The Debt Management Office (DMO) has said that the impact of the proposed limitation of commercial banks’ access to government securities on the market will depend on the actual mechanism provided by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
Mr. Oladele Afolabi, the Director, Portfolio Management Department, Debt Management Office (DMO), said this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja.
“For instance, how would ‘Government Securities’ be defined? Would this include the Open Market Operations (OMO) Bills being issued by the CBN?
“The specifics of the mechanism would determine the impact on the market.”
He, however, assured that the limitation will not affect the market or discourage investors.
He said that the Federal Government’s bond market had developed over the years from the initial period when banks were the dominant investors to the present situation where there were now other categories of investors.
Afolabi said the new categories included the pension funds, asset managers and foreign investors, all with significantly higher levels of participation than before.
The director added that the DMO had been working with other stakeholders to encourage higher level of issuances by private sector organisations and the Federal Government granted tax waivers in that regard.
“This is a sign of maturity of the Federal Government bond market and we expect to continue to diversify the investor base for government securities, particularly with new instruments such as the Sukuk, Savings Bond and Green Bond,” he said.
He said they were attracting new investors to the market.
Afolabi explained that making funds available to the private sector was also the focus of the Federal Government as the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) expected the private sector to play a major role in the country’s development.
According to him, the DMO’s initiatives in the bond market are not just for the Federal Government’s borrowing, but to also create a market for long term capital for other categories of issuers, such as sub-nationals and corporates.
“The current Debt Management Strategy, which has shifted more of the Federal Government’s borrowing to external sources, is to create borrowing space for the private sector in the domestic market.
“Between 2017 and 2018, the Federal Government repaid over N1 trillion of Nigerian Treasury Bills (NTBs), to make loanable funds available to private sector borrowers and also lower interest rates in the market.
“This saw the rates for NTBs dropping from about 18.5 per cent in 2017 to between 10 to 11 per cent in 2018.
“So, to the extent that the objective is to make more funds available to the private sector, this is in accordance with the government’s focus.”
Afolabi, however, said that banks were still expected to continue to play a key role as investors in the market.
This, he said, was because the Federal Government bonds were liquid assets which the banks would need to hold to meet the 30 per cent liquidity ratio.
The Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) meeting in May had directed the CBN to initiate policies and mechanisms that would facilitate the restriction of banks’ access to government securities such as treasury bills and bonds.
The MPC said the restriction was necessary because banks had unfettered access to government securities, a situation that had the capacity to crowd out private sector lending.
Supreme Court judgement not for sale, Ogun APC tells APM
The Ogun State branch of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has taken a swipe at the Allied Peoples Movement (APM) and its candidate in the March 9 governorship election in the state, Hon. Adekunle Akinlade, on its plan to approach the Supreme Court.
APC told Akinlade and his party that “the judgement of the Supreme Court is not for sale.
Its Publicity Secretary, Tunde Oladunjoye in a statement issued yesterday said the “APM and its candidates are serial losers.”
The statement reads: “Our party, the APC has unshakeable confidence in the judiciary, the APM and its candidate are serial losers who are merely shadow-chasing and being goaded by another wellknown serial loser at tribunals.
“Prince Dapo Abiodun won unanimously at the Ogun Governorship Petition Tribunal, we also won unanimously at the Appeal Court, they should be told that despite the boasts of their main sponsor, the Supreme Court judgement is not for sale.
“The three-man state governorship election petitions tribunal, led by Justice Yusuf Halilu, while dismissing the petition and upholding Abiodun’s election, described Akinlade’s petition, challenging Abiodun’s victory, as ‘lazy and destined to fail.
“This has exposed the lack of depth, procedurally contaminated and virus-invested petition to the whole world. The reason why they want to go to the Supreme Court is driven by the empty boast of the Senator financing APM, who is dropping the name of Mr. President.
“We advise them to get to get off their phantom horse and stop dragging the name of Mr. President into disrepute. The Supreme Court is not for traders, neither is the apex court’s judgement for sale.”
Season of police brutality
In Asaba, the Delta State capital, some citizens are facing the wrath of the police for the worng reasons. DOMINIC ADEWOLE, in this report, writes on what has become a common occurrence in the state
If the spate at which police officers usually brutalize civilians in Asaba, the Delta State capital, is anything to go by, the authorities involved may need to probe where there is a disconnect. There must be a desperate bid to checkmate their excesses to prevent revolt from the populace.
Statistics have shown that most of the cases of great cruelty within the Asaba capital territory all fall within the category of high profile police brutality.
