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Communities demand N10bn compensation on 2nd Niger Bridge



Communities demand N10bn compensation on 2nd Niger Bridge

Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, yesterday, revealed that communities along the 2nd Niger Bridge are demanding N10 billion in compensation.

Fashola said the demand for compensation is frustrating the Federal Government’s efforts to complete the project.

The minister stated this yesterday while briefing State House Correspondents after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari at the presidential villa, Abuja.

He said: “People who want infrastructure must also reasonably be willing to sacrifice. The amount we are facing now in claims in compensation for Second Niger Bridge is already in excess of N10 billion, just for compensation for land and all of that.

“As we speak, some people are asking us to pay N10 billion now as compensation for the 2nd Niger bridge.”

Fashola, who was responding to questions about the rate of abandoned road projects across the country against the series of approvals given by FEC during the first tenure, said poor releases has been frustrating efforts to deliver on infrastructure.

He said poor releases of funds remain a major obstacle to the execution of roads projects across the country.

The minister blamed host communities for “frustrating government efforts” by demanding payment for compensation leading to some uncompleted projects across the country.

He explained that some of the road works going on are based on goodwill.

Joined by the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed and the Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare, Fashola admitted that budget funding gaps also worked against completion of roads projects in the country in the last four years.

He said not all the over N300 billion budgeted was released to his ministry as the office was yet to get funds since his reappointment as minister.

Fashola disclosed that paper works for releases of funds were still ongoing.

According to him, “Getting FEC approvals is one half of the story, but we don’t get all of the cash. Even the local communities are not helping issues.

“There is a gap between infrastructure needs and income. People are also complaining that government is borrowing too much.

“We have heard that funds have been released, but we are yet to get anything. I have not received any money since I came to office, this time around.”

Speaking further on abandoned projects, Fashola blamed “obsolete rates, under-budgeting and underfunding” as major factors.

The works minister, who noted that there have been criticisms against borrowing during the first tenure, said community support is also needed to facilitate construction of roads projects in the country.

“There is yet another problem, the local communities; we are having problems there too. We have problem, I think in Sapele/Ewu Road, youths, community, compensation issues. Immediately we mobilize to cite, people build all sorts of things within the right of way and file all sorts of claims for compensation.

“And when you look at how much you have to pay for compensation and how much you have to spend on the roads, you begin to do your math very carefully. So we need community support as well,” Fashola noted.

The Works Minister also disclosed that the FEC approved a total of N8.2 billion for roads projects.

Fashola said two of the approvals were to revise the estimates of cost to enable the contractor continue work.

He said Council approved N519 million revision of contract sum of Oba Nnewi Okigwe Road to cater for change in cost of materials since the project was awarded in 2009. The contract sum was revised from N3.7 billion to N4.3 billion.

The Council also revised cost of N2.052 billion for 67 kilometres Alasi-Ugep Road in Cross River State. The council approved a revision from N9.16 billion to N11.22 billion.”

According to him, FEC approved the change of contractor for the Chachangi Bridge linking Takum and Wukari in Taraba State and re-awarded at the cost of N2.132 billion.

Council also approved the rehabilitation of Katsina Ala Bridge in Benue State at the cost of N3.576 billion, which include total bridge repairs, changing of expansion joints, changing of bearings and rehabilitation of the 3.2 kilometers access road at Ugbema junction in Benue State.

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173 stranded Nigerians return from Libya



Wole Shadare

The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) has received another two batches of 173 stranded Nigerians from Libya.

The returnees, who arrived the country in two different flights were received by the Coordinator, Lagos Territorial Office Alhaji Idris Abubakar Muhammed at the Cargo Wing of the MMIA, Ikeja Tuesday morning.

A chartered aircraft belonging to Al Buraq Air with flight number BRQ189.14 and registration number 5A-DMG.MRA landed at about 4:52a.m. brought 162 from Misrata while a commercial flight, which brought 11 other returnees from Bengazil also landed at 5:15a.m.

The profiling of the returnees on arrival indicated that were 52 adult females, four female children and four female infants as well as 106 adult males, two male children and five male infants.

Among the returnees were 21 with medical issues.

