Yahaya Bello Restates Anti-COVID-19 Belief

KOGI State Governor, Yahaya Bello, is insisting that the raging coronavirus is a ruse, contorted and imported into Nigeria to create fear and panic in people.

“Coronavirus is a disease that has been imported, propagated and forced on the people for no just cause,” Governor Bello insisted.

Governor Bello spoke on Tuesday at the third-day prayer session for the 'Repose of Soul' of Late Justice Nasir Ajana who died last Sunday in an Abuja hospital.

The governor had earlier on occasions stated that there was no case of COVID-19 anywhere in Kogi State, even while the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) claimed otherwise.

He also stated that the state Chief Judge, Late Justice Ajana, who died on Sunday, did not die of coronavirus.

The governor said COVID-19 was worst than a combination of banditry, Boko Haram (terrorism) and genocide, advising Nigerians to reject what he regarded as a global hoax.

“Don’t give in to fear and evil of the issues of COVID-19. It is a disease that has been imported, propagated and forced on the people for no just cause,” Governor Bello said.

He said fear killed faster than any known life-threat, describing the disease as “cut and paste,” which he said was only out to create fear and panic meant to shorten the lifespan of people.

“Whether medical experts and scientist believe it or not, COVID-19 is out to shorten the lifespan of the people, it is a disease propagated by force for Nigerians to accept,” the governor said.

His Information Commissioner, Kingsley Fanwo, recently described a claim by NCDC as a “beautiful fraud.”

NCDC had earlier disclosed that a Lokoja-based Immam tested positive for COVID-19.

But the state government countered that the man was stung by bees for which he was taken to hospital for treatment before his referral to Abuja where he was said to have tested positive for the virus.

The State Government had earlier alleged that it was under pressure from the Federal Government to accept that there were cases of COVID-19.

However, NCDC director-general, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu had, on occasions, said neither the Centre nor any of its officers had any access or influence over tests conducted in any centre or hospital across the federation as diagnosis was between the patient and the physician or the test kit.



Okowa In Benin, Welcomes Obaseki To PDP

GOVERNOR of Delta State, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa has welcomed his Edo State counterpart, Mr. Godwin Obaseki to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) ahead of the September 19 Governorship election in the state. 

Okowa who was in Benin City, the Edo State Capital on Sunday addressed newsmen shortly after a meeting with the Governor and top members of the PDP in Edo State at Government House Benin.

He said he was in Benin to formerly welcome Obaseki to PDP and to assure him of the support of the governors of the South-South in the forthcoming election in the state. 

According to him, PDP is a great party built around the people and would always work in the interest of the people.

He appealed to all members of the party to ensure they work together going forward to deliver the party in the coming elections.

"I came here today to felicitate with my brother Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki for joining us at the biggest party in Africa.

"I welcome him today because in the spirit of the old Bendel, we are united as brothers.

"I want to thank our party people in Edo State for opening their arms to welcome Obaseki.

"I know that he has been doing a great job in the state with several restrictions and I know that having come to PDP where there are no restrictions, he will do more for the people," Okowa said.

On his part, Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki thanked his Delta State counterpart for the visit assuring that he would do everything possible to ensure victory for the party in the state. 

He noted PDP as a big united party in Edo in which whoever emerged in the governorship primaries would get the support of the people.

"I made it a point of duty not to take the PDP membership card until I must have visited all the aspirants for governorship in the PDP as a mark of respect for them.

"As I have come to join you, my doors are opened. There are lots of work to do. As a united House we can go home and conquer. I want to thank you for welcoming me to the party. By the grace of God we will return power to the people in the state," Obaseki stated.

The meeting was attended by Edo Deputy Governor, Comrade Phillip Shaibu; former governor of Edo, Mr. Lucky Igbinedion; National Vice Chairman of PDP, Elder Emmanuel Ogidi; Edo State PDP Chairman Mr. Tony Aziegbeni; former Chief of Staff to the President, Chief Mike Ogiadhome; Senator Matthew Urhoghide. Chief Tom Ikimi, former Works Minister Arc. Mike Onolememem among others.


Nigeria Begins Cement Exportation

WITH the maiden exportation of 27,800 metric tonnes of cement-clinker by the Dangote Cement at the weekend, Nigeria has joined world exporters of cement, whereas Nigeria was one of the world’s largest bulk importers of cement a few years ago.

“This vessel, being the maiden ship is exporting 27,800 metric tonnes to Senegal and this is just a tip of the ice-berg as to what we have in plan.

“Dangote has gradually made Nigeria self-sufficient in cement production as well as an exporter of clinker to other countries”, said Alhaji Sada Ladan-Baki, Group Executive Director, Dangote Group.

He added that the company would increase the quantity in its second voyage going to other African countries this week.

“Today, we have formally launched the Dangote Cement Export Terminal. We are still going to do another major launch when the second ship is going out of the country,” he said.

He hoped that increased exportation of clinker-cement to other African countries would place Dangote Cement among top clinker exporters in the world, reduce unemployment in the country and boost Nigeria’s foreign exchange earnings.

“The beauty of what we have done is that we are going to be generating foreign exchange for the country in terms of dollars and Euros,” said Ladan-Baki.

He noted that every batch of clinker which the company exports, “the money comes back to Nigeria. The amount we are talking about is not small.”

Ladan-Baki is of the view that presently, Dangote Cement should either be number one or number two exporter of cement in Africa with generated revenue in the form of foreign exchange running into millions.

The company will launch its export terminal in Onne within the week or next.

“In the next one week or two, we are going to be shipping 82,000 metric tonnes to Cameroon in batches of about 25,000 to 29,000 metric tonnes per voyage,” Ladan-Baki added.

By projections, the new export terminal will enable the company export clinker to its grinding facility in Cameroon where it will distribute to new grinding plants which the company is building across West Africa.
 “This feat by Dangote is going to generate a lot of jobs because the Export Terminal has already created jobs to many Nigerians.

“As at now, the numbers of employed Nigerians at the terminal have reached 100. We are targeting about 200 to 300 workers in Lagos Terminal alone.

“But, apart from job creation opportunities, the exportation of clinker by Dangote will position the country to participate fully in the Africa Free Trade Liberalisation Agreement when it comes into being, so that Nigeria will be protected against foreign products.

“It will also help the country compete effectively with every country that is in the business of exportation of clinker. At Dangote Cement, we are going about it aggressively and we are seeing it as an opportunity.

“What we have in plan is to send clinker from Nigeria to Ivory Coast, Cameroon and Ghana. Cameroon as an example, takes about 82,000 metric tonnes every month.

Our target is to export at least 4 million metric tonnes of clinker annually to various parts of Africa.

“That is our target that we hope to achieve within the next one to two years,” Ladan-baki disclosed.



Econbank Emerges Africa's Most Innovative Bank

ECOBANK has been named the most innovative bank in Africa.

The West African bank was so named on Monday by the Global Finance during its eighth Global Finance annual awards, the Innovators 2020, recognizing organizations which constantly device innovation in the finance industry.

Winners were selected from different regions of the world in various categories.

The classes of Award comprised Most Innovative Banks in Africa, Asia-Pacific, Central & Eastern Europe, Latin America, Middle East, North America and Western Europe; The Most Innovative Fintech Companies in Asia-Pacific, Central & Eastern Europe, North America and Western Europe; and The Best Financial Innovation Labs.

Among major categories in the Award are: Trade Finance, Payment System, Top Innovations in Corporate Finance, Cash Management and Islamic Finance.
During the ceremony, Anita Hawser, European Editor at Global Finance and Lead, noted that the review panel considered innovation in the context of product or process innovation.

She said the team was more concerned with the impact of innovation in terms of creating value for customers or addressing a specific need, such as “speeding up lending or credit review process for small businesses; enabling companies to deposit cheques remotely and not having to visit the branches.”
She further explained that such “innovations significantly reduce the time or cost of companies performing financial tasks and really transform customers’ business lives helping them operate more effectively in a significantly challenging business and economic environment.”

Ecobank Group Managing Director, Ade Ayeyemi, said his team was pleased with the announcement.

“We are pleased to be recognised as the ‘Most Innovative Bank in Africa’ by Global Finance. This attests to the strength of our brand in multiple countries across Africa, our unique pan-African platform, and our innovative banking products and solutions made possible by the success of our digital transformation journey,” Ayeyemi remarked.

“With a larger African footprint than any other bank operating in West, Central, East and Southern Africa, Ecobank is the only bank that has banking operations that spans 33 African countries, operating a truly integrated African network,” he added.




FG Sets Up Team To Assess Impact of COVID-19


THE Federal Government of Nigeria has set up an economic team to assess the impact of lockdown as a result of outbreak and spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) even while there is still inter-state restriction on movement of people in the country.

The team is headed by the minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning.

According to a statement by the president’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, the presidency listed other measures of the government aimed at correcting negative impacts of the pandemic, some of which the statement said are already being implemented. They include:

Setting up an economic team, headed by the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning to assess the impact of COVID-19 on the economy;

Economic Sustainability Committee headed by the Vice President to define a post-COVID-19 economy for Nigeria;

Task force set up on free movement of farm produce headed by the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development;

Tackling weak health systems and infrastructure through establishment of standard laboratories, intensive care units, and isolation centres in all states of the Federation;

Placing emphasis on integrating local content in proven researches in cure, and production of materials in the heath sector as a long term measures;

A Fiscal Sustainability Plan to complement the suite of monetary and banking interventions recently announced by the Central Bank of Nigeria;

Establishing a mass agricultural programme and rural road construction programme.

Others are mass housing programme;

Large scale installation of residential solar systems, utilizing mainly local materials;

Expansion of the Social Investment Programme;

Revising the 2020-2022 Medium Term Expenditure Framework and the Budget 2020 assumptions and targets  which the presidency said had been done;

Prioritizing time-sensitive expenditures over less critical spending, and;

Strengthening extant financial controls to detect, eliminate and sanction instances of waste, funds misappropriation and corruption.




EFCC Returns To High Court Against Kalu


FREEDOM may eventually elude Orji Uzo Kau, former governor of Abia State as the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is prepared for his retrial.

In a reaction to the Supreme Court judgment earlier in the day, which nullified the trial of Kalu, his firm – Slok Nigeria Limited – and a former director of finance and account of Abia State Government, Jones Udeogu; the EFCC noted in a statement  on Friday that the apex court did not absolve Kalu of the offence but rather questioned the status of the judge who convicted Kalu; adding that it was ready to return to the high court with the same pieces of evidence.

The statement reads in part:
“The apex court based its verdict on the grounds that Justice Mohammed Idris, who convicted Kalu and others, had been elevated to the Court of Appeal before the judgment and returned to the lower court to deliver the judgment which it considered as illegal.

“The EFCC considers the judgment of the apex court as quite unfortunate. It is a technical ambush against the trial of the former governor.

“The Commission is prepared for a fresh and immediate trial of the case because its evidences against Kalu and others are overwhelming.

“The entire prosecutorial machinery of the EFCC would be launched in a fresh trial where justice is bound to be served in due course.”




Four Men Docked Over Killing of Funke Olakunin


FOUR men suspected for killing Funke Olakunrin, the daughter of the national leader of Afenifere were docked on Friday by Ondo State Government.

The accused persons are Adamu Adamu, 60; Mazaje Lawal, 40; Muhammed Usman, 26; and Awalu Abubakar, 25.

They are facing a four-count charge on conspiracy, murder and kidnap.

The prosecutor, a Principal Legal Officer in the Office of the DPP, Mr. John Joshua, told the court that the four accused persons and others still at large conspired and murdered the 58-year-old Olakunrin.

He also alleged that the accused persons killed one Ogunbiyi Matthew, a-65-year old man and kidnapped another Gerald Igboayaka.

He further alleged that the accused persons committed the offences on or before July 12, 2019 at about 9:00am, at the Ore tollgate on the Ore-Ijebu-Ode Expressway in contravention to Sections 516 and 316 of Criminal Code, Cap 37, Vol. 1, Laws of Ondo State, 2006 and Section 3(ii)(b) of the Ondo State Anti-Kidnapping and Anti-Abduction Law, 2010.