If the bullion van police escort does not attack citizens, the convoy of an elected, appointed or a politician would assault him. If the orderlies of the governor did not molest you, a power drunk police officer would order his ‘boys’ to beat you up and thereafter throw you into their waiting van to dump you in the cell.
After beating you to a pulp, before leaving you with various degrees of injuries, they will ask you some rhetoric questions, including, “do you know who I am? Do you know where I work? Do you know whom I am attached to? Do you want me to keep you in the cell? You this bloody civilian!’
The brutality assumed a dangerous dimension on November 6, as journalists became preys to the police.
It was during the presentation of N389.1 billion 2020 budget proposal by Governor Ifeanyi Okowa to the state’s House of Assembly. A physically impaired registered journalist with the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Comrade Godwin Udoh, who reports for the Nigerian Xpress Newspapers, narrowly escaped being shot by an overzealous police officer at the Assembly premises.
He was trying to scare the journalist, who was holding his tape-recorder, biro and paper to pick what the governor was saying, while the governor was briefing over 60 journalists from his car.
They had queried him on the performance of 2019 budget.
The policeman, a newly promoted Deputy Superintendent of Police, from Counter Terrorism Unit (CTU), who is said to be the Escort Commander to the governor, one DSP Victor, chased the journalist to about 100 metres, before slapping him on his face, even as he fell down, and thereafter threatened to shoot him if he should further provoke him.
The police officer was unperturbed that the scene he created disrupted the ongoing press briefing as onlookers, especially the supporters of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), including members of the PDP Faithful Youths, popularly known as One-Belle, and Grassroot Support Group, that thronged the venue to catch a glimpse of the governor, all expressed shock at the inhuman treatment meted on the journalist because of the governor’s car.
He told the journalist to ‘clear’, meaning ‘shift away from the car’, but the journalist simply replied, “officer, you can see that I’m recording what the governor is saying”. At this, the police officer attempted to slap him but he ran away from the spot.
Meanwhile, the journalist took the position because the loud speaker was close to the car.
“At first, he wanted to use the butt of his rifle to hit me but I dodged it and tried to run away from the spot. He chased me and slapped me on the face in the presence of the mammoth crowd and I fell down”, Udoh lamented.
South-South Focus gathered that the police officer has been in the habit of molesting journalists over his alleged hatred for the practitioners. He was said to have harassed and later barred two journalists from covering a political function at the Unity Hall, Government House, Asaba, two months ago.
The chairman of the Community Newspapers’ Chapel of NUJ, Comrade Barth Ozah, said the action of the police officer was condemnable, calling on the governor to call his orderlies to order as they cannot prevent journalists from carrying out their lawful duties.
He said the 1999 constitution as amended empowered journalists to carry out their responsibilities within the parameters of the law. It was unlawful for the officer to slap him when it was obvious that he did not infringe on the law.
As if that was not enough, few days after, the state Correspondent of the Champion Newspapers, Comrade Barry Agbanigbi, was dragged out of his Toyota Matrix car by two policemen attached to a convoy of a yet-to-identified ‘big’ man around 7.30 p.m, for not stopping abruptly for one of them who suddenly came out from a restaurant to cross the ever-busy Nnebisi road, by the Federal Medical Centre (FMC), Asaba, to join his master’s waiting convoy.
The journalist was immediately rushed to the nearby FMC by the chairman of the Delta State chapter of the Association of Print Media Sales Executives, Mr Ovire Collins, where his wounds were treated and his left hand was wrapped with bandage for days.
Barely 48 hours after, precisely on November 12, Barry had not recovered from the shock when people started running helter-skelter within Asaba that the Chief Security Officer (CSO) to Governor Okowa, a Chief Superintendent of Police, CSP George Onyise Efeizomor, had unleashed terror on three artisans within the town, thereby forcing residents in the areas to run for safety.
Trouble allegedly erupted as the driver of the CSO wrongly parked his official cars to block the entrance to a mechanic workshop when he went to eat a local food with native soup, from Mama-Put, called ‘Ofejuju’ and pounded yam around the House on the Rock Church along the Delta Broadcasting Service (DBS) road.
An eyewitness said: “When the mechanic, Mr. Ola Coker, who went to test run a customer’s car returned and discovered that the entrance to his workshop was blocked, he decided to park outside to await the owner of the vehicles that were blocking his workshop.
“When the CSO returned with his driver and discovered that a car was preventing his own from going, he requested to know the owner of the car. The mechanic came out. He was trying to explain to him but he ordered the junior officer following him to give the mechanic man a slap.”