A returnee, Miss Areni Aishat, 23, from Ogun State, narrated how she was deceived with the promise of traveling to New York, USA with the opportunity to practice catering.

She said: “I just graduated as a catering apprehentice and the aunty told me that she can help me to travel to USA where I do my work better.

“She told me that she would pay for my transportation and that I would refund when I start working there.

“I did not know that she was deceiving me until we left and embarked on a long journey.

“It was my mates that revealed to me that it was Libya they were heading when she started making trouble that it was USA she was promised.”

Miss Areni continued that when she got to Libya, she was told that there was nothing like catering jobs there but she could either become a house girl or be sold out to Connection House, which is a prostitution network.

She said she worked for one year and three months but paid her trafficker five months salaries of N90,000 per month.

“I decided to return home because the nature of the work is not ideal for a human being,” she said.

On those who are still thinking of traveling to Libya, she said: “I will advise whoever is thinking of going to Libya to never contemplate doing so.

“Nigeria is far better than Libya.Libya is dangerous, it is either you are kidnapped, killed, raped, robbed or bombed. Nigerians are not safe there.”

Aishat stated that she was tired of staying in Libya and revealed how she was able to join this batch back to Nigeria.

“I was helped back to the country when my mother went to NAPTIP office to complain and a phone number of a staff of the Nigerian embassy was sent to me and it was the embassy staff that facilitated my return to the country. I am grateful to the Nigerian government for helping back to the country,” she said

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More than 13 police killed in ambush in violent Mexican state



More than 13 police killed in ambush in violent Mexican state

Suspected cartel hitmen shot dead more than a dozen police in an ambush in the western Mexican state of Michoacan, authorities said on Monday, in one of the bloodiest attacks on security forces since President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador took office.

The ministry for public security said the attack was carried out in the municipality of Aguililla in Michoacan, a state that has long been convulsed by turf wars between drug gangs, notably the Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG) and its enemies, reports Reuters.

The federal public security ministry said 14 police were killed, though its Michoacan state counterpart reported that 13 officers were confirmed dead and three injured.
Photos of the crime scene published on social media showed shot-up and burning police vehicles, as well as the bodies of slain officers. They also showed large placards signed by “CJNG” left on police vehicles. They warned police not to support rival crime groups, including Los Viagras.

The ambush was an attack on the police by local gangsters, said a state official, who requested anonymity. The official confirmed the authenticity of the photos.

The Michoacan security ministry said on Twitter the state police were working near El Aguaje, north of the town of Aguililla, when they came under fire.

Three police trucks were ambushed and there was no indication that the suspected gang members had suffered casualties, the state official said.

Michoacan has for several years been a stronghold of the CJNG, which in 2015 was blamed for a series of attacks on police in the neighboring state of Jalisco as it sought to consolidate its control over drug trafficking in the region.

El Aguaje is a few miles from the state border with Jalisco.

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Police officer who fatally shot woman in her home arrested on murder charges



Police officer who fatally shot woman in her home arrested on murder charges

The police officer who fatally shot a Fort Worth, Texas, woman in her home while answering a call for a welfare check has been arrested on murder charges. The charge comes after the officer abruptly resigned on Monday just before he was about to be fired for allegedly violating multiple department policies, the police chief said.

The officer, identified earlier Monday as Aaron Dean, is being held without bond in Tarrant County, according to court records.
“I certainly have not been able to make sense of why she had to lose her life,” Fort Worth Police Chief Ed Kraus said at a news conference prior to the arrest, in reference to the early Saturday morning killing of Atatiana “Tay” Jefferson. “On behalf of the men and women of the Fort Worth Police Department, I’m so sorry for what occurred.”

Kraus identified the officer who shot Jefferson, 28, as Dean, who was hired by the police force in August 2017 and was commissioned as a licensed peace officer on April 13, 2018, reports abcnews.

The police chief said he was scheduled to meet with Dean on Monday morning, but the officer tendered his resignation before they had a chance to meet.

“Had the officer not resigned, I would have fired him for violations of several policies, including our use of force policy, our de-escalation policy, and unprofessional conduct,” Kraus said.

But Jefferson’s grieving family said Dean should have never been given the option to resign.

“He should have been fired before this,” Jefferson’s brother, Adarius Carr, told ABC News.

