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EFCC files 11 charges against musician Naira Marley

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has preferred 11 charges bordering on fraud against upcoming musician, Azeez Fashola, aka Naira Marley, for alleged credit card fraud.

The musician effectively risks seven years in jail if found guilty, as Section 33 (2) which he was accused of breaching, reads: “Any person who uses: a counterfeit access device; an unauthorised access device; an access device issued to another person; resulting in a loss or gain commits an offence and shall be liable on conviction to imprisonment for a term of not more than seven years or a fine of not more than N5,000,000.00 and forfeiture of the advantage or value derived from his act.

The charges with suit number FHC/L/178C/19 were filed before a Lagos State High Court.

Some of the credit cards, according to the EFCC, bore the names- Nicole Louise Malyon, and Timea Fedorne Tatar.

The alleged crimes were in contravention of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act and the Cyber Crimes Act.

The charges read in part, “That you, Azeez Adeshina Fashola, aka Naira Marley, and Raze (still at large), on or about the 11th day of December 2018, within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, conspired amongst yourselves to use Access card 42658840359191132 issued to persons other than you in a bid to obtain gain and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 27(1)(b) of the Cyber Crimes (Prohibition, Prevention etc) Act 2015 and punishable under Section 33(2) of the Same Act.

“That you, Azeez Adeshina Fashola, aka Naira Marley, and Raze (still at large), on or about the 10th day of May 2019, within the jurisdiction of this honorable court, with intent to defraud possessed, counterfeit card 4921819410257431 issued to Timea Fedorne Tatar and you thereby committed an offence contrary to and punishable under Section 33(9) of Cyber Crimes (Prohibition, Prevention etc) Act 2015.”

The artiste has been enmeshed in controversy in the last one month following his decision to openly support online fraud commonly called ‘Yahoo Yahoo.’

He was arrested last Friday along with four others, including his bosom friend, Zlatan Ibile.

CBN plans to revive 20 textile companies

Plans are underway by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to revive at least 20 textile companies before the end of the 2019.

The apex bank had taken the first step in the journey to revive the sector with the flag-off of input distribution to 100,000 cotton farmers, as well as cultivating 100,000 hectares in 23 states of the federation.

To realize this ambitious dream, the CBN Governor Mr. Godwin Emefiele has inaugurated the Textile Revival Implementation Committee.

Members of the committee are drawn from the CBN, Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL), Kaduna State, Federal Ministry Power Works and Housing, Nigeria Customs Services, Federal Ministries of Finance and Agriculture and Rural Development, Ministry of Industry Trade and Investment and Nigerian Export Promotion Council.

The committee which was inaugurated on Thursday in Abuja was charged by the CBN Governor to resuscitate at least 50 textile firms by the end of 2023; collaborate with stakeholders to identify, name and shame textile smugglers in Nigeria as well as develop a framework for eradication of smuggling and dumping of textile products into Nigeria, facilitate the production of 200,000 hectares of cotton fields by 2020 and maintain an annual increase of 100,000 hectares over the next three years.

The Committee is also expected to “work assiduously to deliver a minimum of 50 megawatts of captive power to Cotton, Textiles and Garment (CTG) firms in the interested states by 2021, and facilitate the effective pricing and delivery of gas, black oil and diesel to CTG firms in Lagos and other interested states to enhance their power generation and consumption.”

Speaking at the event, the CBN Governor lamented that “the CTG sector within the last 20 years had suffered a lot of difficulties especially, low cotton production, poor power and transport infrastructure, obsolete production lines, smuggling and counterfeiting, inadequate local patronage, high cost of production, and multiple taxation among others.”

According to Emefiele, “smuggling of textile goods alone has been estimated to cost the nation over $2.2 billion. Today, most of the textile factories have all stopped operations and the workforce in Nigeria’s textile industry stands at less than 20,000 people. In addition, a large proportion of our clothing materials are imported from China and countries in Europe.”

Speaking on the rationale behind the inauguration of the textile revival committee, Emefiele noted that “a consolidated approach of this magnitude will afford us economies of scale, synergy in resource utilization and provide a holistic solution to harnessing the potentials of the CTG sub-sector in Nigeria.”

He was optimistic that “the CBN would resuscitate the cotton belts nationwide and grow the value chain till the last mile of textile production. We will need to set timelines for these deliverables and charge the technical committees to develop road maps that must be achieved within the set timelines,” he added.

FG to improve cattle breeding, signs MoU with farms

The Federal Government through the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Kiyasa Farm Ltd, on cattle breeders Improvement Project, and Cikasoro Farm Ltd, on Livestock Market.

The ceremony was performed at the Minister’s conference hall Thursday in Abuja.

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh signed on behalf of the Federal Government, the Managing Director Kiyasa Farm Ltd, Alh. Mohammed Sambo Bashar signed on behalf of Kiyasa Farm Limited, while Amb. Abubakar Cika signed on behalf of Cikasoro Livestock Market Limited.

Chief Ogbeh said that for over 50 years, Nigeria has never paid enough attention to improve livestock production in the country which was the major problem Nigeria is facing for over two years which generated to Farmers/Fulani-Herders clash.

