Israel said on Sunday an air strike against an arm of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards in Syria that it accused of planning “killer drone attacks” showed Tehran that its forces were vulnerable anywhere.
A senior Revolutionary Guards commander denied that Iranian targets had been hit late on Saturday and said its military “advisory centers have not been harmed”, the semi-official ILNA news agency reported.
The Israeli military said its aircraft struck “Iranian Quds Force operatives and Shiite militias which were preparing to advance attack plans targeting sites in Israel from within Syria over the last number of days”. The elite Quds Force is the overseas arm of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards (IRGC).
Lieutenant-Colonel Jonathan Conricus, an Israeli military spokesman, told reporters “a number of attack drones”, each armed with several kilograms of explosives, were to have been launched simultaneously at targets in northern Israel on Thursday but the plan was thwarted.
He did not disclose what measures Israel took that day. He described the “killer drones” – designed to slam into targets – as highly accurate.
Conricus said the drones, accompanied by “Iranian operatives”, had arrived at Damascus airport from Iran several weeks ago and were taken to a Quds-controlled compound in a village southeast of the city.
Israel carried out Saturday’s attack, Conricus said, after learning that another attempt to launch drones was imminent.
Writing on Twitter after Saturday’s Israeli strike, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said: “Iran has no immunity anywhere. Our forces operate in every sector against the Iranian aggression. If someone rises up to kill you, kill him first.”
A war monitor said on Sunday that two members of Tehran-backed Lebanese militia Hezbollah and one Iranian were killed in the attack.
Syrian state media said Syrian air defenses intercepted “hostile targets” over Damascus, the capital, on Saturday night. Witnesses in Damascus said they heard and saw explosions in the sky.
The Syrian army said in a statement that “the majority of the Israeli missiles were destroyed before reaching their targets.”
Conricus, however, said the impact of the Israeli attack was “significant.” Israeli forces in the north, he said, were now on “elevated alert” for any retaliation.
Israel says it has carried out hundreds of strikes in Syria against Iranian targets trying to establish a permanent military presence there and against advanced weapon shipments to Hezbollah.
Iran and Hezbollah are helping President Bashar al-Assad in the eight-year-old Syria war. Russia, which is also aiding Assad, has largely turned a blind eye to the Israeli air strikes. Netanyahu spoke to Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday, the Israeli leader’s office said.
Israel made no comment on what the Lebanese army and Hezbollah said was the crash of two Israeli drones in the Hezbollah-dominated southern suburbs of Beirut early on Sunday. Hezbollah officials said one of the drones was rigged with explosives and caused some damage to the organization’s media center.
On Thursday, Netanyahu hinted at possible Israeli involvement in a series of blasts in the past few weeks that have hit weapon depots and bases belonging to paramilitary groups in Iraq, many of them backed by Iran, reports Reuters.
On Wednesday, the PMF, the umbrella grouping of Iraq’s mostly Shi’ite Muslim paramilitary groups, said the United States had allowed four Israeli drones to enter the region accompanying U.S. forces and carry out missions on Iraqi territory.
The U.S.-led coalition, in Iraq to fight remnants of the Islamic State group, dismissed the statement and the Pentagon denied it.
On the Israeli YNet news website, military affairs commentator Ron Ben-Yishai described the alleged Iranian killer drone attack plans as revenge by Tehran for the purported Israeli drone strikes in Iraq, noting that the two enemies were using similar weapons.
Dangote hails Buhari’s new economic team
President of Dangote Industries Limited, Aliko Dangote, has commended the new Economic Advisory Council (EAC) constituted by President Muhammadu Buhari to advise him on the nation’s economic growth and overall development. He described the move as a proactive one, which is capable of elevating Nigeria’s economy to greater heights.
Dangote, who spoke as the Chairman at the commissioning ceremony of the new Secretariat of the Chemical and Non-Metallic Products Employers Federation (CANMPEF) in Lagos, said: “The constitution of the Economic Advisory Council is a proactive move, by putting together tested and respected patriots, who are independent and always ready to put the country’s interest first and ahead of themselves.”
He then urged the Federal Government to take advantage of this rare opportunity to strengthen the economy and put the country on the path of growth, job creation and competitiveness, while also calling on all stakeholders to work with the Federal Government to revive and restore the economy on the path of growth. According to him, the government should continue to provide the enabling environment which it had set out to do, so that the private sector would continue to thrive as the way to go in the next level.
