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Border closure: Smugglers devise new methods to beat Customs

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Border closure: Smugglers devise new methods to beat Customs

…convey rice, oil, turkey on motorcycles, through the sea

  • Local rice scarce, costly –Traders

 

 

 

Notwithstanding the heavy policing and thorough security checks at the land borders, aimed at ensuring compliance with Federal Government’s closure order, smugglers are still plying their illicit trade, as they have now devised new methods and new routes to convey their products, especially bags of rice, turkey and vegetable oil. Investigations by Saturday Telegraph reveal that the illegal dealers in the commodities now engage the services of motorcyclists and canoe operators to convey bags of rice and cartons of vegetable oil from Benin Republic to Nigeria. An undercover operation by our correspondents, who were embedded among the smugglers, exposes the covert and deadly operation of the men of the underworld, showing how they bypass the borders by going through the sea and land using remote villages. On the sea, our reporters witnessed how a team of smugglers paddled their canoes in very dangerous manner, along the Cotonou- Badagry beaches, passing through places like Gbetrume and Inagbe to beat the eagle-eyed Customs officials. Some of the smugglers are also armed in the pro-cess as they ferry their illegal products in a combat-ready manner, as narrated by one of the smugglers.

Witnessing smuggling operations

Pretending to be smugglers, our reporters had approached some canoe paddlers for help to take their wares to the other side of the sea. Agreeing to carry out the dirty job, but not without a fee, one of the traffickers, advised our reporters to brace up for the show ahead. The canoe operator, who spoke in pidgin English, while claiming to be the ‘captain’ of the boat, said he is not new in the business, as he had been conveying people across the sea over the years. Not wanting to lose their money in case of any eventuality or a confrontation with naval officers, which could make them abandon the job, the traffickers opted to collect their money before embarking on the journey. “Na gbege we dey go now. We never know whether we dey come back or we go yamutu, make you just ready and make you give us our money before we comot”, he said in adulterated language. The journey was however hitch-free as the canoe operators eventually stopped at place where some ‘okada’ riders took over the job. On land, the smugglers move their wares through Igolo, a border village and its neighbouring hamlets to pass through Owode and Idiroko in order to bypass Seme border and reach their destination. The risky process of the new method has however led to the increase in the prices of the grains and oily liquid, as bikers now collect N100 per bag as against the N50 that was in force before the closure. In the same vein, bikers that hitherto convey between three and five bags on a single journey, now load up to six bags to do brisk business. As such, a single journey that used to cost the smugglers not more than N200 now makes them cough out N600 per route. This has no doubt added to the rising cost of the commodities, as it has made the price unbearable for consumers and end-users of the products to purchase.

Involvement of Customs, giant coys’ staff

Further investigations show that some Customs officials as well as drivers and haulage staff of some big and international companies are involved in the ongoing illegalities. Our correspondents did not only see how big trucks were allowed into the country, but also witnessed how they smuggled bags of rice,turkey and vegetable oil, using the cover of their business empires. On the particular day, convoy of trucks belonging to cement, paint, shoes and other manufacturing companies were seen packing the smuggled products into their vans. One of our reporters, pretending to be a smuggler, had approached some of the drivers, who narrated how they have been ‘helping’ others to convey their goods across the border, before agreeing to take her bags of rice across the border for a fee. One of the drivers explained that the Customs officials would be compensated by their bosses once the goods arrive their destination. He said: “When we are stopped by the Customs people, we will just tell them that the rice belongs to the white men, our ogas, and that it is for their domestic consumption. They know how they get their money from our bosses. “Police and Customs do not disturb the drivers of white men and big companies. That is the opportunity we have been using to take it across the border. We only enjoy the privilege to make our own money. “But your money will depend on the number of police and Customs check points. You know that they always take our apples and those apples belong to our oga. So, you will have to pay for the apples”, he said. True to his words, the officials met on the road were only shown the apples, which they took, promising to see the driver and haulage staff in ‘town’. What is however not clear is the place they referred to as ‘town’ as well as the reason for allowing the trucks to move despite the government order. When asked the reason for their movement even with the closure, the driver simply replied that some buses belonging to big organisations are allowed to move with a special pass. “We can move, just like the multinational corporations can move. We enjoy the same privilege and they were told to allow us because our companies are international”, he said. An on-the-spot assessment to various markets by our correspondents across the country however shows that there is low patronage of the products owing to the rising cost of rice and vegetable oil.