On seeing the way his elder brother was being maltreated, his younger brother, a panel beater, Emma, rushed out from the workshop and asked why?
For saying it was unfair for the CSO to maltreat his brother, he ordered the junior officer again to give him two slaps, which landed him at the Federal Medical Centre (FMC). A vehicles air-conditioner repairer in the workshop, Mr. Andy Okeibunor, was displeased. He rushed out to ask why? He got what he did not bargain for. The CSO pounced on himself.
It did not end at that. The CSO mobilised more men from Government House with his phone. Within a twinkle of an eye, a police van, containing five red beret men arrived the scene and were trying to raid the mechanic workshop. People started running for safety, for fear of being beating, sporadic shooting or bailing after being kept in the cell.
It was learnt that Andy was hit with gun butts before he was sandwiched in their van to the GRA Police Station where he was dumped in the cell. He did not come out until he was bailed the following day.
“Before the arrival of the red-beret squad, Ola and his younger brother had escaped the scene because they overheard the CSO making calls for more policemen”, another eyewitness, who simply identified herself as Mama Chidi said.
Recounting his ordeal at his younger brother’s hospital bed, Ola said: “Yes, we were beaten in my shop. I drove out to test-run somebody’s car. I came back only to meet two cars parked behind the car I was meant to repair. Not only that. The two vehicles were blocking the common entrance to my workshop. Another customer’s car could not enter. I parked beside the two vehicles I saw blocking the way. I asked the people around about who parked the two cars. Nobody could explain until the owners came out. The outcome is what we are in the hospital for.”
While a human rights activist, Mr. Victor, has vowed to get to the root of the matter for justice to prevail, wondering why the state was degenerating into a state of nature where anything goes and might is right has become the order of the day in the state, the Dein of Agbor kingdom, HRM Benjamin Ikenchuku Keagborekuzi 1, called on Nigerians to stop painting the Nigerian police in a bad light to avoid discouraging young ones from joining the profession.
“We should not fold our arms and continue to watch those engaged to protect us turn around to become our enemies. Police should not protect politicians to the detriment of those who voted them into power to serve. Journalists have become engendered species in the state. When politicians are seeking for elective positions, they run to them for publicity, but as soon as they (politicians) get there, they (journalists) become used and dumped. They ask their retinue of police guards to keep them and members of their constituency at arms’ length. This should not get to the extent of assaulting them and other law abiding citizens. The situation at hand where three assaults were recorded within two weeks in the state, suggest a season of brutality”, the activist said.
However, the monarch who spoke generally on police public relations, urged the Police Service Commission (PSC) to fish out the bad eggs among the rank and file of the profession.
He said: “We should not always paint the police in bad side. We know there are bad eggs among them but we should learn to appreciate, so as to encourage our children to join the force.”
That was even as he called on the general public to bring useful information to the police.
Odumosu to tackle gridlock in order to check robberies
The Lagos State Commissioner of Lagos, Hakeem Odumosu, yesterday, vowed to use his men to ease the escalating cases of gridlocks on Lagos State roads, in order to curb traffic robberies.
Odumosu stated this yesterday while meeting with traffic policemen at the Command’s headquarters, Ikeja.
Odumosu said: “We summon the meeting to review the current traffic situation in the state and to make it more effective. In less than two days that I took over as the state’s commissioner of Police, I have ordered an immediate deployment of additional 1000 policemen to traffic duties.”
The CP insisted that the traffic officers should be on duty during peak hours. The policemen were expected to run shifts between 10a.m. and 10p.m. while the second shift will be between 10p.m. to 10a.m. providing 24 hours coverage. Odumosu said that the traffic policemen will be in their usual reflective jackets.
“The measure will help in ensuring free flow of traffic and will also curb the menace of traffic robberies,” said Odumosu.
The CP calls on Lagos residents to accord the police officers on traffic duties maximum cooperation in the discharge of their statutory duties, while all road users were enjoined to obey traffic laws.
Comptroller: Smugglers use over 2,000 illegal routes for their activities
The Comptroller, Nigeria Customs Service, Federal Operations Unit (FOU), Zone B, Mustapha Sarkin-Kebbi, yesterday, disclosed that smugglers in the zone use over 2000 illegal routes for their nefarious activities.
This is also as he revealed that the zone made seizures worth over N43 million within a week.
Speaking with journalists on the seizures made within the period under review, the Customs boss said the zone required additional manpower to cover and patrol the illegal routes. He said the manpower would assist them to fight the smugglers to a standstill.
