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Importers panic as FG scale up border security

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Importers panic as FG scale up border security
  • Customs: Borders not closed
  • Exercise to tackle banditry, smuggling

 

Moves by the Federal Government to tackle terrorism, banditry, smuggling and illegalities in Nigeria by securing land borders have created fear among importers and freight forwarders.

The affected borders are Benin with 809 km stretch; Cameroon, 1,975 km; Chad 85 km and Niger 1,608 km.

Already, the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Nigerian Army, Nigeria Police Force (NPF), Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) and other security agencies have been ordered to enforce increase security presence of Nigeria’s 4,477 kilometres land borders.

Other security agencies drafted to the borders for joint exercise include Nigerian Navy, Nigerian Air force, Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), Department of State Services (DSS), Nigeria Intelligence Agency (NIA) and National Drug Law Enforcement Agency  (NDLEA).

Importers, have, however, cautioned on the joint border security exercise, codenamed “Ex-Swift Response.”

Reacting to the joint border security exercise, spokesman of NCS, Mr. Joseph Attah, explained that the borders were not closed, saying that government was only putting measures in place to curtail security challenges.

He explained that the joint exercise was being coordinated by the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) and would take place in four geopolitical zones, namely: South-South, South-West, North-Central and North-West.

He noted that the exercise would involve movement of personnel, vehicles and equipment within the affected parts of the country.

Attah said: “We call on members of the public not to panic and should continue to engage in their normal duties. The overall objective is to ensure a peaceful and secured country in the interest of our nation.”

A stakeholder, Mr. Turner Iroegbu, feared that the exercise would cripple freight forwarding activities at Seme and Idiroko borders, adding that some perishable goods were already on the way to the country.

According to him, “immediately after the exercise was declared, some of the officers exhibited overzealousness by stopping even diplomatic vehicles entering and leaving the borders, thereby creating confusion.”

Iroegbu stressed that the two borders of Seme and Idiroko were revenue generating areas, facilitating international trade with special attention on ECOWAS Trade Liberalisation Scheme.

He noted that the exercise should have a different dimension to accommodate international best practice.

Iroegbu added: “For the exercise to be all-inclusive, the sea and airports are defined as borders in maritime practice, after all, huge arms and ammunition seizures were made at the seaports in the past.”

Also, Mr. John Awe, a freight forwarder, told our correspondents that the closure would affect neighbouring countries whose economy depends on Nigeria for survival.

He said: “Ghana, Togo, Benin, Niger and even Cameroon and other countries depend on Nigeria for survival. Nigeria feeds these countries in terms of trade and commerce. There is going to be crisis in the next few days.”

He explained that government should have taken another approach to tackle insecurity and allow legitimate trade to flow.

In July 2019, government had, through Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), asked foreigners with irregular documentation residing in the country to register within six months from July 2019.

Government was worried that neighbouring countries had allowed their areas to become access points into Nigeria for illegal migration by some suspected criminal elements and shipment of banned or prohibited items that undermine national security and economy.

It was learnt that insecurity in some parts of the country had affected agricultural activities and capable of threatening food production as some farmers had fled due to incessant attacks by suspected foreign bandits.

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Report: Islamic State fills void in Borno as soldiers retreat to ‘super camps’

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Report: Islamic State fills void in Borno as soldiers retreat to ‘super camps’

When Islamic State gunmen stormed the northeast Nigerian town of Magumeri on the night of August 21, they had free rein.

Nigerian soldiers had left the town earlier that month under a new strategy of withdrawing to “super camps” that can be more easily defended against insurgents the army has been struggling to contain for a decade.

Unchallenged, the Islamist militants torched a clinic in Magumeri, ransacked government buildings and looted shops before returning to another town they had raided that night called Gubio, residents said.

The new military strategy announced by President Muhammadu Buhari in July to concentrate soldiers in big bases is designed to give troops a secure platform from which they can respond quickly to threats in the region and raid militant camps.