He was very delighted that Kiyasa Farm Ltd has started planning ahead on cattle breeders improvement programme in Sokoto and Zamfara states to compliment the present administration’s efforts in livestock value chain.

The Minister assured Kiyasa Farm Ltd that the Ministry will give the farm Bio-Gas production machine and federal government support and assistance whenever the need arises.

Chief Ogbeh commended the vision and foresight of Cikasoro Livestock Market Ltd for the establishment of livestock market at Tunga Maje, Abuja to supply wholesome meat to Abuja and its environs, adding that this will surely minimize the transportation of cattle in trucks from the North to the Southern parts of the country.

The Minister assured Cikasoro Livestock Market Ltd. that government will complement its efforts by the provision of infrastructures (roads, water and electricity) in the market and offer ideas and technical support to ensure the market is of international standard.

Speaking earlier, the Managing Director Kiyasa Farm Ltd, Alh. Mohammed Sambo Bashar said that Kiyasa Farm Ltd is engaging on Cattle Breeding Improvement Programme in Sokoto and Zamfara states with the aim of promoting modern beef and dairy industry in the two states.

He further said that the farm is creating necessary incentives for nomadic herders towards government efforts by providing modern facilities for training and production in new ranch initiative as transition to modern cattle farming.

Alh. Bashar said that they are here to sign the Memorandum of Understanding and to solicit for support and collaboration from the Ministry for the successful implementation of its programmes.

The Chief Executive Officer, Cikasoro Livestock Market Ltd, Ambassador Abubakar Cika disclosed that the objective of establishing the Livestock Market was to supply wholesome meat to Abuja and its environ.

He further said that it will also minimize the transportation of cattle and other livestock from the North to the Southern part of the country.

Amb. Abubakar further disclosed that have secured enough land from FCTA with Certificate of Occupancy and also imported some machinery from Turkey, adding that civil work has already commenced at the site.

He further explained that Cikasoro Livestock Market Ltd is seeking for non-binding MoU with FMARD for exchange of ideas and technical support.

Police parade 93 arrested Kaduna-Abuja road kidnappers

The Nigeria Police Force on Thursday paraded 93 suspected kidnappers and armed robbers terrorizing Niger, Katsina and Kaduna States, especially Kaduna-Abuja highway.

It said 35; AK47 Rifles, 21 Dane Guns, 500 live ammunition and a host of other weapons including a Rocket launcher were recovered from the suspects.

Parading the suspects at Katari village along Kaduna-Abuja highway, the Force Spokesman, DCP Frank Mba, said the 93 suspected kidnappers and armed robbers were arrested within the past two weeks in joint operations in Kaduna, Niger and Katsina States.

According to Mba, 35 AK47 Rifles, 21 Dane Guns and more than 500 live ammunition were recovered from the suspects.

The Force Spokesman attributed the successful arrests and seizures to Operation Puff Adder launched to clear criminals away from Kaduna-Abuja expressway and Nigeria at large.

DCP Mba who was flanked by the Kaduna State Commissioner of Police, Aji Ali Janga said, the joint operations comprised policemen from operations, intelligence, technical, counter terrorism and special protection units among others.

He said that the operation was designed largely to tackle kidnapping, robbery and banditry giving Nigerians sleepless nights, adding that the successes recorded so far were huge.

According to him, “The suspects were arrested from Matari Forest, Niger axis and some were pursued to as far as Katsina.

“We are determined to descend very hard on criminals. We recovered 37 AK 47 rifles, 12 locally made guns, a revolver pistol, 60,000 fake US dollars, military uniforms and a foreign made pistol.

“Few days ago, the IG rolled out new counter kidnaping strategy, it would also help us curtail such criminality in Nigeria,” Mba said.

The Force spokesman reiterated that, the Office of the Inspector General of Police provided supervisory and supportive roles to the entire operations.

However, Kaduna Police Commissioner Janga in his own remarks assured farmers in Birnin Gwari and other volatile areas that it is now safe for them to return to their farms.

According to him, the new operations, being conducted in synergy with all the commanders of various units have achieved tremendous success.

“Farmers who farm along Kaduna-Abuja expressway, Birnin Gwari and other volatile areas can go back to their farms, it is now safe”, Janga said.

One of the suspects arrested Isah said, it was his first time of committing the crime, and that, he has never collected any ransom before his arrest.

Another suspect, Salisu Abubakar, who claimed to be a cleric, said he was aware that his clients belonged to criminal gangs, but that he only supported them with “goodluck charms.” but he has never participated in the crime.

Herdsmen presence scare farmers in Abia

The presence of herdsmen in Ohuru Isi-Miri community in the Aba North Local Government Area of Abia has put farmers in the community, especially women on edge.

A News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) correspondent, who visited the community on Thursday reports that gloom has descended on the community, due to the inability of people to cultivate their farms.

The presence of the herdsmen has sparked intense fear among residents, with many of them, especially women now shunning farming, to avoid getting raped or killed by herdsmen.

