Saturday, 21 October 2017

ARTS AND CULTURE

Items filtered by date: October 2017
The Nigerian Army Council has approved accelerated promotion for Garba Abdullahi from Master Warrant Officer to Captain for gallantry, bravery and selfless service.
 
The army authorities described the development as a reward for unprecedented show of bravery culminating in an Executive Commission for Abdullahi who moved from Master Warrant Officer to a Captain.
 
Abdullahi is of the 159 Battallion, Nigerian Army with serial number 79NA/31553.
 
A statement Thrusday night from the Director of Army public Relations, Brig General Sani Usman, noted that Abdullahi displayed exceptional acts of bravery while carrying out his assignments against the Boko Haram insurgents in the Northeast to the admiration of his superior commanders.
 
 The statement reads: “In recognition and reward for gallantry, unprecedented show of bravery, courage and selfless service, the Army Council has on Monday 16th October 2017, approved the granting of Executive Commission to 79NA/21553 Master Warrant Officer Garba Abdullahi of 159 Battalion, Nigerian Army, to the rank of Captain for gallantry.
 
“The accelerated promotion was due to observed outstanding qualities of military professionalism such as gallantry and dedication to service demonstrated by the Non–Commissioned Officer.
 
“Garba Abdullahi’s leadership qualities endeared him to his Commanding Officer who deemed it fit to assign him a higher responsibility as platoon commander of one of the arrow head sub-units of the Battalion, the role he played excellently to the admiration of both his superiors and subordinates alike.
 
“Under his able leadership, his platoon achieved great exploits of daring, bravery and courage for which the Battalion was reputed. The 159 Battalion is of one the rugged and most experienced cohesive fighting unit that make up Operation LAFIYA DOLE.
army
 
“The Battalion covers five Local Government Areas in Yobe State and serves as the Brigade’s first line of defence in the northern front adjoining Niger Republic and Borno State.
 
“The Battalion primarily occupies a blocking position from where it conducts Counter Terrorist and Counter Insurgency operations to defeat Boko Haram terrorists, deny them freedom of action and assist the civil authority in maintenance of law and order and restoration of socio-economic activities within its area of responsibility.
 
“Since their deployment into the theatre about two years ago, the unit has contributed immensely to the decimation of Boko Haram terrorists and also involved in humanitarian activities to the host communities.
 
 
 “The elevated Garba has played a significant role in all the successful operations achieved by the unit. The newly commissioned Garba Abdullahi has since been decorated with the badge of his new rank of Captain at the Battalion Headquarters located in Geidam, Yobe State by his Commanding Officer Lieutenant Colonel Owoicho Augustine Obochi, to the admiration of both officers and soldiers of the unit.
 
“The Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General TY Buratai has congratulated the newly commissioned officer”.
Published in News & Stories

The wife of former President Goodluck Jonathan, Mrs. Patience Jonathan, on Thursday temporarily blocked the Federal High Court in Abuja from hearing an ex parte application filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission seeking an order of interim forfeiture of two properties traced to her in Abuja.

Usually, such ex parte applications are heard by courts without the knowledge or participation of the other parties whose properties are at stake.

But somehow, Patience’s legal team led by Chief Ifedayo Adedipe (SAN) got wind of the fact that the EFCC’s ex parte motion was to be heard by Justice Nnamdi Dimgba on Thursday.

The legal team quickly filed a motion challenging the court’s jurisdiction to hear the ex parte motion and also attended court on Thursday to block the hearing.

Justice Dimgba was set to hear the EFCC’s motion on Thursday but had to adjourn until November 11 after Adedipe and Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN), appearing for Mrs. Jonathan, argued that the ex parte could not be heard since their client had filed an application challenging the court’s jurisdiction to entertain it.

The EFCC was represented by Best Ojukwu and ‎also later by Tahir Sylvanus.

After the back-and-forth arguments between the EFCC’s and Mrs. Jonathan’s legal team, the court fixed November 11 for the hearing of the applications.

Published in News & Stories

The trial of a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Raymond Dokpesi resumed Thursday with two prosecution witnesses telling a Federal High Court in Abuja that Dokpesi bought house hold items with funds allegedly paid to him by former National Security Adviser (NSA), Mohammed Dasuki.

The witnesses – Peter Imoekor and Fabian Ozoemina – informed the court that they supplied generators, a transformer and security doors valued at millions of naira, to Dokpesi’s houses in Lagos and Agenebode, Edo State, and his offices at different times after N2.1bn was allegedly paid to him by the Office of the National Security Adviser between January and March 2015.

