Monday, 20 November 2017

Headliners (1798)

The wife of ailing Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has left the country to visit him in London after first attending an African Union event, her office said.

Aisha Buhari’s office said late on Sunday that she was first heading to the AU summit in Addis Ababa for a “symbolic appearance” at a leaders’ wives meeting.

She will then head to Britain on Tuesday, a statement said, adding: “”She will convey to the president the best wishes of Nigerians and their fervent prayers for his quick recovery.”

Aisha Buhari first visited her 74-year-old husband in London on May 30 and returned to Nigeria on June 6, saying he was recovering fast.

The head of state of Africa’s most populous nation has spent most of this year in London receiving treatment for an unspecified medical condition.

In January and February, he spent almost two months in Britain and on his return in early March said he had never been as ill.

He left for the British capital again on May 7 for a second round of medical treatment. No date was given for his return.

The presidency has repeatedly rejected rumours that Buhari is terminally ill or even dead but has refused to disclose his illness or what treatment he is having.

Last week, opposition Ekiti state governor Ayodele Fayose advised Buhari to resign but his supporters rejected the suggestion.

Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo has been acting on his behalf in accordance with the constitution.

Buhari’s absence has brought forward behind-the-scenes jostling for position for the 2019 presidential election at which the ailing leader is unlikely to stand.

In 2010, Nigeria was plunged into months of political turmoil after president Umaru Musa Yar’Adua died in office following months of treatment abroad.

Posted On Monday, 03 July 2017 11:38 Written by

It’s New York’s sickest hospital.

Long before a deranged doctor opened fire inside Bronx-Lebanon Hospital, the place was under an ongoing federal corruption probe, mobsters controlled the construction of its new outpatient center, executives were enjoying million-dollar pay packages and fat bonuses, doctors were allegedly offered per-patient bounties to drum up clinic business, and whistleblowing staffers sounded the alarm about poor patient care but were ignored.

Friday’s bloodbath was the latest black mark on a sprawling medical center that mainly cares for the poor and receives most of its funding from taxpayers in the form of state Medicaid.

Even its hiring of Dr. Henry Bello, the former resident who returned to Bronx-Lebanon on Friday to gun down the people who had once been his colleagues, is being held up at the latest — and most tragic — example of questionable recruitment. Bello, 45, had a criminal conviction for a 2004 sex attack on a 23-year-old.

Bronx-Lebanon has been headed for decades by Miguel Fuentes, who some describe as an imperious CEO who rarely leaves his office at the hospital’s Fulton Avenue campus to visit the main hospital facility on the Grand Concourse. When he does travel, he has a hospital-funded car and driver.

“This isn’t the Mayo Clinic,” one hospital observer bitterly noted.

Fuentes, 67, raised eyebrows with oversize incentive and retirement payouts which he was able to collect while still working. He took home $4.8 million in 2008, including $2.7 million in “other compensation.”

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Bronx-Lebanon Hospital CEO Miguel FuentesGetty Images

In 2015, his total compensation came to $1.7 million, according to the hospital’s latest tax filings.

Fuentes has homes on the Upper East Side and in Southampton. He had a $20,000 shower installed in his office bathroom and later removed it because of the optics of such a perk, a source told The Post. The hospital said he has a modest shower.

Federal investigators have been eyeing the hospital’s leadership in connection with a mob kickback scheme, sources have told The Post.

The probe concerns the construction of Bronx-Lebanon’s new nine-story outpatient treatment center which houses the hospital’s clinics.

Work on the $42 million annex began in 2009 and was mostly financed through the sale of taxpayer-backed state Dormitory Authority bonds. The hospital is paying back the authority over 25 years.

The project was supposed to be finished in 19 months, but it wasn’t completed until 2014.

Construction costs were padded, with cash allegedly ending up in the pockets of the Lucchese crime family and hospital executives, sources told The Post.

A major mob takedown against Lucchese crime family members in May included charges of wire and mail fraud against underboss Steven “Wonder Boy” Crea Sr. and associate Joseph Venice. The charges were linked to a project at “a major New York City hospital,” according to a federal indictment.