People familiar with the military’s thinking and security officials, however, say the new tactic for fighting Islamic State’s West Africa branch and Boko Haram is mainly an attempt to stem casualties.

The military did not respond to requests for more details about its strategy or the impact it will have on the region.

“We strongly believe the days of BH (Boko Haram) moving freely and passing in between static defensive locations are over,” Major General Olusegun Adeniyi, who commands the anti-insurgency operation, told reporters last month.

Boko Haram launched an insurgency in 2009 to overthrow the government and establish an Islamic caliphate. The group, whose unofficial name means “Western education is forbidden”, held territory the size of Belgium in 2014 but a multinational offensive recaptured much of it the following year.

The group split in 2016 and the faction that has been the greater threat ever since won the recognition of Islamic State.

The decade of war has killed more than 30,000 civilians and spawned what the United Nations calls one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises, which foreign nations are trying to contain with billions of dollars of aid.

But the crisis shows no sign of abating.

‘IT’S A MESS’

The army’s withdrawal into large bases has coincided with a string of insurgent raids on newly unprotected towns and has left the militants free to set up checkpoints on roads as they roam more freely across the countryside, according to three briefing notes from an international aid and development organisation, two security officials and residents.

That has left thousands of civilians without access to aid, according to the briefing notes seen by Reuters.

Soldiers are no longer protecting some key roads, cutting off access for humanitarians workers as more of the region falls under the sway of the insurgents, aid and security sources said.

“It’s a mess, militarily, and a disaster for humanitarian actors,” one foreign security official said.

The population of towns being abandoned by the military is a combined 223,000 people, according to one of the aid agency briefing notes.

The military departures so far have cut off more than 100,000 people from aid and if more soldiers go, as many as 121,000 other civilians could flee their towns, one aid agency briefing note said.

“The impact will be one of continued skirmishes – soldiers under constant strain to deal with the insurgency where Islamic State and Boko Haram dictate the momentum,” said Jasmine Opperman, a terrorism expert based in South Africa.

It’s not yet clear how many “super camps” the army plans to set up, where they will be nor how many soldiers each will hold.

‘HERE TO PROTECT YOU’

The new strategy follows a series of setbacks for the army which has failed to keep a tight grip on territory it has clawed back since 2015. Last year, insurgents repeatedly overran smaller bases and sent soldiers and tens of thousands of people fleeing from larger towns.

Security experts put the military death toll since June 2018 at anywhere from hundreds of soldiers to in excess of 1,000.

The military has not released casualty figures but denies that many soldiers have been killed.

One security adviser at an international aid organisation said a major goal of the new large bases was damage control, rather than going on the offensive.

“It is to consolidate all of the strength in one place to prevent them being overrun every week,” the adviser said.

He said the areas vacated were being filled by insurgents and that would make it harder for the military to re-enter, leaving civilians vulnerable.

Those concerns were echoed by the governor of Borno – the birthplace of Boko Haram and the state worst hit by the insurgency. Governor Babagana Umara Zulum told reporters last month that recent attacks were the result of a “serious vacuum” following the withdrawal of soldiers.

Islamic State is also using its newfound freedom to woo locals. Drained by the decade-long conflict, some are open to moving into areas controlled by the insurgents where life can be more stable, residents said.

Before hitting Magumeri last month, the militants had passed through the town of Gubio, some 40 km (25 miles) to the north.

There, an Islamic State fighter led evening prayers followed by a sermon, according to six residents.

“We are here to protect you, not to harm any one of you,” the IS fighter told residents. “Those with uniforms are your enemies, and we are here to deal with them and their supporters. You should feel free.”

Rather than flee to a government-controlled city such as Borno state’s capital Maiduguri, many Gubio residents stayed.

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Schools close over dangerous air pollution

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Schools close over dangerous air pollution

Schools in two cities in the Indonesian part of Borneo island will be closed for a week after smoke from forest fires caused air quality to hit “dangerous” levels, a local government official said on Sunday.