Dokpesi and his firm, Daar Investment and Holding Limited are standing trial on a six-count charge in relation to the N2.1bn they allegedly received unlawfully from the Office of the National Security Adviser between January and March 2015.

They are accused of engaging in money laundering and procurement.

Dokpesi and Daar Investments were said to have received the sum of N2.12bn from ONSA then headed by Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd.), as payment for a “purported contract on presidential media initiative”.

The two witnesses, who testified as the prosecution’s 7th and 8th witnesses, were led in evidence by prosecuting lawyer, Oluwaleke Atolagbe.

Imoekor, who is the Administrative Manager of Mikano International Ltd, Abuja branch, was the first to mount the witness box. He said that he was invited by the EFCC in February 2016 “to clarify” some transactions which Mikano had with Dokpesi and Daar Communications Plc.

He explained how between February and August 2015 Mikano supplied four units of 140KVA, two units of 200KVA and a 500KVA electric transformer to Dokpesi’s house in Agenebode (Dokpesi’s hometown) and Daar’s offices in Sokoto and Gusau, Zamfara State.

He said “The transaction was in respect of four units of 140KVA Basic (open type). Each costs N3.5m and they all totaled N14m

“Daar made payment for all. The payment was made in two tranches of N7m each through First Bank drafts.

“On March 19, 2015, they came to exchange three of the ‘Basic’ generators with soundproof type and paid the difference of N6, 350,000 through UBA Plc.

“Then on March 30, 2015, delivery was made. We delivered them to Sokoto and Gusau, capital of Zamfara State.

“In the same March,they made a request for the purchase of two units of 200KVA basic generator and payment of N11,657,240 was made through transfer and delivery was made to his (Dokpesi’s) house in Otuake  Quarters, Agenebode in Edo State.

“In August 2015 payment for 500KVA electric transformer was made. The amount paid was in cash. It was N3,073,200. This time the receipt was issued in his name, that is, High Chief Raymond Dokpesi’s name.

“Then a memo was issued to the head office of Mikano International Limited for delivery in Agenebode Edo State. It was subsequently delivered,” the witness said.

He confirmed that the instructions for the transactions were from Dokpesi and that they were mostly carried out by the officials of Daar Communications.

While being cross-examination by Dokpesi’s lawyer, Kanu Agabi (SAN), Imoekor said did not know the sources of the money paid by Dokpesi and his company for the supply of the products.

He also said he did not know about the income and expenditure of Daar and that there is nothing about the transactions which he considered abnormal until he was invited by the EFCC.

Ozoemina said the EFCC invited him sometimes in January 2016 and asked him what the money paid to my company was for and he said it was for security door.

The witness was later handed a document – a bank statement – and was asked to read from it.

He said, “The narration reads: inward clearing cheque in favour of Gilgal Concept Ltd, on January 27, 2015 – N5m. Inward clearing cheque in favour of Gilgal Concept Ltd on the same day, January 27, 2015 – N1,066,558.”

Ozoemina confirmed that the sums of money were paid into the account of Gilgal, his company.

He said the total sum of N6,066,558 was for installation of security doors at Dokpesi’s house in Agenebode.

The witness further said “We got a total of N6,066,558 for the supply and installation of steel security doors. We installed the security doors. They were installed at chairman’s project at Agenebode. It was installed towards the end of 2014 and early 2015.”

He confirmed that Dokpesi, whom he had known for close to 20 years gave the instructions for the transactions.

While being cross-examination by Agabi, he denied knowing the sources of the money paid by Dokpesi.

On whether he would describe Dokpesi, with whom he said he had related for the past 20 years as a good man, Ozoemina said the 1st defendant is.

The trial judge, Justice John Tsoho subsequently adjourned further proceedings to November 17.

Published in Business and Economy

All the players that featured for Super Eagles on their way to qualifying for the 2018 World Cup will share from the N4.5 billion largesse due Nigeria for being among the 32 teams to vie for honours in Russia.

FIFA will pay the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) $12.5 million (about N4.5 billion), which is $10 million (N3.6 billion) for qualifying for the 2018 World Cup tournament and $2.5 million to prepare for the competition in Russia.

Such bonuses are usually paid by FIFA to federations of countries that play in any of their tournaments as qualification bonus and to enhance the country’s adequate preparation for the actual tournament.

According to Breaking Times, so far, 37 players participated in Nigeria’s march to the 2018 World Cup and each of these players will receive a share of the qualification bonus.