The indictment did not name the hospital, but sources have identified it as Bronx-Lebanon. The hospital has disavowed any knowledge of the allegations.

A source told The Post that Sparrow Construction, the general contractor, billed Bronx-Lebanon $26 million for only $21 million worth of work in a scheme carried out through falsified invoices and change orders.

The hospital did not question those change orders, the source said.

Bronx-Lebanon, which got its start in the 1800s, was in such bad financial shape in the 1970s that it nearly declared bankruptcy but was saved by a state bailout.

The Bronx-Lebanon health system now includes a 642-bed hospital, two nursing homes and a mental health facility.

It likes to tout that it has more than 1 million clinic visits a year, but how it attained that number was questionable to at least one former high-ranking staffer.

Dr. John Cosgrove, the former chief of surgery, told The Post that the hospital offered bonus payments to doctors of up to $60 for every patient treated in the clinics.


‘I told Fuentes I could not sign off on a surgeon I didn’t even meet and had no idea how safe he was.’

 - Dr. John Cosgrove, former chief of surgery

He said the incentives came from Medicaid payments and were made at a time when Fuentes was pushing to reach, and trumpet, 1 million visits.


Cosgrove said the system was distasteful and open to abuse from doctors who might schedule unnecessary visits in order to get more money.

The doctor also questioned the hospital’s vetting of key employees.

Cosgrove objected to a decision by Fuentes to hire Dr. Ira Kirschenbaum in 2008 as head of orthopedic surgery without consulting him first.

“I told Fuentes I could not sign off on a surgeon I didn’t even meet and had no idea how safe he was,” Cosgrove said.

He said Fuentes responded by unilaterally telling the head of the medical staff to change the bylaws and to make orthopedics its own department.
“Just like that,” Cosgrove said.

Kirschenbaum raised alarms among staffers when four patients died in a short period after he arrived.

Sources said complaints were made to both hospital leadership and the state Office of Professional Medical Conduct. The state did not take any disciplinary action against the doctor.

Bronx-Lebanon also took no action against the surgeon. “There was no reason to do any such thing,” said Fred Miller, the hospital’s lawyer.

Kirschenbaum maintained that the patients were all sick before surgery.

Kirschenbaum was brought in to do hip and knee replacements, which are money-making operations. He said he had done 3,000 at the hospital. He received a $314,210 bonus in 2014 and a $180,940 bonus in 2015, according to Bronx-Lebanon’s tax filings. The extra pay came on top of his $851,000 salary.Gunman dead after opening fire inside Bronx hospital

The Post received a copy of an anonymous letter that seven hospital employees, who said they were doctors, nurses and technicians, sent to the state with more recent allegations against Kirschenbaum. The letter discusses patients injured under his care, including one who lost a leg.

Kirschenbaum denied that to The Post and said he wasn’t aware of any recent state investigation of him.

A source told The Post that Kirschenbaum was responsible for hiring Dr. Peter Lesniewski, an orthopedist who was later convicted as being a top “lynchpin” in the $1 billion Long Island Rail Road disability-fraud scheme.

Lesniewski had been a consultant who between 1999 and 2008 “provided fraudulent medical narratives in support of the disability applications of at least 230 LIRR employees,” according to the US Attorney’s office. He was convicted in 2013 of mail fraud, wire fraud and health-care fraud.

He was sentenced in 2014 to eight years in federal prison. He declined, through a prison official, to speak to The Post about his time at Bronx-Lebanon.

Posted On Sunday, 02 July 2017 17:24 Written by

Dr. Henry Michael Bello, the gunman who shot six people at the Bronx-Lebanon Hospital Centre in New York on Friday, has been identified as a Nigerian.

Some Nigerians in New York, who knew Bello, confirmed to the Correspondent of the News Agency of Nigeria on Friday.

And the NYPD has also identified him to be a Nigerian-born doctor.

Bello, 45, shot dead a woman, on the 17th floor and injured at least six others on the 16th floor, before killing himself the New York Police Department Commissioner James O’Neil, said.

