nigerians early this morning from Libya.

“They comprised of 65 adult females, 179 adult males, seven children and six infants.”

He also confirmed that four of the returnees had medical cases and were promptly taken away on an ambulance for treatment.

According to him, the returnees were received by officials of the National Emergency Management Agency, Nigerian Immigration Service, the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons and the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria.

NAN reports that another set of 144 Nigerians had arrived on Tuesday at about 6.45 p.m. aboard a chartered Buraq Airlines aircraft with registration number 5A-DMG.

They were received at the Hajj Camp area of the airport by the wife of the President, Aisha Buhari, represented by the wife of the Governor of Lagos State, Bolanle Ambode.

Also on ground to receive them was the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Foreign Affairs and Diaspora, Abike Dabiri-Erewa and officials of other government agencies.

NAN reports that the federal government said it has a record of 2,778 Nigerian migrants registered in “accessible” detention camps in Libya, ready for repatriation.

The Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in a statement signed by the spokesperson, Tiwatope Elias-Fatile, on Tuesday, said the country’s embassy in Libya had been visiting detention camps to identify Nigerians for registration.

The ministry stated that those registered were issued Emergency Travel Certificates.

The ministry also explained that the embassy, in collaboration with the IOM, repatriates 250 migrants weekly and had returned 3,000 of them so far.

“From the 2,778 registered Nigerians who are still in detention camps, another set of 250 Nigerian migrants will be arriving on Tuesday December 5 via the Murtala Mohammed Airport, Lagos, at 7.00pm, to be received by NEMA officials.
“The Embassy, in collaboration with the IOM, repatriates 250 Nigerian migrants by flight to Lagos weekly – each flight can accommodate only 250 passengers.

“The repatriation is a continuous exercise and the Embassy routinely issues the requisite travel documents to the migrants.

“The Embassy will continue to engage the legitimate government in Libya and other stakeholders in addressing the plight of Nigerian migrants in that country.”

The ministry further said the Foreign Affairs Minister, Geoffrey Onyeama, had invited the Nigerian Embassy’s Head of Mission, Iliya Fachano, to Abuja for consultations.

“He is in Abuja already and during the period of the consultations, arrangements have been made for him to address press conferences on the issue.
(NAN)

Court orders forfeiture of $4.8m properties linked to Diezani

A federal high court sitting in Lagos has ordered the temporary forfeiture of two penthouses which are linked to Diezani Alison-Madueke, former minister of petroleum resources.

The properties, located in Lagos, are said to be valued at $4.760 million.

At its sitting on Tuesday, Mojisola Olatoregun, the presiding judge, ordered that the two properties be temporarily forfeited to the federal government pending investigations by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

The forfeiture order follows an ex-parte motion filed by the EFCC which told the court the properties are suspected to be proceeds of crime.

Derails later…

Falana writes Buhari: DSS embarrassing your govt with unlawful arrests

Femi Falana, human rights lawyer, has accused the Department of State Services (DSS) of “embarrassing” the current administration through “illegal” arrest and detention innocent citizens.

In a letter to President Muhammadu Buhari, the lawyer alleged that the secret police is using its operations to settle personal scores.

Falana said contrary to Buhari’s promise to ensure “responsible and accountable governance at all levels of government in the country” when he assumed office, the security agency has engaged in the “indiscriminate arrest and detention of many citizens and foreigners living in Nigeria”.

He said the “failure” of Buhari’s government to call the DSS leadership to order has created the impression that the current administration does not have respect for the fundamental rights of the Nigerian people.

The letter read: “The incessant disobedience of court orders by the DSS has questioned the commitment of the administration to operate under the rule of law.

“At the recently concluded annual conference of Nigerian Judges which held in Abuja, the Chief Justice of Nigeria, the Honourable Justice Walter Onnoghen was compelled to condemn official disregard for court rulings and orders.

“Under the current democratic dispensation the fundamental right of every person to personal liberty is guaranteed by section 35 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as amended and article 6 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act (Cap A10) Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.

“Thus, under the prevailing human rights law regime in Nigeria, if anyone is going to be detained beyond 24 or 48 hours the detaining authority is mandatorily required to obtain a remand order from a Magistrate court in line with section 293 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015.

“But in violation of the relevant provisions of the Constitution, the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights Act and the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, the DSS has acquired notoriety for arresting and detaining innocent members of the public without any legal justification whatsoever.”