Should the Super Eagles make it to the knock out stages of the tournament, they will be eligible to receive more money from FIFA.

Money issues hampered Nigeria’s participation at the Brazil 2014 edition of the competition leading to players refusing to train on the eve of their second round game against France. Nigeria promptly lost the game.

Super Eagles’ technical adviser, Gernot Rohr recently pleaded with Nigerians to support the team by ensuring that monetary issues do not derail the campaign in Russia.

“If we want to do something at the World Cup, we have to prepare well.

“We want everybody who wants to be part of the team to show the same solidarity we currently have in the team. “More importantly, we don’t want the issue of money to be a problem,” he said.

Published in News & Stories

• Lawmakers to begin investigation
• 15,000 jobs at risk as dispute lingers
• Maritime workers seek early resolution

The House of Representatives yesterday ordered an immediate reversal of the termination of the contract between Integrated Logistics Services (INTELS) Nigeria Limited and the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA).

Adopting a motion sponsored by Diri Duoye under matters of public importance during the plenary session presided over by Speaker Yakubu Dogara, the House resolved to raise an ad-hoc committee to ascertain if due process was followed before the termination of the contract.

The House thereby directed the authorities to maintain the status quo ante pending when the committee would turn in its report in two weeks. While leading the debate on the issue, Douye (PDP: Yenagoa: Bayelsa), remarked that there was the need to ascertain whether the termination of the contract was not in breach of the law.

Claiming that INTELS had already invested $900 million in facilities in the Apapa, Warri, and Port Harcourt terminals, he stated that no fewer than 7,000 Nigerians and their dependents could be affected if the termination of the contract was allowed to stand.

INTELS, believed to be mainly owned by former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, is responsible for the provision of logistics and facilities in the maritime sector of the country based on the boats pilotage monitoring and supervision agreement whereby the company collects revenue on behalf of the NPA.

Other lawmakers spoke on the issue. Hassan Saleh (Benue, PDP) said it was saddening that an indigenous firm was being treated in such a disdainful manner. He wondered why the authorities refused to renegotiate the contract with the company before terminating it.

Samuel Arabo (PDP, Kaduna) said it beat his imagination for the authorities to revoke a contract of over 17 years, alleging that there was more to the decision than met the eye.

However, Olurotimi Agunsoye (APC, Lagos) and Ali Madaki (APC, Kano) spoke in support of the decision by NPA to terminate the contract.

Madaki, who cited constitutional provisions, argued that the government had the power to terminate any contractual relationship between any of its agencies and any firm over issues relating to the payment of money into the consolidated revenue fund.

Before Dogara called for a voice vote which favoured the motion, he urged the lower chamber to ensure that the law was not breached by either the government or INTELS on the issue at stake.

And worried about the jobs that would be lost, the Maritime Workers’ Union of Nigeria (MWUN) appealed to the Federal Government and INTELS to amicably resolve the misunderstanding that led to the cancellation of the contract.

The President-General of MWUN, Adewale Adeyanju, in a statement yesterday said the cancellation of the contract would send wrong signals to the international community and scare away investors.

“The Federal Government should avoid anything that will send wrong signals to investors that Nigeria’s environment is not safe and conducive for business.

“Most of these employees are Nigerians with families and responsibilities. We are therefore, worried that if this issue is not resolved amicably, their jobs could be on the line. The socio-economic implications of most of them losing their jobs in a volatile area like Rivers State can be better imagined than experienced,” he said.

“As organised labour, our utmost concern is the job security and welfare of our members in INTELS Nigeria Limited,” he said.

About 15,000 workers that are directly in the service of the INTELS have expressed the fear of losing their jobs to the disagreement. There are about 35,000 others who are indirectly engaged by contractors, agents and vendors that provide support services for the company.

Some of the employees who spoke to The Guardian, expressed disappointment that the government was cancelling a contract it willingly signed years back when the contract duration had not elapsed.

Another employee, who identified herself simply as Chichi, said the assurance given by the Managing Director of NPA, Hadiza Bala-Usman, was not enough guarantee for the security of jobs.

“Who knows the new contractor and what policies he or she would bring to bear? We have had similar experiences in the past. It does not work that way. You will begin to hear different stories by the time we get to that point and that is why the labour union has always resisted this transition thing. It doesn’t work here in Nigeria. It’s a deceit, “ she said.

NPA had relied on legal advice from the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Mallam Abubakar Malami, to terminate the contract.

To ensure the safety of ships’ passage within Nigeria’s seaports, the NPA, through INTELS as its agent, provides pilotage services to guide ships into and out of the ports.