Five of his victims were seriously injured and “fighting for their lives”,

Bello went into his former workplace wearing a white lab coat with an AR-15 machine gun hidden underneath with the intention of targeting the same individual.

NYPD officials said Bello asked for a specific doctor on the 16th floor but when he was told the doctor was not there, he became angry and started shooting at everyone.

Officials said Bello tried to set himself on fire before committing suicide.

Reports said Bello, who was hired at the hospital in August 2014 as a house physician, had past arrests for sex abuse, turnstile jumping, burglary and public urination.

In September 2004, he was arrested and charged with sex abuse and unlawful imprisonment after a 23-year-old woman told officers he had grabbed her crotch area outside a building on Bleecker Street in Manhattan and tried to penetrate her through her underwear, reports said.

Court records indicated that in September 2004, Bello pleaded guilty to unlawful imprisonment in the second degree, a misdemeanour, and was sentenced to community service, while the felony sexual abuse charge was dismissed, according to reports.

He was going to be fired by the hospital, after reports of sexual harassments, but instead chose to resign in February 2015 in lieu of termination, reports further said.

Reports from the New York State Education Department said Bello had received a limited permit to practice as an international medical graduate in order to gain experience so he could be licensed.

The permit was issued on July 1, 2014, and expired on July 1, 2016, while he also had a pharmacy technician license that had been issued in California in 2006.

He went to medical school at Ross University on the Caribbean island nation of Dominica and later worked briefly as a pharmacy technician for Metropolitan Hospital Centre in Manhattan in 2012,

A photo provided by authorities showed him dead on the floor of the hospital, wearing a bloodied doctor’s coat.

Law enforcement officials described Bello as transient recently, with at least five different addresses since he left the hospital.

Posted On Saturday, 01 July 2017 21:08 Written by

Acting President Yemi Osinbajo on Friday approved the appointment of Mrs. Patience Oniha as the new Director-General of Debt Management Office (DMO).

The Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, announced the appointment in Abuja.

Oniha, from Edo State, takes over from the former Director-General, Abraham Nwankwo, who retired after serving for two terms of five years each.

The handover formalities took place in a brief ceremony held at the DMO office in Abuja.

The new DG contributed greatly to the success DMO achieved in the last 10 years.

She retired as a director in the agency and also served in the Efficiency Unit of the Ministry of Finance before her recent appointment as DMO chief executive.

Posted On Saturday, 01 July 2017 01:11 Written by

Ghana's Vice President Mahamudu Bawumia has challenged the investor community to take advantage of Ghana’s competitive advantages, especially within the West Africa Sub-region, to make significant investments that would bring them appreciable returns. 

He said the Akufo-Addo-led Government was looking for “significant investments to do “big things” and was thus putting the necessary legislative and policy framework in place to ensure that the private sector thrived in a business-friendly environment. 

“The six-month old Akufo-Addo Government is committed to transforming Ghana’s economy, ensuring macro-economic stability and managing our resources efficiently,” he stated. 

“We need significant investments to do big things and any investor will find in us a partner committed to ensuring a win-win situation,” he said.

Dr Bawumia made these known when he called on the President of the China Exim Bank, Mr Liu Liange, in Beijing, China.

Dr Bawumia proposed a strategic partnership between the China and Ghana Exim banks to facilitate the acquisition of machinery for the ‘One district One factory’ initiative, as well as other infrastructure projects outlined by the Government.

Vice President Bawumia is on a five-day official visit to the People’s Republic of China, leading a delegation of Ministers of State and businessmen to the Asian country, in a quest to deepen diplomatic and economic ties.

It was also to create opportunities for Ghanaian businesses to form partnerships with their Chinese counterparts.

The visit is at the invitation of the Chinese Government and it is the first high-level official state visit to China since the New Patriotic Party Government took office in January this year. 

For his part, Mr Liu Liange said, the Chinese Exim Bank had confidence in the Ghanaian economy and that was reflected in the fact that Ghana was the African country that had received the largest amount of money from the Bank for projects, including those covering telecom and agriculture.

