Tuesday , 22 October 2019
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Court orders interim forfeiture of Maina’s 23 houses, estates, firms in Abuja, Kaduna, Borno, Nasarawa

The Federal High Court Abuja, on Tuesday, granted an order of interim forfeiture of 23 properties belonging to Abdulrasheed Maina, Chairman of the defunct Pension Reform Task Team.

Justice Folashade Giwa-Ogunbanjo gave the order of interim forfeiture following an ex parte application filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC).

The court also gave an order directing the publication of the order of interim forfeiture in any national daily newspaper.

The newspaper publication is aimed at inviting any person(s) or body(ies) who may have interest in the assets and properties listed in the schedule to show cause, within 14 days of such publication, why a final order of forfeiture to the Federal Government of the said assets and properties should not be made.

The ex parte motion, which was moved by Mohammed Abubakar alleged that the said properties were suspected to be proceeds of unlawful activities traced to Maina and his associates.

It was brought pursuant to Section 17(1) and (3) of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act 2006.

The property include houses, estates, companies among others located in Abuja, Kaduna, Borno and Nasarawa.

INEC fixes Nov 16 for fresh election between Melaye, Adeyemi

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has fixed November 16 for a fresh election in Kogi west senatorial district.

Dino Melaye of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Smart Adeyemi of the All Progressives Congress (APC) are set to return to the poll.

Festus Okoye, chairman, information and voter committee of INEC, announced this in a statement on Monday.

He said the senatorial election would hold simultaneously with the Kogi governorship election.

“The decision was taken at the commission’s meeting held on Monday,” the statement said.

He said that the fresh election was sequel to the nullification of February 23 election in the senatorial district and its subsequent affirmation by the court of appeal.

The court of appeal had upheld the ruling of the election petitions tribunal which nullified the election of Melaye following a suit filed by Adeyemi.

On October 11, the appeal court ordered INEC to conduct a fresh election within 90 days from the date of judgment with all those who participated in it as eligible candidates.

Okoye appealed to the candidates and political parties to conduct issue-based campaigns.

“We also enjoin stakeholders to eschew violence and avoid acts capable of creating apprehension or a sense of fear before, during and after the elections,’’ he said.

PSC appoints six DIGs, others

The Police Service Commission (PSC) has approved the appointment of six Deputy Inspectors General of Police (DIGs). Two others are to proceed on pre-retirement leave.

A statement on Monday in Abuja by the Head of Press and Public Relations of the commission, Ikechukwu Ani, said the remaining four are to replace the four retired DIGs and form part of the IGPs management team comprising seven DIGs.

The statement reads: “The new DIGs are: Abdul Dahiru Danwawu, Lawal Shehu, Adeyemi Samuel Ogunjemilusi, Peter Babatunde Ogunyanwo, all former AIGs, and Alex Okpara and Celestine Okoye, former commissioners of police (CPs). DIGs Ogunjemilusi and Okpara are to proceed on pre-retirement leave.

“The commission also approved the promotion of 14 CPs to Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIGs). They are: Yunana Babas, Dan-Malam Mohammed, Mua’zu Zubairu Halilu, Rabiu Yusuf, Sanusi Nma Lemu, Ahmed Iliyasu, Mohammed Uba Kura, Zaki M. Ahmed and Gwandu Haliru Abubakar.

“Others are: Zama Bala Senchi, presently CP, Jigawa State Command; Bello A. Sadiq, Austin Iwero Agbonlahor, Lawan Ado, former CP, Kwara State Command and currently Commandant, Police College, Kaduna, and Bashir Makama.

“The appointments and promotions were the highpoints of the commission’s sixth plenary meeting held in Abuja on October 18 and chaired by Musiliu Smith, Chairman of the commission.

“The commission also approved the promotion of 230 Superintendents of Police (SPs) to Chief Superintendents (CSPs), 11 Deputy Superintendents of Police (DSPs) to Superintendents (SPs) and 211 Assistant Superintendents (ASPs) to Deputy Superintendents (DSPs). Forty-one Inspectors were also promoted to ASP1.”

“The new CSPs include Kabiru Ishaq, Sufi Salisu Abdullahi, Dattijo Abdullahi, Bisiriyu Akindele, Faloye Folusho, Ngozi Faith Nwosu, Shehudden Yusuf Baba, Ibrahim Bashir, Benjamin Nlemchukwu Ugwuegbulam, Remigius Nnaemeka Ekpe, Tope Adewunmi Oparinde, Esther Ifeoma Nwaiwu, Victoria Olayinka Mulero and Ogbonnaya Nwota.