Jefferson’s sister, Ashley Carr, added that while her family welcomed apologies from the police chief and other city officials, including the mayor, she told ABC News, “It’s not the end result we’re looking for.”
“I want justice for my sister,” Ashley Carr said. “I want her death not to be in vain.”
She said her sister was a pre-med graduate of Xavier University of Louisiana, who dropped her career ambitions to return home to Texas to care for their ailing mother. She said Jefferson was also helping their sister, Amber, who recently underwent heart surgery, raise her two young children, including their 8-year-old nephew, Zion, who witnessed her being shot to death.

The family’s attorney, civil rights lawyer Lee Merritt, said the next development loved ones of Jefferson are hoping for, is that Dean suffer the consequences of his actions.
“The opportunity to resign is a slap in this family’s face and it’s a slap in the community’s face,” Merritt said. “He should have never been given that option. And I want us to stop treating this … like it’s a bad apple case. The saying is ‘a bad apple spoils the bunch.’ But the barrel is rotten from the core.”

Kaus said an internal investigation and a criminal investigation of Dean would proceed, and that he has sent a preliminary report of the shooting to the FBI to review Dean’s actions for possible civil rights violations.

Kraus said Dean has not been cooperating with the investigation, adding, “He resigned before his opportunity to cooperate.”

The chief had said prior to the arrest he was getting frequent updates on the criminal investigation against Dean and anticipated that he would be able to provide the public with a “substantial update” no later than Tuesday.

He also said Dean’s separation paperwork would be sent to the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement, the agency in charge of licensing and certifying peace officers, “will reflect that he was dishonorably discharged from the Fort Worth Police Department.”
Kraus made the announcement after Mayor Betsy Price expressed outrage over the shooting and berated the police department for releasing a photo of a handgun found in Jefferson’s home, saying, “there is nothing that could justify what happened on Saturday morning. Nothing.”
“The gun is irrelevant. She was in her own home caring for her 8-year old nephew. Atatiana was a victim,” the mayor said.
Kraus echoed the mayor, saying the photo of the gun that was released to the public “was a bad thing to do” and was apparently intended to “show what the perceived threat may have been.”
He said the gun was found just inside the window where Jefferson, who, according to her family, had a permit to carry a concealed weapon, was shot.
“I can’t imagine most of us, if we thought we had somebody outside our house that shouldn’t be there and we had access to a firearm, that we wouldn’t act very similarly to how she acted,” Kraus said.
But Merritt said he interpreted the move as an attempt to “cast aspersions on Tay, to give this officer (Dean) an out.”
“This was their attempt to justify the unjustifiable,” Merritt told ABC News.
After spending the weekend hearing from outraged community residents, and friends and relatives of Jefferson, Price apologized on behalf of the city of Fort Worth.

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Guber poll: I’m launching operation wind up APC in Bayelsa – Dickson



Pauline Onyibe

With less than 35 days to the Bayelsa State governorship election, the governor of the state Henry Seriake Dickson has said that the ticket of the All Progressives Congress (APC) was a ticket of “militancy, terrorism, criminality and cultism”.

Speaking on Tuesday in Yenagao during the formal launch and inauguration of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) campaign team, Governor Dickson said that if given the opportunity to govern, their government was going to be the government of militancy and cultism.

Disclosing that he was therefore launching “operation wind up APC in Bayelsa State”, the governor said: “Democracy in Bayelsa State cannot be defined as a government of militants and cultists for militants and cultists by militants and cultists.”

He, however, told Bayelsans to take the election seriously maintaining that “If you don’t take this election seriously, on the 17th of November a lot of people will be packing to run away from the state.”

Continuing he said: “This election is not about myself or about the PDP candidate, Senator Douye Diri, but about the future of the state which is at stake. Therefore you should preserve the glorious future which is being threatened by the inordinate ambitions of some politicians who don’t mean well for our state.”

The Governor noted that he was not perturbed by the gale of defections hitting PDP, stating that what was happening now was insignificant and inconsequential compared to the gale of defections in 2015 when the PDP still emerged victorious.
Speaking earlier, the PDP candidate, Senator Douye Diri had urged Bayelsans to desist from voting people whom he said have been tested but failed woefully.