The Ondo State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Adekola Olawoye, who appeared for the state, said the government would ensure that there was justice.

“It is not that the deceased was a daughter of Pa. Fasoranti, but it has always been the tradition of the present government under Gov. Oluwarotimi Akeredolu to ensure that criminality is wiped out in the state,” Olawoye said.

The Chief Magistrate, Mrs. Victoria Bob-Manuel, did not take the plea of the accused, but ordered that they should be remanded at the Nigeria Correctional Centre in Owo until legal advice is received from the office of the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP).

The Chief Magistrate also ordered the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to examine their status for coronavirus before they would be remanded in the correctional centre.

She also ordered that the original copy of the case file should be sent to the state’s Chief Registrar for safe keeping.

Late Mrs. Funke Olakunrin was killed on 12th of July 2019 at Kajola, on the Ondo-Ore Road, by people suspected to be Fulani bandits.

The case was adjourned to June 3, 2020.





Four Members of Kano Task Force Test Positive


FOUR members of Kano State COVID-19 taskforce have tested positive for the disease, while the state deputy governor, Dr. Nasiru Gawuna, who worked with them returned negative.

Those who tested positive are the co-Chairman of the Taskforce, Prof. Abdulrazak Habib and three other members.

The state’s health commissioner, Dr. Aminu Tsanyawa, revealed the development on Friday in a statement.

The deputy governor, Gawuna, who went for the test being chairman of the task force however tested negative for the virus.

His Chief Press Secretary, Hassan Fagge in a statement confirmed the development.

The deputy governor, two commissioners and Governor Abdullahi Ganduje’s daughter went into isolation after a member of the State Task Force tested positive.

By Friday, three other members of the task force had tested positive, bringing the number of the task force members testing positive to four.





700 Deaths In Africa; Delta Records Third Case


THE Governor of Delta, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, on Saturday, disclosed that the state had recorded a third case of the COVID-19.

He said in a statement issued by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Olisa Ifeajika, in Asaba, that the sample of the case which was taken to Irrua Specialist Hospital in Edo, for testing returned as positive.

"Earlier today, a third case of the COVID-19 was confirmed in the state and the patient is already receiving attention in one of our facilities designated for that purpose.

"I am pleased to report that the patient is in stable condition and is responding well to treatment from our team of medical professionals.

"In consonance with the rules and according to international best practices as enunciated by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), the state government urges Deltans, especially Christians to worship from home as the lockdown order is still in force.

"We thank Deltans for their support so far and urge them to continue to obey relevant instructions as it has become apparent that the virus is spreading in the state.

"We will continue to partner the Federal Government on effective implementation of its regulations on measures to curtail further spread of the virus in our state and country,’’ the governor said.

Meanwhile, Africa recorded more than 700 deaths from the disease on Saturday, according to the Africa Centre for Disease Control.

Confirmed positive cases also rose to 13,145 from 52 African countries; South Africa leading with 2,028 confirmed cases and 25 deaths; Egypt has 1,794 cases, Algeria 1,761 and Morocco 1,527.

In its update released 15hours on Saturday, Africa CDC said 653 new cases were recorded in the continent within 24 hours.
Deputy Director of Africa CDC Ahmed Ogwell, said 2,171 people recovered so far.

Ghana Health Service (GHS) recorded 30 new cases on Saturday, bringing its total cases to 408, so far. Four persons were discharged, while eight died.



COVID-19: Nigeria Cases Rise, Chinese Medics Arrive


NIGERIA has recorded another 22 new cases of COVID-19 infection, now totalling 276 by 21 hours on Wednesday.

According to the latest Twitter by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), out of the 22 new cases as at 21hours on Wednesday, Lagos recorded 15 cases, four in the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, two in Bauchi and one in Edo State.

“Twenty-two new cases of COVID-19 have been reported in Nigeria: 15 in Lagos, 4 in the FCT, 2 in Bauchi, 1 in Edo.

“As at 09:00pm 8th April, there are 276 confirmed cases of COVID-19 reported in Nigeria. Forty-four have been discharged with six deaths,” it said.

Meanwhile, a team of 15 medical doctors arrived Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja on Wednesday to assist the country check the spread of the disease.

American government has continued to evacuate its nationals from Nigeria despite the alarming spread of the disease in America particulaly the New York and New Jerssey states where the disease has killed a total of 7772 persons going by last Wedneday's reports.

New York State has recorded a total number of 149316 cases; a figure higher than the situation in Italy or Spain where the disease has been most pandemic in the past weeks.







COVID-19: British Prime Minister's Case Worsens


CORONAVIRUS case of British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, has worsened.

Johnson, who tested positive to the COVID-19 last week, was moved Monday night into intensive care unit of St. Thomas Hospital London as symptoms on him for coronavirus worsened.

A statement from Downing Street said he had asked the foreign secretary, Dominic Raab, to “deputise” for him.

The statement reads:
“Since Sunday evening, the Prime Minister has been under the care of doctors at St Thomas’ Hospital, in London, after being admitted with persistent symptoms of coronavirus.

“Over the course of this afternoon, the condition of the Prime Minister has worsened and, on the advice of his medical team, he has been moved to the Intensive Care Unit at the hospital.

“The PM has asked Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, who is the First Secretary of State, to deputise for him where necessary.
“The PM is receiving excellent care, and thanks all NHS staff for their hard work and dedication.”






Delta's Feared Case Test Negative


THREE suspected cases of COVID-19 in Delta State, south-south Nigeria, have been tested and returned negative even as the state government last Tuesday formicated the state the second time in two weeks.

Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta on Wednesday disclosed that the three suspected cases of the COVID-19 in the state had tested negative.

Okowa made this known via his verified Facebook page. 

The governor had in a broadcast to the state to update them on the Coronavirus, on Tuesday, said that the state was expecting results of three patients who reportedly exhibited symptoms of the virus from Irrua Specialist Hospital in Edo, where their samples were taken for investigation.

He said the state would continue to be on red alert to forestall any outbreak of the disease in the state.

Okowa urged the people of the state to continue to adhere to measures that had been put in place by the government to check the spread of the virus to the state.

With the result of the three samples returning negative, Delta is yet to record any case of the COVID-19 since its outbreak in the country.

The governor said, "a little while ago, I received the results of three patients in Delta State who exhibited symptoms of COVID-19 from the medical team at Irrua Specialist Training Hospital in Edo. 

"I am pleased to report that the results came back negative.

"In spite of the results, we remain on high alert and will continue to take all the necessary precautions to keep you all safe. 

"I ask all the families and communities across our great state to continue to work with us by adhering to the measures that we have put in place.

"I also ask that you all continue to remain calm and disregard any fake news. 

"On our part, as we have been doing, we will continue to update you on key developments through our official channels. 

"We will get through this together."

However, inflation has continued to bite deep as cost of food items have increased by more than double their prices by last week. A bag of refined water containing 20 sachets which sold for 100 is now 200NGR while a basin of garri which sold for 2000NGR is now 8000NGR. Prices of other such items as beans and rice have also risen  up by double or more in some plaes.
There is also complaint of harassment by the police and members of government enforcement team.
A resident of Onicha-Ugbo in Aniocha North Council who gave his name as Achuzia said people are molested and arrested on the street while retail shops are being forcefully locked by police.
“People on the streets are even being molested; some arrested by the police. Two commercial cyclists were arrested yesterday (Wednesday) here in Onicha-Ugbo. I thought the ban is inter-state travel but you can’t even come out of your house now,” Achuzia said.   






British Prime Minister Joins COVID-19 Positives


BRITISH Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, has joined world’s high profiled personalities who have tested positive for coronavirus.

Johnson said he was however fit and would remotely coordinate his office to effectively curb the pandemic.

“Over the last 24 hours I have developed mild symptoms and tested positive for coronavirus.I am now self-isolating, but I will continue to lead the government’s response via video-conference as we fight this virus.

“Hi folks I want to bring you up to speed on something that is happening today which is that I have developed mild symptoms of coronavirus, that is to say a temperature and a persistent cough, and on the advice of the chief medical officer I have taken a test.

“That has come out positive so I am working from home, I am self isolating.

“That is entirely the right thing to do.

“But be in no doubt that I can continue, thanks to the wizardry of modern technology, to communicate with all my top team to lead the national fight back against coronavirus,” Johnson revealed in a video telecast.

A member of the British cabinet, Nadine Nadine Dorries, had earlier tested positive for the virus on March 11.

With Johnson testing positive, the number of political leaders testing positive for the virus around the world is increasing by the day.

Prince Charles, heir to the British throne, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his wife have also tested positive for the virus.

In Nigeria, Bauchi State governor, Bala Mohammed and Abba Kyari, the chief of staff to Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari are among the 53 cases in the country’s updated list by March 27.

With 24 cases among top government officers, Iran seems to have the highest number of government personnel who have contracted the disease.

Among them are the Iranian first Vice President, Eshaq Jahangiri; president of Iranian National Olympic Committee, Raza Salehi Amiri; and foreign-policy advisor, Ali Akbar Velayati, to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. 

Jerusalem Post reported that two of the 24, Fatemeh Rahbar and Mohammad Ali Ramezani have died of the disease. They were parliamentarians representing Trehran and Gilan respectively.

The executive director of the United Nations Food Programme, David Beasley was reported on March 19 to have contracted the virus. Reports said he notified those he had contact with as he went into 14 days self-isolation.

Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel has also been in self-isolation after being exposed to the virus through her doctor who tested positive for the virus.

Another leading German politician and member of Christian Democratic party, Friedrich Merz, had earlier tested positive.
Israeli Ambassador to Germany, Jeremy Issacharoof also tested positive to the virus after a meeting with a German legislator whose name is not given.

Monaco’s Palace also announced that its monarch, Prince Albert, also tested positive on March 19.

In Australia, three members of the government have tested positive. They include Andrew Bragg, a New South Wales senator from the Liberal Party of Autralia; another Senator Susan Mcdonald of Liberal National Party in Queensland; and Peter Dutton, Australian Home Affairs Minister.

In Brazil are Augusto Heleno, national security adviser; David Alcolumbre, Brazilian Senate President; Fabio Wajngarten, press secretary to the Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro. 

Other countries having pronounced number of government key players include United States of America, which with 82,400 positives has the highest. Others are Iran, Spain and Italy.

Although the index case was reported in China which by March 27 had 81,700 cases, the U.S. with 82,400 cases has the highest number of cases in the world.

Italy with 80,500 cases and 8,200 deaths remains the highest-hit country in the world, according to a survey conducted by John Hopkins University.






Coronavirus Cases In Nigeria Rises To 42 Amidst Controversy


NATIONAL Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has announced two more cases of coronavirus in Nigeria bringing the total to 42 by 13hours of Tuesday March 24.

The Centre said one of the cases was discovered in a returning traveler in Lagos while the other was a contact of a previous confirmed case in Ogun State.

“As at 1pm on March 24, there are 42 confirmed cases of #COVID-19 in Nigeria; two discharged, one death,” NCDC said.
However, the Centre has not resolved the controversy surrounding the death in Ekiti state which doctors who treated the American traveler who eventually died said the symptoms was “like COVID-19 symptoms.”

They laso reported that test on him was inconclusive.

A medical doctor with Federal Medical Centre in Asaba Delta State Capital is saying that “there is no approximation in medicine” and that NCDC should come up with explanation on the issue to enable health officers in the country know the actual status of the country for a better national safety campaign.

Inquiry sent to the Centre has not been replied at the time of this posting.





TB Joshua Declares End of COVID-19


A Nigerian Prophet, Pastor T.B. Joshua, Tuesday, declared that the endemic COVID-19 would end at the end of this month, March 2020.

The cleric however did not say ‘thus said the Lord.’ He spoke as a faithful believer of the Lord Jesus Christ while he urged Christians to recall the words of Jesus on such diseases.