APC forms 39-man reconciliation committee for Adamawa
Adamawa State All Progressives Congress (APC) has named a 39-member steering committee to oversee affairs of the party in the state and reposition it for victory.
The committee headed by Abdulrahman Adamu, which also had Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha and Mohammed Bello; Minister of FCT, as co-chairmen, was to work with the APC National Working Committee (NWC).
According to a document made available to newsmen in Abuja yrsterday, a robust term of reference given to the committee was a charge to reconcile all aggrieved aspirants/candidates and other chieftains that vied for positions during the 2019 general election.
APC in Adamawa State had been in crisis, which led to the electoral victory of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state.
Also according to the document, the committee was also charged with the task of developing a programme of action to reposition and strengthen APC in the state, as well as propose modalities that ensure free and fair primaries ahead of the coming local government election and future elections in the state.
Other functions of the committee include; “To propose ways and means of raising funds for running the affairs of the party in Adamawa State.
“To develop an effective media and public enlightenment programme for repositioning the party to its winning ways in the state.
“To co-ordinate and support the various election petitions by the party at various tribunals and courts.
“To carry out any other function as may be directed by the National Work Committee of the APC.”
Other members of the committee were the immediate past governor of Adamawa State, Mohammed Umaru Jibrilla Bindow, former EFCC Chairman, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, Dahiru Bobbo and Senator Ahmed Hassan Barata, among many others.
Gumi: 2019 polls worst in Nigeria’s history
Fiery Islamic Scholar, Sheikh Ahmad Gumi, yesterday, disclosed that the last election was the worst he had witnessed in the history of the country.
According to Gumi, the process was overshadowed with massive irregularities, which had produced a government that is finding it difficult to tackle the problems of the country.
That was as he also lambasted the elite for plunging the country into its present woes characterised by kidnapping, banditry and all manner of crimes.
Gumi stated this while playing host to the President and Founder of Evangelical Bible Outreach Ministries International, Prophet Isah El-Buba, who paid him a courtesy visit in Kaduna yesterday.
The Islamic Scholar lamented that the 2019 election was the most painful, worst election conducted in the history of Nigeria which has now divided Nigerians across various interests, capitalising on the ignorance of the masses.
He said: “We are having the same vision about getting the right purposeful leadership that is focused and all embracing like a hawk which protects all his children. This is the type of leadership we need.
“Nigeria is now seriously divided along all interests. Class struggle is now the major factor that keep polarising Nigeria. Now what brought the division is abject poverty. The poor and the downtrodden are now angry. All the crimes we have now came as a result of poverty.
“The politicians are necessary evil even though a lot of them are not educated. The crop of political leaders are not educated to handle the problem we have in Nigeria today. The idea is very important and not what we see today. There is no point looking at who is doing what but the idea.
“Former President Goodluck Jonathan and President Buhari are not good for Nigeria. When we told Jonathan to do something, he was looking at us from a Muslim perspective. People are dying in the Hospital. Kidnapping is the worst thing. After attaining position, all they think is how to get contract and jet out of country.
“I will support you to move round the country because we still have good people all over the country. I’m ready to go with you. But, don’t forget to carry them along. You have to tell them. The last election was the most painful election I have seen in Nigeria. In 2015, we realised we were handicapped because Nigerians are ignorant.
I expected 2019 to be clean but, it is the worst election I have seen in Nigeria.
“You can imagine a government that is fighting corruption, saw a governor from the North stalking dollars in his pockets and kept quiet. What example is the North showing? Nigeria needs a new page- people, who will unite us. The surest way to move Nigeria forward is through free, fair and credible elections,” he said.
Earlier, Prophet Isah said he embarked on national tour to see a new Nigeria where justice shall be the basis upon which the country is governed.
Balonwu: Why we’re championing African women
Founder of African Women on Board (AWB), a non-profit group, Dr. Nkiru Balonwu, has said the only way to fast-track the trajectory of African women into leadership positions globally, is for all the stakeholders involved in the emancipation process to be fully involved.
She noted that women globally were having a moment in history with their stories and experiences being brought to the global consciousness with little or no significant impact experienced by these women.
