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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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Buhari removes Oyo-ita, names new HoS

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Buhari removes Oyo-ita, names new HoS

President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the appointment of Dr. Mrs. Folashade Yemi-Esan as the Acting Head of the Civil Service of the Federation with immediate effect.
In a statement signed by Mr. Willie Bassey, Director Information, Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mrs. Winifred Ekanem Oyo-Ita has been directed to proceed on an indefinite leave to allow conclusion of the investigation being carried out by EFCC.
Yemi-Esan, until her appointment was the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Petroleum Resources.
The President has also approved the extension of the tenure of seven retiring Permanent Secretaries for one year with effect from October 1, 2019.
The statement said the Permanent Secretaries were given an extension to ensure stability in the Federal Civil Service and effective delivery on the nine priority areas of the administration as well as the mandates given to the new Ministers.
The affected Permanent Secretaries are Mrs Georgina Ehuriah, Ministry of Interior; Mrs Ifeoma I. Anagbogu, Federal Ministry of Women Affairs; Mrs Grace Gekpe, Federal Ministry of Information and Culture; and Dr Umar M. Bello, Federal Ministry of Agriculture Rural Development.
Others are Suleiman Mustapha Lawal, Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Mrs. Comfort C. Ekaro – Federal Ministry of Water Resources; and Mr Olusegun A. Adekunle, General Services Office (Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation).
“The action of Mr. President is in exercise of the powers conferred under Section 171 (2) d of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended,” the statement said.

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Saudi oil attacks an ‘act of war’, says US Secretary of State

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Saudi oil attacks an ‘act of war’, says US Secretary of State

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday described raids on key Saudi oil installations as an “act of war” and reiterated that it was an “Iranian attack”, an allegation Tehran denies.
Pompeo, who made the comments to reporters on his plane before landing in Saudi Arabia’s Jeddah, is due to meet Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) and other officials, as the allies discuss their responses to Saturday’s attacks on the world’s biggest crude processing facility that initially knocked out half of the Saudi production.
Iran has repeatedly denied it was behind the strikes.
Yemen’s Houthi rebels, who have been locked in a war with a Saudi-UAE-led coalition since 2015, claimed responsibility for the attacks, warning Saudi Arabia that their targets “will keep expanding”.
But Saudi and US officials have said that evidence shows Iranian involvement.
Just before Pompeo’s comments, Saudi military officials held a news conference and showed debris from the alleged weapons used during the attacks, saying there was “undeniable” evidence of Iranian aggression.
A defence ministry spokesman said there was no way the strikes could have been launched from Yemen.
“The attack was launched from the north and unquestionably sponsored by Iran,” Saudi Colonel Turki al-Malki said. “We are working to know the exact launch point.”
Al-Malki did not directly blame Iran for the attack when asked by journalists. He said once “the culprits” were identified they would “be held accountable”.
Trump and Saudi officials have stressed the need for caution in their response to the attacks. Trump has said he does not want war and is coordinating with Gulf and European states.
Earlier on Wednesday, Trump said he ordered a major increase in sanctions on Iran, but gave no details.
It is not clear what Pompeo’s comments on Wednesday meant for the US response to the attacks.
US media, citing unnamed US officials, reported on Tuesday that evidence showed Saturday’s attacks originated in southwestern Iran.
Three officials said they involved cruise missiles and drones, indicating a higher degree of complexity and sophistication than initially thought. The US has not made its evidence public
The officials also did not provide evidence or explain what US intelligence they were using for evaluating the attack, which cut five percent of global production.
The new violence has led to fears that further action on any side could rapidly escalate a confrontation that has been raging just below the surface in the wider region in recent months, reports al-Jazeera.
Last month, Trump called off a military attack on Iran at the last minute after Tehran downed an unmanned US military drone. Iran maintains the drone was in Iranian airspace. The US says it was in international territory.
Those tensions have been boiling since Trump pulled the US out of Iran’s 2015 agreement with world powers that curtailed Iranian nuclear activities, and reimposed sanctions that sent Iran’s economy into freefall.

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‘Obasanjo expends over N1bn to resolve Ogun communal crisis’

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‘Obasanjo expends over N1bn to resolve Ogun communal crisis’