“The noise of coronavirus would be silenced before the end of March 2020”, Joshua declared.
But he noted that the economic and social effects of the disease would continue globally throughout the year.

“Real faith thrives on a test. If there was nothing serious in the past to test our faith, here is something to test our faith in a unique way – a real situation”

“I say again, it is the remnants we are seeing. The real coronavirus is gone. But what the coronavirus has caused – economic backlash, fear – will linger until the end of the year,” Joshua said.

The Nigerian cleric made the declarations on his Facebook page while answering questions on the endemic coronavirus.

“Fear exposes the level of our relationship with God. Fear means we are not serving God with all our hearts. The opening of the eyes of our faith will be the silencing of our fears”, the cleric noted.

He said the advent of the emerging global disease was a test of faith and would have nothing to do with believers and followers of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Recall that the Federal Government of Nigeria last Tuesday while banning public officers from foreign travels, recognized the efficacy of prayers as part of the measures in curbing the endemic disease.





Explosion In Lagos Kills 17, Destroys Several Houses


OVER 17 persons were killed, scores injured while more than 40 houses destroyed Sunday morning by what seemed a gas explosion at the Abule-Ado area, near Lagos International Trade Fair Complex

A Rev. Sister Henritta Alokha described by a Knight of Saint John as “very nice” was killed while attempting to rescue trapped children of Bethlehem Girls College to which she was the principal.

People in Festac Town in Lagos said the impact of explosion on their houses were tremendous. Several other vehicles parked in the area were also destroyed by the explosion.

The actual cause of the explosion has not yet been established. While locals said the eruption came from a gas processing plant within the areas, officials of Lagos State Emergency management Agency said the actual cause has not been established.

According to the Public Affairs Officer of the Agency, Nosa Okunbor, 17 people had been confirmed dead, while 25 were injured.

He added that “several property worth hundreds of millions of naira,” where destroyed with unquantifiable devastation to other assets, as well as the environment.

“Aside these, people in their hundreds have suddenly become displaced in an incident in which two LASEMA response teams, as well as the Lagos State Government Fire Service, the Rapid Response Squad of the Nigeria Police and other first responders were in full attendance,” said Nosa.

“While security agents are investigating the cause of the explosion, recovery and rescue activities were carried out by the Ministry of Special Duties, LASEMA, men of the Lagos State Fire Service, the Federal Fire Service Department, the Lagos State Safety Commission, LASBCA and other first responders.

“17 bodies have been recovered, while 25 injured persons are being treated on site,” he added.




Rights Groups Sue MultiChoice Over Big Brother Naija


FOUR concerned human rights groups in Nigeria are in the court seeking the ban of a popular TV show – ‘Big Brother Naija’ – which they considered obscene and evil to the majority of the Nigerian viewers.

The four – Project for Human Development, Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), Association of Concerned Mothers and the Foundation for African Cultural Heritage have sued MutiChoice Nigeria Limited – sponsors of the programme; the National Broadcasting Commission [NBC] and the Federal Government before a Federal High Court in Lagos claiming offense to the sensibilities of their members and the Nigerian TV viewing public by the TV programme.

The applicants are seeking a declaration of the Court that “the sexual perversity, eroticism, sucking of bottom, masturbation and gross obscenity displayed on the TV reality show called Big Brother Nigeria or Big Brother Naija violate Sections 17(3)(f)(g), 21(a), 23, 37, 38, 42, 45(1) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Articles 2, 8, 17, 18, 28, 29 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Ratification Enforcement Act, CAP 10 and 4, 2,2 (a) (b) (j) 14.0.1 of the National Broadcasting Commission (5th edition) Code and therefore illegal and unconstitutional.”

The request is contained in suit FHC/L/CS/1792/19 seeking the fundamental rights enforcement of procedure rules, 2009 made by the Chief Justice of Nigeria [CJN] pursuant to Section 46(3) of the 1999 Constitution.

The application is arguing that the concept and display of the programme is evil, capable of destroying the moral values of the generality of Nigeria and their members if allowed to continue, thereby causing security and diverse problems to the Nigerian society in the long run.

The application is therefore asking the Court to compel NBC and the Federal Government to ban the subscription, promotion, marketing, advertising and airing of the TV programme.

The applicants are also seeking an order that in alternative to the alleged obscene programme, the sponsors might sponsor and promote TV programmes showing Nigerian cultural heritage displaying truth, integrity and moral values.

The case has been adjourned to March 16, 2020 for hearing.



Edo Women Medics Embark On Campaign Against Coronavirus


EDO State chapter of Medical Women Association of Nigeria (MWAN) held a sensitization rally last Sunday in Benin-City, advising people to keep personal hygiene and adhere to the UN’s health guidelines in preventing the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).

The chapter’s president, Dr Adesuwa Urhoghide-Edigin, who gave the advice at an awareness programme on the novel disease at Ekiosa market in Benin-City, said COVID -19 could be prevented through regular washing of hands; avoiding crowds, moistureed human bodies and keeping a clean environment.

“In humans, several coronaviruses are known to cause respiratory infections. The most recently discovered coronavirus is codenamed COVID-19.

“The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, tiredness, dry cough, congested chest and difficulty in breathing at night. Once you have these symptoms, please visit the hospital.

She further explained that the symptoms “are usually mild and begins gradually. Some people become infected but don’t develop any symptoms and don’t feel unwell.”

She noted that most people recover from the disease without needing special treatment; adding that older people; high blood pressure, heart problems or diabetic patients are prone to develop serious illness.

She advised that anyone who may observe any of the symptoms should visit the hospital for early treatment.
“About two per cent of people with the disease have died and mostly in China. People with fever, cough and difficulty breathing should seek medical attention.

“The virus is not yet in Edo and there is no need for panic but our hygiene must be taken seriously,” she said.
She promised that her group would go round the state to sensitize the people on threatening health challenges and to conduct free cancer screening.

“MWAN would visit at least 18 local government areas of Edo to create awareness about any current health challenge as they conduct their free cancer screenings”, she promised.

She however warned that people should not panic or spread untrue rumours about the novel disease.







AS feared last Thursday by the Senate which berated the Federal Government for laxity over the spread of novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) across over 20 countries, the first case of the virus infection has been reported in Nigeria.

Before the report the senate had expressed worry that travelers arriving from infected countries ought to be screened at the ports on arrival.

However, Lagos State Ministry of Health, Friday morning, confirmed Nigeria’s first case of the novel disease when an Italian who entered the country on February 25 and took ill tested positive to the virus.

The first case of the virus was reported late last year in China and has spread to 21 countries at the last count.

Lagos case is the second in Africa following the first case in Algeria, North Africa.

Lagos health authorities in a statement released Friday morning by the State’s Ministry of Health Commissioner, Prof Akin Abayomi, said the Italian carrier arrived lagos Murtala Mohammed International Airport on a business trip last Tuesday from Milan in Italy.

According to the statement, the victim is being managed at the Infectious Disease Hospital in Yaba, Lagos.
Part of the statement reads: “The case is an Italian citizen who entered Nigeria on the 25th of February from Milan, Italy for a brief business visit.

“He fell ill on the 26th February and was transferred to Lagos State Biosecurity Facilities for isolation and testing. COVID-19 infection was confirmed by the Virology Laboratory of the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, part of the Laboratory Network of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control.

“The patient is clinically stable, with no serious symptoms, and is being managed at the Infectious Disease Hospital in Yaba, Lagos.”

John Cohen writing for Science Magazine last February 19 reported that scientists have condemned rumours about the origin of the novel disease. It was speculated around United States that COVID-19 was a product of mismanaged Chinese biological weapon, especially noting the faster spread of the disease in Iran, a country suspected for perchance in making mass weapons of destruction. Scientists warned that such supposition could mislead trajectories for solutions and prevention of spread of the disease.

Speculations about the origin included the possibility that the virus was bioengineered in the Wuhan Institute of Virology for intense scrutiny or that a lab worker was infected while handling a bat and then transmitted the disease to others outside the lab. The speculation arose from the knowledge of a Wahum laboratory said to be at the highest security level—biosafety level 4—and that its researchers study coronaviruses from bat including the one that is closest to SARS-CoV-2, the virus which causes COVID-19. 

But researchers from the institute have continued to insist that there is no link between the outbreak and their laboratory.

A group of 27 researchers said to have federated from 9 countries aside China have warned against believing the speculation.

So far, outbreak and continued spread of COVID-19 seems the most current global threat, perhaps worse a threat than terrorism, LASSA, Ebola and HIV menace to world security.





Groups Accuse Buhari Of Mindset, Failure; While Borno Burns


SOCIO-CULTURAL groups in parts of the country last Sunday insisted on regional security networks. Some of the groups passed a vote of no confidence in President Muhammadu Buhari, alleging that the country’s security had collapsed under his nose as he kept a myopic mindset about the issue.

Northern Elders Forum (NEF) last Sunday in Zaria. North-central Nigeria, irked by high rate of terror, banditry and kidnap in the country, bluntly told President Buhari and his service chiefs that they had failed the nation, thus passing a vote of no confidence in him; by extension, his administration.

Similarly, the southeast governors last Sunday directed the Houses of Assembly within the region to come up with an enabling law setting up a security outfit in the region just as the Ohanaeze-Ndigbo same day issued a statement lamenting the poor state of security in the country, vowing it would also take steps to ensure the Igbo in the country are protected.

On July 28 last year the governors of states in the southeast set up a joint security network and in August inaugurated a committee for the network.

While the southeast purported to have set up one in July, the southwest took  an overt lead late last year by setting up a security outfit ‘Amotekun’ to take care of security of the region given the failure of the federal security apparatus in stopping incessant killings in the region. Arewa Consultative Group in the north last week announced its version, ‘Shege Ka Fassa,’ albeit latter denial by the governors in the region.

Observers say the worries and reactions are signs of collapse of the centre, wondering whether it is really the same General Muhammadu Buhari, who gallantly repelled Nigerien invaders in 1981 with less presidential guide, as truly the current president who, with maximum presidential power, cannot fight banditry and insurgency in his country.

Critics are of the view that his service chiefs are not sincere.

“It is shocking that in spite of unprecedented consensus among Nigerians that the administration requires a new resolve, approach and leadership in the fight against the nation’s multiple security challenges, President Buhari appears either totally isolated or in deep denial over the result of his failures to secure Nigerians,” said Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, a former secretary to Independent National Electoral Commission, who addressed NEF press conference in Zaria.

Among those present at the press briefing of the Forum were a former Chief of Defence Staff, Air Marshal Alamin Daggash (rtd.); NEF Chairman, Prof. Ango Abdullahi; Deputy National Chairman of NEF, Ambassador Yahaya Kwande; Wazirin Bauchi, Alhaji Bello Kirfi; and the secretary of the Coalition of Northern Groups, Dr. Abdullahi Usman.

The Forum accused the service chiefs of incompetence and lacking in focus, worsened by what they called President’s mindset. “With this type of mindset, it is difficult to see how President Buhari can accept the challenge to radically improve his handling of our security situation.”

The concerned northern group said nothing short of audit of the leadership of the security agencies in the country was required. “The forum demands a thorough overhaul of the leadership of our security and public safety agencies, and the injection of higher levels of competence, integrity and accountability in the manner our troops and the police and security agencies deal with security challenges.

“Nonetheless, we believe that Nigerians must continue to raise our voices and organise through all legitimate means to demand that the administration (president) address major failings in his perception of our situation and his response to our demands for our rights to security.”

Similarly a communiqué issued in Enugu by the Ime-Obi (Working Committee) of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, the Igbo socio-cultural group warned that the government must not take the region for granted, given the poor state of security also in the region.

The communiqué signed by the President General, Chief Nnia Nwodo reads in part:
“Ohanaeze hereby states categorically that Ndigbo will not stand by and watch its people slaughtered. Ohanaeze will defend every soul in Igbo land.