“The bank also stands ready to help Ghana in the areas of Railways infrastructure, the Aviation industry, Manufacturing and other priority areas,” he assured.

The Vice President would also hold bilateral talks with the Chinese Vice President, Li Yuanchao, at the Great Hall of the People, as part of the visit. 

Dr Bawumia would meet Chinese leaders including Mr Yu Zhengsheng, Member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and Chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese Political Consultative Conference.

He would also attend the China-Africa Industrial Capacity Cooperation-Ghana Promotion Conference. 

Some Ministers of State accompanying the Vice President are the Senior Minister, Mr Yaw Osafo Maafo; Trade Minister Alan Kwadwo Kyerematen; Mr Joseph Ghartey, Minister for Railways and Kwaku Ofori Asiamah, Minister of Transport.

The rest are Mr. Joseph Kofi Adda, Minister of Sanitation and Water Resources; Charles Adu Boahen, Deputy Minister for Finance; Mohammed Amin Adam, Deputy Minister of Energy; Mohammed Habib Tijani, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs; Mrs Gifty Ohene Konadu, Coordinator of the ‘One District One Factory’ initiative and Reginald Yoofi Grant, the Chief Executive of the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre.

Dr Bawumia would meet with the Ghanaian Community in China and brief them on happenings in Ghana’s economic front. 

A number of Ministers are also expected to sign cooperation and project agreements with Chinese companies.

Culled from:

Posted On Wednesday, 28 June 2017 23:08 Written by

Ghana's President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, has urged all Ghanaian Muslims to be wary of ideologues who may pervert a beautiful religion like Islam for selfish and destructive ends.

According to President Akufo-Addo, religion is a double-edged sword that can also be invoked for destructive purposes, and as such urged all Muslims to continue to hold hands in brotherhood and unity, for that is the essence of Islam.

“Whether you are Ahl-Sunna, Tijaniyya, Shia or Ahmadiyya, I remind you of the words of Allah as captured in Quran Chapter 3:103: And hold fast, all together, by the rope which Allah stretches out to you, and be not divided among yourselves; and remember with gratitude Allah’s favour on you; for you were enemies and he joined your hearts in love, so that by his grace you became brethren…’”, he said.

The President made this appeal on Monday, June 26, 2017, when he delivered a speech at the at the Edi-ul Fitr prayers, at the Independence Square, his first Eid as President of the Republic.

Describing Ghana as a nation where people of different faiths live together in peace and harmony, the President urged Ghanaians to cherish this long-standing bond that exists amongst them and use it as a basis for advancing the cause of our country.

“On my part, I continue to commit myself to the principles of our Constitution, which enjoins on me fairness towards all Ghanaians, irrespective of their religious creed. As a Christian, I am deeply respectful of the Islamic faith, which, together with Christianity and Judaism, are called the Abrahamic faiths. We must, therefore, emphasise the things that bind us, rather than the ones that divide us,” he added.

Gender and Development

As the African Union Spokesperson on Gender and Development, and as a person fully committed to gender equality, President Akufo-Addo noted that one of the cardinal teachings of the Prophet Muhammad is gender justice.

He explained that before the advent of Islam, women in Arabia were treated as second-rate citizens, and female infanticide was rife.

“The Prophet restored the dignity of the woman, which we are required to uphold. It is not for nothing that the Prophet urges us to learn half of our religion from Aisha, a woman. This Prophetic admonishment resembles Kwegyir Aggrey’s oft-quoted statement that ‘if you educate a man, you educate an individual, but if you educate a woman, you educate a nation’,” he added.

Posted On Monday, 26 June 2017 23:48 Written by

GHANA: The President of the Republic, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, says the policy measures introduced by his government over the last five months have begun yielding the desired effects on the growth of the Ghanaian economy.

According to President Akufo-Addo, his government, upon assuming the reins of office on 7th January, 2017, put before the Ghanaian people the most ambitious programme of social and economic transformation of any government in the history of Ghana’s 4th Republic, aimed at putting the country on the path of progress and prosperity.