As a former National Organising Secretary of the Ijaw National Congress, he said he was at the forefront of fighting against the environmental degradation caused by the operations of International Oil Companies.

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Aisha Buhari attacked me in Aso Rock –Daura’s daughter



Aisha Buhari attacked me in Aso Rock –Daura’s daughter
  • First Lady: You lied, ignored President’s directive on apartment

An amateur video leaked to the social media may have exposed the fierce battle between the First Lady, Mrs. Aisha Buhari and the much dreaded cabal for the control of Aso Rock, the seat of government in Nigeria.

In the video which went viral at the weekend, the First Lady, apparently in an angry mood, is heard shouting on top of her voice, complaining about being denied access into one of the apartments within the Presidential Villa in Abuja.

Aisha queried why those in the apartment chose to shut the doors against her and ordered them to vacate it immediately.

The video trended on the heels of the rumour about the alleged wedding between her husband, President Muhammadu Buhari and his Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Umaru Farouq, in Abuja.

The release of the video had elicited a lot of debates about what may have transpired in the encounter as no faces were shown. But, Fatima Daura, daughter of Mamman Daura, President Buhari’s nephew, has accused the First Lady (Aisha) of attacking her and her siblings inside the Presidential Villa.

Daura is believed to be a leading member of the alleged cabal in the presidency which wields so much powers in the current political dispensation.

Fatima, who gave an account of the incident in an interview with the BBC Hausa Service, said she recorded the incident on video for confirmation and proof that the President’s wife violently confronted her inside Aso Rock.

According to her, the incident took place in 2017.

However, a senior aide in the office of the First Lady, who pleaded anonymity, told New Telegraph yesterday that Daura’s daughter lied in her interview with the BBC, adding that she kept several other things away from the public on what actually happened during that encounter.

In the interview translated by The Cable, Fatima insisted that she least expected Buhari’s wife to act in a violent manner.

The interview ran thus: “My name is Fatima. I am a daughter to Malam Mamman Daura… if one reasons well, he or she will understand that it is not possible to say that the wife of the president is denied access to her apartment, but let me give a context.

“The apartment in question is called the Glass House. You know that there are several houses and apartments in the Villa. When the president got into office, he gave the Glass House to our father, Mamman Daura.

“You all know that they are friends and are related, more so, they grew up together like twins. When he became president, he gave the Glass House to our dad and said he should stay there. Our dad stayed there for three years now until when the president’s son, Yusuf, had an accident and went to Germany for treatment.

“When he returned, the president told our dad to move out of that apartment to an even bigger one in the Villa, that Yusuf is going to stay and be treated in the Glass House,” she said.

New Telegraph gathered that the Glass House is closer to the main presidential apartment and the idea of evicting the Dauras from there was to make it easier for the First Lady to have access to her son.

Daura’s daughter further narrates what led to the incident that was captured in the video. Fatima said: “(On that day) my mom and dad were not around. So, my dad instructed me and my elder sister, both of us are working and we go to work every morning, that we should come on a Saturday and move our belongings to the new apartment the president instructed.

“We planned to pack out then and have even concluded moving all the things. All of a sudden, in the afternoon as we were busy on that errand of packing our belongings when we heard noise from outside. I was in an inner room in the house while my sister was in an outer one close to the main gate of the apartment. So my sister went out before I could come out.

“On getting there, it was the wife of the president. When she came, the door was locked and she picked a metal chair and broke the door. I have sent the picture to you. My sister that went out was almost hit by the chair. She threw the chair which broke through the door and almost hit my sister.

“I was so shocked and afraid of getting there because she was shouting and reigning abuses and saying we should move out of that apartment. That she has never seen this kind of thing before. I then went back and picked my phone because if one is to say that she acted that way, no one would believe it without a proof. She has already been saying a lot of things depicting that she is being suppressed.

“So I recorded it to show our parents and the security, so that they will know the truth should anything happen. Because the way she was raging and shouting, I was thinking that she would pick something and hit us with it or something like that. That was why we recorded it. Had it been we wanted to release the video, we would have done it earlier. But you know if a video clip enters one or two hands, you can’t control where it will get to.