Speaking at press conference in Lagos, to announce programmes and activities in the lead up to AWB’s global launch on September 26, Balonwu said from experience and data-backed findings, it was gathered when women are at the table and part of the decision-making process, teams are strengthened and more solution-orientated.
Balonwu, who spoke alongside a trustee of the AWB, Prof. Chioma Agomo, Gbemi Abudu and Olu Arowolo Verhejien, noted that the seeming disparity informed her group’s insistence on championing the reawakening mechanism that would advance narratives and improve realities for African women and girls globally.
Balonwu said: “Unfortunately, the unique perspectives and narratives of African women have been left out of this conversation almost entirely. AWB is saying that it is time for African women to be included in these conversations and have our say in the development and growth of this continent.
“We started in 2017 as a network of women working together to advance the economic, social and political rights of African women. We looked at solutions to getting women into senior management, C-suit and board positions.”
On her part, Agomo, who is a professor of law at the University of Lagos (UNILAG), explained that African women were being left behind, stressing that she was at the gathering to testify to the importance of the work of the AWB.
“What attracted me was the understanding from the leadership, to the programming staff, to the council and communities of allies that gender diversity is not a women’s issue, but an economic issue, which concerns us all. The creation of opportunities for women directly correlates with heightened potential for growth for everyone around them,” said Prof Agomo, whose specialty course is in gender and the law.
She pointed out that data consistently shows that investments put in the hands of women, lift up their communities.
“We do need men as allies to champion women as the natural conduits that can feed success for all. I join AWB in welcoming everyone to the conversations we are having next week at AWB@UNGA and to this larger movement to make African women’s voices mainstream,” she said.
FG, states & LGs share N720.880bn in August
The Federation Accounts Allocation Committee (FAAC) yesterday in Abuja approved for sharing to three tires of government, a total of N720.880 billion.
The amount comprised revenue from Value Added Tax (VAT), Exchange Gain and gross statutory revenue.
The gross statutory revenue for the month of August 2019 was N631.796 billion, an amount lower than the N674.365 billion received in the previous month by N42.569 billion.
Revenue from Value Added Tax (VAT) was N88.082 billion as against N94.159 billion in the previous month, indicating a decrease of N6.077 billion. Exchange gain yielded total revenue of N1.002 billion.
The Accountant General of Federation ( AGF), Idris Ahmed, who presided FAAC meeting, announced the figures.
Of the amount, the Federal Government received N301.804 billion, states received N188.925 billion, and the Local Government Councils received N142.654 billion. Oil Producing states received N43.513 billion as 13 per derivation revenue while revenue generating agencies received N43.984 billion as cost of revenue collection.
In addition, the meeting agreed to share N20 billion from Forex Equalization fund.
Of gross statutory revenue of N631.796 billion, Federal Government received N288.638 billion, states got N146.401 billion, the Local Government Councils received N112.869 billion, the Oil Producing States received N43.426 billion as 13% per cent derivation revenue and the Revenue Collecting Agencies received N40.461billion as cost of collection.
Of Value Added Tax (VAT) revenue of N88.082 billion, Federal Government got N12.684 billion, states received N42.280 billion and Local Government Councils received N29.596 billion and the Revenue Generating Agencies received N3.523 billion.
The balance in the Excess Crude Account stood at $328.122 million as at September 19, 2019.
Nigeria loses $1.35bn to crude oil theft in six months
The National Economic Council (NEC) yesterday confirmed that the country in the last six months has lost a total of 22.6 million barrels of crude oil valued at approximately $1.35 billion.
The losses are as a result of high levels of pipeline vandalism, oil theft and bunkering activities in the Niger Delta region.
Governor of Edo State, Godwin Obaseki, who chaired NEC’s adhoc Committee on Oil Theft, confirmed this when he submitted a report to the council.
Speaking to State House Correspondents after the NEC meeting presided over by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, he warned that the development portends danger for the economy if the situation was not contained in two years.
He said: “We would have lost in excess of $2.7 billion.”
Obaseki, who gave the breakdown of the losses recorded within the period said: “The Nembe creek trunk-line lost 9.2 million barrel; the Trans-Niger pipeline lost 8.6 million barrel; the Trans-Focadoes Pipeline lost 3.9 million barrel; Trans-Escravos pipe lost 877,000 barrel.”