Indonesia and neighboring countries in Southeast Asia are regularly hit by smoke from slash-and-burn clearances of forests for farms and palm oil plantations, but conditions this year have been the worst since 2015 due to an El Nino weather pattern causing an extended dry spell.

The air pollution index in Palangka Raya, the capital of Borneo’s Central Kalimantan province, hit 500, or “dangerous”, on Sunday, data from Indonesia’s Environment and Forestry Ministry showed. Any reading above 100 is considered “unhealthy”.

An official said on Sunday that schools in Palangka Raya and another city, Sampit, would be shut next week, in line with instructions circulated by Central Kalimantan’s governor on Friday.

“From our observation, the smoke is very thick in Palangka Raya and Sampit,” Slamet Winaryo, the head of Central Kalimantan’s education agency, said by telephone.

“We have decided to give one week off from Monday to Saturday for the students in both locations,” he said. He did not say how many pupils or schools would be affected.

Winaryo said other schools in Central Kalimantan would start half an hour later, at 0730 local time. Schools have also been advised to cut the duration for each class into 30-minute periods.

Indonesia’s environment minister said on Friday some forest fires in its territory had started on land used by subsidiaries of Malaysian companies, as the neighbors traded blame for blazes that have spread haze across the region.

A Reuters photographer in Palangka Raya said visibility was down to around 50 meters.

Air Visual – an independent online air quality index (AQI) monitor – showed the city’s air quality has been “hazardous” since Friday.

Indonesian authorities have urged Central Kalimantan residents to refrain from outdoor activities or to wear a mask due to the severe pollution.

“There are many hotspots in Kalimantan, those are high category hotspots,” Agus Wibowo, the country’s disaster mitigation agency (BNPB) spokesman, said by text message.

The agency has deployed eight helicopters and 1,512 personnel to extinguish fire across 44,769 hectares of land in Central Kalimantan since May.

Meanwhile, schools in West Kalimantan, which were closed due to deteriorating air condition from September 12 to September 14, will reopen on Monday.

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Catholic bishops to Buhari: Your govt losing legitimacy

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Catholic bishops to Buhari: Your govt losing legitimacy

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he President, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria (CBCN), Most Rev. Augustine Akubeze, yesterday, asked President Muhammadu Buhari to find a lasting solution to the security challenges confronting Nigeria or risk losing his administration’s legitimacy.

 

The cleric also called on Buhari to urgently review his appointments at the federal level which, according to him, lack diversity and does not fulfill the spirit of total integration.

 

He spoke at the opening of the second plenary of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria held in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital.

 

Governors Dapo Abiodun, Kayode Fayemi and Simon Lalong of Ogun, Ekiti and Plateau states respectively as well as the deputy governor of Osun State, Olugboyega Alabi, were in attendance at the event.

 

Also present were the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi; Minister of Women Affairs, Mrs. Pauline Tallen; Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chieftain, Jimi Agabje; renowned economist, Prof. Pat Utomi; the Alake of Egbaland, Oba Adedotun Gbadebo, and Most Rev. Antonio Filipazzi, who represented Pope Francis.

 

In his address, Akubeze, who is also the Catholic Archbishop of Benin, decried the rising level of insecurity in the land which continued to manifest in violent killings, herdsmen and farmers’ clashes, kidnappings, insurgency and banditry.

According to him, the Federal Government has been slow or failed to promptly respond to the prevailing security challenges.

 

The cleric submitted that any government that fails to protect the constitutional rights of her citizens had failed.

 

Akubeze said if Nigerian leaders cannot guarantee peace and security, they have no business using taxpayers’ money to provide security for themselves and their families while the rest of the citizens kept dying.

 

He said: “At various times, we have called on the government to deal seriously with the issues of insecurity in the land. We have urged the government to stop celebrating the few instances of what they call success by stating that the terrorists have been technically defeated.