“Ohanaeze hereby nominates, activates and directs the council of elders made up of reputable Igbo personalities and leaders to engage Ohanaeze state governors immediately on prevailing security challenges.

“Finally, Ohanaeze reminds Ndigbo that there had been difficulties in security in our history in Nigeria. In all these, our determination to protect our homelands and families against aggressors had never wavered and we have always relied on our ingenuity and vigilance to ensure our survival. Let nobody take us for granted.”

Among participants were former Anambra State governor, Mr. Peter Obi; former governor of Imo State, Chief Achike Udenwa; former Information Minister, Dr. Walter Ofonagoro; Archbishop Emmanuel Chukwuma; Prof. Uche Azikiwe; Chief Mbazulike Amaechi; and Hon. Tobi Okechukwu.

The northern Forum which met in Zaria lamented that president Buhari’s mindset about the situation appeared a major problem.

Speaking far away in Addis Ababa, Ethiopian capital, President Buhari, Monday, promised that all children kidnapped by the terrorist Boko Haram would be released during his tenure as president.

He recalled that some of the captives had regained freedom as he commended his security men whom he described as “gallant.”
Sunday evening, a few hours before Buhari gave the assurance, about 30 persons were killed in Auno, about 54 miles from Maiduguri, Borno state capital, northeast Nigeria. A local told CourtlyNews that members of the terror group, Boko Haram, laid an ambush on the highway to the state capital, shooting and burning many vehicles on the highway.

However, Sunday meetings of groups in parts of the country and their respective communiqués appeared too orchestrated to be free of partisanship. They nevertheless, said the obvious, given the security situation in the country.



Murderers Are Not Muslims, Don't Let Them Divide Us - Buhari


PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari, Friday, condemned in strong terms the recent execution of hostages by a terrorist group, the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP).

In a statement issued by his senior media aide, Garba Shehu, President Buhari lamented the activities of Islamists in Nigeria, while calling on Nigerians to avoid division along religious leanings, which unfortunately, though, has been the true situation.

The statement reads in part:
“I am profoundly saddened and shocked by the death of innocent hostages in the hands of remorseless, godless, callous gangs of mass murderers that have given Islam a bad name through their atrocities.

“We should, under no circumstance, let the terrorists divide us by turning Christians against Muslims because these barbaric killers don’t represent Islam and millions of other law-abiding Muslims around the world.

“As a President, the collective security of all Nigerians is my major preoccupation and the death of an innocent Christian or Muslim distresses me”.

“No true Muslim would be shouting ‘Allahu Akbar’ while killing innocent people, an evil frequently condemned by the Holy Qur’an.’’

“These agents of darkness are enemies of our common humanity and they don’t spare any victim, whether they are Muslims or Christians; and therefore, we shouldn’t let them divide us and turn us against one another.

“The goal of these psychopaths is to cause confusion and spread distrust between Muslims and Christians, despite the fact that they aren’t representing the interest of Muslims or Islam.

“While I condemn this evil, I wish to reassure Nigerians that this administration will not lower its guards in the war against terrorism, and we will continue to intensify our efforts towards strengthening international cooperation and collaboration to break the backbone of these evil doers’’.

In a similar concern on Tuesday December 24, while receiving Letters of Credence of United States of America Ambassador to Nigeria, Mary Beth Leonard, Buhari lamented that recent listing of Nigeria for human rights abuse created an impression that some groups in the country were being unfairly treated or marginalized.

“I know that those with access have created an impression of being marginalized.

“I sit here with a clear conscience. I took an oath and I am honouring the office,’’ Buhari is quoted to have said.

“It is not an easy task to work for the unity of the country, and I am doing my best. During your stay in the country I am asking you to ensure that your sources of strategic information cut across,’’ he appealed.

Observers and critics however noted that cases of human rights abuse in Nigeria in the past four years have been worse since 1999 when the country returned to democracy.



"When you do what Trump did, you're going to get impeached" - Susan Davis


By a 230 to 197 vote in the Democratic-controlled American House of Representatives, the 45th US president, Donald Trump, becomes just the third occupant of the White House in American history to be impeached. The House also found him guilty on the second article of impeachment for obstructing the congressional probe into his attempt to have Ukraine investigate his potential 2020 Democratic presidential opponent Joe Biden. Trump was alleged to have attempted to bribe members of the Congress probing the allegation.

The process partisan or not, there is a clear message to presidents and political leaders all over the world from Susan Davis, "when you do what Trump did, you're going to get impeached." We add that for MPs who allow themselves bribed anywhere in the world to abuse oath of office, we are rest assred that history and humanity conscience will impeach them. Below is the recording of NBCNews a while ago; we wish you a thoughtful reading:

Dec. 18, 2019, 10:55 PM WAT
By Adam Edelman
There was solemnity. There was anger. There was hyperbole.
Wednesday's historic full House debate on the two articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump has had it all.
Here are the 15 standout lines from Wednesday's debate so far:

"He gave us no choice"

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi

"But, very sadly, now, our Founders’ vision of our Republic is under threat from actions from the White House. That is why, today, as Speaker of the House, I solemnly and sadly open the debate on the impeachment of the President of the United States. If we do not act now, we would be derelict in our duty. It is tragic that the President’s reckless actions make impeachment necessary. He gave us no choice.”

Jesus afforded "more rights" than Trump

Rep. Barry Loudermilk, R-Ga.

"When Jesus was falsely accused of treason, Pontius Pilate gave Jesus the opportunity to face his accusers. During that sham trial, Pontius Pilate afforded more rights to Jesus than the Democrats have afforded this president in this process."

Loudermilk: 'Pontius Pilate afforded more rights to Jesus' than Trump has been given
DEC. 18, 201901:23

History will find that "my colleagues...lacked courage"

Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff

"When the history of this time is written, it will record that when my colleagues found that they lacked the courage to stand up to this unethical president, they consoled themselves by attacking those who did."

Like Pearl Harbor, a "date that will live in infamy"

Rep. Mike Kelly, R-Pa.

“On Dec. 7, 1941, a horrific act happened in the United States, and it’s one that President Roosevelt said, this is a date that will live in infamy. Today, Dec. 18, 2019, is another date that will live in infamy.”
'What happens tomorrow?': Hurd asks what comes after impeachment
DEC. 18, 201901:19

When you do what Trump did, "you're going to get impeached"

Rep. Susan Davis, D-Calif.

"Make no mistake, we are not impeaching this president. He is impeaching himself. If you are the president, and you obstruct justice, try to bribe a foreign leader and threaten national security, you're going to get impeached. End of story."

"A moral obligation"

Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga

"When you see something that is not right, not just, not fair, you have a moral obligation to say something, to do something. Our children and their children will ask us what did you do? What did you say? For some, this vote may be hard. But we have a mission and a mandate to be on the right side of history."

"Heavy burden of shame and guilt"

Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla.

"Those who vote 'yes' on today's articles of impeachment must carry the heavy burden of shame and guilt for as long as they serve in Congress — which won't be long, because the American people will remember in November. Democrats would rather trip the president just to see him stumbling than see America succeed."

"The president is the smoking gun"

Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash.

"He solicited foreign interference before, he is doing it now, and he will do it again. The president is the smoking gun.”

"This country's end is now in sight"

Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas

“In 1998, Sen. Schumer said, and I quote, 'This impeachment will be used as a routine tool to fight political battles.' We thought it was a prediction. It was a promise, and now it's playing out. It's exactly what's being done here … This is a travesty, and we're in big trouble, because Schumer was right. Now it's lowered the bar. It will be used for political battles, and this country's end is now in sight. I hope I don't live to see it. This is an outrage."

"Doing nothing is not an option"

Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich.

"Doing nothing here is not an option. Looking away from these crimes against our country is not an option. This is about protecting the future of our nation and our democracy from corruption, abuse of power, criminal cover-ups, and bribery."

Democrats "found a way" to "make a coup attempt boring"

Rep. Devin Nunes, ranking member of House Intelligence Committee

"The Ukraine hoax was based on a supposed whistleblower who colluded beforehand with the Democrats. The Democrats then prevented Congress from intervening, interviewing the whistleblower while conducting bizarre, secret depositions and selectively leaking testimony to discredited media hacks. The Democrats showcased the most useful witnesses in public hearings, that somehow reduced support for impeachment. It's not easy to make a coup attempt boring, but the Democrats found a way.

Impeachment "not only patriotic, it is uniquely American"

Rep. Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass.

"What we are doing here today is not only patriotic, it is uniquely American. America is a story of ordinary people confronting abuses of power with a steadfast pursuit of justice. Throughout our history, the oppressed have been relegated to the margins by the powerful, and each time, we have fought back, deliberate in our approach, clear-eyed.”

Pelosi: 'Today we are here to defend democracy for the people'
DEC. 18, 201908:34

Democrats have "weaponized" the Constitution

Rep. Mike Johnson, R-La.

“There has never been a single-party, fraudulent impeachment process like the one being used today. Our Democratic colleagues have weaponized the impeachment provision of the Constitution to nullify the votes of 63 million Americans who elected President Donald J. Trump."

"There can be no serious debate about the evidence at hand"

Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler

"Taken together, the two articles charge that President Trump placed his private, political interests above our national security, above our elections, and above our system of checks and balances. After months of investigation, there can be no serious debate about the evidence at hand."

"Not a solemn occasion"

Rep. Doug Collins, ranking member of House Judiciary Committee

"I've said it before and I will say it again. I do not believe, no matter what was said today and what has been said, this is not a solemn occasion. When you go looking for something for three years, and especially this year, since January, you ought to be excited when you found it. But they can't. Because I know what has now happened. It took me last night but I was thinking about it. Why do we keep calling this a solemn occasion when you've been wanting to do this ever since the gentleman was elected?"



Osinbajo declined 'The Award', Not Centre With-holding It - Aide


FACTS emerged Tuesday, that the vice president, Yemi Osinbajo initiated the postponement of the integrity award which would have been bestowed on him in Lagos last Monday by the Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism.

Reports said the Centre suspended the award to protest federal government’s disrespect and disobedience to court order.

But a source in the office of the vice president said it was the vice president that declined the award, believing that the award to any officer of the federal government was inappropriate for now.

One of his aides, who doesn’t have authority to speak, told CourtlyNews that the vice-president initiated the postponement.

“I have been reading reports on the issue since yesterday (Monday); you (press) write the story from the tail. The truth is that the vice president initiated the postponement, because he is not comfortable with developments in the justice system in the country. If he had gone ahead accepting the award, it would give the impression that all is well. He is not that kind of partisan politician.

"The award was initiated because of his contributions to the development of justice system in Lagos State.

“But however you guys (press) are writing the story, the truth is that he cannot receive the award for now for the reasons given in the statement issued by his spokesman.”

In a letter to the Centre before the event, Osinbajo expressed gratitude for the recognition and award, noting that he had earlier accepted the award.

“The award, I note, is for our justice reform efforts in Lagos State. I had accepted the award with pride on behalf of the excellent Justice Sector team we had (in Lagos).

“However, two reasons explain my absence. First, is that I am currently in Abu Dhabi for an international meeting under the auspices of the government of the UAE where I am the keynote speaker.

“Second, in view of the developments on Friday in the Sowore case, I think it would be insensitive and inappropriate to attend the ceremony,’’ the letter issued by the Senior Special Assistant to the Vice President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Laolu Akande, stated.

No doubt, Nigeria’s Vice President Yemi Osinbajo’s earlier unquestionable integrity suffered a setback, following federal government’s clamp down on free speech and disobedience to the country’s court.  

Shortly before the time of the award last Monday, the Centre announced that it had postponed the award to the vice president to protest the re-arrest and continued detention of Omoyele Sowore, publisher of Sahara Reporter.

According to a statement signed by the executive director of the Centre, Motunrayo Alaka, the suspension of the award to Osibanjo was to align with ongoing protests against federal government’s continued repression on free speech and disobedience to court of competent jurisdiction.