“There are even other clips that have not been released, I will send them to you to see how she was insulting the security and how she drove them away saying who are they protecting and calling them bloody idiots. It’s all on the video clip. That was what happened.”

The aide in the First Lady’s office confirmed that the incident happened over a year ago when the wife of the president, on the instructions of the President, asked the Dauras to vacate their living quarters inside the Villa for a sick Yusuf Buhari who was recuperating after an accident.

“For this reason, the quarters were needed and the Dauras were asked to move to another part of the Villa. Long before the accident, Yusuf’s mother had requested in writing for the Dauras to vacate the place because the building is officially designated for the biological children of any serving president,” he said.

The source noted further that: “The IG of police, DG DSS, NSA and the Vice President, who was the acting President, were all notified of this request. Despite this, the Dauras deliberately refused to comply with the instructions of the security agencies. Mamman Daura’s daughter, Fatima, did not say this in her interview.

“What really was the intent for the video being released now if not for mischief? Fatima didn’t showcase her part in the drama where the door was locked against the First Lady to deny her access to some areas of the Villa, neither did she acknowledge the abuse she first vented before the First Lady reacted under the instruction of DG Lawal Daura who was brought into government by Mamman Daura.”

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Shareholders endorse N120bn acquisition of Dangote Flour Mills by Olam



Shareholders endorse N120bn acquisition of Dangote Flour Mills by Olam

Shareholders of Dangote Flour Mills Plc. (DFM), yesterday unanimously approved the acquisition of the company by Crown Flour Mills Limited, the Nigerian subsidiary of global food and agri-business conglomerate, Olam International Limited after a whopping payment of N120 billion to the shareholders.

Olam International has made an offer for the acquisition of 100 per cent equity in Dangote Flour Mills Plc. for a consideration of N24.00 per share. The acquisition was carried out through a Scheme of Arrangement.

Most of the shareholders who spoke at the meeting lauded the company’s management for the noble decision.

Nona Awoh, a notable financial analyst and one of the shareholders of the company, thanked the management on the offer of N24 per share and reminded other shareholders that the last time the share price of the company increased significantly to N20 per share was in the year 2010.

Another leader of the shareholders group, Mr. Boniface Solomon, described the deal as a very good one for the shareholders.

He said the stock has really been struggling in view of the current realities in the nation’s economy, stating that the N24 per share is indeed a good price for his members.

Managing Director of Crown Flour Mills Limited, Anurag Shukia, said his company intends to maintain and expand DFM’s business as well as provide enhanced manufacturing capacity and create synergies to deliver improved products to customers across the country.

With the acquisition, the entire 4,994,886,771 ordinary shares of 50 kobo each in DFM held by the shareholders of the company will be transferred to Crown Flour. The N24 per share that will be given to the shareholders for 50 kobo shares held represents a 124 per cent premium on the share price of DFM as at the close of April 18, 2019 being the last business day prior to the date the proposal was received and announced on the floor of the Exchange; and a 145 per cent premium on the three-month weighted average share price of the company as at 18 April, 2019.

Benefits to the shareholders include, but not limited to: opportunities for shareholders of DFM, other than Crown Flour, to enhance the value of their investment in the company and exit at an attractive pricing; in addition, the scheme is expected to create valuable synergies between the operations of Crown Flour and DFM, to ensure improved revenue generation capacity, reduced operational costs, and enhance profit.

It will also enable Olam focus on the flour business, to provide the necessary financial and technical support required to maintain and expand the business.

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2020 Budget: Govt earmarks N450bn to fund fuel subsidy



2020 Budget: Govt earmarks N450bn to fund fuel subsidy

…targets N237bn looted funds, N252bn privatisation proceeds


Oil subsidy regime, also known as under recovery for local consumption of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), is to be sustained in 2020 fiscal year with government earmarking N450 billion for it in the 2020 budget.

Minister of Finance, Budget and National planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, confirmed yesterday, stating that the ‘under-recovery’ was the cost of operation of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).

“We have a provision for under-recovery of PMS in the sum of N450 billion. If you look at the Budget office website, it is in the fiscal framework, which is an annexure to the budget,” the minister said.

This was as government, yesterday, itemized sources for its revenue estimate of N8.155 trillion laid out in the 2020 budget.