 

 

“Nigerians do not want to have a debate on the meaning of the word ‘defeated.’ We are just interested in living our lives peacefully without any fear of being kidnapped for ransom or being driven from our home land.

 

“Nigerians do not want to be faced with the daily tasks of looking for security persons to escort them to their farms. Nigerians do not want to be afraid when they go to the market to sell or buy; or when they go to the church or mosque to pray.

 

“We are not asking the government for too much. We want to be able to move freely in the country. Every government that fails to protect the constitutional rights of her citizens has failed. The government, if it does not respond rapidly to change the situation for good, is gradually losing legitimacy.

 

“If the leaders of a country cannot ensure peace and security, they have no business using taxpayers’ money to provide security for themselves and their families while the rest of Nigerians are dying daily.”

 

The archbishop also bemoaned the lack of diversity in the federal appointments and sensitive positions of governance, saying the approach of the Buhari administration to the issue has been “minimalistic.”

Akubeze declared that no federal agency in the country should be dominated by one ethnic or religious group.

 

He pointed out that as president, Buhari has same obligation to those who voted for him and those who did not vote for him.

 

He said: “The lack of diversity in the appointments by this government at the federal level should be reviewed with the aim of assuring every Nigerian that appointments to positions of importance is not based on the number of people who voted for you from those areas.

 

“The president is the president of every Nigerian. He has the same obligation to those who voted for him as well as those who did not vote for him. He uses the taxes from people who voted for him and those who did not vote for him. Therefore, equity is expected in appointment of persons to federal agencies.

 

 

“Nigerians reject a minimalistic approach to this issue. We have heard the government say that they have fulfilled the constitutional requirement of appointment at least a minister from each state. This is a minimalistic approach and does not fulfill the spirit of total integration of every Nigerian.

 

“All federal agencies should have directors and staff that reflect the diversity in our land. No federal agency should be dominated by one ethnic group or one religious group. Nigeria belongs to everyone of us.

 

“We must not establish cultural hegemony or a religious hegemony in a constitutional secular state like Nigeria. If we allow it, I can assure you that it is a recipe for disaster.”

 

Akubeze stressed the need for justice and peace which, he noted, are necessary for a sustainable nation.

 

He added: “Development does not take place during crisis. People do not build their economy during crisis. What leads to crisis in every part of the world is injustice. Injustice is the fertile ground for breeding violence, for creating war, for promoting generational prejudice; it is the ground for destruction.

“If anyone desires peace, the person must work for justice. Justice requires us to give everyone their due. From sharing of resources to caring for the human person. Where there is no fair share of wealth, there will be crisis.”

 

 

Earlier in her remarks, the chairperson, Planning Committee, Prof. Oluyemisi Eromosele, said the conference was the convergence of all bishops in Nigeria to address the state of the nation and contemporary issues affecting the Catholic Church and the country at large.

“The Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria, incorporated in 1958, has been, over the years, a veritable force for the unity, communion and solidarity of over 36 million Catholics spread across the 36 states of Nigeria and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja,” she stated.

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Xenophobia: South Africa dispatches envoys to pacify Nigeria, others

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Xenophobia: South Africa dispatches envoys to pacify Nigeria, others

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resident Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa has dispatched three special envoys to seven African countries to deliver messages of pan-African unity and solidarity following xenophobic attacks in South Africa.

 

 

The special envoys are expected to visit Nigeria, Niger, Ghana, Senegal, Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Zambia.

 

But the peace move is coming just as a former Minister of External Affairs, Prof. Bolaji Akinyemi urged Nigeria to take legal action against South Africa at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the Hague, Netherland.

 

Spokesperson to the South African Presidency, Khusela Diko, said the special envoys will deliver a message from Ramaphosa regarding the incidents of violence that recently erupted in some parts of South Africa, which have manifested in attacks on foreign nationals and destruction of their property.