“…Smith said the commission will continue to closely monitor the performance of these officers and enjoined them to rededicate themselves to the service of their fatherland. He reiterated that promotion in the Force will continue to be based on merit, seniority and availability of vacancies

UK receives £90bn stolen funds from Nigeria, African countries yearly – Report

The United Kingdom (UK) receives about £90 billion illicit funds from Nigeria, Africa and countries in third world every year, according to report by Christian Erikson and Lionel Faull, anti-corruption advocates.

The advocates disclosed this in a joint paper tagged, ‘Obtaining Property Information Overseas’ presented at the anti-corruption training organised by the Human and Environmental Development Agenda (Heda Resource Centre) in collaboration with The Corner House; MacArthur Foundation and the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA).

They said most of the stolen funds are from the third world, including Nigeria.

According to them, 87,000 illicit assets in the UK are owned by anonymous companies in tax havens, while the values of secretly owned properties in the UK are between 56 to 100 billion pounds, with 40 percent of these properties in the city of London.

“Getting your money back is easier said than done. It takes a long time. If you do not support corruption, there is no need doing banking with Nigeria,” Faull was quoted to have said.

“The fight against corruption will not succeed without a very active citizenry. It requires international solidarity, teaming up with a civil society in order to work with international organisations and make authorities accountable.”

Also, Nick Hildyard, an anti-corruption investigator, said though the UK has one of the most effective anti-corruption laws, in reality, the country does not appear to be fully prepared to stall the wave of corruption, with its financial institutions providing the logistics for corrupt officials from Nigeria.

“The UK is a legally corrupt country”, Hildyard said, adding that “if Western countries genuinely wish to fight corruption, they should stop the warehouse of stolen funds from Nigeria”.

Speaking, Maryam Uwais, special adviser to the president on social investment, said corruption cannot be eradicated overnight.

She said at the moment, six million Nigerians are on the database of the NSIP adding that 167,000 out of the figure are physically challenged people.

She said communication remains a challenge since many of the beneficiaries live in rural areas.

“It has been a dilemma for me generally. It’s been a choice that has been hard. We call on journalists to please go out of their duties to help reach out to them.”

She, however, commended the federal government’s efforts at fighting poverty by ploughing recovered stolen wealth into meeting the essentials of poor individuals across the 36 states of the federation.

Ronaldo’s DNA matches evidence in rape case

Juventus star Cristiano Ronaldo’s DNA matched evidence collected in the rape case against him in America, according to a report from English tabloid The Sun.

The five-time Ballon d’Or winner was accused by American citizen Kathryn Mayorga of rape last year, which she claims took place in a hotel room in Las Vegas in 2009.

The criminal case, which has since been dropped, was widely publicised, with the 34-year-old Portuguese forward protesting his innocence on social media following the accusation.

Among the 100 emails sent between police and criminal prosecutors in America, Las Vegas detective Jeffrey Guyer said that “DNA is back and is a match”, referring to the Juventus star.

The Bianconeri vowed last year to support Ronaldo and discredited the claims, suggesting that he is a professional.

Last month the Portuguese star told British media personality Piers Morgan that he was embarrassed about the allegations and protested his innocence once again.

Six UI workers in DSS net over exam fraud

The Vice Chancellor of the University of Ibadan, Prof. Idowu Olayinka, has handed over six workers at the institution’s Distance Learning Centre to the Department of the State Security for alleged involvement in examination malpractice.

It was gathered that the workers, who were arrested last Friday, had been in the custody of the DSS.

Investigation showed that the workers were detained for allegedly smuggling scripts for students during examinations, fabricating Computer Based Test results, falsifying clearance mostly for students having disciplinary issues, among others.

Further investigation revealed the identities of the workers and their various units. They are Edward Eborgu (Head of UI DLC software Unit); Kehinde Ajao (Head Student Support); Shola Akintunde (Executive Officer and Media representative); Ademola Okunola (IT personnel); one Lanre (IT personnel) and a certain David in the Director’s office were among those arrested for their involvement.

The Director of Communications of the university, Olatunji Oladejo, confirmed the development in a telephone conversation with our correspondent on Monday evening.

Oladejo said the director of the centre alerted the vice-chancellor of the involvement of the said lecturers.

He hinted further that the VC was miffed by the development and approved a thorough investigation of the matter.

A source within the university, who confided in Punch correspondent, said the information leading to their arrests came from their accomplices, who had been arrested during the ongoing examinations, and a protest by the students about illegal dealing among some of the non-teaching staff.