These include privatization proceeds in which government intends to harvest N252,083,688, multi-lateral/bilateral loans of N328,128,150,000; new borrowings in the sum of N1,594,986,007,544 comprising local (N744,986.007.544) and foreign borrowing (N850,000,000) and sale of government property.

Also lined up for funding next year budget, is N237 billion of recovered looted funds.

The N8.155 trillion revenue projections represents seven per cent or N561.2 billion more than 2019 budget revenue figure of N7.59 trillion.

Ahmed confirmed the figures yesterday in Abuja at the budget 2020 breakdown.

The central government has pegged her spending in 2020 (inclusive of GOEs/PT loans) at N10.33 trillion. Of the figure, recurrent (non-debt) spending is projected at N4.88 trillion (reflecting increases in salaries and pensions including provisions for implementation of the new minimum wage).

Capital expenditure (inclusive of transfers, GOEs capital & Project-tied loans) is estimated at 24%, provision of N296 billion is to cater for settling of matured bonds to local contractors, representing an increase by 169.09 % from 2019 figure of N110 billion.

Twelve Ministries, Department and Agencies (MDAs) of government collectively will spend N1,99.85 trillion in 2020 fiscal budget.

The top twelve priority ministries with highest allocation include, Ministry of Works & Housing N259.2 billion; Ministry of Education (including UBEC) N162.74 billion; Ministry of Power (includes PSRP transfer to NBET) N127.67 billion; Ministry of Defence N99.87 billion and Ministry of Health (including BHCPF) N90.98 billion.

Other MDAs on top priority capital allocation in 2020 budget include, Ministry of Transportation N123.07 billion; Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development N79.79 billion; Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development N45.45 billion; Ministry of Water Resources N78.34 billion; Ministry of Aviation N53.85 billion; Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment N41.34 billion and Ministry of Science and Technology N37.55 billion.

Present at the session were Director-General, Budget Office of Federation, Mr. Ben Akabueze; Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Mr. Clement Agba; Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed and other top government officials and representatives of Civil Society Organisations (CSO).

Other funds earmarked for key projects include N110 billion for the construction and rehabilitation of roads in every geo-political zone of the country.

The roads listed to be covered include, construction of Kaduna eastern bypass, Abuja–Kano Dual carriageway, dualization of Odukpani–Itu–Ikot Ekpene Road; construction of Kano western bye pass and Abuja–Abaji road, amongst others.

Other key projects lined up for financing in the 2020 budget included N1 billion for construction of terminal building at Enugu Airport, N10 billion for construction of second runway at Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Abuja and asphalt overlay in Lagos.

On transport, government earmarked N67.17 billion for counterpart funding for railway projects. The amount covers, Lagos-Kano (ongoing), Calabar-Lagos (Ongoing), Ajaokuta-Itakpe-Aladja (Warri) (ongoing); Port Harcourt- Maiduguri, Kano-Katsina-Jibiya-Maradi in Niger Republic (new), Abuja-Itakpe and Aladja (Warri)-Warri Port and Refinery including Warri New Harbour, and Bonny Deep Sea Port & Port Harcourt and other rail projects.

In 2020, government is committing N2 billion for funding of Mambilla hydro power project, N200 million for construction of 215MW LPFO/ Gas Power station in Kaduna, another N150 million for Afam fast power programme accelerated gas and solar power generation.

For housing sector, the sum of N17.5 billion was earmarked for National Housing Programme, N30 billion for Social Housing Scheme (Family Homes Fund).

For Agriculture and Rural Development, government proposed over N11 billion for promotion and development of value chain across in more than 30 different commodities; another N3.97 billion for Veterinary and Pest Control Services; N8.20 billion for rural roads and water sanitation; N2.01 billion for National Grazing Reserve Development; N813 million for mechanization; N1.48 billion for Livelihood Improvement Family Enterprise (Life) Programme; N2.86 billion for food and strategic reserves; N1.81 billion for agribusiness and market development and N1.96 billion for extension services.

The special intervention programme got N430 billion in 2020.

On how much of recovery looted fund earmarked for the budget, she said: “On the recovery of looted funds, if you look at the budget, we have a provision of N237 billion provided for as a financing item in the budget. This is our projection of how much would be recovered as looted funds. The funds will now be available to fund the budget” the minister explained.