NAN learnt that the the herdsmen have found a home at an empty land owned by Nigerian Breweries, near Ohuru Isi-Miri town, making the place a no-go for people.

At a meeting in Aba on Thursday women from the community, pleaded with the Abia government to step in to dislodge the herders from their farmlands.

One of the women, Mrs Mercy Samuel, said she secured a land to farm in the community but that the presence of the herdsmen had prevented her from working on her farm.

“Please tell Gov. Okezie Ikpeazu to help us remove the herdsmen and their cows before they kill us.

“I cannot farm because of the menace of herdsmen. Each time I enter my farm, my heart misses beats and my body begins to shake.

“Government should please intervene to save our lives.”

Another farmer, Mrs Joanna Nwankwo, lamented that watching the animals destroy her crops had always made her sick and hopeless.

She pleaded with Ikpeazu to come to the rescue of farmers before herdsmen would wipe them out through destruction of their means of livelihood.

According her colleague, Mrs Peace Moses: “herdsmen have become a threat to our existence.

“They come into our farms to graze. If you look around the farm you will see how cows have eaten our newly planted crops, leaving nothing but stumps of crops.

“The maize and cassava you’re seeing should have reached maturity by now but constant grazing on our farms by herdsmen does not allow the crops to grow.

“We borrowed money to buy land and cultivate the crops but now that herdsmen have turned it to grazing field, I wonder how we can get money to pay government that lent us money to do farm work.

Other women, including Mrs Charity Bara, Uloma Okezie, Roseline Uduuko and Salome Samuel, took turns to speak on the development, pleading with government to come to their rescue.

They said that government should assist them with loans for them to start all over again during the next farming season.  (NAN)

Nigeria, China partner to enhance development, security, others

China has said it stands ready to enhance its security cooperation, expand inclusive development, improve connectivity and deepen people-to-people understanding with Nigeria through the Belt and Road initiative (BRI).

Chinese Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr Zhou Pingjian, said this at the Abuja-Beijing Consensus Roundtable in Abuja on Thursday.

Zhou said his government’s commitment to work with Nigeria was to bring “more tangible BRI cooperation benefits” to both countries and peoples.

“The Belt and Road cooperation is entering a new stage, bringing enormous opportunities for high-quality BRI cooperation between China and Nigeria.”

The envoy recalled that the Belt and Road Forum held in Beijing in April was fruitful with the signing of agreements of over 64 billion dollars with different business representatives from participating countries.

The ambassador said China also signed over 100 bilateral and multilateral cooperation documents with relevant countries.

He added that the Coordinators’ Meeting on the implementation of the follow-up actions of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) summit would be held in Beijing in June.

Zhou said the meeting would facilitate prompt and efficient implementation of the eight major initiatives of the Chinese Government with African countries over the next three years.

The initiatives announced by Chinese Government at the FOCAC summit in Sept. 2018 covered areas ranging from industrial promotion, facility connectivity, trade facilitation, green development, capacity building, among others.

Also speaking, Mr Shuijin Ye, President, China General Chamber of Commerce in Nigeria, said the roundtable provided a forum to explore Nigeria-China cooperation and the BRI.

Shuijin said the Economic Recovery Growth Plan of the Federal Government was closely aligned with the policy direction of the BRI.

“The ERGP aims to achieve sustainable and high-quality development by strengthening infrastructure, expanding financing channels, promoting private sector development and focusing on solving the problems of energy, electricity.

“It also focuses on solving the problems of foreign exchange shortage, unfriendly business environment and lack of technology which hinders development.

“ERGP is a choice of the Nigerian Government and people to meet the needs of social development.”

He added that Nigeria-China cooperation had huge opportunities and potential and the ERGP, FOCAC and BRI were the driving platforms for enhanced cooperation between the two countries.

The former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Amb. Aminu Wali, said Nigeria should embrace the BRI and build a new framework to promote inclusive governance and for international cooperation.

“Nigeria should naturally welcome and work assiduously for a new framework for international cooperation and an inclusive global governance process such as the BRI that meets the earnest and legitimate struggle of African nations.”

Wali added that the participation of nearly 40 African countries in the second Belt and Road Forum held in April sought to promote issues at the core of the BRI. (NAN)

Suspected Yahoo boys set attack dog on EFCC operatives

Detectives from the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Ibadan zonal office got a dose of ‘corruption fighting back’ when suspected internet criminals also know.as Yahoo boys, unleashed a dangerous dog on them in order to resist arrest.

Upon receipt of intelligence reports and launch of preliminary investigations into their alleged illegal activities, officers of the Commission stormed the suspects’ hideout at Agara area of Ibadan, Oyo State, at the early hours of Wednesday 15 May.

Instead of allowing them in, after proper introduction, one of the suspects instructed the guard to release the attack dog on the operatives.

This, however, failed to win as the officers were able to neutralise the animal and carry out extensive search on the apartment and effect arrest of the suspects.

Internet scammer who damaged his phone to prevent access by EFCC

Again, out of desperation to conceal useful information that could help the Commission in their investigation, one of the suspects smashed his android phone with the intention to destroy the gadget and deny access to the data therein.