He said, “After they were arrested on Thursday last week, some of the workers reportedly stayed away from the DLC Centre.”

Oladejo also said, “When it happened, the director alerted the VC who ordered their arrest. Officials of the DSS were invited to effect the arrests. They were found indulging in examination malpractices.

Plot to smuggle Maina out of EFCC custody foiled

Seven operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) have been arrested in connection with a plot to smuggle former Pension Reform Task Team (PRTT) chairman AbdulRasheed Maina out of the anti-graft agency’s custody.

They are undergoing investigation along with a woman, Zainab Abbas, to determine their involvement in the plot.

Maina is being detained by the anti-graft agency which is probing him for alleged N2.1 billion fraud.

An official of the agency alleged on Monday that Zainab Abbas, who visited Maina, coordinated the failed attempt to spirit Maina out of custody.

According to the source, the seven EFCC men were on duty when the plot was to be carried out.

“Intelligence was received about the plot on October 17. That night, one Zainab Abbas was smuggled into the visitors’ area to meet with Maina. She was with her telephone.

“She was alleged to be making efforts to procure some purported military personnel to execute the plan to get Maina out in a commando style.

“It could not be immediately ascertained if Maina was in the picture of what was being planned or if Zainab was contracted by members of pension syndicate to set Maina free.

“Operatives on duty that night were arrested, questioned and detained. They are being investigated for suspected complicity

“But contrary to the rules, Zainab was allowed to use her phone during an audience with Maina.”

The source added that “The Acting Chairman of EFCC has ordered additional security measures around Maina in the facility where he is.

“All his visitors will henceforth be subjected to EFCC’s guidelines. The is also undergoing interrogation. We believe the plot might also be a ploy by the woman to get money from Mains.

P&ID: EFCC arraigns two British nationals for money laundering

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on Monday arraigned two British nationals, James Nolan and Adam Quinn (at large), before Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court, Abuja.

They were charged for alleged complicity in the controversial $9.6bn arbitral award to Process and Industrial Development Ltd., by a United Kingdom commercial court.

The defendants, both directors of Goidel Resources Limited, a Designated Non-Financial Institution and ICIL Limited, were charged with 16 counts bordering on money laundering.

Count one of the charges read, “That you James Richard Nolan and Adam Quinn(at large), sometime in December 2013 in Abuja, within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, being Directors of Goidel Resources Limited, a Designated Non-Financial Institution aided the said company in failing to comply with the requirement of submitting to the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investments a declaration of the activities as specified under section 5 (1)(a) of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act, 2011, as amended and you thereby committed an offence contrary to section 18(a) of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act, 2011, as amended and punishable under section 16 (2b) of the same Act.”

The defendants pleaded not guilty to the charges, while Justice Abang struck out count nine of the charge on the grounds that “a court of law has no jurisdiction to entertain a charge against a non-registered person.”

The prosecution, Bala Sanga, asked the court for a trial date and an order to remand the defendants in prison custody.

However, defence counsel, Okwudili Anozie, moved an oral application for the bail of his clients, but Sanga objected to the application.

“We object to the oral application of the defendant. We would be requesting an affidavit showing cause, why the bail should be granted,” he said.

After hearing Anozie’s argument, Abang refused the oral application for the bail of the defendants and adjourned till November 20 and 21, 2019, for the commencement of trial.

The EFCC spokesman, Wilson Uwujaren, in a statement said the court remanded Nolan in prison custody pending the consideration of his bail application.

Asset seizure: EFCC misled court, says Saraki


Former Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki has said that an order granted by a Federal High Court in Lagos for a temporary forfeiture of his property on 17A McDonald Road, Ikoyi, following an ex-parte application by the  Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), was made in error.

In a statement by his Special Adviser (Media and Publicity), Yusuph Olaniyonu, Saraki stated that the Federal  High Court in Lagos must have been misled into granting that order as neither him nor his lawyers were aware of any application by the EFCC for any forfeiture order.

He said there is a subsisting court order issued by the Federal High Court, Abuja, in which the same property was a subject matter and where the EFCC and the Federal Ministry of Justice were parties. The court in that case gave an order restraining the EFCC from taking any further action until the matter is determined.

“We are sure the FHC judge in Lagos was not aware of all these facts and has therefore been misled into giving the temporary forfeiture order.  The affected property, House Number 17 A and 17B, was specifically  listed in the case against him at the Code of Conduct Tribunal in which the EFCC was part of the prosecution and the case went up to the Supreme Court where the apex court in its July 6, 2018 judgement ruled in his favour.