 

 

According to Diko, the envoys will reassure fellow African countries that South Africa is committed to the ideals of pan-African unity and solidarity. They will also reaffirm South Africa’s commitment to the rule of law.

 

The special envoys will brief governments in the identified African countries about the steps that the South African government is taking to bring a stop to the attacks and to hold the perpetrators to account.

 

New Telegraph could not confirm if the special envoys dispatched to Nigeria had arrived or when he would arrive as officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Abuja were not available for comments on the issue.

 

Meanwhile, Prof. Akinyemi has urged the Federal Government to take legal action against South Africa at the International Court of Justice in the Hague, Netherland.

 

In a statement issued yesterday by the elder statesman, Akinyemi said that during the recent violence, the South Africa government failed to protect Nigerians and other nationals in that country.

 

Akinyemi said Nigeria should file complaints against specific South African officials for aiding and abetting the xenophobic attacks.

 

 

The former minister said the xenophobic attacks on Nigerians and other foreign nationals were condoned by the South African state which, according to him, violated the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and other international laws.

 

 

President Muhammadu Buhari had, in the wake of the xenophobic attacks, ordered the immediate evacuation of Nigerians willing to leave the country.

 

 

The former minister cited statement credited to the South African Minister of International Relations, Dr. Grace Naledi Mandisa Pandor, that Nigerians were drug dealers; the statement credited to Deputy Police Minister, Bongani Mkongi, that they fought for their land and that, that land would not be surrendered to immigrants; the statement credited to the South African Defence Minister, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, that South Africa is an angry nation and that the country could not prevent the xenophobic attacks; and various statements credited to South African diplomats blaming the immigrants.

 

 

Akinyemi noted that the anti-immigrant acts by the South African Immigration service officials which for all practical purposes amount to holding Nigerian immigrants hostage by refusing to allow them to be evacuated.

 

 

“I have come to the conclusion that the xenophobic attacks on Nigerians and other immigrants are acts sponsored or condoned by the South African state in violation of Article 2, paragraph 2 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights; Article 2, paragraph 1 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; United Nations Convention on the elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination; and the International Convention on the Protection of Migrant Workers.

 

 

“I, therefore, call on Nigeria to sue South Africa before the International Court of Justice for failure in its duty of care and protection of Nigerian citizens’ resident there.

 

 

“I furthermore call on Nigeria to file complaints against specific South African officials at the International Criminal Court for aiding and abetting the xenophobic attacks,” Akinyemi said.

 

 

South Africa was hit by a spate of violence in the past few weeks. At least 12 people, including 10 South Africans and two foreigners, have been killed. The country is host to some 274,000 refugees and asylum-seekers from African countries, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

Xenophobic attacks are common in South Africa, where foreigners are blamed for taking up employment that should have been taken by locals.

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Ondo: Drunken policeman stabs nine in club

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Ondo: Drunken policeman stabs nine in club

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ine persons sustained various degrees of injury when a suspected drunken policeman allegedly stabbed them in a club in Akure, Ondo State.

 

The policeman, Sergeant Taiwo Orisadare, attached to Area Commander’s office, allegedly stabbed nine young men during a brawl.

 

It was learnt that a fight broke out between Orisadare and the young men at a popular club at Alagbaka area.

 

Witnesses said the policeman was drunk when he started harassing the victims who had come to relax at the club.

 

One of the witnesses said trouble began when the policeman, who was obviously drunk, started pestering one of the boys.

 

“It was so clear that he (Orisadare) was drunk and was becoming a nuisance. He won’t just listen to those trying to tell him to take things easy. It was at that point that things went awry as he started attacking everyone he could lay his hands on.

“In total, he stabbed nine people before he was overpowered,” the witness said.

 

 

Meanwhile, some of the victims were recuperating in various hospitals while some were said to be in critical conditions.

The state Police Public Relations Officers (PPRO), Femi Joseph, said both parties were engaged in a brawl.

