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Kidnapping, piracy threaten operations at Calabar, Warri, PH, Onitsha ports –FG

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Kidnapping, piracy threaten operations at Calabar, Warri, PH, Onitsha ports –FG
  • Reps summon DSS, Customs, NNPC, CBN

The Federal Government has identified criminal activities including kidnapping, sea piracy, and armed robbery as some of the factors militating against the smooth and optimal operations of eastern ports in the country.

Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Transportation, Alhaji Sabiu Zakari, disclosed this yesterday in Abuja at the public hearing organised by the House of Representatives’ ad hoc committee to determine why the Warri, Port Harcourt, Calabar, Onne, and Onitsha inland port complexes are not being put to maximum use.

Meanwhile, the ad hoc committee headed by Hon. Yusuf Buba Yakub (APC, Adamawa) has summoned the director general of Department of State Services (DSS), Alhaji Yusuf Bichi; the comptroller general of Nigerian Customs Service (NCS), Col. Hameed Ali (rtd); the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele and group managing director of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Engr. Mele Kyari, to appear before it next Monday.

Testifying before the committee yesterday, the permanent secretary lamented that kidnapping, armed robbery and sea piracy were forcing operators to stay away from these ports.

He said this was coupled with multiple taxes imposed even by states and local governments.

“Piracy, kidnapping and armed robbery are responsible for the non-utilisation of the ports,” he stated.

According to Zakari, “Lack of synergy and cooperation among government agencies operating at the ports is also affecting the smooth running of these ports. NIMASA, NPA, the Navy and freight forwarders are not working together.

“There is no cooperation and we are one government and I don’t see why there should be conflict among these agencies. We need legislative support and backing of the National Assembly.”

Collaborating the submission of the ministry, the Chief of Naval Staff (CNS), Admiral Ibok Ekwe Ibas, agreed insecurity was a major factor militating against the ports, but added that the Navy was working round the clock to arrest all criminal activities.

Represented by the Director of Training, Rear Admiral Abraham Adaji, the CNS also lamented that the channels of the eastern ports were narrow and unmarked, 

“Our channels are very narrow and largely unmarked. The surface of the underwater is very small,” he stated.

He said the problem of poor infrastructure and evacuation of good was also responsible for the optimal performance of the ports, adding that the roads liking the ports were in deplorable shape.

Similarly, the managing director of NPA, Hadiza Bala-Usman, also agreed that insecurity and poor infrastructure was being responsible for the problem. Represented by Prof. Idris Abubakar, the NPA boss said she has drawn the attention of the Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing to deplorable state of the roads linking the ports.

Similarly, the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) noted that the issue of insecurity was seriously weighing in on the operations of the concerned ports.

Represented by Capt. Sunday Umoren, the Director General of NIMASA, Hon. Dakuku Peterside, also noted that there was absolute need for all the agencies to work together in the interest of the nation.

Earlier, while declaring the hearing open, Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila, said that both the Apapa and TinCan Island Ports Complexes in Lagos were “overwhelmed and attained breaking points.”

He charged the ad hoc committee to ‘redeliver’ a policy framework and make substantive proposals for legislative and executive action to drive the increased utilisation at these ports for the socio-economic benefit of Nigerians.

Gbajabiamila, who was represented by the Deputy House Leader, Hon. Peter Akpatason, lamented that the Nigerian maritime sector regrettably remains one of the great untapped economic reserves.

He stressed that “operating and maintaining efficient and functional ports in the country will help to develop the economic potential of the communities where these ports are located and even farther afield.”

In his welcome address, chairman of the ad hoc committee, Yakub, said the committee is out to determine why some of the ports have been operating below capacity.

He said the committee was also interested in unravelling why the port situation has remained unpleasant despite the many efforts of government over the years at making the Nigerian ports virile.

Such efforts, he noted, were by way of building more port complexes, granting more concessions, including encouraging active involvement of the private sector in some aspects of operations in the maritime sector.

“What this means is that about five inland port complexes in Warri, Calabar, Onitsha, Port Harcourt and Onne have all failed to provide alternative or even consummate services to aid decongestion of two Lagos Ports Complexes,” he regretted.

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Gunmen kidnap PDP chieftain on way to zonal meeting in Benue

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  • Abductors demand N50m

 

 

Gunmen, suspected to be kidnappers, on Monday abducted a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Mr. Ben Akile on Zaki – Biam Katsina-Ala road in Benue State.
New Telegraph learnt that Akile was reported to be on his way from Zaki Biam for the PDP zonal meeting with the Senator representing Benue North East, Senator Gabriel Suswam in Katsina-Ala.
The meeting organised by Suswam was to explore ways of ending the growing insecurity situation in the zone.
A witness, Paul Unande told New Telegraph that “the victim alongside some PDP supporters were travelling to the area in a vehicle belonging to the state PDP Legal Adviser, Barr. Clement Mue when gunmen laid siege on them.
Unande said they shot at them from the bush robbed them of cash and other valuables before taking Ben Akile to an unknown destination.
The Police Public Relations’ Officer, DSP Catherine Anene said she was yet to get details of the attack.