“The Supreme Court has ruled that the source of funds for the purchase of the property was not illicit as claimed by the prosecution. On pages 12, 13 and 26 of the judgement of the highest court, this particular property on 17A McDonald Street, Ikoyi, was specifically referred to and the court upheld the no case submission of Dr. Saraki and therefore ruled in his favour.

“We know that any action which tends to mislead the court amounts to misrepresentation and it is a good ground for us to get the Court to throw away the order it issued today. We are sure the order will be reversed.

“We therefore call on all the friends, associates and supporters of Dr. Saraki to remain calm because we know this action will not stand when the court gets to hear the side of the former Senate President”, Saraki stated.


State House still using cars purchased 20 years ago, says Perm Sec

Some of the vehicles used for daily operations in the State House were purchased as far back as 1999, Permanent Secretary in State House, Jalal Arabi, has said

A statement issued in Abuja on Monday by the State House Deputy Director (Information), Attah Esa, said Arabi stated this when he led his management team to the National Assembly for the defence of the 2020 budget.

The Permanent Secretary also defended the State House budget proposals before the Senate Committee on Federal Character and Inter-governmental Affairs.

Arabi who appeared before the House of Representatives Committee on Special Duties said there was an urgent need to replace those vehicles as they have become very difficult to maintain.

He said, “With the release of funds in 2018, some of the vehicles, especially security vehicles were replaced, spares purchased but we are still nowhere near our optimal level since no vehicles were purchased this year (2019).

“The proposals are in line with our provisions in the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan document, discussed and agreed with the Budget Office of the Federation, and is to be implemented over a three-year period.”

According to him, the sum of N6.569 billion was proposed for capital expenditure, representing a 5.5 per cent reduction in the capital budget proposal for 2019 expenditure of the seat of government.

The chairman, House Committee on Special Duties, Samaila Suleiman, while expressing satisfaction with the presentation, assured that the committee would carefully consider the presentation.

Sen. Bamidele felicitates with Afe Babalola @ 90

The Chairman, Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, Sen. Opeyemi Bamidele, has felicitated with Chief Afe Babalola on his 90th birthday.

Bamidele, in a signed statement made available to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), on Monday in Abuja, extolled the virtues of the founder, Afe Babalola University, Ado-Ekiti, (ABUAD)

He described the legal icon as an embodiment of remarkable legacies in Ekiti, the legal profession and humanity as a whole.

The lawmaker, representing Ekiti Central at the upper chamber of the National Assembly, said Babalola, even at 90, had not looked back in giving back to the society through uplifting the downtrodden and purposeful leadership.

Bamidele also identified the establishment of the world-class ABUAD as one of the enduring legacies, which the nonagenarian would long be remembered for.

He also attributed Babalola’s rise from a humble background to national recognition to hardwork, dedication and grace of God.

“Any keen reader of his enviable story in the last five decades or more, would of course readily admit that Chief Afe Babalola is a unique profile in dramatic trajectory from grass to grace.

“Aare, as he is addressed, is an ebullient and iconic personality, who did not have the childhood luxury of being born with a silver spoon.

“He does not even fall in the category of those young men, who had fortune smiling on them on a platter of gold.

“But, today, he is a highly respected professional giant, an award winning technocrat, a renowned legal luminary, a successful business mogul, a superb elder statesman and a revered community leader.

“He is a compassionate and unrelenting philanthropist and, above all, a life coach and mentor to many accomplished gentlemen and ladies of repute,” he said.

Bamidele urged the generation of younger Nigerians to emulate the resilience and industry of Babalola, which he said enabled him to conquer his environment.

“Over the years, by a dint of hardwork, professional focus and consistency, as well as a very unique style of service delivery, Chief Afe Babalola rose to national prominence and became a household phenomenon in the nation’s justice sector.

“Having at various times, served as an indefatigable and most brilliant legal consultant to the Federal and State Governments, political juggernauts and corporate bodies.

He also consulted for several royal families across the nation for the settlement of sundry legal and constitutional disputes of national and international importance.

“At a prime age of 90, Afe Babalola remains a great pride and an illustrious ambassador of the people of Ekiti, the Yoruba people of the South West and Nigeria as whole.

“I join millions of Nigerians to celebrate his 90th birthday anniversary as well as 10 years of monumental and unprecedented achievements of the prestigious ABUAD today”.

He prayed to God to keep the celebrant for the entire human race to continue to tap from his wealth of knowledge and wisdom. (NAN)

Court varies Sowore’s bail conditions

A Federal High Court in Abuja has varied the bail conditions granted the convener of #RevolutionNow, Omoyele Sowore, and his co-defendant, Olawale Bakare.

Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu granted the order in a ruling on the application for bail variation by the duo charged with treasonable felony among others.

She waived the earlier requirement that Sowore should deposit N50m as security and reduced the amount attached to Bakare’s bail.

The court had on October 4 this year granted them bail on certain conditions, which they considered stringent and which they could not meet, prompting them to apply to the court for variation.

Justice Ojukwu, however, refused to vary all other bail conditions.

She said the decision to restrain the defendants from participating in rallies was in order in view of the nature of the case.

She adjourned till November 6 and 7 for the commencement of trial.

Recall that the judge had in a ruling on October 4 granted Sowore bail in the sum of N100m and two sureties in the same amount, and barred him from travelling out of Abuja.

She ordered one of Sowore’s surety to deposit N50m in the account of the court as security.

She granted Bakare bail in the sum of N50m with a surety in the same amount and barred him from travelling out of his base in Osogbo, except while coming for the trial in Abuja.

The judge added that the sureties, who must be resident in Abuja, must also have landed assets worth the bail sum in Abuja, and should deposit the original title documents of the assets with the court.

She added that the defendants be remanded in the custody of the Department of State Service pending when they are able to meet the bail conditions.

Communications minister asks telcos to slash data price

The Minister of Communications, Dr Isa Pantami, has directed the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to work with the telecommunications service providers to reduce the price of data.

According to Yusuf Abubakar, an aide of the minister, Pantami gave the directive to the regulator when he received a report on the implementation of the ministry’s short-term performance targets.

Abubakar said Pantami expressed dismay that despite the high cost of data, Nigerians do not enjoy good internet services.

“According to the report from a UK-based price comparison website – Cable, Nigeria is not among the top 10 African countries with low average price of data, a position the Minister of Communications, Dr Isa Pantami, finds worrisome considering the fact that the country has over 174 million internet users made public by the Nigerian Communications Commission,” Abubakar said in a statement.

“The minister also finds it unacceptable that with the prevailing high cost of data in Nigeria, the citizens still do not enjoy value for money as subscribers battle daily with illegal deduction of data, poor quality of service, among others.

“It is against this backdrop that the minister directed the NCC, the telecom regulators, to immediately work hand in hand with the telecom operators and ensure a downward review of the price of data in Nigeria, improved quality of service provided and check the illegal deduction of subscribers’ data.”

Federal High Court orders seizure of Saraki”s properties in Ikoyi


A Federal High Court, sitting in Lagos, on Monday ordered the interim forfeiture of two high value properties located at Ikoyi area of Lagos State belonging to the immediate past Senate President, Dr  Bukola Saraki to be forfeited to the Federal Government of Nigeria.

The Ilorin Zonal Office of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission ( EFCC) in an exparte application filed by the Commission’s lawyer, Nnaemeka Omewa, approached the court seeking an order of interim forfeiture of the properties,  alleging that  they were acquired through proceeds of unlawful activities.

Delivering his ruling on the application,  Justice Mohammed Liman, who ordered  the interim  forfeiture of the two properties, said the EFCC should publish the order in a national daily within 14 days and further the matter for report of compliance with the order of Court.

The Commission had sought for four orders before Justice Liman in respect of the controversial property.

Part of the reliefs sought by the EFCC include:

“An order of this honourable Court forfeiting to the Federal Government of Nigeria landed property with appurtenances situate, lying and known as No. 17A McDonald Road,  Ikoyi, Eti Osa Local Government Area of Lagos State found and recovered from the respondent which property is reasonably suspected to have been acquired with proceeds of unlawful activity.

An Interim Order of this honourable Court forfeiting to the Federal Government of Nigeria the Landed Property with its appurtenances situate,  lying and known as  No 17 McDonald Road,  Ikoyi in Eti Osa Local Government Area , Lagos State found and recovered from the respondent which property is reasonably suspected to have been acquired with proceeds of unlawful activity.

Justice Liman relying on the documents attached to the matter resolved all the issues raised in favour of the EFCC.

The Commission in an affidavit alleged that the former President of the Senate acquired the two properties with proceeds of unlawful activity.

Part of the affidavit reads, “Trend of cash lodgments into Saraki’s account became suspicious and in order to further  disguise the source  and origin of this money, the respondent changed the pattern of payment and started making  payments into Exhibit EFCC 3 using  fictitious names.

The EFCC further alleged that the former number three citizen while serving as the Executive Governor of Kwara State withdrew over N12bn cash from the account of the Kwara Government and paid directly into his account domiciled in Access and Zenith Banks through one of his personal assistant, Abdul Adama at different intervals.