Local rice in foreign bags

A new twist to the rising prices is the fact that some smugglers now put local rice in the bags meant for the foreign product. This was witnessed in one of the villages, where our correspondent was on covert operation. The village (names withheld), which was far away from the border and many miles into a busy Lagos busy area, had some of inhabitants repackaging the product. Saturday Telegraph team saw some people in the process of exchanging the bags, this they noted was to make it more attractive as many people believe in the consumption of foreign products. “This is just our way of making good money in this period. Many people want to eat foreign rice, they prefer Uncle Benz and other foreign rice but they don’t know the taste. “Once they see it in the foreign bag, they will buy it. We have been selling it to them, and they are eating it. That shows you that many of them do not even know what they are buying”, one the sellers told our correspondent.

Visiting the markets

In many parts of Nigeria, including Lagos, Benin, Kano, Port Harcourt and several others, Saturday Telegraph investigations showed that the prices of various brands of rice which is a staple food of most homes have also gone up while the availability of both local and foreign rice products vary from one market to the other Our Correspondent who visited Butcher Street Market on Mission road, New Benin Market on Benin-Lagos road and Agbado Market on Akpakpava road, all in Benin City, the Edo State capital gathered that local brand packs of rice are available with sharp rise in their prices while the prices of foreign products are prohibitive. The prices of some of local brands range from N19, 500 to N22, 500 per bag while that of foreign rice is between N25, 000 and N27, 000 each bag. Indications showed that local rice is available in large stock in some of the markets visited while foreign products and brands are in low in stock. However, aside the low or high availability of the rice products, there is low patronage by customers due to the increased prices. Among the local brands available in the markets visited include Mama Choice N22,000,; Patron N21, 500, Tomato Rice N19, 000; Big Bull N22, 500 and Royal Naija N25, 000. Those of foreign brands are within the ranges of N27,500 for Cap Rice, Tomato rice N26, 000, Yummy Yummy N25, 000, Royal Stallion N25, 000 while the price of 20kg of Gripple Seven is N13, 000. The Niger State Chairman of Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN), Alhaji Idris Abini blamed the reason for the increase and differences in the prices of local rice on activities of hoarders and also the farmers. He however told our Correspondent that, before the year runs out, there would be bumper harvest and rice would flood the markets and thereby crash the prices. When our correspondent visited the Engr. Abdulhadi’s Kure ultra modern and the popular Kasuwa Gwari in Minna, only few shops have foreign rice (Caprice and Stallion) displayed.

 

Prices differ

The prices of local rice in Ebonyi otherwise known as Abakaliki Rice has continued to increase. Though the commodity is much available in the markets and various mills across the state where they are processed, packaged and sold, the price of the rice has been on the increase because of its high demands arising from the restriction on foreign rice. A market survey conducted in across major markets in Enugu, including Ogbete Main Market and New Haven Market shows that full bag or bushel (50kg) of foreign rice (Caprice brand and Tomato brand) goes for N21, 000 as at this weekend, as against N20, 000 it sold about three weeks ago. Similarly, half bag or half bushel (25kg) of foreign rice currently goes for N10, 500 as against N10, 000 it sold about three weeks ago. On the other hand, full bag or bushel (50kg) of local rice currently sells for N14, 500; while half bag or half bushel (25kg) goes for N7, 300. This is against N12,500 and N6,500 respectively about three weeks ago.