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Osinbajo’s travails: Yoruba gradually being turned to slaves, Akintoye

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Osinbajo’s travails: Yoruba gradually being turned to slaves, Akintoye

The Yoruba leader, Prof. Banji Akintoye has fingered a group of cabals in the Presidency, who are bent on turning Yoruba to slaves in Nigeria, as those behind the current travails of Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo.
Akintoye, who observed this on Monday at the House of Chiefs, Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, venue of the event marking the 126th anniversary of the Kiriji War (the civil war that engulfed Yoruba land from 1877 to 1893), said the smoke from the fire on Osinbajo was visible to all discerning Yoruba sons and daughters.
The Yoruba leader, who was fielding questions from journalists after a special public lecture he delivered on “Yoruba: Today, Yesterday and Tomorrow,” said: “There can not be a smoke without fire, although we don’t know where the fire is, but we can see the smoke all around.
“Yoruba are in a terrible situation in Nigeria because all the travails Osinbajo is going through shows that we Yoruba are now like slaves in this country, so we need to dig ourselves out of it.
“We have been hearing a lot of negative things about the Vice President in the presidency, but the important thing is for us to find out exactly what is happening. All we are hearing is just like a smoke, but we don’t know where the fire came from so whatever that might be happening to him now demonstrated that whoever that is not part of the people who control the Federal Government of  Nigeria, is only allowed in the Federal Government on surveillance. So, the person can be kicked out whenever they like.
“There are people among those controlling the Federal Government of Nigeria who have a lot of heavy questions to answer but they are protected by the power’s that be.”
While the event was chaired by renowned historian, Prof. Bolanle Awe, also in attendance were the General Secretary of the committee, Prof. Anthony Kila; Chief Lekan Alabi and Chief Segun Odegbami, among others.

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Subversive elements have created accounts in our name – DSS

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Subversive elements have created accounts in our name – DSS

The Department of State Services (DSS) has raised the alarm of fake Twitter handles created by “subversive elements”, with the intent to spread falsehood in the polity.
Consequently, the DSS has disowned DSS 255 and DSS_NG_, which it noted were currently in circulation, insisting that it does not operate any Twitter handle.
The secret service has, therefore,  warned unsuspecting members of the public against falling prey to what it considered as an act of desperation by the suspected fraudsters, to deceive them.
In a statement on Monday by its Public Relations Officer, Dr. Peter Afunanya, the DSS disclosed that detailed investigations had begun to track and bring the perpetrators to deserved justice
“This is to inform the public and particularly, social media users that the Department of State Services (DSS) does not own, use or operate any official twitter handles.
“The Service, therefore, disowns the ones, notably DSS 255 and DSS_NG_, currently in circulation. These twitter handles which also bear the Service’s symbols are not only fake but designed by their creators to deceive, misinform and defraud unsuspecting persons.
“It is also believed that such handles were desperately created by subversive elements to spread fake news and falsehood. The public is hereby warned to disregard them and any message(s) they may contain.
“However, a detailed investigation has already commenced to ensure that the suspect(s) is/are apprehended and prosecuted,” Afunanya said.

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Internal security: CAS tasks personnel on target selection

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Internal security: CAS tasks personnel on target selection

The Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, has emphasised the need for personnel involved in internal security operations in parts of the country, to ensure compliance with the rules and processes of target selection during their missions.
This was as he underscored the importance of strict adherence to international law on human rights and armed conflict during operations in troubled areas
The CAS gave the charge Monday at a workshop on “respect for human rights and legal aspects of air targering” which held in Abuja.
While declaring the workshop open, Abubakar,who was represented by the Chief of Administration, Air Vice Marshal Kingsley Lar, reiterated the importance of the workshop to the NAF’s operations.
“In its resolve and commitment to improve compliance with International Human Rights Law and the Law of Armed Conflict, the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) today, 23 September 2019, commenced a five-day Workshop on Human Rights and the Legal Aspects of Air Targeting at the NAF Officers’ Mess, Kado, Abuja.
“The Workshop, which is being held in conjunction with the Defence Institute of International Legal Studies (DIILS), is to further upgrade participants’ knowledge on the rules and processes of target selection and prioritization as well as matching appropriate response, taking cognizance of command responsibilities and operational requirements.
“They are also expected to be further enlightened on how to more effectively apply the law against torture and gender violence” the DOPRI said.
He quoted the CAS as saying that, the training was being held pursuant to the resolutions of the 2019 Edition of the NAF Legal Officers’ Retreat, which highlighted the need to continually sensitize NAF personnel directly involved in ongoing operations, on compliance with International Human Rights Law and the Law of Armed Conflict.