The attempt equally failed as the operatives took possession of the broken phone, which is currently with the forensic unit, where analysis is being carried out to obtain data from it.

The second-in-command to the zonal head, Bright Igeleke, who led the operation, described the experience as part of the ‘hazards of the job’.

Suspects arrested in the operation are: Paul Afolabi, Balogun Ibrahim Adebayo, Izu Ibobo Chukwunalu, Abe Tolulope, Onifade Gidion Idowu, Komolafe Tosin and Igwe Kinsley Otuu.

Similarly, operatives from the zone earlier in the week arrested four other suspects over their alleged involvement in cyber-related offences.

The suspects are Adebisi Adewale Michael and Olowolayemo Olakunle Quddus, Opaaje Oluwatobi Isiah and Itowe Kelvin Olutayo. They are now under interrogation, and are giving useful information to the operatives in the quest to unravel the extent of their illegal activities.

Information obtained from them so far reveals that they used the internet to defraud unsuspecting victims while posing online as white ladies and foreign military officers.

At the point of their arrest, a Lexus car, iPhones, other brands of phones and International Passports were recovered from them.

All the arrested suspects will be charged to court as soon as investigations are concluded.

World Bank appoints Nigeria’s ex-minister, Muhammad Pate, as global director for health

The World Bank has appointed Dr Muhammad Ali Pate, minister of state for health under former president Goodluck Jonathan, as Global Director for Health, Nutrition and Population.

Pate was also appointed as director of Global Financing Facility (GFF) of the World Bank Group, which seeks to raise “trillions of dollars” to ensure the sustainable development goals (SDGs) are achieved before 2030.

Congratulating the health guru on Wednesday, Tedros Ghebreyesus, the director general of the World Health Organisation (WHO), said he looks forward to working closely with Pate.

“Congratulations, @muhammadpate, for your confirmation as the @WorldBank ’s Global Director for Health, Nutrition and Population @WBG_Health and Director for @theGFF. We look forward to working closely with you to achieve,” Ghebreyesus tweeted.

In July 2013, Pate resigned as Nigeria’s minister of state for health to take up the position of Professor in Duke University’s Global Health Institute, USA.

The medical doctor previously worked as the human development sector coordinator, East Asia, and Pacific Region and senior health specialist, Africa region, for the World Bank Group.

As executive director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) from 2008 to 2011, Pate’s goal was to end polio in Nigeria and save millions of children from the deadly disease.

In 2012, Pate was awarded the prestigious Harvard Health Leader award for his immense contribution to health in developing countries.

Senate passes bill to recognise June 12 as Democracy Day

The Senate has passed a bill seeking to make June 12 Democracy Day.

The bill seeking to amend the holiday act was passed at the upper legislative chamber after Ahmad Lawan, senate leader, presented a report to his colleagues on Thursday .

The bill, which has only three clauses, was passed after it was put to a voice vote by Ike Ekweremadu, deputy senate president.

Although, the house of representatives passed the bill in December, the legislation was only scheduled for concurrence on Thursday.

The clause which provides for May 29 as democracy day was amended to June 12.

In June, President Muhammadu Buhari declared that the Democracy Day will hold on June 12 of every year.

Buhari made the declaration after the federal government honoured the late Moshood Abiola, presumed winner of the 1993 presidential election.

Abiola was conferred with Grand Commander of the Federal Republic (GCFR) at a grand event at the Aso Rock posthumously.

Buhari also conferred on Babagana Kingibe, Abiola’s running mate, Grand Commander of the Niger (GCON) – the second highest honour of the country.

MTN listed on NSE….adds N1.83trn to market capitalisation

MTN Nigeria has finally been listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange.

The telecommunications giant was listed on the industries sector of the national bourse, 18-years after its first investor call was made by Pascal Dozie, the brain behind the Diamond Bank.

“Our MTN Chairman & CEO have been presented with the official plaque, commemorating this monumental milestone in yet another historical moment for us,” the telco said Thursday.

The listing was concluded at the Nigerian Stock Exchange on Thursday in Lagos.

Speaking at the event, Oscar Onyeama said the telecommunications company has added N1.83 trillion to the market capitalisation of the Nigerian exchange.

“I congratulate the Board and Management of MTN Nigeria on its successful listing on NSE Premium Board. We are delighted to welcome MTN Nigeria to the Exchange,” he said.

“Today’s listing is a promising development in the country’s telecommunications sector and we encourage other players in the sector to explore the different opportunities in the capital markets for raising long term capital.

“As a listing platform of choice, today’s listing will add to our bouquet of diverse investment offerings to the public. Having MTN Nigeria listed in our market is a testament of The Exchange’s commitment to building a dynamic and inclusive market and creating channels for sustainable investment.

“This listing will promote liquidity for MTN Nigeria, enhance its value and increase transparency, as our platform remains one of the best avenues for raising capital and enabling sustainable growth for national development”.

The listing was part of negotiations with Nigerian authorities to reduce the NCC fine of N5.3 trillion for misdeeds with sim card registrations by MTN.

Thursday’s listing was consummated by introduction of 20,354,513,050 ordinary shares of MTN Nigeria at a listing price of N90.00 per share.