The seizures made included 703 bags of rice, 25 vehicles, 530 jerry-cans of vegetable oil, 245 cartons of Spaghetti, nine bales of second-hand clothing, 40 jerry-cans of dual purpose kerosene, as well as 30,000 litres of PMS among others.
Reacting to allegations that the border closure was not strictly enforced in the north, the Comptroller said: “I’m not aware of that because I know the border drill exercises had been recording a lot of successes. You know that in the north, unlike other parts of the country, borders are so porous. If you check from Jigawa up to Niger and Kwara states, there are over 2000 illegal routes. We don’t have the man power or the capacity to cover all these routes at a time.”
He continued: “These smugglers are also becoming very sophisticated. They monitor our movements. That is why the FOU has been working in the hinterland so that when they evade us at the border, they can always move up in the hinterland. I will not say the border closure in the north has not been effective, but the porous nature of it has made it impossible for us to cover it 100 per cent. We have continued our anti-smuggling operations across the zone, covering about 10 states, including FCT. We made a lot of intercessions and seizures. This is a truck that my men and officers intercepted around Jega, Kago road in Kebbi State, two days ago. From the outside, you’ll see the truck, it is carrying foot wears, but inside, we have smuggled rice. The significance of this is that they have been trying to beat our officers and men along the road. They tried to conceal foreign rice deep inside bags of onions, potatoes, sugar canes, empty jerry-cans and foot wears.
“We will not rest on our oars. The policy of the federal government must be sustained and it will be sustained if we continue to stop the smuggling of this foreign rice. We will make sure that these smugglers that are trying to ruin our economy and our security will not succeed.”
Maina’s ill-health stalls corruption trial
- Court accuses prison authorities of frustrating proceedings
The trial of the Chairman of the defunct Pension Reform Task Team (PRTM), Abdulrasheed Maina, before the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, was stalled yesterday owing to the ill-health of the defendant
Maina was said to be bleeding in an undisclosed part of his body.
The trial judge, Justice Okon Abang, however, adjourned at the instance of the prosecution to enable the defendant attend to his health status.
The court had adjourned till November 25 for ruling on the defendant’s bail application and continuation of trial.
At the resumed trial, Maina’s counsel, Francis Oronsanye, drew the attention of the court to the deteriorating health of his client.
“My Lord, my client is bleeding and I will seek your indulgence to allow him take his medication,” he said.
The counsel told the Judge that Maina, who was supported to the court by the prison officials and family members, could not stand trial because of his pathetic health status.
He, however, prayed the court to shift the trial pending the time the defendant will recover to be able to stand for his defense in the criminal charges against him.
Earlier, prosecution counsel, Mohammed Abubakar had informed the court that the business of the day was to take response to the submissions of the first and second defendants’ objections to the admissibility of document the prosecution wanted to tender in evidence.
But, counsel to the second defendant, Common Input Property and Investment Limited, Adeola Adedipe, told the court that the business of the day was for the report from the Nigeria Correctional Centres (NCS), on the health status of Maina, ruling on his bail application and to take reaction of the prosecution on the objections by the defendants on the admissibility of the document it sought to tender.
Adedipe further told the court that he was not ready to go on with the trial unless the issues are addressed by the court, otherwise the proceedings of the court will be set aside by the Court of Appeal.
Meanwhile, the court said it will not hesitate to order the police to walk out any counsel or anybody that attempts to frustrate the proceedings of the court.
The court also accused the NCS of compounding the issue before the court because it failed to produce a medical report on the health status of Maina, 15 days after the order to that effect was made by the court.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is prosecuting Maina, alongside a firm, Common Input Property and Investment Ltd., allegedly linked with him on a 12-count criminal charge, bordering on fraud, abuse of public office and money laundering of about N2 billion.
Invictus Obi permanently forfeits N280.5m to FG
Justice Rilwan Aikawa of a Federal High Court in Lagos has ordered the permanent forfeiture of N280.5 million warehoused in the bank accounts of two firms linked to Obinwanne Okeke, popularly known as Invictus Obi, to the Federal Government.
The 31-year-old Okeke is currently standing trial in the United States of America for an alleged $11 million cyber fraud. The two firms involved are; Invictus Oil and Gas Limited and Invictus Investment Limited.
Justice Aikawa’s permanent forfeiture order was sequel to the granting of a motion filed in that regard by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The judge had, earlier on October 7, upon the granting of an ex-parte motion by the anti-graft agency, ordered the interim forfeiture of the funds to the Federal Government.