 

 

He said: “They were both fighting. The policeman did not stab anyone to death. Do you even know the condition of the policeman now?”

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Ikpeazu to establish new ministry to tackle insecurity

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Ikpeazu to establish new ministry to tackle insecurity

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overnor Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State has said his administration would establish Ministry of Homeland Security with a view to tackling a series of insecurity challenges bedeviling the state.

 

This is even as he tasked leaders across the globe to work towards finding a common ground for collaboration against the global threat of terrorism.

 

A release by Ikpeazu’s Chief Press Secretary, Onyebuchi Ememanka explained that the Abia governor at the end of the ECOWAS summit on terrorism at Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, stated that there was the need for the state government to tie up loose ends in terms of securing citizens’ lives.

 

Ikpeazu announced that the establishment of a Ministry of Homeland Security as a fallout of the decision of governors of the South-East region at their meeting some weeks ago in Enugu to set up state-based outfits that would strengthen internal security.

 

He, however, assured residents that a substantive commissioner would be appointed to take charge of the new Ministry should the State Legislature approve the list of nominees sent to them, stressing that his administration would leave no stone unturned in ensuring that every inch of the Abia territory was well policed.

 

The new Ministry, according to the governor would focus on mainstreaming activities of Fulani herdsmen and other violent crimes with a view to safeguarding residents and the environment.

 

“Abia must be interested in what happens in terms of security in states around her. According to him, the rise in the incidence of kidnapping in the state some years ago was a spillover effect of the activities of militants in the neighboring states of the Niger Delta,” the governor said.

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Khafi evicted from BBNaija Season Four

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Khafi evicted from BBNaija Season Four

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hafi Kareem has been evicted from the ongoing Big Brother Naija season four.

 

The UK Metro police officer was evicted during the live show yesterday.

 

Khafi, who was put up in a strong competition with Tacha, Mike and Seyi, got on stage in her usual, bubbly demeanour.

 

When the nomination reel was played for her, she told host Ebuka Obi-Uchendu that she was surprised Ike nominated her seeing as they both bonded in the house.

 

 

NAN reports that Ike, on Thursday had revealed that he planted a condom by Khafi and her love interest, Gedoni to imply that they had sex.

 

While both Khafi and Gedoni had denied that they had sex, they also insisted that their romantic feelings for each other were real.

In the post eviction interview, Khafi said that she bonded with Gedoni in the first week because they were both up for eviction.

 

She told Ebuka that she believes he loves her as much she loves him, adding that she was a forlorn lover when he was evicted.

 

She announced that she would be moving to Lagos from London and plans to go into acting and presenting.

 

During her stint in the house, Khafi was Head of House, won N1 million and a car.

 

Ebuka announced that there will be no eviction next week, although the veto power of chance task will still hold.

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I make N100,000 weekly selling hard drugs –Peddler

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I make N100,000 weekly selling hard drugs –Peddler

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suspect, Tunde Babalola, has told officials of the Lagos State Task Force on Environment and Special Offences Unit that drug peddling was a very “lucrative” business.

 

Babalola was one of the 43 suspected drug peddlers and street traders arrested at the weekend by the task force at the famous Afrika Shrine, Alausa, and other areas within Ikeja Central Business District.

 

The suspect said he had been selling hard drugs for eight years, particularly around Afrika Shrine at Ikeja.

 

Babalola said he realised an average profit of between N60,000 and N100,000 weekly from customers around Obalende, Akala, Mushin, Bariga and Ikeja.

 

But nemesis caught up with him when he was arrested.

 

 

The task force Chairman, CSP Olayinka Egbeyemi, said the enforcement operations became imperative following complaints from members of the public about the criminal activities of miscreants and environmental nuisance of illegal street traders around the shrine.

 

Egbeyemi disclosed that 28 miscreants dealing on drugs and 15 illegal street traders were arrested at various locations around Alausa.