MTN Nigeria, a part of the MTN Group, Africa’s leading cellular telecommunications company, is the first telecommunications network provider to be listed on the NSE Premium Board.

Osinbajo, Ambode commission new LASU Senate building

Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo and Lagos State Governor, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode on Thursday commissioned the new Senate Building of Lagos State University (LASU), expressing optimism that the ultra-modern edifice would go a long way in enhancing academic activities and positively changing the landscape of the institution.

Osinbajo, who delivered the 23rd Convocation Lecture of the university before inaugurating the Senate Building, also said time had come for African countries to invest more in education to lift the people of the continent out of poverty.

Speaking on the theme: “Africa Centres of Excellence in African Universities: A Veritable Catalyst for Nation Building and Development,” the Vice President also said that time had come for universities in Africa to be at the fore front of building research and collaboration to find lasting solutions to the myriad of challenges confronting the continent.     

“So what do we need to do to convert our country to the greatest Centre for innovation and creativity in the world? Three things: number one education, number two education and number three education. The truth is that education is the most powerful force for socio economic change in the world. The UNESCO Global Education Monitoring Report and the Education Commission’s Learning Generation Report provides important evidence on the impact of education on individual’s earnings and economic growth”, Osinbajo said.

While expressing Federal Government‘s commitment to continue to collaborate with the Universities to play up education of the people, Osinbajo said this has become imperative owing to the fact that education remains the most important force to global change.

He said through improvement in learning and quality education, Nigerians could be lifted from abject poverty, just as he also emphasized the need for more premium to be placed on girls’ education.

Speaking earlier, Former Ghanaian President, John Dramani Mahama, who chaired the Convocation Lecture, urged African universities to move away from the colonial system of education and focus on science and technology to engender growth and development of the continent.

He said universities must provide visionary leadership and have academic autonomy, while political institutions must also avoid interference with the running of academic institutions.

He said for African universities to set the tone as African centres of excellence, there must be adequate funding, while they must also collaborate with each other in terms of multiple campuses for different specializations in different countries.

“African universities can help bridge the gap created in African countries by focusing on science, technology and innovation which can be the catalysts for the development of Africa,” Mahama said.

On his part, Governor Ambode said it was gratifying to note that LASU was now well-positioned to be among Nigeria’s leading universities and a proper citadel of learning and character development.

Recalling some of the challenges the university was contending with in 2015 when his administration came on board such as backlog of unreleased results, low government subvention, infrastructure deficit, incessant industrial and student conflicts, among others, Governor Ambode said on assumption of office he immediately embarked on some reforms which today turned the story of the university around for good.

He said aside from amending the laws of the university and embarking on massive upgrade of infrastructure, the government also selected individuals with experience, dedication and a track record of remarkable leadership to lead the Governing Council, adding that the development changed the narrative of the University.

“Today, there is an atmosphere of peace and industrial harmony in LASU. The backlog of results have been cleared and our students are graduating every year; stepping out in flying colours, armed with qualifications, character and ideas to change the world. 

“Our government increased the subvention for LASU and also amended the laws governing the Institution especially regarding the tenure of the Vice-Chancellor and making LASU a residential institution.

“We have embarked on an extensive infrastructural development which has entailed upgrading the network of roads within the institution and installation of street lights. In line with our efforts to transform LASU, our Government embarked on various projects to add to the infrastructural landscape of the University: The new Senate Building we are commissioning today; a project started by my predecessor, Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola (SAN); A new Students Arcade, An Ultra-Modern Central Library, The New Faculty of Management Sciences Building, and LASU Homes,” he said.

He said the Students’ Arcade which was at 75 per cent completion stage had already been fully paid for, while work on the Central Library was at 60 per cent completion stage and would be completed by the end of the year, as well as the new Faculty of Management Sciences and construction of 3 prototype blocks of Lagos Homs Apartments at the LASU staff quarters.

Also, the Governor said it was equally gratifying to note that 6000 bed student hostel initiated by his administration was on course to be delivered through a Public Private Partnership (PPP), while other initiatives have been implemented in the education sector, including the Ready.Set.Work project.

“Ladies and Gentlemen, the education of our youths is imperative. It will shape the future of our nation. As the State’s Number 1 tertiary institution, we have tried to give LASU the right attention it deserves. This is one of the reasons why I made it a point of duty to attend all the Convocation Ceremonies of this institution since we came into office in 2015.

“Asides what we have done in LASU, we have initiated programmes to prepare our youths for the challenges of this era; to enable them have a good mix of theoretical and practical knowledge to fit into life after school. One of such programmes is the ‘Ready, Set, Work’ Initiative for all final year students of Tertiary Institutions in Lagos State.

“Three years down the line, the ‘Ready Set Work’ initiative is already yielding the positive results we desired, with over 30,000 students trained through the face-to-face and online academy. Over 3,000 students have gotten internship placements with leading corporate organizations and the enthusiasm of our students to be part of this programme has grown from year to year. I am very confident today that our youths and graduates are ready for work and ready for innovation,” the Governor said.