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo may have expended over N1billion to ensure a peaceful resolution of the age-long crisis in Itele community in Ado-Odo/Ota Local Government Area of Ogun State.
This revelation came as traditional chiefs and leaders of the warring town came on a thank you visit to the ex-president at the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library (OOPL), Abeokuta on Tuesday.
At the peace meeting were six newly installed Baales (traditional heads) of the community, including Chief Monsuru Balogun (Ilekemo), Chief Rasheed Ajasa (Ipotobo), Chief Owotolu Kazeem (Ijana), Chief Fatai Akapo (Isunba), Chief Adelaja Fasina (Iliwo) and Chief Lateef Rufai (Olugbode).
Obasanjo, who was represented by his brother, Chief Idowu Akanle, commended leaders of the community for their efforts to end the crisis, which had resulted in wanton loss of lives and property.
Akanle told the gathering that the resolution of the communal crisis, including litigation expenses and logistics, among others, cost the former president over N1billion.
According to him, the conflict has adversely affected the socio-economic development of Itele over the years.
He said: “My elder brother (Obasanjo) spent over N1billion on this crisis. Imagine if the huge amount of money is distributed among the residents and indigenes, it would have brought greater development into the community.
“So, I urge you to continue to maintain peace. And whoever says Itele will return to crisis, his home will not know peace.”
Akanle warned that anyone, who fermented trouble after the peaceful resolution of the crisis, would be made to face the wrath of the law.
Earlier, Obasanjo, who briefly came into the meeting, told the community leaders that he was on his way out of the state for an urgent engagement.

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Akwa Ibom APC youths plan to cause violence ahead of tribunal judgment – AILM

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A foremost socio-political group, Akwa Ibom Liberation Movement (AILM) has raised alarm over what it calls “grand plot” by youths mobilised by the All Progressives Congress disrupt and cause violence at the governorship election tribunal tomorrow.

The governorship elections petitions tribunal fixed Thursday 19th September for judgment on the Akwa Ibom governorship election petitions.

AILM at a press conference in Uyo on Wednesday 18th September, claimed it got intelligence that the All Progressives Congress (APC) through its State youth leader and the security adviser to the party’s governorship candidate, have hired thugs to disrupt the sitting of the tribunal and cause violence in Uyo, the State capital thereafter.

Addressing journalists, Acting Secretary of the group, Solomon Abasiekong Esq, said he was disappointed at the despicable plot by the APC to jeopardize the enduring peace enjoyed in the State.

“Let it be known that we are aware of the arrangement made by the APC through her State youth leader and the S.A. on Security to the party’s governorship candidate, Obong Nsima Ekere, to cause violence in Uyo and other parts of the State tomorrow”.

“To say the least, we are disappointed by the grand plot drafted by the APC ahead of Thursday’s judgment by the governorship election petitions tribunal. We had thought the APC should allow Akwa Ibom people to forget the earlier exposed wholesale negotiation to import arms into the State during the election by her governorship candidate”.

“As a peace-loving group, we will not keep quiet and watch the APC carry out reprehensible violent attacks on innocent citizens of the State and upset the peace enjoyed in the State under the current administration led by Govenor Udom Emmanuel”.

AILM called on security agencies to raise up and provide maximum security tomorrow, throughout the State.

The group also called on youths in the State to resist all forms of pressure and inducements by leaders of the APC and their proxies to use them to forment trouble and break the law.

The group appealed to the youths to challenge anyone who incites them to cause violence in the State to bring their children out to led the pack.

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Liberia school fire kills at least 30 children

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Liberia school fire kills at least 30 children

At least 30 children in Liberia were killed in a fire at their school, police said on Wednesday.

“The kids were learning the Koran when the fire broke out,” police spokesman Moses Carter said. “The cause is not known yet.”

The fire started late on Tuesday in the suburbs of the capital Monrovia, President George Weah said in a tweet, reports Reuters.

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US warns citizens over Saudi travel

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US warns citizens over Saudi travel

The U.S. State Department called on American citizens to “exercise increased caution” while traveling to Saudi Arabia, a travel advisory posted on its website said on Wednesday.

U.S. Mission personnel and their families are not permitted to use the airport in Abha without Chief of Mission approval, the note added.

Abha airport has been frequently attacked by drones and missiles launched from Yemen, where a Saudi-led coalition has been battling the Houthi group, reports Reuters.

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US warns citizens over Saudi travel

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US warns citizens over Saudi travel

The U.S. State Department called on American citizens to “exercise increased caution” while traveling to Saudi Arabia, a travel advisory posted on its website said on Wednesday.

U.S. Mission personnel and their families are not permitted to use the airport in Abha without Chief of Mission approval, the note added.

Abha airport has been frequently attacked by drones and missiles launched from Yemen, where a Saudi-led coalition has been battling the Houthi group, reports Reuters.

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BREAKING NEWS

Wrestling: Nigeria’s Adekuoroye qualifies for Tokyo 2020

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Wrestling: Nigeria’s Adekuoroye qualifies for Tokyo 2020

Nigeria’s Odunayo Adekuoroye (57kg) is through to the semi finals of the 2019 Senior World Wrestling Championships in Kazakhstan after dismantling In Sun Jong of North Korea 12-2 via technical superiority.

She has qualified for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics as a result.

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Metro and Crime

71 suspects arrested as Lagosians lament increasing cultism, robbery cases

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71 suspects arrested as Lagosians lament increasing cultism, robbery cases

Muritala Ayinla

There is growing tension and anxiety in Lagos over increasing daylight robberies and other crimes perpetrated by cultists and robbers in the metropolis.