Ahmed noted that the nation will not be able to reach 80 per cent revenue performance for 2019.

She said that as at half year, the actual aggregate revenue for 2019 was N2.04 trillion, which was 58 per cent of the prorate target.

She said of the figure, oil revenue accounted for N900 billion, Company Income Tax (CIT) N349.11 billion, Value Added Tax (VAT) N81.36 billion and Customs Collections N184.10 billion.

Ahmed said that of the total appropriation of N8.92 trillion, N3.39 trillion had been spent by June 30, as against the prorated expenditure budget of N4.58 trillion, representing 76 per cent performance.

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FG bans land importation of goods



FG bans land importation of goods
  • Security operatives seize N1.4bn items, arrest 317 smugglers
  • Customs: We’ve saved 10m litres of PMS from being smuggled out




The Federal Government has banned all importation of goods, whether contraband or not, through land borders until further notice.

Comptroller-General of Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Col. Hameed Ali (rtd), at a joint news conference with his counterpart from Nigeria Immigration Service, Mr. Mohammed Babandede, in Abuja yesterday, said for now, only goods passing through the controlled borders such as air and sea would gain entry into the country.

According to him, the partial land border closure affects all goods, adding that anyone who hitherto imported and exported legitimate goods can do same via seaports and other manned outlets for now.

He foreclosed any plans to reopen the borders anytime soon.

He said there is no time limit to end the partial closure of the nation’s borders.

Ali added that the exercise would be sustained until the neighbouring countries duly comply with the ECOWAS protocols on transit of goods.

The NCS boss said that diplomatic engagement was ongoing to ensure the cooperation of the neighbouring countries.

He said that following this development, Niger Republic had just announced the ban on all forms of exportation of rice into Nigeria.

The Customs boss stated that the ongoing border closure code-named ‘Exercise Swift Response’ by combined Nigeria’s security agents has led to seizure of goods worth N1.4 billion.

Aside the goods seized, Ali said the operation has also led to the deportation of some Pakistanis and South Koreans, while 146 illegal immigrants were arrested.

Speaking yesterday in Abuja, the Customs boss explained that 317 smugglers have been arrested; adding that 21,071 bags of 50kg parboiled rice have been impounded.

Other items seized are; 190 vehicles, 891 drums of petrol, 2,665 jerry cans of vegetable oil, 66,000 litre tanker of vegetable oil, 133 motorcycles, 131 bags of NPK fertilizers used for making explosives, among others.

Ali said that the closure of the nation’s borders had saved 10.2 million litres of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), from being smuggled out.

Using the N145 per litre pump price, the value of the products saved by security operatives stood at N1.479 billion.

“From the record available to me, the consumption of PMS in the country has reduced by 10.2 million litres since the border operation began.

“This means that this amount of fuel was being smuggled to the neighbouring countries before the exercise began.

“We are deploying every technology available to secure our borders, and in line with this, the president has graciously approved e-customs for the service,” he said.

He added that President Muhammadu Buhari has approved an e-customs project, which involves using drones and geo-spatial technology to further fortify the borders.

According to him, e-customs means all customs tools will be driven by technology to manage the borders.

“Our men will remain at the borders for as long as it will take the neighbouring countries to adhere to ECOWAS protocols on transit.”

On why the security agencies are not respecting free movement protocol of ECOWAS into consideration in the border closure issue, Ali said: “When we talk of security, human rights take the back seat. We want to secure our nation. Nigeria must survive before you talk of rights and doing business.”

He noted that all the agencies involved in ‘Exercise Swift Response’ as coordinated by the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) have been duly briefed on the target of the operation, especially in the area of using minimum force.

Also speaking at the event, the Comptroller-General, Nigeria Immigrations Service (NIS), Muhammed Babandede, said the border drill also involves human mobility.

“There are rules of this operation. ECOWAS protocol says you must arrive or depart via a recognized port with the right travel documents. You must travel where there is Customs and Immigrations.

“We will launch our e-border initiative next year. We also have forward operational bases and will patrol them round the clock. We have 12 of such.

“Mr. President approved amnesty for over-stayed migrants to register from now till 19th January, 2020. Foreigners have latched on this opening. Sixty per cent of those coming forward have irregular papers. After this window is closed, anyone caught with will be deported,” he explained.