INEC shifts Kogi, Bayelsa guber polls to Nov 16

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has rescheduled the Bayelsa and Kogi state governorship elections.

The commission said the elections, initially scheduled to hold on November 2, will now hold on November 16.

Festus Okoye, INEC director of voter education and publicity, said in a statement, on Thursday, that the change in date was as a result of various appeals for the commission to reschedule the polls.

Some stakeholders from Bayelsa state had urged INEC to change the election date as it coincides with the state’s annual ‘Thanksgiving Day’ which is backed by law.

“After a careful consideration of the appeals, the Commission at its regular weekly meeting held today, Thursday 16th May, decided to shift the governorship elections in Kogi and Bayelsa States to Saturday 16th November 2019,” the statement read.

“The timelines for all other activities leading to the elections have also been adjusted to align with the new date.”

In the amended timetable and schedule of activities for the elections, conduct of party primaries and resolution of any dispute would hold between August 18 and September 5, while campaigns will also commence on August 18.

Personal particulars of candidates would be published on September 16, while official register of voters would be published on October 3, with campaigns ending on November 14.

Ambode commissions theatre, other projects…assures of continuity

Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode yet again on Wednesday commissioned the Agric Access Road, Egan in Igando Ikotun Local Council Development Area (LCDA) and the Lagos Theatre in Igando as he gets set to exit office, saying that his administration has succeeded in its quest to transform the infrastructural landscape of the State with massive construction of critical roads and bridges.

The Governor, who also flagged off the construction of a link bridge connecting Egan and Ayobo communities, said he was fulfilled that his administration had delivered on its promise to run a government of inclusion that would leave no resident and area of the State behind.

“When our administration came into office, one of our cardinal promises was a government of inclusion. We committed to a government where nobody, community or people will be left behind. As a result we were determined to address the challenges of gross infrastructural deficit, flooding and erosion which the people around this senatorial district have lived with for some time now.

“I am very pleased and fulfilled to see that our commitment to make our State globally competitive and radically change our infrastructural profile to one that befits a contemporary smart city has been successful with the massive construction of roads and bridges we have undertaken in the last four years. We not only prioritized renewal and development of road infrastructure but we have done so using an all-inclusive approach that has touched rural and urban areas in the State,” he said.

He said that in constructing the Agric Access Road, the State Government took cognizance of the need to make commuting stress-free for pedestrians and motorists with wider roads and walkways, tackling flooding by providing adequate and covered drains, and street lights that would guarantee added safety and security for all road users.

The Governor expressed optimism that the roads constructed along the corridor would go a long way to create direct and indirect employment, increase connectivity and increase economic activity in the community and its environs.

“The unveiling of Agric Road Bamidele Kasali/Dosu Ekunrin Road today is a testimony to our passion to make our people happier, our roads better and our State safer. By this action, we are providing critical and needed infrastructure as well as reciprocating the support our government has enjoyed from this constituency in the last four years,” he said.

While imploring community, religious leaders and the people of Igando/Ikotun to guard the infrastructure jealously, he thanked Lagosians for their support and prayers, particularly in the discharge of their civic responsibility through payment of taxes.

“I believe strongly that our State is on a positive growth trajectory and I urge you to give the next administration the same unflinching support you gave us as we work together in transforming our State to the “Lagos of Our Dreams”, he said.

Governor Ambode said the State Government had already mobilized the contractor while work has started Egan-Ayobo Link Bridge, assuring that the incoming administration would see through the project to completion.

At the unveiling of 500-seater capacity Igando Theatre, Governor Ambode said the development was in accordance with his administration’s promise to create a new economy around Tourism, Hospitality, Entertainment and Sports, saying it was gratifying to note that a solid and long term foundation had been effectively laid to support a sustainable tourism and entertainment-driven economy. 

He said with the unveiling, lovers of live theatre and the Arts would henceforth experience spectacular fun, adding that as the nation’s hub for commercial activities and entertainment, the State Government was providing key infrastructure to support growth as exemplified by the theatre.

He said the theatre, aside providing a platform for performances which would in turn bring revenue to artistes and entertainers, it would also go a long way to create opportunities for the tourism and hospitality sectors and the ripple effect would ultimately touch every aspect of the host communities.

“There is no State in the country that attracts visitors and new comers on daily basis as Lagos does. With our population, we have a large market for every sector. After the hustle and bustle of the day, people crave for entertainment and leisure. These theatres are built to provide for this need as well as creating jobs,” the Governor said.

In her goodwill message, Chairman of Igando-Ikotun Local Council Development Area (LCDA), Mrs Morenike Adesina-Williams commended Governor Ambode for the projects executed in the area, saying they would go a long way in enhancing the socio-economic development within the axis and the State in general.

“I wish to express our deep appreciation to the Governor for this laudable road project and the Theatre. We are aware of the deplorable state the road was but today the State Government has brought comfort and succor to people of Egan, Ayobo and all the people making use of this road.

“Also, the ground-breaking ceremony of the Egan-Ayobo link bridge is a thing of joy for us. This is a testament of the fact that your (Governor Ambode’s) administration has indeed provided good and qualitative social infrastructure across all divisions in Lagos State, particularly this road which will provide and enhance socio-economic development, investment and employment in this axis,” she said.