Traders across the country have said that following the closure of the country’s borders, the demand for local rice has increased, occasioning widespread scarcity in some states. Most of the shops visited by our correspondents in different towns showed that there were limited stocks of local rice on sale. The most available brands of local rice in the markets in Imo are ‘Mama’s Pride’ and ‘Chef’s Choice’, and both are produced in Nasarawa State. One of the traders in Owerri, Ebuka Uzoigwe, lamented the ordeal traders undergo to get supply of rice, adding that the country was not yet prepared for the border closure. He said: “Local rice is speedily going out of the reach of ordinary people and it is not yet Christmas. The rice is not even available and even where it is available it is costly. Before the border closure, local rice was sold about N14,000 but now Mama’s Pride is N20,000 while Chef’s Choice is N18,000. They are almost the same price with foreign rice which is sold about N22,000 but unavailable. Most of the bags of foreign rice you see in the market today are old stocks.” “Some of us came together, contributed money and ordered a trailer load of local rice. It is two months now since we gave money to our supplier and we have not gotten any supply. Only recently the supplier called us to tell us that to facilitate timely delivery of the supply, we must add an extra N1500 for each bag of the rice. It is the final consumer that will bear the brunt. ” When asked about the Abakaliki rice from Ebonyi state and the Coscharis rice, he said the Abakaliki rice was also as scarce as others while stressing that they were yet to see Coscharis rice in Owerri. “For now, people that want to buy Coscharis rice, we refer them to the television where they saw the advertorials. The point is that we did not produce enough to go round before we shut down our borders. After the border closure, it became obvious that most of the states we thought were producing rice do not even have enough to serve their state which is why we no longer get regular supply and when we get, we get them at exorbitant prices.” Mrs. Ngozi Okereke in Orlu confirmed that for the first time, she just got supply of the Coscharis local rice and that it sells for N21,000 a bag. She also lamented the sudden hike in the price of local rice in the market. “It defeats the purpose of closing the borders and banning the importation of foreign rice,” she said.

South

In the southern parts of the country, local rice such as Bblue, Maurice, Maka, Offada, “O’god” and so on are largely available in the markets and while foreign rice like Tomatoes, Good Mama, Flourish, Good luck and so on prices were put at N27,000, N28,000 e.t.c at Sekona, Oluode, Ilobu, Owode markets of the state. At the popular Ogbeogonogo Central Market in Asaba and Midwifery Market along Okpanam Road, the price of a 50kg locally produced rice has risen by more than two-third since July. As at October 10, the price of Caprice foreign rice rose from N16,000 to N29,000 while locally produced stonefree Tomatoes rice skyrocketed from N13,000 to N25,000, even half-bags went up from N6,500 to N15,500.

While foreign rice is scarce in the markets visited, owing to the border closure, local rice, which is expected to have flooded the marketplace, is at lower production. Prices of poultry food like frozen turkey and chicken rose at fastest pace from N1,300 to N2,200 and N1,100 to N1,400 respectively.

The Chief Job Creation Officer, Prof. Eric Eboh, to Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, said Okowa had succeeded in using agricultural landscape to develop the state and create wealth and job for unemployed youths and graduates in the state. He said: “We are already milling the rice.

It will be from farm to table. We will process and package it to be launched. It will end up at the government conference table, where it will be served for governors and captains of industries, and declared open to be exported to other countries for consumption.”

In Abia State, the much talked about Abia Rice (Osikapa Abia) could not be found in any market. It was gathered that the Abia Rice has no particular point of production but as produced at the various rice producing communities. Recently, the Chief Press to Governor Okezie Ikpeazu, Mr Onyebuchi Ememanka, told journalists the Ikpeazu administration has established four cottage rice mills at Ofeme, Bende, Acha and Uzuakoli with plans to establish additional mills in Arochukwu and Bende.