The statement reads in part:

“The Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism has postponed the presentation of award to the Nigerian Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo. The postponement was decided on, to align with protests against the repression of freedom of speech in recent times especially the incident between the Department of State Security (DSS) and Omoleye Sowore, Publisher of Sahara Reporters, on Friday 6 December.

“The Vice President himself shares this awareness and the inappropriateness of the award at this point.”

According to the earlier scheduled programme, which eventually held in Lagos, Osinbajo was to be presented with an ‘integrity specialty of the anti-corruption defender award’ in recognition of his earlier “invaluable work of overhauling the Lagos State Judiciary; facilitating far-reaching reforms in the administration of justice in the state; his work of promoting integrity in the civil society and business in Nigeria and his consistency as a strong voice for promoting integrity in the country”.

Observers note that federal government's actions shortly before the elections and after, have brought disrepute to the nation’s judiciary. The removal of former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen in quite a controversial manner was seen as as a ploy and predetermination by the presidency to rig the election and prepare its own peculiar court to manage election cases.

Besides are the continued incarceration of the publisher of Sahara Reporters, Sowore and federal government’s disregard to court order as exhibited by the Department of State Security (DSS). Sowore was accused of, among other things, insulting President Muhammadu Buhari, and calling for a revolution.

He was granted bail by the court but the DSS refused to release him until the court threatened to press charges against the actors. He was rearrested in a court-room thereby disrupting further proceedings. All cases scheduled for the day were indefinitely adjourned, given the pandemonium.

The DSS however said Sowore’s arrest was not in the court as widely reported, but was stage-managed by his supporters.



Stop Killing Nigerians For Power, Jonathan Begs Politicians


FORMER Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, Saturday, repeated his call on politicians to stop killing people for power.
He made the call during 17th convocation of Igbinedion University, Okada, and mid-western Nigeria. He was honoured with an honorary degree of doctor of science by the university.

“Let me plead with my fellow politicians, they should stop killing the people, destroying properties because people want to own office,” he appealed.

The immediate past president recalled the experiences in recent elections. “What happened in the last governorship elections in my state, Bayelsa and Kogi State, especially in Kogi State where a woman was burnt alive in her house, is something that should not happen in any normal society. Something is fundamentally wrong with our political system,” he said.

“Only yesterday (Friday) in one African country (Ndjame Niger Republic), we were discussing the politics of our continent. Most of us former Heads of State, Presidents, former Presidents and Vice Presidents (noted that) the way African politics is going, we are replacing military coup with civilian coup and that cannot sustain the continent,” Jonathan lamented.

Violence and electoral malpractices to retain power by politicians has been an African age-long experience. Most African countries have been ruled by despots, except perhaps post Rawlings’ Ghana and post Apartheid South Africa, somewhat ended with Nelson Mandela though.

When political tide turns against him, former President Jacob Zuma of South Africa attempted to transfer power to his wife in a familiar continent’s trend, but he failed. Other African countries with similar experiences have not been luckier. They appear notorious at manipulating elections either to remain in power or hand over to desired successors.

Many former or current African leaders also appear notorious for constitutional abuses especially on electoral matters. Some of them amend constitutions to extend their tenures. For example, Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe who was elected prime minister in 1980, transformed to president in 1987 and at 90 years of age, he changed the country’s constitution to enable him rule seven years more. Blaise Campaore of Burkina Faso who ascended power in 1984, after ruling for 27 years attempted to extend his rule by changing the country’s constitution but was removed by popular revolt.

Paul Biya of Cameroon has been in power since November 6, 1982 despite his country’s dwindling economy, political tensions and rejection protests in his country. Kenneth Kaunda, the first African president of Zambia ruled under emergency powers for 27 years and was only forced out of power in 1991 by popular revolt.

The popularity of former Nigerian president Olusegu Obasanjo nose-dived when his administration attempted to amend his country’s electoral law to enable him contest for a third term.

There have also been hypes to test the pulse of the civil society towards amending the constitution, perhaps to enable President Muhammadu Buhari contest for the third term, even while his ruling All Progressives’ Congress recently distanced the party from the campaign.

Former President Goodluck Jonathan spoke against the backdrop of election violence in the country, largely, allegedly though, sponsored by politicians; especially the recent killings in Bayelsa and Kogi States during the November 16 governorship elections.

After the Nigerian presidential elections in 2015, Jonathan unarguably conceded defeat and congratulated his challenger, Burahi on his victory.  BBC’s Will Ross who covered the election and witnessed the orgy of violence in Kano commented: "The fact that Goodluck Jonathan phoned the opposition's Muhammadu Buhari to congratulate him is a massive moment for Nigeria.”

Jonathan’s reaction was novel in the history of elections in Nigeria; albeit his party, the PDP seeing him as a weakly. Jonathan has continued to restate his axiom: “political ambition does not worth the blood of any Nigerian.”




South-south Govs, IGP Endorse Community Policing


DELTA State Governor Ifeanyi Okowa and his counterparts in the South-South, Tuesday, endorsed the proposal by the Nigeria Police Force for community policing as panacea for persisting security challenges in the country.

The governors declared support for grassroots policing at a one-day South-South Nigeria Police Regional Security Summit in Asaba, with ``Strategic Partnership for Effective Community Policing in the South-South Zone’’ as theme.

Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Mr. Mohammed Adamu noted that after due consideration of current security threats, especially kidnap, armed robbery, cultism, arms proliferation, child theft, attacks by herdsmen and sea piracy in the country, adoption of community policing approach would help in checking the challenges.

In a communiqué at the end of the summit, participants, including the governors, Inspector-General of Police, Mr Mohammed Adamu, said the motive of community policing which hinged on integrating the grassroots into security management across the country was commendable.

The communiqué noted that the summit represented a significant redefining policing and security arrangements across the country, adding that current challenges were and should be the concern of not only the government, but every citizen also.     

The communiqué signed by the IGP and representatives of the governments of Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Edo and Rivers, and read by Gov. Okowa, the participants also urged the IGP to design training pattern for vigilantes and neighbourhood watchers to bridge the personnel gap in the Police Force.

According to them, the ad-hoc security operatives should be suitably equipped and funded and their operations should be subject to direct supervision and control by the Police.

“Moreover, the IGP should take further proactive steps to facilitate an appropriate legal framework to enhance the operations of the vigilante groups and similar bodies,” the communiqué added.

The participants expressed concern over declining family values, saying that many crimes were traceable to negative peer group influence, substance abuse and the absence of moral discipline, all of which could be mitigated by good parenting and effective teaching and learning in schools.

They, therefore, charged stakeholders to undertake strong advocacy for the sustenance of family values and functional education capable of promoting self-employment for youths.

They also urged state governments in the zone to “pursue job and wealth creation as a high priority as unemployment among youths is one of the disposing factors to criminality’’.    




Senate PDP Demands Arrest of Abuh Killers; Rejects Election Results


THE opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the Senate has required the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mohammed Adamu to produce the killers of the party’s women leader in Kogi State, Acheju Abuh.

The PDP Senate Caucus also said it had rejected the results of last weekend’s governorship elections in Kogi and Bayelsa states as announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

Senate Minority Leader, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, who expressed fear at the trend in the country told newsmen that his party in the senate “totally reject” the announcement made by INEC as members of his party in the senate “are worried about the trend of what happened in those elections.”

Senator Abaribe lamented what he regarded as a decline in the quality of election conduct in the country in recent times,
“For all we have seen is a steady decline in the efficacy of our elections. We are concerned that all the gains made by the PDP (administration) since 1999 seem to have been eroded by elections starting in Edo, Osun, Ekiti; and recently in Bayelsa and Kogi seems to have been lost,” he said.

Abaribe alleged that the results of the governorship elections in the two states as announced by INEC conflicted with actual experiences of the party agents who monitored the elections.  

“We do not know where they got the figures they declared in Kogi and Bayelsa. We are in touch with our members in the various states and they have told us that the results did not reflect the voting pattern at the polling booths. We are totally resolved to confront what is going on in our electoral system,” he said; adding: “we know that those results were not a true reflection of what happened in the field”.

He wondered why the killing of the women leader of PDP in Kogi as it happened after the results of the election in the state had been announced. “We are also worried about the killing of a Woman Leader in Kogi even after results had been announced and winners declared,” the senator wondered; adding:

“What it tells us is that all of us who are members of the opposition are not safe. We hear that the police are launching an investigation, but it must not be swept under the carpet.

“If we leave the matter to continue to stay this way, we don’t know what will happen in 2023.”

All Progressives Congress (pc) won in the governorship elections in the two states while the senate election in some areas of Kogi state were either cancelled or rescheduled due to violence and other irregularities.

The governorship elections were also reported to have been marred by widespread violence. INEC had said it would investigate the reports. It however went ahead to announce the results.

While some quarters including former President Goodluck Jonathan have congratulated the winners, others including international election monitors and rights groups have condemned the elections, calling for their cancelation.



APC wins Bayelsa, Kogi; PDP rejects result; Rights groups call for cancellation


THE incumbent governor of Kogi State, Yahaya Bello of All Progressives’ Congress (APC) has finally been declared winner of last Saturday’s election.

Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) said Bello polled 406,222 votes to defeat his closest rival, Engineer Musa Wada of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), who polled 189,704 votes.

INEC Returning Officer, Prof. Ibrahim Umar who made the announcement said Bello was declared winner because he scored the highest number of valid votes.

“Bello Yahaya Adoza, having scored the highest number of votes is hereby declared the winner and therefore returned.”
However PDP returning officer for Kogi state refused to sign the results, declaring it as a ruse.

PDP candidate, Wada, also said he won the election, describing INEC’s announcement as a daylight robbery.
“The result shows mere daylight robbery. My party and I have rejected this result in its entirety. I think if the election is this way, the government of the nation should not have allowed people to participate in an election from the primary process to the real general election.

“I won this election clearly, free and clear. Just imagine the forged votes of Okene, Adaki and Okehi. They rigged the election with the votes of this central district. It is not about me.  It is about the suffering masses of Kogi State. It is another four years of bad governance and injustice,” said Wada.

Wada who spoke at a media briefing in Lokoja said the election outcome especially from the Okene Local Government Area, where INEC said the APC polled 112,764 against PDP’s 139 votes was false.

“As I speak, results were being written all over the collation centres. I think they just allowed people to come out just to tell the world that elections were holding. To me, it was just mere formality to rob the people. As I speak, the wish of the people of Kogi State is not what is prevailing in the so-called collation going on.

“A situation in which the Commissioner of Police in Kogi State would have to go to the collation centre in Dekina, my own LGA, to stay in the collation centre from 11pm  till this morning, his mission was not known. He was going into the collation centre and coming out with his car. I think his mission was not unknown, of course he was there to do the wishes of the power that be.”

“This result is rejected in its entirety. We will consult our lawyers and party and the next line of action will be taking immediately. If Nigeria’s election is allowed to go this way, I think they should not be calling for elections in any part of this country. Look at the case of Okene, a place with 40,000 accredited voters, he (Bello) got 112,000. Okene to me does not have the size of the Ankpa LGA for example.

“A lot of questions are going to be answered at the tribunal because at that time and we are getting set to ensure that justice is done to the masses of Kogi State who gave me their votes, said Wada.

Governorship candidate of the Social Democratic Party, Mrs. Natasha Akpoti, also rejected the result of the election.
Akpoti, who already petitioned INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, called for the cancellation of the election in Kogi Central Senatorial District and some other polling units in the state capital, Lokoja.

“The APC thugs were shooting at voters which resulted in the death of voters. The thugs in most cases were shielded by security agents who are supposed to provide security for the citizenry.

“What happened in Kogi Central and other parts of the state was a far-cry from a credible election. Ballot boxes were destroyed and burnt in the Okene, Adavi, Ajaokuta, Ogori/Magongo and Okehi local government areas and other parts of the state.