On his part, Onigando of Igando, Oba Lasisi Gbadamosi said the unveiling of the theatre was an emotional moment for him considering that Governor Ambode would be exiting office soon, just as he prayed that God would continue to bless and order the steps of the Governor.

“I want to profusely thank our Governor, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode for standing firmly and seeing this project through. If I open my mouth and start to talk about the good things the Governor has done in our community, the State in general and even personally for me, I may cry but I just pray that God will be with the Governor in all his endeavours,” Oba Gbadamosi said.

Some residents of the area- Mrs. Aderinola Adetola and Mrs. Folashade Olanrewaju, who spoke on the projects, commended the Governor saying that the road has transformed the axis and upgraded their standard of living. 

 

I won’t share govt funds with greedy people — Obaseki

The Edo State Governor, Mr Godwin Obaseki, says he will not share government funds meant for the development of the state with a handful of individuals who are trying to blackmail his government.

Obaseki said this on Wednesday at the graduation of a new batch of teachers under the Edo Supporting Teachers to Achieve Results initiative, nicknamed ‘Edo STAR.’

According to a statement made available to journalists, the initiative is an arm of the Edo Basic Education Sector Transformation programme, known as ‘Edo-BEST.’

The statement quoted Obaseki as saying that he was not alone in pursuing sustainable development for the state.

He said, “I want to assure you that my party (the All Progressives Congress) is solidly behind me. I am not standing on my own. So, ignore what you are reading in a section of the media.

“Those are people who want me to give them the money I should be using to train our teachers, provide for our children and develop the state.

“I will never give our people’s money to them.”

The governor said his administration was determined to use the resources in the state for development, especially in the education and health sectors.

“We do not have all the money in Edo State, but whatever we have, no matter how little, will be used to prioritise education and health care.

“What is important to us are things that affect the ordinary Edo citizens. Those are the things the APC and I stand for,” Obaseki said.

The governor said the digital teaching and learning system deployed in public primary schools in the state would be replicated in private primary schools to ensure that no child was left behind.

He commended the graduate teachers for successfully completing the programme, saying their training would improve learning in schools.

Abia: Arrest of sex workers criminalisation of poverty – NHRC

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has decried the recent arrest of sex workers and closure of brothels in Umuahia, the Abia capital, on the orders of the state government.

Ms Uche Nwokocha, the Coordinator of NHRC in Abia, described the action as as “the criminalisation of poverty” by the government and its agencies.

Nwokocha said this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Umuahia on Wednesday.

NAN reports that the state government had ordered the immediate shutdown of some brothels in the state capital, alleging that they had become hideouts for crminials.

It also directed security agencies to rid the brothels of suspected hoodlums, a situation which led to the arrest of the sex workers by the police.

However, the NHRC boss described the action as an abuse of the right of the sex workers, adding that the arrested ladies were being punished because they were poor.

She said: “There are other women elsewhere doing similar things and they are not being arrested.

“If you are looking for criminals go to their families. These are just poor women they are preying on.

“The only difference is that these people are poor and they don’t have the opportunity others have.

“And because of that, they are being punished. How many of them are being prosecuted, it is wrong,” she said.

Nwokocha, who is a legal practitioner, however, advised the state government to find out why there was a large number of women going into prostitution rather than clamping down on them.

“If the Government of Abia has discovered that there is still a high influx of prostitutes into the state, I think the government should ask why.

“If some of them are into prostitution because of the situation they found themselves in, the government can assist them by giving them some packages that can help them settle down.

“But if there are still some, who still want to do prostitution, they should be allowed to do whatever they want,” Nwokocha said.

Buhari heading to Saudi Arabia for lesser hajj

President Muhammadu Buhari will embark on a five-day trip to Saudi Arabia on Thursday.

Garba Shehu, presidential spokesman, disclosed this in a statement issued on Wednesday.

Shehu said the trip is at the instance of Salman Abdulaziz, the ruler of Saudi Arabia.

“President Muhammadu Buhari has accepted the invitation of King Salman Bin Abdulaziz, the ruler of Saudi Arabia and Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques to perform the Umrah (lesser pilgrimage) in the Kingdom,” Shehu said.

“To this effect, the President, accompanied by close personal aides, will embark on the journey on Thursday, 16th May.

“He is expected back in the country on Tuesday, 21st May. Umrah is an optional but recommended pilgrimage to Makkah that can be made at any time of the year.”

US embassy in Lagos finalises relocation plan to Eko Atlantic City

The United States embassy in Lagos and South Energyx Nigeria Limited have signed an agreement for the acquisition of a site at the Eko Atlantic City in Victoria Island, Lagos.

The land is to be used for the building of a new American consulate office.

At the signing ceremony on Wednesday, John Bray, the US consul general, said the acquisition will provide opportunities for economic growth and development in Lagos.

“Eko Atlantic was selected for its world-class infrastructure. Purchase of land for a new Consulate General will ensure we can continue to work with Nigerians to provide opportunities for economic growth and development in Lagos,” he said.