 

 

According to him, the raid was also initiated due to the nefarious acts within the vicinity of the Afrika Shrine which presented a negative image to tourists and Lagosians as a whole.

 

He said: “The night enforcement operation was carried out on all roads around Afrika Shrine where sales of hard drugs like tramadol, codeine, skunk, weeds, illegally mixed liquor, assorted food and all sorts of consumable and non-consumable items are freely sold on the streets in defiance of security agencies and government authority.”

 

Egbeyemi disclosed that the enforcement operations would be a continuous exercise in line with the vision of the present administration to rid the entire state of street urchins and criminals.

 

He added: “The Lagos State government has vowed to sustain the security onslaught on all areas identified as criminal hideouts and hard drug outlets across the state, especially within the metropolis.” Egbeyemi said.

 

Another suspect, Mrs. Abike Adeyemi, claimed that she paid N1,900 every week to a representative of Ikeja Local Government from the sales of ‘Skuchies’ and ‘hot drinks’ around the Afrika Shrine.

 

The task force chairman said the state Commissioner of Police, Zubairu Muazu, had directed that all those arrested be immediately prosecuted.

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Access, Zenith, FBN, UBA, GTB’s assets hit N26.8trn

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Access, Zenith, FBN, UBA, GTB’s assets hit N26.8trn

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espite the tough economy, the nation’s Tier 1 banks – Access Bank, Zenith Bank, FBN Holdings, UBA and Guaranty Trust Bank – generally succeeded in growing their assets in the first six months of this year, findings by New Telegraph show.

 

According to the audited Half Year 2019 (HI’19) results released by the big five lenders, their total balance sheet size rose by 12.6 per cent to N26.8 trillion at the end of June this year, from N23.8 trillion in the corresponding period of 2018.

 

New Telegraph’s analysis of the results show that in the wake of its merger with Diamond Bank in April this year, Access Bank is now the largest lender in the country in terms of assets, with total assets of  N6.49 trillion at the end of H1’19, which was a 48.43 per cent increase over the N4.37 trillion the bank reported for the same period of last year.

Zenith Bank followed with total assets of N5.90 trillion in the first half of this year, compared with the N5.96 trillion the lender posted in the corresponding period of 2018.

 

It was closely followed by FBN Holdings which grew its total assets by 7.5 per cent to N5.7 trillion in the first six months of this year from N5.3 trillion in the same period of 2018.

 

The United Bank for Africa (UBA) also grew its total assets in the period under review to N5.10 trillion from N4.87 trillion in the previous year.

 

Similarly, Guaranty Trust Bank’s total assets rose by 9.45 per cent to N3.60 trillion in the first half of this year from N3.29 trillion in the same period of 2018.

 

Although, the Tier 1 banks (apart from Access Bank’s significant growth) mostly reported a marginally rise in their total assets for the first half of this year, financial experts believe that given developments in the foreign exchange market, the big lenders, which already control over 65 per cent of the industry’s total assets, are set to extend their dominance over their Tier 2 counterparts.

 

For instance, following the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) establishment of the Investors and Exporters’ (I&E) foreign exchange window in April 2017, which eased a crippling dollar shortage, Bloomberg reported that it was mainly the Tier 1 banks that took advantage of the development to try to raise dollar loans, while smaller lenders by contrast, did not seem confident enough to take the risk. It predicted a widening of the gap between Tier 1 and Tier 2 lenders in terms of profitability and balance-sheet size.

 

Also, in a note issued at the time, Exotix Partners LLP analysts Jumai Mohammed and Ronak Gadhia, stated: “We view the Tier 2 banks as potentially challenged,” adding that the lenders seem unable “to weather asset-quality deterioration storms.”

 

Indeed, in its 2017 Banking Report, Afrinvest West Africa Limited predicted that the gap between Tier 1 and Tier 2 banks in terms of market share would widen due to naira depreciation, which impacted banks’ Capital Adequacy Ratio (CAR).