ICYMI: Qantas Dreamliner completes longest ever commercial flight


They did the Macarena 10,972 metres above Las Vegas, dined on chilli- and lime-poached prawns and spicy “Jiangxi-style” cod and watched a fair few movies, including the Elton John biopic, Rocketman. Well, they had enough time: 19 hours and 16 minutes to be precise.

Aviation history was made at 7.43am on Sunday when Qantas flight QF7879 touched down at Sydney airport, completing the world’s longest ever commercial flight. It had taken off from New York’s JFK airport at 9.27pm on Friday night. Along the way, it produced the equivalent carbon dioxide emissions of burning more than 700 barrels of oil.

Just 49 people – including six pilots, six members of cabin crew including a chef, a handful of reporters, six frequent flyers and the airline’s chief executive, Alan Joyce – were on board the Boeing Dreamliner flight, designed to test whether passengers can endure the physical and mental effects of extremely long aeroplane journeys.

The flight was restricted to such a small number of passengers in order to ensure that it was light enough to make it all the way to Australia on one tank of fuel. In order to reduce the weight, strict restrictions were put in place, including limiting passengers’ luggage and destocking most of the bar. All the passengers were in business class.

The plane was loaded with 101 tonnes of jet fuel, which made up almost half the total weight of the plane on takeoff. A Qantas spokesman was unable to explain how much carbon dioxide the flight created, but said all carbon emissions from the flight would be offset. The spokesman suggested that the carbon footprint of the direct flight would be less than that created by a two-leg journey because most energy used in flying is on takeoff.

The International Civil Aviation Organization, which is part of the United Nations, estimates that 3.15 grams of carbon dioxide are produced for every gram of jet fuel burned. This would suggest that the flight created about 310 tonnes of carbon dioxide – the equivalent to the CO2 emitted by the use of four full tankers of petrol or that of about 718 barrels of oil, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency.

Britain’s Committee on Climate Change said any new flights that expanded the market for long-haul travel would hinder the legally binding commitment to net-zero emissions by 2050.

The flight covered 16,200 kms (10,200 miles) – about 900km further than the current longest commercial flight between Singapore and New York.

In an onboard interview in his Qantas-branded grey pyjamas, Joyce said: “This is the last frontier in aviation, being able to fly from the east coast of the United States to the east coast of Australia.”

The flight, on a brand new Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner named Kookaburra (a type of Australian kingfisher), was the first of three test flights exploring the practicalities of ultra-long -distance commercial aviation as part of Qantas’s Project Sunrise. Next month, Qantas will test a direct flight from Heathrow to Sydney, which will set a new distance record of 17,000km and take about 19.5 hours.

The Dreamliner has completed the non-stop test flight from New York to Sydney. The 10,066-mile (16,200km) journey lasted 19 hours and 16 minutes

New York

Los Angeles


Pacific Ocean



oyce said upon landing in Sydney: “This is a really significant first for aviation. Hopefully, it’s a preview of a regular service that will speed up how people travel from one side of the globe to the other.

“We know ultra-long-haul flights pose some extra challenges, but that’s been true every time technology has allowed us to fly further. The research we’re doing should give us better strategies for improving comfort and wellbeing along the way.”

The passengers boarding the flight at 9pm in New York were told to reset their watches to Sydney time as soon as they boarded, and were kept awake with the lights on for six hours and served a spicy soup and fish lunch designed to keep them up for longer to reduce jetlag. The chef said he had been preparing the meals on the flight for three days.

As the flight flew over Las Vegas, passengers were led from their business class seats to the empty economy cabin in a rendition of La Macarena designed to get the blood pumping around their bodies.

Pilots, passengers and crew were also subjected to a battery of health and wellbeing checks designed to test the effects of ultra-long-haul flying. All crew members wore activity monitors and completed sleep diaries and alertness logs during the flight, and in the two weeks leading up to it.

Cameras were mounted in the cockpit to “record alertness cues and operational activities” and the pilots wore EEG (electroencephalogram) brain monitoring equipment to monitor them for alertness and sleep.

With demand for air travel rapidly growing and aircraft performance improving, carriers are increasingly looking into ultra-long-haul travel. The International Air Transport Association expects the worldwide number of annual passengers to increase from 4.6 billion this year to 8.2 billion by 2037.