“The United States is proud to be participating in Eko Atlantic’s growth as part of our commitment to further enhance and strengthen the cooperation between the United States of America and Nigeria,” he said.

Senate panel endorses Emefiele for second term, dismisses ‘stolen’ N500bn allegation

The senate committee on banking, insurance and other financial institutions has approved of a second term for Godwin Emefiele, governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

While screening Emefiele on Wednesday, members of the committee dismissed the allegations of stolen N500 billion at the apex bank.

Rafiu Ibrahim, its chairman, said the allegations were targeted at “bringing you (Emefiele) down because  you are  a good person”.

Last week, President Muhammadu Buhari nominated Emefiele for a second term.

During the screening, the committee expressed satisfaction over Emefiele’s first tenure at the CBN.

According to Ibrahim, “I do not have any question for the Governor. I am overwhelmed. I wish you well and pray for you. May God continue to guide you.

“Now, we know the reason why there are some videos on social media because in Nigeria, once you are a good person, some people will always try to bring you down. We will expeditiously take a report to the chamber for consideration. You can take a bow.”

Kurfi Umaru representing Katsina central also commended the CBN governor for “a job well done.”

“Let me start by congratulating the governor for his second term and also congratulate you for your article presentation. I commend you for a job well done,” he said.

Philip Aduda from FCT said: “Mine is to wish you well and to pray to God almighty to grant you wisdom so that you can put the economy of this county on a pedestal of hope and prosperity. Congratulations.”

In his remarks, the Emefiele said the apex bank will continue to do its best, admitting, however, that “the road ahead is still very tough.”

He said Nigeria has workable policies but “implementation has been neglected because we see sabotaged activities.

“CBN will ensure that those who seek to undermine the policies of Nigeria will be brought to book. Pray for us because the road ahead is tough,” he said.

“On Agriculture, the credit should go to the President. It was what he said ‘eat what we produce’, that birthed the anchor borrowers programme.

“We have started looking at palm oil. The price of a barrel of palm oil is more than a barrel of crude oil. We will grow that market again. After palm oil, we will focus on cocoa in the south-west.”

Again, NFIU warns governors to steer clear of LG funds

The Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) says the effective date for the new regulations on local government funds remains June 1.

In a statement on Wednesday, Ahmed Dikko, NFIU acting spokesman, said any violation of the new regulations will be sanctioned.

On May 6, the NFIU had announced new guidelines, which would make the joint account system currently in use by state and local governments only exist for the receipt of allocations from the federation account but not for disbursement.

With the guideline, governors may lose control of local government funds.

The new measures, it was learnt, were introduced by the current administration to restore LGA’s financial autonomy.

“The Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) is using this second press statement on the above subject to reiterate its position that the 1st June effective date of the guidelines to all financial institutions and public officials on the local government funds stands,” Dikko said.

“The Unit also maintains its understanding of the 1999 constitution that no debit is allowed on any local government funds unless and until the funds are credited to and reach the bank accounts of a local government in any state of the federation.

“The provision of the cumulative cash withdrawal not exceeding N500,000 per day is also firmly in place effective 1st June 2019.

“We observed isolated comments to the contrary in the past few days which in our assessment only amounted to wilful misinterpretation of the 1999 constitution and therefore, of no consequences to the operations of the entire financial system.

“The provision of the guidelines to the financial institutions was also on account of legitimate powers provided by the NFIU Act 2018 and any violations of the said guidelines will be sanctioned appropriately.”

Bandits abduct 3-month-old baby, kill 2 in Zamfara

Security forces are now trailing yet to be identified gunmen who invaded Kanoma village in Maru Local Government Area of Zamfara and abducted seven persons, including a three months old baby along with her mother, killing two people.

An eye witness, Malam Ibrahim Muhammed told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Gusau on Wednesday that the bandits in their hundreds besieged the area at about 3 am on Tuesday and fired gun shots sporadically in the air to scare the residents away.

Muhammad further explained that “It was while they were scaring the people with gun shots that they killed the two victims who came out in the confusion.

“We tried to raise alarm to security agencies who were stationed in different places along Sokoto/Gusau road, but everyone was afraid of being sighted by the assailants who held powerful fire arms,” he said.

He said the bandits went to the residence of one Dan Haja, a business man, beat him with iron rods and inflicted serious injuries on him after which they went away with his wife who is a nursing mother and her three months old baby.

He also said the bandits moved to the house of a retired Director-General in the state government, Alhaji Sani Abdullahi, and picked him too along with six other persons and disappeared.

“At a later time, they called to demand for a ransom of 50 million naira for the release of those abductees,” Muhammad said.

When contacted, the state Police Command spokesman, SP Mohammed Shehu confirmed the attack but said, “from the report we received, no one was killed and a total of eight persons mostly women and children were abducted by the attackers.”

He said, the command’s Tactical and Anti-terrorism units had been deployed to the area to trail the bandits and arrest them, adding that peace had been restored to the area.

He urged members of the public to always report such attacks or suspicious movements in good time so that assistance could come.