“The SDP agents were chased away from the various polling units of the Kogi Central Senatorial District. In some polling units, the SDP agents were tied with ropes by the APC thugs in Okene Local Government Area, our agents were not even allowed to come near the polling units as the APC thugs were seen brandishing guns and announcing to voters not to come and vote unless they were going to vote the APC.”

“Ballot papers already marked by voters in favour of the SDP already tucked into the ballot boxes were sorted out by the APC led thugs and burnt.

“The election as it is now cannot pass the test of fairness and credibility. Whatever gains INEC seems to have achieved in the conduct of election in the past will be completely eroded if the election in Kogi Central Senatorial District and some other parts of Kogi State is allowed to stand.”

Also in Bayelsa, APC candidate, David Lyon, emerged winner of the governorship election held same Saturday.
Lyon, who won in six of the state’s eight local government areas, defeated his closest rival, Senator Douye Diri of the Peoples Democratic Party, the incumbent deputy governor of the state.

While rejecting the results of the elections, PDP National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, in a statement alleged that security forces aided armed hoodlums to invade polling centres and killing its supporters in the two states.

The statement reads in part: “It is distressing that under the President Muhammadu Buhari-led APC administration, votes no longer count.  Power and governance no longer derive from the people but from violence, manipulations and the barrel of gun. Nigerians now ask: are we still in a democracy?

“With the outcome of the Kogi and Bayelsa governorship elections, Nigerians and the world have lost hope in our institutions of democracy and security system as presently constituted.

“They have completely lost hope in INEC under Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, which has shown itself to be a repressive tool in the hands of dictatorial forces.”

But APC praised security personnel, whom, it said, thwarted the attempts by the PDP to rig the elections in the two states.
In a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Lanre Issa-Onilu, the ruling party expressed satisfaction at the outcome of the elections.

“The subterfuge deployed by the PDP to rig the elections in both states, including the Kogi West senatorial rerun election was thwarted.

“In Kogi and Bayelsa states, we were certain of securing the majority votes for the two governorship seats and the Kogi West senatorial seat. For this, we knew we must ensure a peaceful atmosphere for voters to freely turn out and exercise their franchise.

“As expected, not being in the tradition of the PDP to thrive under orderly and credible electoral process, they did their best to discredit the process. We are glad that the voting processes came to a successful end in Kogi and Bayelsa states.”

“The PDP did not achieve its objective of winning through violence. We note the effort by the PDP to employ their usual manipulation through ballot box snatching, massive thumb-printing of ballot papers and vote buying.”

Rights groups have also condemned the elections, calling for their cancellation in some parts of the two states.
While announcing the commencement of collation of results in both states INEC had said it was investigating reports on violence and irregularities from the two states.



Results of Bayelsa, Kogi elections awaited admist complaints


RESULTS of last Saturday’s elections in Bayelsa and Kogi states closed as scheduled; the results being collated and announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

The electoral body however said it was studying reports and complaints of violence and irregularies which characterized the elections in both states.

INEC did not however consider pleas for extension of voting period due to late commencement, violence and irregularities in some areas.

INEC confirmed it had begun collation of results as it was also investigating the various reports on violence and irregularities.

In a statement issued late Saturday in Abuja, the Commission’s National Commissioner and Chairman of Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye said “voting has now closed in all polling units in the elections in Bayelsa and Kogi States”.

INEC cancelled voting exercise in some units in Bayelsa due to violence. For instance, INEC supervisory resident electoral commissioner for Ogbia, Ukuachukwu Orji, was heard complaining at Otuoke Ward 13, that in Ologi (Ward 03) of Ogbia local council area, some electoral officers were seized, adding that some individuals in the community prevented election in the riverine area.

A local told courtly that INEC officials arrived late when most of the voters had gone home. He said those who were available attacked them when they began to accredit a few who were left. “They (INEC officials) arrived late when people (voters) had gone back to their houses. It was the anger that made some youths to attack them,” the local said.

Similarly, vote counting was suspended in Okaka area of the state capital, Yenogoa, due to violence. It was later shifted to another venue.

The state governor, Seriake Dickson, lamented the situation as he called for the cancellation of the election in Nembe, Southern Ijaw and some other local governments due to violence.

“The president has to wake up and do something. What is going on in Bayelsa in the name of election is not a democracy. I call on the President to call on the security agents particularly the Army to stop desecrating democratic governance and subjecting the image of the country to ridicule,” said the governor.

Former President Goodluck Jonathan who hails from the state also lamented what he called as a shame in the conduct of the elections in Bayelsa.

In some areas, officials of INEC were abducted in the Bumodi-Bgbene community in Ekpetiama area of Yenagoa local council area. In the Angiama community of Southern Ijaw, election materials were intercepted and hijacked by suspected thugs.

Two policemen were reportedly killed while, at midday, three officials could not be accounted for.

An INEC official in Abuja told courtly that there was nothing the Commission could do in a situation where politicians decided to resort to violence.

“They arm their youths to destroy all our efforts. Reports we are getting from the two states (Bayelsa and Kogi) are bad: ballot boxes being seized, security personnel attacked,” said an official who lacked authority to speak.

A civil society organization, YIAGA AFRICA, in a statement called on INEC to extend the voting period in the two states, given the late arrival of materials in some areas.

The statement jointly signed by Hussaini Abdu, and Samson Itodo, the group said: “Following late commencement of election in some polling units in Bayelsa and Kogi owing to inadequate and late deployment of security officials to accompany INEC officials and materials to the polling units, YIAGA AFRICA calls on INEC to extend voting beyond 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. for affected polling units in Bayelsa and 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. for affected areas in Kogi.”

But in a statement issued by the Commission in Abuja, INEC said though it deployed all necessary materials and personnel in good time, it was studying reports from its officials deployed to the two states. The statement reads in part:
“The Commission deployed staff and materials in 4,352 polling units in the two States for the Governorship elections, Kogi West Senatorial rerun election and Brass I State Constituency supplementary election in Bayelsa State.

“In addition, National Commissioners, Resident Electoral Commissioners and other staff were deployed to monitor and supervise the elections. These field officers are regularly submitting real-time reports to the Commission on developments in the field.

“The Commission is carefully monitoring the processes. Reports from accredited observers and our officials in the field indicate that most voters who were willing to vote had the opportunity to do so.

“The Commission delivered materials to its two State offices in good time and made adequate preparations for the movement of staff and materials to the various voting locations. “Unfortunately, however, despite all the efforts of the Commission and the promises of the political parties to promote peaceful elections, including several engagements with stakeholders and signing of Peace Accords, there are reports indicating that the process was in several places affected by thuggery and violence, which the Commission unequivocally condemns. We are still receiving, collating and evaluating these reports as we move into the critical phase of result collation.

“Results will be collated at Registration Areas, Local Government Areas and State levels. Staff of the Commission are ready to receive these results and stakeholders are advised to keep to their commitments to ensure peaceful conduct.

“All electoral officials are reminded of the oath of neutrality they subscribed to. The security agencies have been supportive so far, in the face of many challenges. The Commission calls on them to be even more vigilant at this critical juncture of result collation.
“Finally, the Commission calls on the general public to remain calm, while assuring voters in the two States of the resolve of the Commission to ensure that the elections are concluded fairly and credibly.”

However, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in a statement, Sunday, issued by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, accused security personnel of intimidating its supporters and assisting APC to distort election results in the two states.

“Citizens agonized as APC-controlled security forces aided armed hoodlums to invade polling centres, shoot and kill innocent citizens, cart away ballot boxes, stuffed them with already thumb printed ballot papers in favour of APC, after which results are allocated to the APC and handed over to a compromised INEC to announce against the will of the people.

“It is distressing that under the President Muhammadu Buhari-led APC administration, votes no longer count; power and governance no longer derive from the people but from violence, manipulations and the barrel of the gun. Nigerians now ask: are we still in a democracy?

“With the outcome of the Kogi and Bayelsa governorship elections, Nigerians and the world have lost hope in our institutions of democracy and security system as presently constituted,” the statement said.




Nigeria's border closure: New conditions set for reopening


NIGERIA has announced that it would no longer allow repackaged goods to enter into the country through land borders with the neighboring countries. This will be one of the country’s conditions for reopening its land borders shut in August this year.

There have been reports that the borders would be reopened on January 31, 2020, but government officials said the government would require fulfillment of certain conditions before reopening the borders which might be effected before or even after the reported date.

Nigerian Government’s action stemmed from the country’s Customs Service discovery that the free trade agreement existing among ECOWAS states had been abused. It was discovered that goods emanating from other parts of the world are routed through West African countries sharing borders with Nigeria. Such goods on arriving West African entre-port countries are believed to be repackaged before sending them to Nigeria. The government of Nigeria is saying it would no longer accept such repacked goods.

“We would absolutely insist on the respect of ECOWAS rules of origin in ensuring that they (the goods) actually did come from ECOWAS member states,” Nigeria’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Geoffrey Onyeama, said.

Cognate agencies of the federal government met in Abuja on Monday to assess the partial closure of the land borders with the Republics of Benin and Niger.

Onyeama, disclosed that the Government resolved that certain other conditions would be met before reopening the shut land borders. The conditions will be presented to Benin and Niger in a fortnight. According to the government of Nigeria, the conditions must be met before the borders are re-opened.

“We met to look at the situation and we have agreed on a set of conditions. Now, these conditions are as follows:
“That it is an absolute requirement of the government of Nigeria that any import coming through our land borders, when those imports transit in goods, that is to say when they are coming from outside the ECOWAS region and imported into an ECOWAS member state, that those goods should retain their original packaging.
“There should be no modification whatsoever to the packaging of those goods imported into an ECOWAS member state destined for Nigeria.
“They must be escorted from the port directly to the designated entry point in Nigeria border, so presented to Nigeria customs with the packaging intact and those goods escorted.
“This is an absolute condition that will not be compromised.
“In this context within the next two weeks, a tripartite committee is to be convened and hosted here in Nigeria, comprising the delegation committee from Benin Republic, from Niger and from Nigeria.
“Each country will come with the heads of the ministries of foreign affairs, interior, finance, the customs, immigration and the National Intelligence Agency, the security segment. So this meeting will take place within the next two weeks.”
“We absolutely insist on dismantling of all the warehouses along our common borders with countries with which we have borders within a certain distance from the borders. No more warehouses and we will insist on them being dismantled.
“We would now insist on proper recognized packaging of those goods. No longer would we have goods of all shapes and sizes just going through the borders.
“We are going to have accepted conditions for the packaging of goods that would be transported by roads across our borders to maintain best practices in packaging of those goods.”
“And as far as Nigeria is concerned, recognized travel document means officially passports”.

According to Nigeria’s Comptroller General of Customs Services, Hameed Ali, reported date of reopening in January could have been misunderstood. Reopening of the borders will depend on satisfying the set conditions.
“The issue of 31st January is not a terminal date. If all these things are put together and we reached an agreement, we could even relax these things before the 31st of January.
“So, it is not sacrosanct but it is not a terminal date, we can even surpass January 31st and still hold on to what we are doing.”

Ali noted that governments of some of the west African states appreciate Nigeria’s situation and are ready to assist in solving the problems.
 “I am very sure that the Ghanaian government is fully on top of the matter because they do understand and appreciate precisely what we are doing as a nation,” Ali said.

Apart from smuggling of contraband goods into Nigeria, it was discovered that bandits and terror groups use these borders to enter into the country. Some of these terrorists infiltrated the population of the people and pretend as Fulani herdsmen. This situation is believed to have resulted in increased banditry, kidnap and terrorism in parts of the country.

Last week, the Nigerian Army came up with a controversial programme – Operation Positive Identification – to flush out such bandits, kidnappers and members of terror groups from various local populations in Nigeria. It was resisted by civil groups and some members of the National Assembly. The Army authority was insistent and able to explain that its men would not abuse the rights of Nigerians while executing the programme as feared, but to ensure that local populations are safe. The programme requires individuals in the country to produce evidence of citizenship or legal migration, when requested to do so. All security organs in the country, the Customs and Immigration are supposed to have joined the Army for the exercise which was supposed to have started 1st of November.