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Amosun left N32.8bn unpaid gratuities – Ogun govt

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Amosun left N32.8bn unpaid gratuities – Ogun govt

The Governor Dapo Abiodun-led administration in Ogun State, on Monday, said it inherited about N32.8billion unpaid gratuities and death benefits from the immediate past government in the state.
It stated that the debt was incurred between August 2011 and June 2019 under the state’s Transition Pension Scheme.
The Permanent Secretary, Bureau of Local Government Pensions, Mrs. Irene Kokumo, disclosed this while hosting members of the state House of Assembly’s Committee on Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs.
At the meeting, Kokumo also said the state government pays an average of N791million pensions to retired Local Government Council workers and the State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) retirees monthly.
A statement issued by the governor’s Chief Press Secretary, Kunle Somorin, indicated that though the debt piled up under the previous administration of Senator Ibikunle Amosun, the present government was ready to offset the indebtedness.
The statement quoted Mrs. Kokumo as saying that the transition pension scheme currently caters for 11,616 retirees in the pre-1991 category.
According to her, records from the Bureau of Local Government Pensions showed that the present administration has been facilitating prompt release of retirement savings account balance to retirees who had disengaged from the Contributory Pension Scheme with a view to ensuring that senior citizens enjoy better life after meritorious years of service to the councils.
Apart from the N791million being paid monthly as pensions, the bureau has also paid N4.6billion as monthly pensions between January and June, 2019.
Mrs. Kokumo stated that the Bureau has been effectively managing the benefits of Pay as you Go scheme and the Contributory Pension Scheme

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Mugabe died from cancer, president says

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Mugabe died from cancer, president says

Former Zimbabwean leader Robert Mugabe died from cancer after chemotherapy treatment was stopped because it was no longer effective, a state-owned newspaper quoted President Emmerson Mnangagwa as saying, the first time the government has given the cause of his death.

Mugabe, who led Zimbabwe to independence and crushed his foes during nearly four decades of rule that impoverished his country, died on September 6, aged 95 in Singapore.

Mnangagwa told ruling party supporters in New York where he is attending this week’s United Nations General Assembly that Mugabe had cancer, but he did not disclose the type.

Mugabe is still to be buried because the government is building a mausoleum at Zimbabwe’s national shrine reserved for liberation war fighters in the capital. His body is being kept at his Blue Roof residence in Harare.

“Treatment had stopped, doctors had stopped treatment, chemotherapy, one, because of age and also because the cancer had spread and it was not helping anymore,” Mnangagwa said in comments carried by The Herald newspaper on Monday.

In 2011, WikiLeaks released U.S. diplomatic cable that said Mugabe had prostate cancer that had spread to other organs, which government officials denied.

During his time in power, and before he was forced to resign after a coup in November 2017, Mugabe frequently travelled to Singapore to seek treatment, reports Reuters.

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Early morning fire at Unity Bank head office, Lagos

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Early morning fire at Unity Bank head office, Lagos

Unity Bank Plc on Monday said there was an early morning fire incident at its head office in Lagos.

Mr Matthew Obiazikwor, Head, Corporate Communications, said in a statement in Lagos that the incident occurred on one of the floors of the building.

“The cause of the fire incident is yet to be ascertained, but the fire service has intervened and has brought the situation under control.

“While the extent of damage is being assessed, we are happy to note that there was no casualty or loss of life as a result of the incident.

“From current observations, however, the Banking Hall and other strategic business areas were not affected.

“We are grateful to all the agencies and volunteers that supported in bringing the incident under control,’’ Obiazikwor said.

He said that further developments regarding the incident would be communicated as they unfold.

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Collapsed classroom kills seven children, injures 57 in Kenya

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Collapsed classroom kills seven children, injures 57 in Kenya

At least seven children have died after a classroom collapsed at a primary school in the Kenyan capital Nairobi, officials say.

The wooden structure at Precious Talent Top School collapsed just minutes after the start of the school day on Monday.

Dozens of people were injured and have been taken to hospital in the city. Emergency services are at the scene.

Rescuers have reportedly had difficulty getting to the school because of large crowds that have gathered nearby.

“So far we can confirm that we have seven fatalities and 57 others are in hospital,” a government spokesman told reporters outside the school in Dagoretti.