In Bayelsa, the local rice, which is now the generally accepted, has flooded the markets. A visit to Swali market the biggest market in Bayelsa showed that almost all the local brands of rice were available. It was noticed that there were more than six brands of local rice at the market. North Despite the closure foreign rice is still available in some markets in the North, especially in Sokoto State. One of our correspondents who visited markets in the North noticed various brands of foreign and locally produced rice. The brand names of the rice seen in the Sokoto old market includes Naija, Sogar, Tomato Anajo, Royal Stallion, and Diamond among others, while the local rice include King, Royal, Naija, Labana, while others have no brand names.

Traders in the old market in Sokoto said the hike in the price of foreign rice had made consumers to have preference for local rice. A trader known as Aliyu said the price of foreign rice had increased to N1000 per measure and 50kg bag of the commodity is being sold at above N18, 000. According to him the increase has led to consumers demanding locally produced rice with a stable price of between N550 to N600 a measure. In Kano, despite the availability of local rice and the springing up of many milling companies, the prices of the commodity has skyrocketed.

Some of the rice farmers and sellers in Kano have different positions on why the price of the commodity is high, some believe that lack of implements and lack of seri-ous government intervention caused the hike in price. Alhaji Zakari GarunBaba a big time Rice Farmer, believes that all the Federal Government’s policies on rice farming was rather a failure because most of them who were truly in the business were not considered.

“You could see that after spending these huge amount the prices of rice in the final analysis will be determined by how it is being produced locally, that is why today we have a bag in the market been sold at N15,000 to N16,000”. In the same vein Alhaji Sabiu Bako a rice miller who recently open his milling company, said from diesel to other operational items needed to produced the local rice they spent millions of Naira that is why it is still high price in the market. The Federal Government Boarders Closure has received a significant supports from the Nigeria Rice Producers who says the policy is greatly making impact on the home grown rice.

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Dasuki, El-Zakzaky, Sowore chose to be kept in our custody – DSS

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Dasuki, El-Zakzaky, Sowore chose to be kept in our custody – DSS

…denies violating court orders

The Department of State Services (DSS), has rebuffed claims that it was holding a former National Security Adviser Col. Sambo Dasuku (rtd), as well as leader of the proscribed Islamic Movement of Nigeria, Sheikh Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, illegally.
The secret service said Dasuku and El-Zakzaky had, during separate court rulings, pleaded to be left in its custody, rather than being remanded in correctional centres (prisons).
In a statement Friday by its Public Relations Officer, Dr. Peter Afunanya, the DSS also cited the case of the detained convener of #Revolution Now, Mr. Omoyele Sowore who, it said, had chosen a similar path.
The position came few days after a group of protesters demanding the release of Sowore from detention, were dispersed by personnel.
According to Afunanya, the decisions by the trio to be held in the intelligence agency’s custody, was eloquent testimony to the claim that the “Service’s holding facilities are good and within acceptable international standards”.
To buttress the position, Afunanya said the service allowed them access to their families, choice of foods, telephone calls among others.
“There has been outcry about alleged illegal detention of some notable persons undergoing trials at the courts and disobedience to court orders by the Service. To put the records straight, the Service wishes to avert public attention to the circumstances that warranted the custody of Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd.) and Sheik Ibrahim El-Zakzaky in its facility.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the duo had appealed to the courts to be left in the custody of the Service instead of being taken to the Correctional Centres. Well meaning Nigerians are equally witnesses to the case of Omoleye Sowore, who, on a similar order of the court, was to be remanded at the Kuje or Suleja Centre, but preferred to be kept at the DSS.
“Everyone, also, saw what eventually played out with El-Zakzaky, when he opted to be returned to the custody of the Service even as the court had granted him leave to seek medical care in India. These were choices these personalities made on their own volition.
“Since their stay, the Service has continued to extend the best courtesies to them.They are allowed access to people and use of other facilities like telephones, gymnasium, TV, newspapers and medical facilities.
“Among others, their families and trusted persons bring them food of their choices on daily basis.  There could not have been better treatments than these,” Afunabya said.