Arguing the motion for final forfeiture yesterday, EFCC’s lawyer, Rotimi Oyedepo, informed the court that all requirements to finally forfeit the funds to the Federal Government have been met, including the publication of the interim forfeiture order in a national daily on October 25.
The lawyer added that Section 17 of the Advance Fee Fraud and other related Fraud Offence Act No. 14, 2006, had empowered the judge to make a final pronouncement for the final forfeiture of the fund.
Oyedepo told the court that the funds, domiciled in First City Monument Bank (FCMB) and Zenith Bank, were “reasonably suspected” to be proceeds of cybercrime.
He consequently prayed the court to grant the motion for final forfeiture because “there is no opposition to the request from anybody.”
Granting his prayer in a bench ruling, Justice Aikawa ordered that the sum of N280.5 million in First City Monument Bank (FCMB) and Zenith Bank account nos: 3341692012 and 1013714256, be permanently forfeited to the Federal Government of Nigeria.
“I have seen the application seeking for the final forfeiture of the sum of N280.5 million warehoused in the two bank accounts, which is reasonably suspected to be proceeds of unlawful activities.
“I am satisfied that the requirements enumerated under Section 17 of the Advanced Fee Fraud and other related Offences Act have been met by the applicant in this suit. Consequently, this application is hereby granted as prayed as it remains unchallenged.
“The sum of N280.5 million found in the bank account of Invictus Investment Limited, who is the second respondent in this suit, is hereby forfeited to the Federal Government of Nigeria,” the judge held.
In an affidavit in support of the motion, an EFCC’s investigator, Ariyo Muritala, disclosed that he was one of the officers assigned to investigate the request for information from the United States Department of Justice, office of the Legal Attache, U.S. Consulate General, on Obinwanne George Okeke and three others.
Muritala disclosed that in the request letter, the said Obinwanne George Okeke and three others defrauded some U.S. citizens of monies amounting to $11 million through fraudulent wire transfer instructions in a massive/coordinated Business Email Compromise Scheme.
“That in the course of investigation, a total sum of N280,555,010 illicit funds were found in Obinwanne George Okeke corporate accounts in First City Monument Bank and Zenith Bank Plc., of which he is the sole signatory.
“That there have been concerted efforts and attempts to dissipate the contents of the accounts listed in the schedule to this application.
“That this application is pertinent to secure the funds in the account and prevent them from being dissipated,” the deponent averred.
IPMAN to FG: Rescind decision banning supply of fuel to border communities
The Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) has called on the federal government to rescind its decision suspending supply of petroleum products to filling stations within 20 kilometres to all Nigerian borders.
In a statement signed by Publicity Secretary of the association, Chief Chinedu Ukadike, the group under the leadership of Alhaji Sanusi Abdu Fari stated that the decision had brought untold hardship to residents of most Nigerian communities located close to the border as they now have to travel between 30 to 50km to source for petroleum products for their personal uses.
The statement reads: “Majority of the petrol stations operating in this Nigerian border towns are owned by our members who are duly licensed in line with the relevant laws of Nigeria.
“They are now seriously affected because their source of livelihood has been shut down by the federal government and they are finding it extremely difficult to survive.
“We therefore, call on the Federal Government to reconsider the
suspension and allow the supply of petroleum products to these Nigerian communities close to the border, but this time around, intensify the monitoring of petroleum products supplied to these communities by improving the communication and relationship amongst her various agencies like the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) and Civil Defence to curb incidents of diversion.”
Lagos tackles maternal, child mortality with 15% budget to health
Disturbed maternal and child mortality in the state, Lagos State Government yesterday declared zero tolerance against the menace.
Speaking on the second round of this year’s Maternal, Newborn and Child Health Week, (MNCH) holding next week, Commissioner for Health, Professor Akin Abayomi, said Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu had pledged 15 per cent of the annual budget would go to the ministry of health to ensure that Lagos residents enjoy the best of healthcare when they visit public health facilities.
According to him, the state which had a maternal mortality rate of 512 to 100,000 live births, Abayomi acknowledged that the figure was very high better when compared with the national figure though.
He said that the governor was committed to ensuring that the health ministry got at least 15 per cent of the budget.
Economic summit: 22 investors indicate interest in Osun
…as Oyetola signs Executive Order establishing Investment Agency
No fewer than 22 investors yesterday indicated interest to partner with and investing in the state as the 2019 Osun Economic and Investment Summit came to an end.