The school’s director, Moses Ndirangu, has blamed the collapse on the construction of a nearby sewer pipe which he says may have weakened the foundations of the building.

The incident happened shortly before 07:00 local time (04:00 GMT) and dozens of children were quickly rushed away from the scene.

The Kenya Red Cross has transferred some children to the Kenyatta National Hospital.

Angry locals have complained about the slow emergency response, the BBC’s Ferdinand Omondi reports from Nairobi.

Images on social media show hundreds of residents gathered around the site as rescuers search through the rubble.

Books, desks and chairs can be seen amongst the debris.

Local television showed pictures red cross workers sifting through the wreckage at Precious Talent school, and carrying white bodybags into an ambulance. 

The government has opened an investigation into the cause of the accident, reports the BBC.

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Election: Canada’s Trudeau vows to cut cellphone bills

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Election: Canada’s Trudeau vows to cut cellphone bills

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised on Sunday to reduce cellphone bills by 25% if his Liberals are re-elected next month and warned major providers he could force them to take action.

Affordability is a key issue ahead of the October 21 election and Trudeau said Canadians paid among the highest wireless bills in the Group of Seven industrialized nations.

“Canadians shouldn’t have to choose between having a cellphone and heating their homes,” he told a news conference in the Ontario city of Brampton, saying the average Canadian family of four would save up to C$976 ($735) annually after four years.

Opinion polls show the Liberals face a tough battle against the opposition Conservatives, especially after the emergence of images last week showing Trudeau in blackface.

The main wireless providers – BCE Inc’s Bell unit, Rogers Communications Inc and Telus Corp – account for around 90% of the market and complaints about high prices are commonplace.

The Liberals said they would work with the firms to ensure they offered plans comparable with global prices. They also promised to allow more Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNO) to enter the market.

MVNOs lease wireless capacity at wholesale prices and resell it at reduced retail prices.

That idea alarms the telecommunications firms, which say the MVNOs are not required to make any of the major investments needed to ensure cellphone service in what is a huge, thinly populated country.

Reuters reported in August that the Liberals would move to cut cellphone bills and make it easier for MVNOs to operate.

The big companies say some wireless rates decreased 35% from 2016 to 2018 and note they all introduced unlimited plans this year.

The Liberals said that if they did not see prices coming down in two years’ time, they would consider lowering the entry and investment threshold for MVNOs.

They also said they could strengthen the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) – which regulates the industry – to allow it to make affordable pricing for consumers a core objective.

The Liberals also want to change the way the government auctions off spectrum needed for wireless services.

Access to spectrum is awarded to the highest bidders, but a re-elected Liberal government would focus on consumer choice, affordability and broad access.

The Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association industry group was not immediately available for comment, reports Reuters.

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Election: Canada’s Trudeau vows to cut cellphone bills

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Election: Canada’s Trudeau vows to cut cellphone bills

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised on Sunday to reduce cellphone bills by 25% if his Liberals are re-elected next month and warned major providers he could force them to take action.

Affordability is a key issue ahead of the October 21 election and Trudeau said Canadians paid among the highest wireless bills in the Group of Seven industrialized nations.

“Canadians shouldn’t have to choose between having a cellphone and heating their homes,” he told a news conference in the Ontario city of Brampton, saying the average Canadian family of four would save up to C$976 ($735) annually after four years.

Opinion polls show the Liberals face a tough battle against the opposition Conservatives, especially after the emergence of images last week showing Trudeau in blackface.

The main wireless providers – BCE Inc’s Bell unit, Rogers Communications Inc and Telus Corp – account for around 90% of the market and complaints about high prices are commonplace.

The Liberals said they would work with the firms to ensure they offered plans comparable with global prices. They also promised to allow more Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNO) to enter the market.

MVNOs lease wireless capacity at wholesale prices and resell it at reduced retail prices.

That idea alarms the telecommunications firms, which say the MVNOs are not required to make any of the major investments needed to ensure cellphone service in what is a huge, thinly populated country.

Reuters reported in August that the Liberals would move to cut cellphone bills and make it easier for MVNOs to operate.

The big companies say some wireless rates decreased 35% from 2016 to 2018 and note they all introduced unlimited plans this year.

The Liberals said that if they did not see prices coming down in two years’ time, they would consider lowering the entry and investment threshold for MVNOs.

They also said they could strengthen the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) – which regulates the industry – to allow it to make affordable pricing for consumers a core objective.

The Liberals also want to change the way the government auctions off spectrum needed for wireless services.

Access to spectrum is awarded to the highest bidders, but a re-elected Liberal government would focus on consumer choice, affordability and broad access.

The Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association industry group was not immediately available for comment, reports Reuters.

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