Qantas captain Sean Golding said flying the plane was the highlight of his career. “The flight was very successful from two components,” he said. “The first one was research. And also the feat of distance – that flight last night was 16,200 kilometres. We were airborne for 19 hours and 16 minutes, and we landed here in Sydney with a comfortable 70 minutes of fuel.”

The QF7879 flight landed in Sydney a few minutes before the airline’s regular New York to Sydney service QF12, which stops in Los Angeles. QF12 had taken off from New York three hours before QF7879.

JUST IN: Abducted Assistant Commissioner of Police rescued, two arrested

Abducted Assistant Commissioner of Police, Musa Rabo, has been rescued.
Rabo, who is in charge of Suleja Area Command, Niger State, was rescued unhurt, a statement late on Sunday by Force Public Relations Officer, Deputy Commissioner of Police Frank Mba, said.

He was abducted on Saturday at about 3:30pm, a statement by the spokesman of the Kaduna State Police Command, Deputy Superintendent of Police Yakubu Sabo, said.

Mba said Rabo was rescued by a combined team of Police operatives from Kaduna and Niger State as and those of Zone 7 Command Headquarters, Abuja, backed by members of the elite Special Forces of the NPF.

Two male suspects have been arrested in connection with the incident, Mba further said, adding: “Investigation into the incident is ongoing.

“The officer was travelling in his civil dress, with his private vehicle and without escort or any special security at the time of the incident. He was not targeted as a cop. It was purely an opportunistic crime, indiscriminately and maliciously targeted at citizens using that particular road. He was, perhaps, positionally unlucky at the time of the incident!”

Why FG is breaking monopoly in broadcasting — Lai Mohammed

Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, says the Federal Government is determined to end all forms of monopoly in broadcasting because it is detrimental to the actualisation of the immense potential in the industry.

The minister stated this on Sunday at a meeting in Lagos.

Mohammed recalled that he, on October 10, inaugurated the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) Reform Implementation Committee to, among others, implement reforms to end monopoly in the sector.

The committee was also mandated to implement the review of National Broadcasting Code and extant broadcasting laws to reflect stiffer penalties for violators of broadcasting regulations as approved by President Muhammadu Buhari.

“A situation where a few people corner a chunk of the industry to the detriment of others, especially our teeming and talented youths, is totally unacceptable and untenable.

“Monopolies stunt growth, kill talents and discourage creativity.

“The clearest example of the creative energy that can be unleashed when monopoly is totally broken can be seen in the telecommunications industry.

The minister added: “Of course, the broadcast industry has also been liberalised. But any vestige of monopoly is antithetical to the liberalisation of the broadcast industry and must be dismantled.

“In the case of Nigeria, it’s the monopoly of content that breeds anti-competition practices.

“You cannot use your financial or whatever power to corner and hold on tight to a chunk of the market, preventing others from having access.

“Such monopolies are crumbling everywhere in the world and Nigeria cannot be left out.

With the implementation of the committee’s mandate, television viewers, especially lovers of sports may witness an end to MultiChoice’s monopoly on the live airing of high-profile sporting events.

High-profile sporting events, especially for well-loved sports, particularly soccer, are currently only available to subscribers of DSTV.

Specifically, DSTV has the monopoly on live airing of English Premier League and UEFA Champions League in Nigeria.

A reliable source in the ministry said that the era of liberalisation is, therefore, expected to witness the sporting events being accessible to other pay-TVs and free to air platforms in the country.

It will be recalled that Independent Communications Authority Of South Africa (ICASA) had taken similar step by unveiling Draft Sports Broadcasting Services Amendment Regulations 2018.

The bill is aim at making big sporting events accessible for free to all citizens of South Africa.

Passengers scared as Boeing wants 737 Max back flying

On September 12, Boeing started putting out 30-second videos in which employees tout its planes’ safety, hoping to reassure travelers about the 737 MAX that was grounded after two fatal crashes.

“Safety is at the core of our business. We have put hundreds of engineers to work to ensure that this airplane is 100 percent ready,” says Jennifer Henderson, chief test pilot for the 737, in one of the clips.

“When the 737 MAX returns to service I will absolutely put my family on this airplane,” she stressed. But on a Facebook page for Boeing enthusiasts where the clip was posted, the response is negative.

“Well, I think she could not say it would be unsafe,” one member quipped, as Boeing faces the Herculean task of trying to regain the confidence of civil aviation authorities and the public, seven months after the crash of an Ethiopian Airlines MAX that killed 157 people.

That came after the downing of a Lion Air MAX in Indonesia in October 2018, killing 189, with the plane’s MCAS anti-stall system being blamed in both accidents.