This was even as the Lagos State Task Force said that it has arrested another 71 miscreants around railway-line in Oshodi as part of efforts to rid the state of all criminal elements, especially those operating at notorious black spots across the metropolis.

While some residents are raising concerns over increasing robberies during traffic and in some streets, other expressed worry over heavy presence of hoodlums smoking Indian hemp and using other hard drugs in their areas without anyone checking them.

Confirming the development, the Taskforce Chairman of the Agency, CSP Olayinka Egbeyemi, who led the enforcement team in Wednesday’s early morning raid, said that some of those arrested were in possession of suspected illegal substances (Indian hemp) and other dangerous drugs such as Codeine, Skunk and Tramadol.

He explained that the crackdown is in line with the determination of the Task Force to curtail the activities of hoodlums who rob unsuspecting members of the public.

Egbeyemi reiterated that all identified black spots across the state would be continuously raided and arrested suspects would be fully prosecuted if found guilty, stressing that the present administration has zero-tolerance for all forms of crimes and criminality.

“Lagos State is the most populous in Nigeria as well as its economic heartbeat. As such, the state government is committed to providing a conducive environment for both local and foreign investors,” he said.

He, however, revealed that while 13 of all the arrested 71 suspects were released after a thoroughly screening by the Chairman. The only underage male among them was transferred to the Lagos State Correctional Centre for proper rehabilitation.

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Minimum wage: Workers threaten strike without notice

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Minimum wage: Workers threaten strike without notice

O

rganised Labour under the auspices Trade Union Side (TUS) of the Joint National Public Service Negotiating Council (JNPSNC), has called on Nigerians to appeal to the Federal Government to implement the N30,000 signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari as the minimum wage with adequate consequential adjustments, to avert a strike action.

 

 

In a statement issued on yesterday in Abuja,  the TUS Acting Chairman, Comrade Anchaver Simon, said it had become imperative to alert the general public that all efforts by the Trade Unions to persuade the government to implement the new wage signed into law since April had proved abortive.

 

 

According to him, no further notification would be given to the Federal Government before millions of its members at the Federal and 36 States Public Services down tools.

 

 

Simon gave details of the breakdown in negotiation saying: “The Consequential Adjustment Committee two weeks ago agreed that the proposal of the TUS that salary of officers on grade levels 07-14 should be increased by 29 per cent and those of officers on grade levels 15-17 by 24 per cent vis-a-vis that of Government Side of 10 per cent for officers on Grade levels 07-14, 5.5 per cent for those on Grade Level 15-17 should be forwarded to President Buhari to see the patriotic position of labour and approved appropriate consequential adjustment accordingly.

 

“When the meeting reconvened on Monday  September 16, 2019 to get a feedback on the expected approval from Mr. President, the Government Officials brought a fresh proposal of 11 per cent pay rise for officers on Grade Levels 07-14 instead of its earlier position of 10 per cent and 6.5 per cent for those on grade levels 15-17 instead of the former 5.5 per cent.”

 

According to him, it had become clear to the union that the Government Side was not serious about paying millions of workers a new National Minimum Wage and adequate consequential adjustment, but preferred taking the Trade Unions for a ride.

 

While stressing that as a responsible Trade Union, the TUS had given the government enough time to come to terms with workers demand, he said it appeared that the only language necessary for government to act was a strike action. He  disclosed that initially, it recommended 66.6 per cent across board, so as to maintain existing relativity in emoluments of Public Servants, but the Government Side argued that the Wage Bill would be too high.

 

 

“Consequently, the TUS scaled its demand downward by suggesting that officers on grade levels 07-14 should receive 30 per cent pay rise while those on grade levels 15-17 should get 25 per cent, the Government Side proposed 9.5 per cent for grade levels 07-14 and 5 per cent for grade levels 15-17.

 

“Both parties agreed thereafter to forward the two positions to the plenary session of the enlarged Consequential Adjustment Committee for consideration.”

 

Explaining further, the union leader said to their surprise, when the Committee reconvened on 27th June, 2019, the Government Side introduced a strange clause and argued that the Term of Reference of the Panel was to apply the subhead of emoluments contained in the 2019 Budget across board to pay the minimum wage which the TUS objected to.

 

 

“It is difficult to understand why the political appointees who cart millions of naira away every month are determined that Nigerian workers must not get N30,000 monthly minimum wage with fair consequential adjustment.

“As we write, Nigeria is rated the poorest country in the whole world and yet, government is refusing to implement a minimum wage for Nigerian workers to lift millions of citizens out of poverty,” the Union regretted.

 

 

The TUS called on eminent citizens, royal fathers, religious leaders, and civil society groups to plead with the Federal Government to implement the new National Minimum Wage with adequate consequential adjustments to avoid the looming industrial crisis.

 

 

Meanwhile, the union says the  Trade Union Congress of Nigerian (TUC) and the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) had been briefed on the breakdown of negotiation in respect of consequential adjustment arising from the new N30,000 monthly National Minimum Wage.

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