The joint border security exercise, code-named “Exercise Swift Response”, began on August 20.

It was set up to ensure a better security of the country’s territorial integrity, particularly the land and maritime borders, against trans-border security concerns.

The exercise is being coordinated by the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) in the four geo-political zones of North-West, North-Central, South-West and South-South.

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Court freezes companies’ 45 bank accounts over rice smuggling



Court freezes companies’ 45 bank accounts over rice smuggling

The Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has ordered a temporal freezing of 45 bank accounts belonging to three companies allegedly involved in smuggling of rice into Nigeria.

The order was premised on an ex-parte application filed by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

Counsel to the applicant, Nosike Nicholas, in arguing the application, prayed for an order to freeze the accounts for 90 days.

He anchored the application on section 60, Paragraph (B) of the Banks and other Financial Institutions Act (BOFIA) 1991 as amended.

He submitted that there was an ongoing investigation against the defendants who are customers of the commercial banks.

According to him, transactions under the accounts can cause significant financial loss to the rice industries in particular and the Nigerian economy in general.

The trial judge, Justice A. R. Mohammed, while granting the application, instead of 90 days, ordered for a freezing for 45 days.

The companies whose accounts were domiciled with 10 commercial banks in Nigeria are Sun Sam A1 International Limited, Sun Sam International Limited and Sunchrist O. Trans Nigeria Limited.

The court directed the head offices of First Bank Nigeria Plc., Stanbic IBTC Bank, Union Bank Plc., United Bank for Africa (UBA), Zenith Bank, Sterling Bank, Access Bank, First City Monument Bank (FCMB), Polaris Bank and Eco Bank Nigeria to freeze forthwith all transactions from those accounts for 45 days.

The court held that the order of freezing will be pending the outcome of the investigation and inquiry currently being conducted by the CBN.

It further held that the applicant can approach the court for extension at the expiry of the 45 days if investigation is not completed.

The court consequently adjourned to December 12 for further hearing.

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Researchers raise hope of diabetes cure



Researchers raise hope of diabetes cure

A team of researchers said an alternative treatment that could  cure diabetes was underway.

According to an article published in ‘The Jerusalem Post,’ the new treatment involves implanting a bio-artificial pancreas under the skin using local anesthesia during an outpatient procedure, which would help monitor blood sugar levels in the body, detect the amount of insulin that each patient needs and release it into the bloodstream.

The artificial pancreas works by connecting with the patient’s blood vessels and measuring the blood sugar levels in order to secrete the right amount of insulin needed to balance blood sugar.

However, the artificial pancreas, which may be replaced after some months could be priced up to $50,000. The product, which lasted 90 days in mice, could hit the market during the next few years.

The current method requires some patients to inject insulin into their body, but manages the disease without a cure.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), half a billion people have diabetes and about 160 million of them were insulin dependent.

Chief Executive Officer of Betalin Therapeutics, Dr. Nikolai Kunicher, who is one of the researchers that developed the therapy, said their invention was a new way to treat diabetes.

He said: “Today, you only have ways to manage the disease. This is a cure. The diabetic pancreas has lost the function of secreting insulin and we give it back. The patient should never have to inject insulin into his body again.”

Diabetes mellitus, commonly known as diabetes, is a metabolic disease that causes high blood sugar. The hormone insulin moves sugar from the blood into the cells to be stored or used for energy. With diabetes, the body either doesn’t make enough insulin or can’t effectively use the insulin it makes. Type 1 diabetes, once known as juvenile diabetes or insulin-dependent diabetes, is a chronic condition in which the pancreas produces little or no insulin. Insulin is a hormone needed to allow sugar (glucose) to enter cells to produce energy.

Kunicher and his team developed the first bio-artificial pancreas composed of pig’s lung tissue and insulin secreting cells.

The innovative pancreas has been successfully examined in animal clinical trials and the researchers hope that human trials will begin within the next year.

Betalin Therapeutics was founded in 2015 and has two famous Nobel laureates on its board, Professor Arieh Warshel and Professor Sidney Altman, who suffers from diabetes and his hope is that the new device could be utilised to help patients.

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