It’s not known when the MAX will return to service. Boeing, which still has not submitted a modified version of the MCAS system to regulators, hopes it will be before the end of the year.

“The 737 Max is, for now, an ‘airplane non grata’ — a plane passengers do not want to fly,” said Henry Harteveldt, president of Atmosphere Research Group in San Francisco.

“Travelers aren’t merely scared of the 737 MAX, they’re terrified of it.”

Just 19 percent of business travellers and 14 percent of leisure travellers would willingly take the 737 MAX within six months of returning to the sky, according to an Atmosphere survey.

Nearly half of the 2,000 respondents said they would pay more to avoid the MAX.

Faced with this distrust, airlines are adapting.

“We will be transparent — and communicate in advance — with our customers who are booked to fly on a MAX aircraft, will rebook those who do not want to fly on a MAX at no charge, and for some time will not swap aircraft to a MAX if a change of aircraft is required,” said a spokesperson at United Airlines, which owns 14 MAX aircraft.

American Airlines, which has 24 MAX planes, has said its company brass and employees will be the first to fly on the aircraft once it’s cleared to return to the sky.

The MAX’s setbacks have cast a shadow over a century of history at Boeing, a highlight of which was the success of its 747 jumbo jet, nicknamed the “Queen of the skies.”

According to Harteveldt, half of business passengers and 55 percent of leisure passengers consider Boeing to be “irresponsible,” “arrogant” and “unsafe.”

Boeing’s management has addressed the trust issue.

“We know that trust has been damaged over the last few months and we own that and we are working hard to re-earn that trust going forward,” CEO Dennis Muilenburg said in August.

The trust may have been tested again on Friday, when it emerged that some potentially significant documents at Boeing were held back from investigators for months.

Boeing says it has conducted 1,447 flight test hours as of October 13 with the modified MCAS, and Muilenburg personally took part in two tests.

From late September to mid-October, the company also invited airline pilots to simulator training and information sessions in Miami, London, Istanbul, Shanghai and Singapore.


Again, Royal Air Maroc plane suffers cargo door incident in Lagos

Less than two weeks after an aircraft used by Air Maroc to operate a flight inward Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Ikeja, Lagos had problem with the door of its cargo compartment, another aircraft used by the same airline to operate an outward flight from the same airport experienced similar incident on Sunday.

Confirming the incident, the management of Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) in a release by its spokesperson, Mrs Yakubu Henrientta noted the pilot of the aircraft discovered the the light of the cargo door flickered on after it has been visually certified locked and cleared for take off by concerned security operatives at the airport.
Not ready to take any risk, the pilot alerted the control tower to request return to the apron.

“The pilot flying a B737-700 belonging to Royal Air Maroc with registration number CN-RNQ discovered that the cargo door light was flickering on, despite the Aviation security escort visual observation that the Cargo door was closed. he alerted the control tower, requesting to return back to the apron, at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport Lagos, at about 05.30 hours today, October 20, 2019,” FAAN said.

According to the statement, “The Aviation Security escort team remained with the aircraft as it taxied back to the apron. At the apron, all concerned officers of FAAN and other agencies were on ground for thorough inspection.

“In line with standard and recommended practices, all parties concerned supervised the offloading and the re-screening of all the luggage belonging to all passengers on board the aircraft”.

Yakubu cleared that, every luggage on board the flight was certified intact in the presence of the airport manager and other top brass security personnel at the Lagos airport before the aircraft departed later this morning to Morocco.

“All the luggage belonging to the passengers were intact as certified by the team on ground before the flight eventually took-off at 10.06 hours in the presence of the Airport Manager and Chief Security Officer of the Airport.,” she said.

Escaped Kano lion: Police assure residents of adequate security

The Kano State Police Command says it has provided adequate security to ensure the protection of lives and property around Kano Zoological Garden following the escape of a lion from its cage.

The command’s Public Relations Officer, Deputy Superintendent of Police Abdullahi Haruna, made this known to the News Agency of Nigeria in Kano State on Sunday.

He said the command had deployed adequate armed policemen to prevent people from having access to the area in view of the prevailing situation.

The PPRO, however, advised the residents not to panic as experts and armed security personnel were making concerted efforts to capture the escaped animal.

He also called on the people of the area to be law-abiding and cooperate with security personnel as the police had already cordoned off the area to have total control.

NAN recalls that the lion escaped from its cage when rangers were trying to put it back in its cage after they returned it from Nasarawa State where the national agricultural show took place.

The incident had forced many residents of the area to remain indoors while motorists had deserted the ever-busy Zoo road since the incident happened on Saturday night.