Apapa gridlock: Decongest Lagos ports for solution


A federal lawmaker, Mr. Leke Abejide, representing Yagba-East/Yagba-West/Mopamuro Federal Constituency of Kogi State has suggested a solution to the menacing gridlock in Apapa area of Lagos. He is one in thousands suggesting ways to end the decades of traffic gridlock bedeviling life and businesses in and around Apapa.

The gridlock which lasts for hours daily in more than three decades has made business and life in and around Apapa unattractive.

Mr. Abejide believes the cause is not far from the presence and management of Tin Can Port and lifting of petroleum products within the area. He is suggesting that petroleum products lifting in the area should be automated to reduce congestion of the area by trucks lifting products.

The law-maker who addressed a press conference in Abuja on Monday, noted that the gridlock had lasted for too long.

“It should be constant movement for trucks with valid tickets uninterrupted. Once the truck driver gets to the gate, he only needs to place the ticket at the gate and it automatically opened for entry. Any truck without a valid ticket has no reason to even come near the port area after discharging its empty containers at Shipping Line Empty Containers Bay, which is 100km away from the port,” Abejide said.

  He does not agree with various solutions applied over the years by Lagos state government, the federal government and their agencies.

“I have a different view about the solution currently used to address the current gridlock at Apapa and Tin Can Island Port. I have suggested this to the House, before the House’s standing committee was constituted.

“AP Moller Terminals/TICT/WACT must automate their terminal delivery order, which will be connected to their gate of entry and exit. What this means is that once you have the TDO to load, there is no need for any human contact along the road or at the gate for such truck to go in and load.
 “The NPA has no business at the gate called the First Gate at Apapa. If the port is under concession, they should allow the concessionaire to take charge and automate the gate for uninterrupted movement of trucks in and out of Apapa Port,” he added.

Before now, a chieftain of the National Association of Road Transport Owners, Dry Cargo Sector, Mr Sam Adeyemo, s traffic improvement in Apapa, had told the News Agency of Nigeria that creation of truck bay would solve the problem. He accused shipping companies of complicity

 “The shipping companies are the ones benefiting from the situation by ensuring that the appropriate money is deposited by importers with them through demurrage.

“Every importer deposits huge sum of money as a surety for containers. Such money is to be paid back to the importer if he does not delay in returning the empty container to the shipping company.

“With this traffic situation, every importer forfeits that deposit to the shipping companies; hence the shipping companies do not want to comply with the provision of truck holding bays.

“It should not be a must for me to carry the container back to the port. What happens to the bonded terminals outside ports?

“Empty containers can be taken to such facilities (bonded terminals); for the shipping companies to go there and pick the containers when they wish,” he said.

The transporter, appealed to the Federal Government to compel the shipping companies to make use of the bonded terminals that had been lying fallow for long across Lagos State.

According to him, if the private bonded terminals are put to use, so many people will not have anything to do at port.

He noted that if cargoes (ships) were stemmed (taken) to the bonded terminals, the cargo owners could go there, pick their goods and also return empty containers there without problem.

Adeyemo further thanked the Federal Government for removing military operatives from the management of Apapa traffic. But the problem is unending.

About two years ago, governors of southwestern states met over the gridlock and suggested the construction of a new road from Apapa to Orile through Okorogbo. At a time, Lagos state government banned the parking of trucks by the road. Various other solutions have also failed.

It was also suggested that many ports in other parts of the country, particularly in the south-south geopolitical zone, laying inactive, should be reactivated to reduce congestion of Lagos ports responsible for the gridlock and other social problems around Lagos.




Nigeria and Russia sign oil agreement


NIGERIA and Russia last Wednesday signed a Memorandum of Understanding in Sochi, Russia, which will enable both countries’ national oil firms — Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation and Lukeoil — to operate at government level.

News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, revealed this in a statement in Abuja.

By the agreement, he said, NNPC and Lukeoil would work together in the upstream operations and revamp Nigeria’s refineries.

According to him, the Group Managing Director of NNPC, Mele Kyari and Vagit Alekperov, President of leading Russian oil company, Lukeoil, signed the MoU, which entails cooperation in deep offshore exploration of oil in Nigeria, production, trading and refining.

He stated that the signing ceremony, which took place on the sidelines of the Russia-Africa Summit, was witnessed by the Minister of State for Petroleum, Timipre Sylva.

Earlier in his remarks at a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Lenin, President Muhammadu Buhari said Nigeria was prepared and willing to work with Russian businesses “to improve the efficiency of our oil and gas sector”.

He observed that the sector” provides us with the much-needed capital to invest in our security, infrastructure and economic diversification programmes”.

While taking note of the agreement between NNPC and Lukeoil, President Buhari gave an assurance that his administration will “ensure this initiative is implemented within the shortest possible time.”

At the same meeting held on Wednesday, October 23, 2019, in Sochi on sidelines of ongoing Russia-Africa Summit, President Buhari and his Russian counterpart, President Putin, also agreed to start new infrastructure projects and expand trade and investment, security and military cooperation.

Nigeria’s Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Olamilekan Adegbite had earlier had fruitful discussion with his Russian counterpart on Ajaokuta culminating in the request by President Buhari.

Russia also agreed to support development of rail infrastructure in Nigeria by constructing 1,400 kilometres of rail track from Lagos in the west to Calabar, South-South Nigeria

The two leaders also discussed the advancement of ongoing project for the establishment of a nuclear power plant in Nigeria. By the discussion, the next step in the implementation of the project would be the commencement of construction of a power plant.

Russia produces 12% of the world's oil and has a similar share of global oil exports. In December 2015, it produced an average of 10.83 million barrels (1,722,000 m3) of oil per day. In June 2006, Russian crude oil and condensate production reached the post-Soviet maximum of 9.7 million barrels (1,540,000 m3) per day.

Nigeriais the largest oil and gas producer in Africa, yet it depends largely on imported products for local consumption. Is crude oil mainly from the Niger Delta is produced in two types: light, and comparatively heavy – the lighter around 36 gravity and the heavier, 20–25 gravity. Both types are parafinicand low in sulfur.

Almost all the refineries in the country are producing grossly below installed capacities. It is believed that the agreement with Russia will assist in ensuring that Nigeria refines its petroleum products for local consumption aimed at reducing and gradually remove dependence on imported petroleum products.




Banks dissociate selves from MTN charges on USSD


NIGERIAN commercial banks said they have no business with telecoms operator MTN’s unilateral resolve to bill its subscribers using its Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD).

Governor of Central Bank, Godwin Emefiele had early in the week called on the banks in the country to dissociate from MTN’s measure, arguing that the telecoms operator had no justification for imposing extra charges on USSD which he said had no additional cost.

Managing Directors of banks in the country led by its chairman, Mr. Herbert Wigwe of Access Bank  said in a statement they were not part of the decision by MTN to place such subscription on customers.

This followed warnings to the banks by Central Bank Governor, Godwin Emefiele, bordering on MTN’s action, which sent out text messages to its customers notifying them of its resolve to charge them four naira per 20 seconds on USSD

Speaking early in the week, Emefiele said his concern was to ensure that the country’s transmission to global financial inclusion was not hampered. He argued that USSD would not attract additional cost and that it was immoral for any telecoms operator to impose charges on the subscribers.

 “I had made my commitments to Bill Gates Foundation as well as Queen Maxima that we would deepen financial inclusion and that by 2020 the rate of financial inclusion would have accelerated to about 80 per cent.

“At this time, we are close to about 65 per cent. We moved from about 42 per cent to 65 per cent in about 18 months and we believe that we can achieve this 80 percent if everybody, that is the bank and telecoms company, cooperate with us.

“The banks are the people who give these businesses to the telecoms companies and I leave the banks and the telecoms companies to engage.

“And I have told the banks that they have to move their business and move their traffic to a telecoms company that is ready to provide it at the lowest possible and if not at zero cost and there is where we stand and we must achieve it,” Emefiele acclaimed last Sunday.

However, the banks CEOs said the decision to place charges on USSD was that of MTN and that they had nothing to do with it.

“We wish to state as follows: That the banks did not ask MTN to start charging customers as contained in the text message. The decision on whether, and what amount, to charge a customer for accessing USSD is entirely that of the telco company, in the same way a customer is billed for calls, SMS and data.” They however noted that other telecoms operators had been implementing end-user billing, which the bank CEO said “is the standard practice for customer-initiated transactions.”

Federal government is soliciting understanding from the banks in handling any operator whose position appeared unpatriotic and too capitalistic. Emefiele is saying that imposition of too many charges would discourage federal government’s drive towards global financial inclusion.

The banks in their statement said they are working with the same intent. “The banks are determined to pursue the National Financial Inclusion Strategy of the Federal Government of Nigeria and will continue to advocate that telcos identify wholeheartedly with this laudable initiative and implement transparent and low pricing model in the use of USSD access codes.

“We wish to reiterate that financial transaction charges are regulated by the CBN as stipulated in the Bankers’ Tariff, and that the charges for financial transactions carried out with banks remain unchanged,” the statement added.

USSD is a Global System for Mobile (GSM) communication technology used for sending short text messages between a mobile phone and an application programme in the network.



Minimum Wage; Labour Grumbles, Accepts Govt's Offer


NIGERIA’S Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamu, through tweeter disclosed this morning that Labour and Federal Government had reached an agreement over the minimum wage.

The long lasting meeting between organized Labour and the Federal Government of Nigeria eventually ended this morning, with a promise to issue a communiqué on the outcome of the meeting

“After some delicate negotiations, the government and labour have finally reached an agreement on the consequential adjustment of other wages following the implementation of the enhanced minimum wage of N30,000. We are working on the communiqué,” Keyamo tweeted.

However, statement issued by the Secretary General of Trade Union Congress, Musa-Lawal Ozigi, was neither explicit nor confirmed that an agreement had been reached. Though the statement indicated that an understanding was reached it did not disclose the nature of such understanding. The statement also gave an impression that Labour was not yet satisfied by the position of the government.

“We commend the Head of Service of the Federation, Dr Folashade Yemi-Esan, and her team for their sincerity. Though they argued that the government could not afford to meet our earlier demand of N30,000 minimum wage across board because of the economic situation in the country, we made them understand that some people could not be more Nigerian than others. If we are tightening our belts, government should also do so,” statement by labour said.

Both parties emerged from their meeting early Thursday, having spent nine hours, to announce that some agreements were reached, yet would resume the meeting 7.00pm  same Thursday.

“We have agreed on areas hitherto we could not agree on. We are adjourning the meeting. We have given assignments to people on both sides and they are going to do the work and get back to us,” Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige said after the Wednesday’s session.

They also declared that though the meeting was inconclusive as on Tuesday there was no declaration of strike yet.
But executives of TUC and other Labour organizations were picketing offices and schools ton enforce strike.

The meeting which began 5.06 p.m. on Wednesday ended at 2.11am this morning, Thursday.

Ngige, who presided over the meeting, also told newsmen that assignments had been given to various committees expected to submit reports to enable them complete every negotiation when they reconvene Tuesday‘s evening at 7.00pm

“The work involved is enormous. We are giving them the entire day to get back to us; issues of money and wage adjustment with different wage structures. We have 12 different wage structures presently in Nigeria.

“We don’t want to make mistake that would be fatal thereby put the whole exercise in jeopardy. We have consensually agreed that we will reconvene this meeting at 7:00 p.m. today. This will enable those that we give assignment to complete them and get back to us. We are okay with the meeting moving on smoothly. It is very cordial. We disagreed on various issues but we have agreed,” Ngige added.

The reports of various committees were submitted as expected, enhancing continuity but sources said Labour committees rejected insistence by government that the economy would collapse if it acquiesced Labour’s positions.

Although President of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Ayuba Wabba, who after Wednesday’s meeting, confirmed that progress had been made, refuted earlier reports saying the parties had settled for certain percentage increase adjusting worker’s salaries.