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’28m Nigerians living with Hepatitis virus’

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’28m Nigerians living with Hepatitis virus’

At least 28 million Nigerians are living with the Hepatitis B virus, with more than half of the number unaware of their medical condition.
A Professor of Gastroentorology/Hepatology at the Bayero University, Kano,
Adamu Alhaji Samaila, made the frightening revelation Friday, at an awareness lecture and screening excercise for Hepatitis B virus, which held at the headquarters of the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) in Abuja. It was organised by the medical branch of the Service.
The lecture was approved by the Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, as part of measures to ensure that Hepatitis and other similar diseases do not pose a challenge to the NAF’s operational readiness.
In his presentation, the guest lecturer said: “About 28 million Nigerians are suffering from Hepatitis B.
“Over 2 billion (global figure) individuals have evidence of previous and present infection. 240 million chronic carriers. 1 million deaths annually.”
Accordingly, Samaila called for screening and testing, saying doing so will facilitate early detection and treatment, where necessary.
In his opening remarks, the CAS maintained that, beyond the deployment of platforms for battles, there was the compelling need personnel to be mentally and physically fit.

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Kogi, Bayelsa polls: EU urges security agencies to be neutral

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Kogi, Bayelsa polls: EU urges security agencies to be neutral

European Union has urged security agencies to be neutral in the discharge of their duty within the framework of the electoral law in light of the elections taking place on Saturday in Kogi and Bayelsa state.

Speaking on Friday during a press conference in Lokoja, the capital of Kogi State, the Head of Delegation, European Union Delegation to Nigeria and to the Economic Community of West African States, Ambassador Ketil Karlsen, said they are in Kogi and Bayelsa states to support the consolation of democracy in Nigeria and not there in support of any political party and candidate.

The European Union team, which comprises many foreign officials from the United Kingdom, Germany, Switzerland and Austrian embassies, also implored the citizens of Kogi and Bayelsa to come out and vote for the candidates of their choice, noting that “the beauty of democracy is for people to come out and vote candidates they believe will help improve their socio-economic conditions.”

The EU, while discouraging the electorate from vote buying, noted that: “In any democracy, elections should be about a competition of ideas and serving the people. Therefore, vote buying is illegal and should not be encouraged. We hope that tomorrow’s elections reflect this.”

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Kogi guber: Makinde, Wada escape abduction

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Kogi guber: Makinde, Wada escape abduction

The Chairman Campaign Council of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for the Kogi State election and Oyo State Governor, Mr. Seyi Makinde alongside the party’s gubernatorial candidate, Engineer Musa Wada, Friday afternoon escaped possible abduction by men wearing police uniforms in Lokoja, Kogi State.

Deputy Commissioner of Police Operation, Kabiru Gworzo, who confirmed the incident, said they have already swung into action to apprehend the suspects.

According to reports, about 40 men wearing hoods were said to have invaded the Suitorial Hotel where the Oyo State governor, the PDP candidate, including the National Publicity Secretary of the party, Kola Ologbondiyan, and other chieftains were lodging.

Some of the men were said to have jumped the hotel fence and started heading towards the apartment were the PDP chieftains were lodging.

It took the intervention of the heavily armed security personnel attached to Makinde to repel the attackers.

Reacting to the incident, Ologbondiyan described the attack as shameful and last kick of a dying man.

Ologbondiyan, who urged the Police to quickly investigate the matter, claimed that the gunmen were fake policemen doing the bidding of government.

“We have been raising the alarm long before now that the APC government in the state has been importing security hardware to the state, to legitimise their thugs. What happened today was a clear evidence of all the complaints we have laid.

“They were almost 50 in number, some of them jumped through the fence, while others surrounded our hotel. A real policeman should not be wearing hood to carry out operation, but because these men are fake that was why they wore hoods. We are very lucky that the security men attached to the Oyo State governor, Seyi Makinde rose to the occasion and chased away,” he added.