The Edo State governor attributed the untoward development to what he said was the slow and inadequate prosecution of thieves, despite numerous arrests and seizures to encourage this menace.
He lamented that “no one is held accountable whenever there are breaches and when these losses occur.”
He said that “the absence of filling stations in most of the oil producing communities around the Niger Delta make them resort to illegal bunkering and illegal refineries.”
According to him, the huge internal and external market of stolen products exist across the west coast of Africa and also the sub-region.
He said that the “panel discovered that there were huge losses. In fact, the NNPC reported to the the committee that the 22.6 million barrels of crude oil valued at approximately $1.35 billion was lost during the first half of this year.
“And if this situation is not contained in two years, we would have lost in excess of $2.7 billion. Consequently, he said the committee therefore made several recommendations, including the need to restructure the maintenance and ownership of oil pipelines as a way of tackling the perpetrators of crude and other products, a legal framework that will ensure that criminals are duly prosecuted, imprisoned and their assets confiscated.
The governor said the panel also recommended special courts to try offenders and a special legal task force to coordinate the prosecution of arrested offenders as well as train special judges to handle cases of oil theft.
Other recommendations are that, “NNPC should be encouraged to engage with the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) to identify the markets for stolen petroleum products across the continent.
“That, the governors of the oil producing states should set up actions to develop the communities that are most prone and through which these pipelines run with their 13 per cent derivation allocation as well as implement programmes that will be impactful and make life easy for the people.
“It noted that the NDDC, which has the mandate to undertake development in the Niger Delta region should be restructured to perform its role better.”
Also speaking, the Gombe State Governor, Inuwa Yahaya, said Secretary to the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC), Dr Jumoke Oduwole, gave update on the enabling business to environment.
Yahaya said Council was briefed on the current reforms in African countries as contained in the African Development Bank Economic Outlook report released in January 2019 and in the World Bank Ease of Doing Business 2019.
Army blacklists Action Against Hunger for allegedly aiding, abetting terrorists
The Nigerian Army has declared Action Against Hunger (AAH), one of the non-governmental organisations (NGOs) operating in the North East as “persona non grata.” (unwelcome person/undesirable element).
The Theatre Command Operation LAFIYA DOLE said its action was premised on its observation of the “notorious activities” of some non-governmental organisations working in the North East.
The command accused the global humanitarian organisation of “subversive actions despite several warnings to desist from aiding and abetting terrorists and their atrocities.”
In a statement issued yesterday by the spokesperson for the Theatre Command, Col. Ado Isa, he said the declaration became imperative following several warning.
The statement reads: “The Theatre Command Operation Lafiya Dole (TC – OPLD)) has observed with utter disappointment and concern the notorious activities of some Non Governmental Organizations (NGO) working in the North East (NE) Nigeria.
“The subversive and actions of the NGO, Action Against Hunger (AAH), persisted despite several warnings to desist from aiding and abetting terrorists and their atrocities The TC – OPLD has on many occasions raised alarm over this unwholesome practices of some NGOs and expressed the same position during meetings with the NGOs operating in the NE Theater of Operation.
“Consequently, the AAH has been declared persona non grata for aiding Boko Haram Terrorists/Islamic State West Africa by supplying them food and drugs despite warnings from the TC – OPLD.
“The Command has obtained several credible intelligence indicating AAH as one of those NGOs operating in the NE that is notorious in supplying food and drugs to the criminals in the area”, Isa said.
While urging the public to continue to give credible information on the activities of suspected terrorists and their supporters in the North East to relevant authorities, the Army assured of its resolve and determination to always partner with credible NGOs and CSOs “to cushion the impact of the humanitarian crisis generated by the criminals in the NE in line with the international best standards”.
Violence: Northern govs’ wives to campaign against insecurity, almajiri
Wives of the 19 northern state governors yesterday resolved that they would step up campaign against genderbased violence targeted against women in the region. The women under the auspices of Northern Governors Wives’ Forum said this after its two-day quarterly meeting in Minna, Niger State.