 

The Chief Executive Officer of Afrinvest West Africa, Mr. Ike Chioke, noted that although the depreciation of the naira affected all banks in 2016/2017 by making their capital-adequacy ratio appear quite compressed, Tier-1 banks benefited from the development, leading to a widening of the market share gap between Tier-1 banks and Tier-2 banks.

 

The Afrinvest boss said: “Once upon a time, Tier-1 banks accounted for about 60 per cent to 65 per cent of the market share of the banking sector. In the universe of the 14 banks surveyed in the report, we saw that the percentage has risen to about 70 per cent. The Tier-1 banks have continued to grow often at the expense of the tier-2 banks.”

 

In its economic report for July 2019 released a few days ago, the CBN stated that: “Total assets and liabilities of the banks amounted to N39,623.4 billion at end-June 2019, showing a 0.2 per cent increase, compared with the level at the end of the preceding month.

 

 

“Funds were sourced, mainly, from foreign liabilities, mobilisation of time, savings and foreign currency deposits and reduction in claims on Central Bank. The funds were used mainly, to acquire foreign assets, shore up capital accounts and pay off demand deposits,” the apex bank added.

CBN added that: “Total specified liquid assets of banks stood at N13,880.1 billion at end-June 2019, representing 59.7 per cent of their total current liabilities. At that level, the liquidity ratio was 1.5 percentage point below the level at the end of the preceding month, but was 29.7 percentage points above the stipulated minimum liquidity ratio of 30.0 per cent.

“The loans-to-deposit ratio, at 57.64 per cent, was 0.3 percentage point higher, compared with the level at the end of the preceding month and was lower than the maximum ratio of 80.0 per cent by 22.4 percentage points.”

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Brace up for flood, experts tell Kogi people

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Brace up for flood, experts tell Kogi people

A

head of an impending flood disaster in parts of the country, stakeholders in emergency management yesterday called on Kogi State government to begin preparation towards mitigating victim’s suffering should the disaster hit the state.

 

 

The stakeholders in a communiqué issued in Lokoja after their meeting, urged the state government to immediately begin the renovation and cleaning of all internally displaced persons (IDPs) camps in the state in readiness for the impending flood, most particularly in all the affected local governments.

 

 

According to the stakeholders in the communiqué, schools should be provided as camps where necessary with health facilities, welfare package for the camps.

 

 

The communiqué was issued at the end of a one-day meeting convened by the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) to appraise the level of preparedness and early response strategies put in place to confront the disaster by the stakeholders.

 

“Children in camps should be provided with training facilities,” they said in the communiqué signed on their behalf by Mr. Enemali Abdul, of the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) and Mr. Ginikanwa Nwosu, of NEMA.

 

Stakeholders that participated in the meeting include officials from SEMA, NEMA, Ministry of Environment, Navy, Civil Defence, Red Cross, Fire Service Department and NIMET, among others.

 

The emergency experts also called for the provision of big stores to accommodate relief materials such as food, drugs and non-food items.

 

According to the communiqué, emergency tenders should be on standby while mobilisation of funds from government and non-governmental organisations should commence without further delay.

 

“Adequate sensitisation and enlightenment of communities prone to flood should be encouraged to reduce human and material loss,” it stated.

 

 

Mr Bitrus Samuel, Head, Abuja Operation Office of NEMA, while addressing participants, said the rising trend of the level of water in River Niger and prolonged heavy rainfall this year had made flooding inevitable.

 

Bitrus, who was represented by Mr. Shola Babatunde, Assistant Head, NEMA, Abuja Operation Office, explained that all hands must be on deck to confront the challenge.

 

 

He called on stakeholders to come up with a well-articulated programme to educate and sensitise members of the public, saying this would help in reducing the impact of the disaster.

 

Executive Secretary of the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA), Mr Julius Mejiyan, in his address said members of staff of the agency were on ground and ready to be deployed.

               

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