Meanwhile, a businessman and PDP chieftain,  Dr Alex Ayodele Delex, who is also the proprietor of the Suitorial Hotel, was on Thursday abducted by unknown gunmen.

Delex is a philanthropist from Mopamuro Local Government Area of Kogi West and a strong supporter of the PDP in the state.

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Kogi guber: Court adjourns suit challenging Yahaya Bello’s eligibility till Nov 21

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Kogi guber: Court adjourns suit challenging Yahaya Bello’s eligibility till Nov 21

The Federal High Court, Abuja, on Friday, adjourned continuation of hearing on the suit challenging whether Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi, is fit to contest in Saturday’s governorship election till November 21.

The presiding judge, Justice Inyang Ekwo, who adjourned the case, said the decision was to afford Bello, who sought to be joined in the matter, a fair hearing.

Justice Ekwo said all preliminary objections in the suit would be taken in the adjourned date and any party absent on the day would be deemed to have adopted them.

NAN reports that Bello had, through his lawyer, Mike Enahoro, filed a motion to be joined in the case on Friday.

Counsel to the plaintiff, Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN), who acknowledged receipt of the motion this morning, hinted that the motion sought to stop court’s proceeding on the matter.

He, however, argued that the motion be thrown out considering that the election is Saturday.

On his part, Counsel to the APC, Abdulwahab Mohammed, said he would need more time to study the motion.

However, Counsel to INEC, Alhassan Umar (SAN), said he had no objection to the motion.

NAN reports that the suit dated October 10 and marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/1221/2019, filed by Chief Mike Ozekhome, SAN, on Akpoti’s behalf, sought the court’s determination on the eligibility of Governor Bello in the Saturday election, having allegedly involved in double registration as a voter.

Akpoti said: “That by his wilful act of making double registration as a voter, Yahaya Bello, candidate of the 1st defendant is not a fit and proper person to be allowed by the 2nd defendant to vote or be voted for in the forthcoming Kogi state governorship election, having committed act of electoral fraud.

“That Mr Yahaya Bella. the candidate of the 1st Defendant. was initially registered as a voter sometime in 2011 in Abuja, by the 2nd defendant.

“That Bello. the candidate of the 1st defendant again fraudulently procured from the 2nd defendant. a second registration as a voter on May 23, 2017, at Government House, Lokoja, while his 2011 first registration as a voter in Abuja was still live, extant and subsisting.

“That the said Yahaya Bello, the candidate of the 1st defendant carried out the double registration with the 2nd defendant so as to scuttle due electoral process.

“That such a person is not a fit and proper person to vote for in any election, let alone for the high office of the governor of a state.”

Justice Ekwo had, on Tuesday, delivered judgment, disqualifying the APC Deputy Governorship Candidate in Bayelsa, Sen. Biobarakuma Degi-Eremienyo, over false information given in his CF0001 Form submitted to INEC for the Saturday’s poll.

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Buhari mourns Alex Akinyele, condoles with govt, people of Ondo

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Buhari mourns Alex Akinyele, condoles with govt, people of Ondo

President Muhammadu Buhari has commiserated with family of former Minister of Information, Chief Alex Akinyele, who passed away on Thursday night.

The President’s condolence message is conveyed through a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, in Abuja on Friday.

President Buhari also commiserated with the government and people of Ondo State, friends and professional colleagues of the departed, urging them to take solace in the lasting legacies of the former colourful minister.

President Buhari affirmed that Akinyele’s scrupulousness, discipline and diligence were always obvious to those who worked closely with him, and his love for the nation, which was zealously demonstrated through providing exemplary leadership.

The President prayed that the Almighty God will grant the soul of the former minister eternal rest, and comfort all members of his family.

Akinyele, who died at the age of 81, was a trained teacher and Public Relations Specialist, and had also served as Chairman of National Sports Commission and Chairman of National Reconciliation Committee.