He listed persons whose fundamental right to personal liberty has been infringed upon by the DSS to include Sambo Dasuki, former national security adviser; Ibraheem Elzakzaky, Shi’ites leader, and Zeinab, his wife; as well as Nitin Verma and Umesh Asudani, two Indian nationals.

Falana said persons illegally detained in DSS custody should be released or charged to court, and also urged Buhari to direct the DSS to “desist from further arresting and detaining innocent people and criminal suspects without court orders”.

EFCC raises alarm over recruitment scam

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has raised alarm over alleged attempts by fraudsters to exploit its ongoing recruitment exercise.

The EFCC spokesman, Mr Wilson Uwujaren, said in a statement on Tuesday that the fraudsters were soliciting payment from unsuspecting job seekers to facilitate their employment into the commission.

“This is a scam and members of the public are warned not to deal with anyone with such proposition as the agency does not collect money from job seekers.

“Candidates that participated in the recent aptitude test by the commission should avoid falling prey to tricksters by shunning any promise of employment for a fee.

“The employment process in the EFCC is open and transparent and cannot be compromised through bribery,” Uwujaren said.

He advised members of the public to report anybody requesting for money for employment into the commission at the nearest EFCC office or police station.

2019 election results will be transmitted electronically – INEC

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) said on Tuesday it has developed a technology that would enable it transmit election results electronically direct from polling units to the states’ headquarters.

The Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in Ebonyi, Prof. Godswill Obioma, disclosed this at a meeting with faith-based organizations in Abakaliki.

According to him, the new technology is part of efforts by the Commission to eliminate rigging, electoral frauds and other irregularities and to ensure the enthronement of credibility and transparency in the electoral process.

Obioma reassured the electorate that their votes would count in the 2019 general elections and urged them to participate in the ongoing Continuous Voter Registration ( CVR).

He said: “INEC is strengthening the process of transmitting election results electronically direct from polling booths to INEC headquarters.

“We hope that the latest technological innovation would be perfected and deployed in the 2019 general elections.

“The new strategy would discourage politicians from ballot box snatching, stuffing of ballot boxes and indulgence in other forms of electoral irregularities.

“The commission would do everything to ensure that votes count in 2019 and that those who would emerge do that through popular votes.

“We have only one message and the message is that you come out and register and ensure that you collect your PVC to qualify you to exercise your franchise.”

The REC explained that the meeting was part of conscious efforts by INEC to build strategic partnership and alliance that would be harnessed to mobilize the electorate.

“This meeting is aimed at jointly charting strategic paths for a credible 2019 elections and to see in what best ways we can partner with the organizations to reach out to their members.

“It is also to mobilize those who are 18 years and above to come out and register and collect their PVCs,” he added.

Obioma explained that making the electoral process more inclusive by getting more people involved in civic responsibilities would reduce political tension and those chosen in elections would be better accepted as representatives of the people.

He said that the commission had embarked on aggressive sensitisation and voter education since he resumed office as REC in Ebonyi on July 12.

“We have undertaken stakeholders’ town hall meetings in all the 13 local government areas of the state where we met with the people in their localities and sensitise them to the continuous voter registration.

“We followed the town hall meetings with the stakeholders’ village square meetings in the wards across the local government areas.

“We listened to their views on how we can do better in our programmes to achieve greater penetration in the society,” he said.

Reports say no fewer than 50 representatives of faith-based organisations, including Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria and Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs attended the meeting.

Senate raises oil benchmark to $47 per barrel

The Senate has increased the crude oil benchmark from $45 per barrel as presented by President Muhammadu Buhari to $47 for the 2018 budget.

The senate approved $47 per barrel oil benchmark after it considered a report by its joint committees on finance, appropriation and national planning and economic affairs.

The lawmakers also reduced non-oil projection to N5.279 trillion from N5.597 trillion.

The senators maintained N305 to a dollar as proposed for 2018 budget. They also maintained 2.3 million barrels per day as proposed by the executive for the budget.

“The joint committee recommends the adoption of 1.699trillion for new borrowing for 2018,” the report presented by Yahaya Abdullahi, senator representing Kebbi north.

“Relevant committees of the national assembly should constantly and closely oversights the MDAs on the implementation of these programs to ensure effective widespread of the efficient.

“The national assembly to amend the relevant sections of the fiscal responsibility act and other laws. The joint committee recommends the adoption of 3.5% growth rate.

“The joint committee recommends that the national assembly insert in the 2018 appropriation act, a clause which makes it mandatory for the executive to refer to the national assembly for any expenditure in excess of the benchmark (that is, price and production).”