The investors both local and international also reaffirmed their commitment to partner with the state by expanding the scope of their businesses.
They signified their readiness to explore potential of the state in the areas of agriculture, mining, infrastructure, health, education and Information and Communication Technology.
Some of the ready partners and investors are Ms Manisha Dookhony, the Managing Director Rwenzon Consulting; Dr. Segun Aina, President, African Fintech Network; Mr. Muraina Oyelami, Painter/Performing Artiste; Mr. U.G Muhammed, Transmission Company of Nigeria, among others.
Dookhony said her organisation was ready to partner with the state in setting up the necessary policies and providing immediate solutions towards creating an enabling environment while Mr. Muhammed pledged to partner the state to boost its power sector by providing four Sub-Stations in Osogbo, Ede, Iwo and Ife as well as installing DPGW Cables from the state to several locations around the country.
They, however, promised to explore the investment opportunities created by the government.
Meanwhile, while declaring the Summit closed, Governor Adegboyega Oyetola, said the state would continue to provide enabling environment for investors to thrive and every business partner to succeed, saying the state would continue to strengthen all existing frameworks to protect businesses as well as honouring all commitments.
Oyetola, who announced the signing of the Executive Order establishing Osun Investment and Promotion Agency, said the decision was taken to further demonstrate the state’s commitment to socio-economic development.
He assured the investors and development partners of government’s resolve to turn Osun into an enviable investment hub.
Oyetola said: “I believe that with the support of our partners, we can put up a formidable front through which we can collectively accelerate development and take our beloved State to the most enviable height of development.
“I wish to state unequivocally that I commit myself fully to working with all our valued investors and development partners to deliver on the lofty ideas.
“I am aware that, in the course of this Summit, many relationships, just as we desired a number of exciting informal and formal business discussions, have been birthed. I am told by the secretariat that not less than 45 business-to-business and business-to-government of such formal conversations took place.
“We will be following up on these discussions, with a view to providing the necessary support required to translate the discussions into reality.
“As part of efforts towards implementing the outcome of this Summit, I am happy to inform this gathering that I have just signed the Executive Order establishing the State’s Investment and Promotion Agency. This is to further demonstrate our seriousness and commitment to ease of doing business in our State.
“As I said in my Opening Speech, we are a law-abiding State. We are Omoluabi. Our words are our bond. We will be guided by the law as a responsible government.
“We shall also strengthen all existing frameworks to protect businesses.
“Rest assured that your businesses are safe in Osun.I must register my profound and heartfelt appreciation to all our distinguished resource persons, investors, development partners and participants for making this event a huge success.”
Youths seek Buhari’s intervention on deplorable Aba-Ikot Ekpene Highway
Youths from communities along the Aba- Ikot Ekpene Highway in Obingwa Local Government Area of Abia State, have pleaded with President Muhammadu Buhari to direct the Ministry of Works to commence rehabilitation of the road to ease businesses and end the sufferings of the people of the area.
Speaking under the aegis of Agalaba Patriotic Front (APF), Obingwa council, the youths lamented that their communities had been cut off from Aba, the commercial hub of the state following the deplorable state of the road.
They also lamented that the condition of the roads had placed a barrier between them and their Ikot-Ekpene neighbours from Akwa-Ibom State who no longer access their communities not to talk of Aba through the road.
The youths said that it was disheartening that the Highway had been featuring in the national budget since 2009, without being rehabilitated, stressing that presidential intervention was highly needed on the road.
President of Agalaba Patriotic Front, Mr. Michael Dimiri, told journalists that over 45 businesses had closed down including mega shops and fuel stations while articulated vehicles diverting from the bad spots, had destroyed once motorable inter-community roads.
He said: “Two years ago, the Minister of Works and Housing, Mr. Raji Fashola, had visited the area and pledged the commitment of the federal government to rehabilitate the road. Since then, nothing has been done as the road has been totally abandoned.
“As at today, over 45 businesses located on the road including hotels, filling stations, farm settlements, mechanic workshops and schools have closed shop.
“These businesses provided jobs to over 5,000 families. Now, they have closed shop because the federal government refused to rehabilitate the road. Our people can no longer convey their agricultural produce to Aba town.
“We can’t access the Nigerian Christian Hospital at Nlagu, which is the major health institution for the people of Obingwa East constituency.
“You can also see the number of businesses which have closed shop due to the dilapidated state of the road. We are calling on President Muhammadu Buhari to direct the Ministry of Works to commence rehabilitation of this all important road.”
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