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Kogi poll: Court begins hearing on suit challenging Yahaya Bello’s eligibility

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Kogi poll: Court begins hearing on suit challenging Yahaya Bello’s eligibility

The Federal High Court, Abuja, on Friday, commenced hearing on the suit challenging whether Governor Yahaya Bello, is fit to contest in Saturday’s Kogi Governorship election.

The presiding judge, Justice Inyang Ekwo, however, stood down the case for 30 minutes in order to study a motion filed by Bello, who is seeking to be joined in the suit.

News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that while the Social Democratic Party (SDP)’s Candidate in the Saturday’s poll, Natasha Akpoti, is the plaintiff; the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) are 1st and 2nd defendants respectively.

At the hearing on Friday, Bello’s lawyer, Mike Enahoro, who filed a motion of a party seeking to be joined in the matter, said he filed the application this morning because they got wind of the case yesterday.

Counsel to the plaintiff, Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN), who acknowledged receipt of the motion this morning, hinted that the motion sought to stop court’s proceeding on the matter.

He, however, argued that the motion be thrown out considering that the election is Saturday.

On his part, Counsel to the APC, Abdulwahab Mohammed, said he would need more time to study the motion.

However, Counsel to INEC, Alhassan Umar (SAN), said he had no objection to the motion.

The suit, dated October 10 and marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/1221/2019, filed by Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN), on Akpoti’s behalf, sought the court’s determination on the eligibility of Governor Bello in the Saturday election, having allegedly involved in double registration as a voter.

Akpoti said “that by his wilful act of making double registration as a voter, Yahaya Bello, candidate of the 1st defendant is not a fit and proper person to be allowed by the 2nd defendant to vote or be voted for in the forthcoming Kogi state governorship election, having committed act of electoral fraud.

“That Mr. Yahaya Bella. the candidate of the 1st Defendant. was initially registered as a voter sometime in 2011 in Abuja, by the 2nd defendant.

“That Bello. the candidate of the 1st defendant again fraudulently procured from the 2nd defendant. A second registration as a voter on 23rd May,. 2017, at Government House, Lokoja, while his 2011 first registration as a voter in Abuja was still live, extant and subsisting.

“That the said Yahaya Bello, the candidate of the 1st defendant carried out the double registration with the 2nd defendant so as to scuttle due electoral process.

“That such a person is not a fit and proper person to vote for in any election, let alone for the high office of the governor of a state.”

NAN reports that Justice Ekwo had, on Tuesday, delivered judgment, disqualifying the APC Deputy Governorship Candidate in Bayelsa, Sen. Biobarakuma Degi-Eremienyo, over false information given in his CF0001 Form submitted to INEC for the Saturday’s poll.

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Lightning strikes kill 27 in Pakistan

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Lightning strikes kill 27 in Pakistan

Officials said separate incidents of lightening killed at least 27 people and injured over two dozens of others in different areas of Pakistan’s southern Sindh province during the last 24 hours, local media reported Friday morning.

Saeed Ghani, the provincial government spoke man said that local authorities declared an emergency and rushed rescuers to the Thar Desert in the province of Sindh after the overnight tragedy.

He added that several dozen people including women and children were being treated at the hospitals, reports dp.

They sustained injuries caused by lightning and falling structures due to the rain.

Aslam Chandio, the local rescue official said that three districts including Tharparkar, Mirpurkhas and Sukkur were hit by heavy rains from Thursday evening that continued into Friday.

Anwar Kazimi the spokesperson for Edhi Charity that works in the region equally added that the death toll might increase as information were pouring in from remote villages still inaccessible for rescuers.

Flash floods, land erosion, cloudbursts, droughts and smog resulting in low air quality have been on the rise in Pakistan in recent years.

Climate expert Chaudhry Qamar Zaman also said that sandwiched between highly industrialized China and India, Pakistan would have to bear the brunt of the global warming.

Zaman added that both the state and people will have to realise the gravity of the problem and act swiftly.