Bala-Usman had alleged that INTELS refused to comply with the Treasury Single Account (TSA) policy of the Federal Government, insisting on deducting its money from source.

She also said that the workers who were likely to lose their jobs as a result of the termination of the contract would be absorbed by the new company that would emerge.

But INTELS’ Spokesperson, Bolaji Akinola, alleged that the management of NPA deliberately frustrated attempts to address the issues raised by the introduction of the TSA in the execution of its pilotage agency agreement.

Akinola said: “The issues arose because the pilotage agency agreement, signed in 2010, did not envisage the TSA, and as such did not factor it into its implementation.”

The company said it borrowed $1.4 billion (N428.4 billion) from banks to execute the agreement with the understanding that the debt would be offset from money realised from the pilotage services paid directly to the banks.

Akinola said meetings, letters and proposals on how to resolve the TSA imbroglio were rebuffed by the NPA managing director. “Deliberate stumbling blocks were placed on the path of resolving the issues and this is indicative of a sinister motive,” he said.

Published in Business and Economy

A pastor who had claimed to foresee President Robert Mugabe's death on Tuesday is apparently trying to save face now that his prophecy hasn't come true, reports Times Live, saying "God has changed His mind".

Times Live reports Pastor Phillip Muguzada as saying: "As to why God postponed that‚ He never told me that - so I really don’t know why God chose that direction. I know many people were actually expecting the fulfillment of the prophetic word‚ because of what is happening in this nation. "

It's still the top trending story on the South African news site, reflecting the mixture of incredulity, mirth and confusion with which people people have reacted to the story.

Zimbabwean pastor Phillip Mugadza recently tried and failed in his bid to get the country's top court to throw out charges against him for prophesying that President Robert Mugabe, 93, would die on 17th October 2017.

The case would now return to the magistrates court, where Pastor Mugadza - the leader of The Remnant Church - has been charged with "causing offence to persons of a particular race and religion or alternatively causing criminal nuisance".

At the time of his arrest, his lawyer Gift Mtisi had told the BBC: He's admitting to the facts. He says he didn't lie - that's a message from God. Police will have to prove God didn't say it."

Pastor Mugadza's lawyers asked the Constitutional Court to throw out the charges on the grounds that they violated his right to free speech.

The prosecution alleges that the pastor insulted the Christian religion and African tradition by predicting Mr Mugabe's death.

Predicting the death of a leader is taboo, according to traditional beliefs.

Published in Headliners
Tuesday, 17 October 2017 17:05

Nnamdi Kanu absent as treason trial resumes

The leader of a pro-Biafran group that wants to break away from Nigeria failed to appear in court on Tuesday as his treason trial was scheduled to resume.

Nnamdi Kanu, who heads the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) movement, was nowhere to be seen as proceedings resumed at the Federal High Court in the capital, Abuja.

Prosecutor Shuaibu Labaran said Kanu’s absence was “contrary to the order of this court” but the separatist leader’s lawyer, Ifeanyi Ejiofor, said: “I don’t know where my client is.

“The home of of the first defendant (Kanu) was invaded by soldiers and since that time I have not heard from him. I cannot tell… whether (he) is alive or dead.”

Ejiofor also suggested Kanu was “in the custody of the (federal government)”.

Judge Binta Nyako adjourned the case until November 20, pending more information as to Kanu’s whereabouts.

Kanu and three other defendants, who were remanded in custody, are facing several charges linked to his calls for a separate state for the Igbo people, the majority in Nigeria’s southeast.

He was first arrested in October 2015, stoking grievances that have festered since a previous declaration of independence in 1967 sparked a bloody, 30-month civil war.

The conflict left at least one million people dead, most of them Igbos from the effects of starvation and disease, as federal forces blockaded the fledgling state.

Threat of violence 
Kanu, who also runs the London-based Radio Biafra station, was released on bail in April this year on health grounds but under strict terms.

The judge ruled that he should not attend any rally, be in a crowd of more than 10 people or give any media interviews while on bail.

He was ordered to pay sureties totalling 300 million naira ($835,000, 710,000 euros) to ensure his attendance at trial.

Ejiofor told reporters at the time they were “very sure we will fulfil the conditions for bail”. But since then, Kanu has rarely been out of the spotlight.

He told AFP in an interview in May to mark the 50th anniversary of the declaration of independence that he was “more determined than ever” to secure a breakaway republic.

He also called for “civil disobedience” until a referendum was granted on self-determination.