“It was a collective bargaining process that has lasted this long. Some progress has been made but we have not been able to conclude and have collective bargaining agreement. Some committees need to do some computation. We have worked up to early hours of today. That is in the true spirit of collective bargaining. That is what we have to do to get the process concluded and conclude the process.”

On the issue of strike, Wabba said it was not the practice of Labour to disrupt negotiations with strike.

“In collective bargaining, if a meeting is adjourned, you should know that (declaring strike) is not our practice. Our practice is that until we are able to conclude the issues, we will be able to inform them (workers) appropriately, but not midway when we are making progress. We cannot abruptly disrupt the process. At the appropriate time we should be able to give details,” he said.

Executives of Labour chapters in some states went round offices and schools yesterday picketing and driving workers out of their offices. It is not clear if they may continue their actions today. Some workers all already on the streets to offices while some others are waiting for further directives.

But according to Wabba, other issues had been resolved, remaining the actual percentage increase and implementation by the government. He condemned speculative reports.

“We cannot speak on the percentage until we finish the negotiation. The matters under consideration are implementation and consequential adjustment. That is mere speculation. We should work on the basis of information that is credible.”




'Sex For Grade,' Don Clears Self, Pushes For More Cases


EMBARRASSED by a recent scandal over sexual harassment and money extortion in many Nigerian universities, a young professor of Animal Science, Aliyu Maigado has advanced for more cases on morality and excellence in the nation’s tertiary institutions.

Using his facebook page, Maigado who is a lecturer with Department of Animal Science, Federal University, Kashere in Gombe State northeast Nigeria is challenging his past and present students to report him anywhere if he had ever demanded money or sex to favour them in rating.

“Over the years, I taught several courses and interacted with many students, both male and female.
If as my student, I ever extort money from you; demanded for or sexually harassed you, between you and your God, kindly report and expose me,” Maigado writes on his facebook page.

The lecturer took to this measure to save his image as a university lecturer following a recent scandal over the menace.

In December last year, a former lecturer in the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife, Prof. Richard Iyiola Akindele, was sentenced to two years in prison for harassing and demanding sex to pass one of his students, Monica Osagie.

Though he was found guilty and sentenced to six years jail term on three counts charge, the sentences were to run concurrently.

Midway the trial, Akindele changed his “not guilty” plea to acceptance of guilt.

Justice Maureen Onyetenu, who before her judgment, stood down the case twice given public interest in the case, disregarded Akindele belated plea bargain. She maintained that the university don should be used as a scapegoat to deter higher institutions’ lecturers from the tradition of molesting university students for sex and money.

 “The menace is getting to secondary and primary schools. I am a pastor and a counsellor. I know mental torture many of our female students have been subjected to by the likes of the respondent (Akindele).

“The adverse effect of such action is huge. Many of his likes have been awarding marks to those students that are ready to warm their beds, thereby releasing half-baked graduates into the society,” Justice Onyetenu noted on December 27, 2018.

The recent posting of innocence by Aliyu Maigado could have been triggered by many scandals over sexual harassment and extortion of money from students in the country by their lecturers, a common story in almost all the nation’s universities.

By extension, Maigado is challenging his fellow lecturers across the nation's tertiary institutions to clear themselves from the raging bad image.




Banditry Places Nigeria On New World Record


RENEWED spate of kidnap and banditry in Nigeria has placed the country on a sad world record, making her among eight top dangerous countries in the world, according to GPI report.

Besides the insurgency in the northeast by the Boko Haram and the menace of cattle herdsmen across the country, another set of students were abducted, Thursday, in Kaduna by bandits. They were rescued early hours of this morning by troops of the Nigerian Army patrolling Abuja-Kaduna highway.

According to NAN, one of the bandits was killed during fire exchange between the bandits and the troops while the rest scampered into the forest.

Deputy Director, public relations of 1 Division Nigeria Army Kaduna, Col Ezindu Idimah told NAN that Troops of Operation Thunder Strike chased the bandits when they received information on the abducted students.


At the time of filing this report the troops were still combing the forest for the remaining bandits who escaped with gunshot wounds.

One AK47 assault gun with seven rounds of 7.62mm special ammunition and a pump action gun with ten cartridges were recovered by the troops.

Kidnap and banditry in Kaduna State has become a routine nightmare in the past weeks. Another set of six female students of Engraver’s College, Kakau Daji village in Chikun local council area of the state were abducted early this week but released. It is not clear if they were released after ransom had been paid, but before their release, Governor Nasir El-Rufia of Kaduna State was quoted as saying that his government was in contact with the kidnappers.

Gunmen also attacked Government Technical Secondary School, Maraban in Kajuru local council area of Kadun. A local said the principal of the school was abducted from his residence.

Just last month, a group of bandits operating in Zamfara State returned their weapons to the state government after months of negotiation.

Niger Delta appear calm after leaders of the region entered into discussion with the militants.

In the southeast, MASSOP and other militants operating in the region early this week warned the federal government to avoid implementing the recently announced resolve to return to tolling on the nation’s highways. The groups in the southeast have been agitating for a sovereign state of Biafra.

The spate of insurgency and banditry in the country particularly northwest and northeastern parts of the country has placed Nigeria among eight most terrible countries to visit in the world.

A previous analysis by GPI report had named Syria, Afghanistan, South Sudan, Iraq, Somalia, Yemen, Libya and Democratic Republic of Congo as top 10 most dangerous countries in the world. A recent rating included Russia/Ukraine, Egypt and Nigeria.






Obaseki Battles Opposition ahead 2020


GOVERNOR Godwin Obaseki’ of Edo State, South-South Nigeria is undaunted at a seeming stiff opposition from his APC against his second term bid.

A splinter group of All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state known as Edo People Movement (EPM) led by a former minority whip of the Federal House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Samson Osagie and former Justice commissioner, Mr. Henry Idahagbon sais Obaseki and the state chairman of the party, Mr. Anselm Ojezua, were not capable of winning the 2020 governorship election for the party. The group claimed to constitute over 70 percent of the party membership in the state.
But in a statement last Thursday, APC state chairman, Ojezua, wrote off Osagie saying he “has lost touch with the people,” adding that the party would “take decisive and concrete actions against EPM and its members.”

On his part, Obaseki declared: “no individual can determine who will become governor. Only God and the people can make the decision. I have said it clearly and I told my cabinet members that second term for me is non-negotiable. I am demanding it because I deserve it and I think I have earned it. We need to have it so we can continue what we are doing today.”

“I want to assure you that this is a fight in which we will prevail. We will fight and succeed. If anybody thinks I will back out, he must be daydreaming because it is not my fight; it is a fight for the right purpose. I am not going to back off because I know victory is sure.”

Ojezua in a statement last Thursday threatened to expel all the members of EPM before the election if they failed to desist from the opposition

The statement issued in Benin reads in the part:
 “On the 28th May, 2019, pursuant to a meeting of the State Working Committee of All Progressive Congress, Edo State Chapter, we caused a disclaimer to be published regarding the formation of a group going by the name Edo Peoples Movement, being organized by certain individuals, purporting same to be an offshoot of the APC.

“In the publication, we took the pains to clarify that the constitution of our party, the APC, does not have provision for groups such as the one in question and to that extent, such a group or movement was antithetical to the unity and stability our party.
“We therefore directed that those behind the said movement should desist from associating their nefarious activities with the APC.”

When contacted on phone, Osagie laughed for a while and said Ojezua had no constitutional right to carry out his threats, adding that he was exercising his constitutional rights and had never been involved in ant-party activity which could earned expulsion from the party as boasted by Ojezua whom he described as “a serial failure, not capable of winning any election for the party.”

Osagie who insisted on primary election to determine who flies the party’s flag for the 2020 governorship election, appealed to the party’s national working committee to intervene in the crisis to save the party from losing the 2020 governorship election in the state.





Delay politics mars Ogoniland cleanup

EIGHT years after United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) issued its report for the cleanup exercise of Ogoni community devastated by oil spills in River State of Nigeria, a human rights group, Social Action (SA) is alleging inactivity as a result of what the group perceived as incompetence on the part of the contractors awarded the contracts.

In a statement issued in Port Harcourt, signed by the Group’s head of National Advocacy Centre, Vivian Bellonwu, the group is alleging lack of transparency on the part of Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP) in deploying contractors to the polluted sites. 

“Our concerns are on transparency and accountability of HYPREP,” Bellonwu said in the release, alleging further that “some of the contractors are not qualified,” the delay in the main operation.

“We fear that the gap in the qualification of the contractors is part of challenges that is affecting the activities of HYPREP and made the clean up not taken off as it were,” the Group said.

Late last year, the ruler of Bua-Bangha Clan, His Royal Majesty Baridam Suanu, complained that his people were still drinking contaminated water.

In a similar manner, the Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People (MOSOP) expressed concern over delay in the commencement of the actual cleanup noting that the people could not resume fishing and farming as a result of the pollution and the delay in cleanup.

The government eventually contracted the cleanup to the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP) which deployed supposed expertise for the exercise.

King Suanu spoke while handing over hectares of land donated by Bua -Bangha and Bua-Kenwigbara communities to HYPREP for the implementation of the emergency phase of the project.

He had then warned the project handlers to remove politics from the project. “The people of Bua-Bangha will cooperate with you to ensure you have the best environment. The land is vast and we expect you take as much as you need in order to bring development to us.”

He doubted the sincerity of government which locals said appeared as a political ploy to getting the support of the people for the January elections. “I beg that the project should not be politicized. If what should be given to a people is not given, it becomes bad.

“The ground-breaking was towards election. And your coming here today is still close to election; I hope it will not be abandoned after the election. We need sincerity from government in this project.”

SA alleged that months after the warning, the cleanup is still on papers.

Another monarch, King Milford Eguru of Gbenemene Bean-Khana Kingdom, lamented that people are attacked by various diseases leading to daily reports of deaths as a result of the pollution.

“There are reports of deaths everyday because of the pollution. Now that God has touched you to come, we appreciate it. We will give you every support so far as you will follow due process in the project.

“Life is all we are talking about. The project you are carrying out falls in line with the report of UNEP. The Federal Government has given you responsibility and it is expected you carry it out effectively.”

This was before HYPREP deployed over 100 companies to carry out scoping exercise in the affected communities. This is a phase in the selection process for companies which would eventually participate in the remediation project.

“The strong message which the minister had asked me to give is that the Federal Government was committed to the clean-up of Ogoniland. We are doing a scoping exercise. We have scientists deployed to carry out the exercise in the affected areas. Over 100 companies are in the process and not all of them may get the job.” Dr. Marvin Dekil, Project Coordinator of HYPREP said.

The paramount ruler of Ogale-Eleme, Chief Bebe Ukpabie, who spoke for the Eleme King Ejire, expressed joy that the remediation project, after all, had begun. “We are happy to know that the clean-up is real. We also need to tell you that there are many physical areas that are polluted, but many people are affected.”

Ogoni land and aquatic environment were damaged by major oil spills, resulting in international outcry and litigation against Shell.

Cleanup exercise was endorsed in August 2011 by the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) leading to the setting up of Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project to carry out the remediation process. Implementation process was launched in June 2, 2016 in some of the impacted sites.

To reduce tension over effects of its operations on the environment, the Royal Dutch Shell announced plans to limit emissions of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, across its oil and gas operations. According to its announcement in September last year, Shell aimed to maintain methane emissions intensity below 0.2 per cent by 2025. Its British rival, BP, in 2017 set a similar goal.
Shell Methane is released into the atmosphere mostly through leaks in gas infrastructure such as pumps and pipelines. Experts say the gas has a bigger impact than carbon dioxide. While oil and gas industry produces less methane, gas has a shorter lifetime.

According to Shell, the methane target will be measured against a baseline leak rate, currently estimated at range from 0.01 per cent to 0.8 per cent across the company's oil and gas assets.

This is considered as an ambitious plan to reduce its carbon emissions by 50 percent by 2050

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