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IGP appoints new CPs for Lagos, Ogun,5 other states

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IGP appoints new CPs for Lagos, Ogun,5 other states

Emmanuel Onani, Abuja

The Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mr. Mohammed Adamu, has ordered the postings of new Commissioners of Police (CPs) to Lagos, Ogun, Akwa Ibom and Cross River states.

Also affected in the posting/redeployment are Bauchi, Kano and Edo states.

A statement by the Force Public Relations Officer, DCP Frank Mba, late Thursday night, listed the new CPs and their commands as follows: Nkereuwem A. Akpan (Cross River); Kenneth Ebrimson (Akwa Ibom); Imohimi D. Edgal (Ogun); Sani Ahmadu (Kano); Lawal Jimeta (Edo); Philip Sule Maku (Bauchi); and Odumosu H. Olusegun, who is acting CP, Lagos.

Adamu charged the new command CPs to build upon the operational gains of their predecessors, while striving hard to implement the community-based policing initiative.

“The Inspector General of Police charges the newly posted officers to ensure the consolidation and improvement on the gains of their predecessors in the areas of public safety and crime fighting.

“He also directs the new Commissioners of Police to work with relevant stakeholders in adopting aggressive, proactive and community based crime prevention strategies to combat crime in their Areas of Responsibility.

“In addition, the Inspector General of Police enjoins the citizens of the affected states to accord the Commissioners of Police maximum cooperation to ensure they succeed in the realization of their mandate,” Mba said.

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Man dies in Hong Kong protests as Chinese President calls for end to unrest

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Man dies in Hong Kong protests as Chinese President calls for end to unrest

Another person in Hong Kong has died in protests that have convulsed the financial hub since June, a tragedy that comes just after China’s leader issued his most direct rebuke of the unrest yet.

A 70-year-old cleaner who was believed to have been hit in the head during a skirmish between protesters and residents died Thursday evening, the Hospital Authority confirmed.

According to a government statement, the man was on his lunch break Wednesday when he was struck by “hard objects hurled by masked rioters.”

His death follows less than a week after a student protester sustained a fatal injury after falling from a parking garage during demonstrations, reports time.com.

While the circumstances leading to the student’s fall remain unclear, many supporters of the protest movement see him as a martyr, and his death galvanized a fresh round of strikes and protests that have roiled the city for five consecutive days.

Traffic continued to be snarled and train services disrupted Friday as protesters occupy major thoroughfares and parts of the railway tracks. Schools and universities remain shuttered, and many businesses encouraged employees to stay home.

Speaking from a summit in Brazil, Chinese President Xi Jinping said “continuous radical violent activities in Hong Kong seriously trample [on] rule of law and the social order, [and] seriously disturb Hong Kong’s prosperity and stability.”

Beijing firmly supports Hong Kong’s leader, the police and the courts “in severely punishing the violent criminals,” he said in rare comments on the situation.

According to Chinese state media, Xi called ending the turmoil Hong Kong’s most pressing task.

But with no end to the protests in sight, Asia’s financial capital is struggling. The territory of 7.5 million has fallen into a recession as tourists stay away and high-end shopping malls are transformed into battlegrounds between riot police and protesters.

After clashes with police moved from the streets to the outskirts of academic institutions earlier this week, unleashing some of the fiercest battles in six months of unrest, student demonstrators barricaded themselves inside their university campuses.

Behind the walls of the fortress-like campuses, students have stockpiled Molotov cocktails, swords and arrows as they seek to safeguard their academic sanctuaries.

Several universities have suspended classes for the duration of the semester, and allowed an exodus of international students.

In the city’s Central business district, lunchtime flash mobs have brought white collar workers out to the streets to erect roadblocks and face off with police, even as the clashes have become increasingly violent.

In the face of a deepening crisis, Hong Kong’s embattled Chief Executive Carrie Lam has doubled down on her insistence that there will be no capitulating to the protesters’ demands. Earlier this week, she called it “wishful thinking” that the government would yield to the “escalating violence.”

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