The forum said insecurity in the north had led to increase in gender-based violence. While reading the communiqué, Chairperson of the forum and wife of Niger State Governor, Dr. Amina Sani Bello, said women were the highest victims of insecurity in the region. According to her, “The forum condemn in strong terms, the growing level of insecurity in the region, occasioned by the activities of armed bandits that had led to increase in violence against women in the region. She said:
“The growing insecurity in the north has further worsen the existing gender-based violence targeted at women. We are ready and willing to play our part in the security challenge by embarking on advocacy in the troubled states within the north with a view to sensitise women on how to guide themselves against any form of gender- based violence.” The forum while applauding the recent decision of northern governors forum to find a permanent solution to the Almajiri phenomenon in the region, expressed its readiness to support their husbands’ efforts in the eradication of the system.
Kogi guber: Violence not justification to rig polls, PDP tells INEC
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) yesterday told the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) not to use the allegation of violence to rig the November 16 governorship election in Kogi State.
INEC had reportedly expressed the fear that violence might affect the conduct of the election.
But PDP in a statement yesterday by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, charged the commission to ensure credible, free and fair election devoid of logistic failures capable of stoking agitations and violence in the election.
The party called on INEC to issue direct warning to Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello and the All Progressives Congress (APC) to desist from any act of violence in the election.
“Our party is already aware of the heinous plots by jittery Yahaya Bello to orchestrate violence, having realised that there is no way he can win in this election.
“Our message to the governor is that such cannot save him from a crushing defeat at the polls.
“While the PDP do not support or preach violence, it must be noted that our party is standing behind the people of Kogi State in their determination never to allow anybody to intimidate or suppress them,” PDP stated.
The party described the November 16 election as a march by the people of Kogi State against “a suppressive, cruel, chaotic, sadistic, acrimonious and inhuman administration.
“It is a determined march against acute poverty, hunger and starvation, fear, general low life and despondency in the state, which Governor Yahaya Bello and the APC represent.”
According to the statement, the Kogi election would mark “a triumph of light over darkness, freedom over suppression, prosperity over poverty, justice over impunity, peace over violence, progress over stagnation, democracy over personality cult.
It added that no amount of intimidation could stop the people in their resolve to elect a governor of their choice.
PDP advised INEC to desist from negative extrapolations and be ready to deliver a credible, free, fair, transparent election, devoid of logistic failures tailored to frustrate the will of the people.
UNICEF: 34,000 children may die of malnutrition in Taraba
The United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) has said that more than 34,000 children in Taraba State may die of severe acute malnutrition, if serious measures are not taken to immediately save the situation.
Bhanu Pathak, Chief of Field Office, UNICEF Nigeria, Bauchi Field Office, raised the alarm during a courtesy call on Governor Darius Ishaku, in Jalingo.
“Currently, Taraba State has an estimated 34,419 severe acute malnutrition cases.
“With no health facility providing treatment, these children will be at risk of dying if the government does not intervene appropriately and timely.
“Many children who might survive malnutrition in early life are condemned to permanent physical and intellectual disabilities in later life; thus productivity of the future leaders of the state will be adversely affected,” the UNICEF chief observed.
Pathak also said that more than 75,000 children under five years were yet to be fully immunised from polio and other child killer diseases and urged the state government to step up actions to address the issues.
“UNICEF is also worried that over 75,000 children in the state are not yet fully immunised while over 500,000 children of school age are out of school.
“This is further complicated because of the insurgency in the region, which has turned Taraba to a home for most of the people fleeing.
“The internal wrangling has also added to the problem.
“We therefore urge the state government to step up actions to address these challenges,” he said.
While commending the governor for his commitment to the improvement of health and quality education for children in the state and for attending to the plight of internally displaced persons (IDPs), Pathak said there was so much that still needed to be done and pleaded for more commitment from the state government.
In his remarks, Governor Ishaku said the state was “immensely grateful to UNICEF for the various interventions in key areas of education, health, nutrition, child protection and Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH).
Ishaku added that the state government had made tremendous efforts and had recorded great success in the provision of health services, education and the general well-being of mothers and children, but was overwhelmed by the challenges posed by IDPs.
“We have done remarkably well and have recorded great improvement in the provision of quality education and health care services to the people.
“But we have challenges and we need your assistance to deal with the plight of IDPs and the refugees we have coming in from Cameroon.
“I have directed that they should be properly taken care of, but we need more assistance to address some of these issues.
“We had hoped to have all our children in school by now, but the crisis has affected our plans,” he said.
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