Kanu’s whereabouts have been the source of increasing speculation in recent weeks, after a military surge in his home city of Umuahia and the surrounding area.

The IPOB leader’s younger brother, Prince Emmanuel Kanu, said the army attacked the family’s compound last month, killing 28.

The army has denied the claim and also that they were holding Kanu, but their tactics come in for criticism for fueling tensions in the restive region.

Comparisons have been drawn to Boko Haram’s founder Muhammad Yusuf, who died in custody in 2009 during a military crackdown in the northeastern city of Maiduguri.

“If anything happens to him (Kanu), the reactions are likely to be very violent in the southeast,” said security consultant Don Okereke.

Published in Headliners

President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday regretted that despite the various interventions by the Federal Government there are still complaints and agitations by workers over unpaid salaries and allowances in states.

He wondered how the unpaid workers had been managing to meet their needs.

Buhari made his position known while addressing a delegation of the Nigerian Governors Forum led by the forum’s chairman, Abdulaziz Yari.

Yari had led Governor Emmanuel Udom of Akwa Ibom representing South South; Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi, representing  North West; Abdulfatah Ahmed of Kwara, representing North Central; deputy governor of Ebonyi, Dr. Eric  Igwe representing South East; Mohammed Abubakar of Bauchi, representing North East; and Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo, representing South West to a meeting with the President at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

The various interventions the current administration had extended to states included bailout, Paris Club refund and budget support.

Some governors were alleged to have diverted the bailouts.

The President told the governors that the plight of workers in the states need urgent attention as many could barely survive.

“How can anyone go to bed and sleep soundly when workers have not been paid their salaries for months.

“I actually wonder how the workers feed their families, pay their rents and even pay school fees for their children,” he said.

The President told the governors that two out of the three-pronged focus of the ruling All Progressives Congress to secure the country and fight corruption had received some commendable reviews by the people, noting that the challenge in payment of salaries in states had taken a toll on the people.

“God has been merciful in hearing the prayers of his servants so the rainy season has been good, you can ask the Kebbi State governor on this, and our enormous food importation bill has gone down,” he said.

Buhari said the Federal Government and state executives would need to work closer together to ameliorate the situation of workers across the country.

The President said he had instructed all government agencies to comply with the Treasury Single Account in order to ensure more transparency and prudence in accounting for the revenues of the government and the sharing of entitlements with states.

The statement quoted Yari as saying that  the various interventions by the Federal Government, which include the bailouts, were judiciously utilised by the states.

He stressed that the governors inherited backlog of unpaid salaries and huge debts portfolios on assumption of office.

Published in Business and Economy

Former international footballer George Weah and Liberia’s Vice President Joseph Boakai will face a runoff for the presidency on November 7, the national election commission announced Sunday.

With tallies in from 95.6 percent of polling stations, Weah took 39.0 percent of the votes and Boakai 29.1 percent, both well short of the 50 percent barrier required to win outright from the first round of voting held on Tuesday.

National Elections Commission chairman Jerome Korkoya told journalists that 1,550,923 votes had been counted and turnout was at 74.52 percent.

Three other candidates took a significant share of votes with veteran opposition leader Charles Brumskine at 9.8 percent, former Coca-Cola Executive Alexander Cummings at 7.1 percent and former warlord turned preacher Prince Johnson at 7.0 percent.

These candidates will now decide which runoff contender they will direct their supporters to follow, holding significant sway over the final results.

Published in Business and Economy

Hundreds of demonstrators in Burkina Faso marked the 30th anniversary of Thomas Sankara’s assassination by demanding truth and justice on Sunday for the assassinated revolutionary leader.

The young army captain, nicknamed “Africa’s Che Guevara,”, was cut down in a hail of bullets on October 15, 1987 on his way to a special cabinet meeting.

Demonstrators wearing T-shirts bearing the likeness of the anti-imperialist crusader chanted “Truth and justice for Thomas Sankara,” with some waving signs that read “Shame on rotten prosecutors and corrupt judges.” 

Sankara was assassinated along with 12 comrades in a putsch that brought his close friend Blaise Compaore to power. Compaore ruled Burkina Faso until October 2014, when he was ousted by a popular uprising.

Compaore, who is in exile in Ivory Coast, is the subject of an international arrest warrant in connection with Sankara’s killing.

About a dozen people have been charged in connection over the assassination including soldiers from the presidential security unit.

“No one… Burkinabe or not, who was involved in these killings should be able to escape punishment,” said Bernard Sanou, president of the Thomas Sankara International Memorial Committee.

Published in Headliners
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