Reps investigate crisis rocking SEC, Oando

The House of Representatives on Tuesday resolved to intervene in the current scandal rocking the Securities and Exchange Commission, SEC following the suspension of the DG, Munir Gwarzo, by the Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun.

Mrs. Adeosun ordered the suspension of Mr. Gwarzo and two others based on corruption allegations against them. Suspended alongside Mr. Gwarzo were two officials of the regulatory commission, Abdulsalam Habu, Head of Media Division, and Anastasia Braimoh, Head of Legal Department.

Mrs. Adeosun also set up an administrative panel to review the matter.

It has been suggested however that while the corruption allegations against Mr. Gwarzo was the official reason given, the ongoing scandal rocking oil firm Oando was the major trigger for the suspension.

The SEC, which recently directed a technical suspension of Oando shares on the stock market, was set to commence a forensic audit of the oil firm when Mr. Gwarzo was suspended.

On Tuesday, following a motion of urgent public importance brought before the House by Diri Duoye (Bayelsa – PDP), the house unanimously resolved to mandate its standing committee on capital market and institutions to investigate all allegations and report to the house in two weeks.

While raising the motion, Mr. Duoye said conflict has lingered for several months between the ministry of finance and SEC but the matter of Oando brought it into public domain.

“There are allegations of interference by the ministry of finance in the discharge of responsibility by SEC particularly, the Oando Forensic Audit matter, which was largely responsible for the DG’s suspension,” he said.

He said the intervention by the House will ensure a proper resolution of the conflict in order to protect the image of SEC in the interest of both local and foreign investors.

The house also resolved that all parties maintain status quo pending the outcome of its investigation.

Baru rushes back home as fuel queues persist

In a bid to address the re-emergence of fuel queues in some parts of the country, the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Dr. Maikanti Kacalla Baru, Tuesday, cut short his trip to London.

Baru, who was billed to receive the Forbes Oil & Gas Man of the Year Award 2017 in the British Capital on Tuesday, flew back home to attend to what he described as a “matter of urgent national importance.”

Speaking on the development shortly before his departure back to the country, Baru called on Nigerians to stop panic buying as the Corporation was doing everything within its reach to address the situation.

“For the umpteenth time, I wish to call on all Nigerians to stop panic buying. We have said times without number that NNPC has sufficient products to cater for the needs of all consumers,” Baru stated.

Before leaving for London, the GMD had directed that more truckloads of petroleum products be dispatched to various parts of the country to cushion the effects of “excessive demand caused by panic buying”.

Fuels queues resurfaced after some petroleum marketers went on strike to protest increases in depot prices.

Howver, the NNPC informed Nigerians yesterday that there was no plan whatsoever to increase the prices of petroleum products both at the ex-depot level and pump price ahead of the forthcoming yuletide.

The NNPC in a statement said that the ex-depot petrol price of N133.38 per litre and the pump price of N143/N145 per litre have not changed noting that the Corporation has enough stock of fuel to ensure seamless supply and distribution of products across the country.

While assuring that the Corporation has the full commitment of all downstream stakeholders including petroleum marketers and industry unions to cooperate in achieving zero fuel scarcity this season and beyond, the NNPC enjoined motorists and other users of petroleum products to disregard trending rumours of an impending fuel price hike as reported in some news platforms.

The Corporation also noted that its downstream subsidiary companies namely the Petroleum Products Marketing Company (PPMC) and NNPC Retail Limited are fully geared up to ensure that motorists enjoy uninterrupted access to petrol throughout the nation during the yuletide period and beyond.

Business Council of International Understanding honours Tony Elumelu with the Dwight D. Eisenhower Global Entrepreneurship Award

The Business Council for International Understanding (BCIU), a non-profit U.S Business association dedicated to forging relationships and promoting dialogue between business and government communities across the globe, has presented the prestigious Dwight D. Eisenhower Global Entrepreneurship Award to both Tony O. Elumelu and Bill Marriott, Chairman, Marriott International Inc.

The award was conferred on Elumelu in recognition of his outstanding work in promoting Entrepreneurship on the continent of Africa and across the globe.

Elumelu, himself a serial entrepreneur, through his Tony Elumelu Foundation, has funded over 3,000 African entrepreneurs to date with his $100 million commitment to 10,000 entrepreneurs over a period of 10 years.

These entrepreneurs are expected to create a million new jobs and over $10 billion in revenue as a result of the initiative of Elumelu’s Foundation.

At the award’s gala, held in New York on Monday, former American President George W. Bush, acknowledged the efforts of the African entrepreneur.

“I am impressed with Tony’s philanthropic initiatives which are powering job creation and entrepreneurship in a region(Africa), that is very dear to Laura and me. To receive an award founded by President Eisenhower, has added meaning. Eisenhower provided example in leadership, which we can all learn from. Additionally, his belief in promoting international understanding is a vitally important responsibility”, he said.

Speaking on the reason why Elumelu was selected as the recipient of this prestigious award, Peter Tichansky, the CEO of BCIU said: “Mr Elumelu’s bold approach and can-do mindset are exemplary characteristics of a visionary entrepreneur. He embodies the idea that companies must take the lead in bringing business and society together. His advocacy is proving that businesses, acting as businesses and not charitable donors, are the most powerful force for addressing social challenges and economic development”.

Elumelu, who was presented his award by Kip Forbes and Anne Eisenhower (the granddaughter of President Eisenhower), in his acceptance speech stated: “President Eisenhower was a man of many dimensions and most important is his leadership. Being recognized today as a recipient of the inaugural global entrepreneurship award is an honour that resonates with so many people in Africa. “What our entrepreneurs in Africa need is powerful leadership to further energise, encourage and motivate them to transform the continent.

“I hope this will further spur on other Africans and friends of Africa, to make sure we work together for an inclusive prosperity”.

Elumelu dedicated his award to his wife and children as well as the staff of UBA, Transcorp, Heirs Holdings, the Tony Elumelu Foundation and all the other companies within his group of companies.

He thanked BCIU on behalf of entrepreneurs in Africa: ‘On behalf of the over 3000 entrepreneurs who have benefitted from the Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship programme, I say thank you very much.

Outgoing UACN boss, Larry Ettah says company positioned for better performance

 

Outgoing Group Managing Director of UACN Plc, Mr. Larry Ettah, has expressed confidence that the giant conglomerate is well positioned for further growth and delivery of superior returns for shareholders as he bows out after 11 years in the top job.

In his valedictory Christmas Message, Ettah, who thanked staff for their support during his tenure, noted that the company’s rich culture, talent, assets, strong platform and resilience will engender sustainable growth in the coming years.

The management guru recalled that the company has faced notable headwinds in recent years, especially “punitive capital costs”, which had necessitated though actions to re-position the business for improved and sustainable performance.

“So far, our focus on consolidating our strategic initiative to support growth through equity calls, unlocking value through realisation of underperforming assets, create value through consumer resonating innovation and restructure the route to market architecture across the group remains in sight’, he assured.

Ettah also pointed out that the company had remained true to its corporate social responsibility obligations especially in the education sector.

UAC’s flagship Goodness League intervention programmes, especially the Schools Support programmes, he said, had recorded resounding success with significant impact on legacy schools in the South South, North Central and South East geo-political zones.

Ettah, who is being replaced with Mr. Abdul Akhor Bello effective January 1, 2018, said the choice of his successor “revalidates not only the robustness of our company’s succession planning but also the depth of the leadership cadre within the business”.

He urged all staff to extend the same hand of fellowship he had enjoyed to enable the new helmsman drive the company’s strategic agenda going forward.

“As things stand, UAC is well positioned for further advance in its growth and shareholders return agenda. Our businesses are at scale, capital allocation opportunities exist and new growth engines/platforms are being created’, he said.

A quintessential company man, Ettah said he would always remain part of the UAC family ‘having spent half of my life at this great institution and immersed deeply in its vales, ethos, cultures and nuances.”

Ettah joined the company in October 1988 as a management trainee rising rapidly through various managerial positions and later appointed to top management.

He worked variously among others as the Divisional Managing Director of Mr. Bigg’s Division of UAC of Nigeria Plc (Now UAC Restaurants), Acting Divisional Managing Director of UAC Foods Division, Executive Director/Head of Human Resources of UAC of Nigeria Plc before his appointment as the Group Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of UAC of Nigeria Plc. in 2007.

He is the Chairman of UACN subsidiaries including UPDC, CAP Plc, Grand Cereals Limited, Livestock Feeds Plc, Warm Spring Waters Limited, Portland Paints and Products Plc.

He is also President of Employers Consultative Association (NECA) and a Non-Executive Director of Coronation Merchant Bank (formerly Associated Discount House Limited).

He now looks forward to a more quite life even though he would continue to watch the evolution of the company as a young pensioner, shareholder and ambassador.