This programme, the President said, is hinged on restructuring the institutions of our governance, modernising our agriculture to enhance its productivity, a clear industrial policy, and rationalising the financial sector so that it supports growth in agriculture, and growth in manufacturing and industry.

The policy initiatives put in place to bring relief to and encourage businesses, he said, include measures to stimulate the private sector, a monetary policy that will stabilise the currency and reduce significantly the cost of borrowing, in addition to a raft of tax cuts.

“These interventions are already lowering the cost of doing business, and shifting the focus of our economy from taxation to production,” he said.

The President continued, “We aim also to enhance further the business atmosphere and make Ghana an easier place to conduct business through paperless transactions at our ports, and the removal of all internal customs barriers by the beginning of September.”

In addition to these, President Akufo-Addo noted that his government’s flagship programmes, “One District, One Factory”, and “Planting for Food and Jobs”, have been launched, with the aim of making Ghana’s economy the most business friendly on the continent of Africa, and in the world.

President Akufo-Addo added that this process of economic and industrial transformation is going along with ensuring that the most basic elements of social justice are met – making quality basic education and healthcare accessible to all – to promote a culture of incentives and opportunities.

“We are determined to build a new Ghanaian civilisation, a Ghana beyond Aid. It is a Ghana where we aim to be masters of our own destiny, where we marshal our own resources for the future, breaking the shackles of the “Guggisberg” colonial economy of a producer of raw materials, and a mind-set of dependency, bailouts and extraction.

“It is an economy where we look past commodities to position ourselves in the global marketplace at the high end of the value chain. It is a country where we focus on trade, not aid, a hand-up, not a hand-out. It is a country with a strong private sector. It is a country that recognises the connectedness of its people and economy to those of its neighbours. It is a country that is governed according to the rule of law, respect for individual liberties and human rights, and the principles of democratic accountability.”

President Akufo-Addo was speaking on Wednesday, June 21, 2017, at a lunch organised for the Executive Meeting and Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs Meeting of the International Democratic Union (IDU), the first time such a meeting is being held in the country of a member party in sub-Saharan Africa.

Fight against terrorism, populism

Touching on the “stormy, adverse winds” buffeting the world such as vicious terrorism, religious extremism, resurgent populism in the Western democracies, potentially devastating climatic and environmental changes, and growing inequality between the North and the South, President Akufo-Addo noted that never has the necessity to organise, mobilise and articulate clearly our values and message been greater.

“I have no doubt that, in doing so, we shall prevail here on this continent and around the world, and create harmony, serenity and progress for our common planet and our common humanity, and, thereby, banish global poverty and hunger,” he added.

It was the expectation of the President that at the end of the IDU meeting, “we share best practices in governance, marketing strategies for winning elections, and refining the tools needed to ensure that we continuously gain and maintain the support of our electorates with each other.”

The political parties making up the membership of the IDU, the President said, are at the helm of some of the biggest and most successful economies and emerging markets in the world, and are having a positive impact on this generation.

“We must ensure that, with the aid of science and technology, the promotion of enterprise, innovation and creativity, and the spread of democratic values, we offer the prospects of a constructing a new era of prosperity in freedom for all the peoples of the world. I am confident that we can work together to achieve this noble goal,” he added.

About the IDU

The International Democrat Union (IDU) is a working association of over 80 Conservative, Christian Democrat and like-minded political parties of the centre and centre right.

Formed in 1983, the IDU provides a forum in which Parties holding similar beliefs can come together and exchange views on matters of policy and organisational interest, so that they can learn from each other, act together, establish contacts and speak with one strong voice to promote democracy and centre-right policies around the globe.

Founder Members of the IDU included Britain’s Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, then US Vice-President George Bush Sr, Paris Mayor and later President of France Jacques Chirac, German Chancellor Helmut Kohl and many other Party Leaders.

Posted On Saturday, 24 June 2017 15:35 Written by

A 19-year-old Somali-American has become the first ever hijab-wearing model to appear on the front page of a major US magazine.

Halima Aden is featured on the July cover of American women's publication Allure.In a feature for the magazine, the model explained that it was always her choice to wear the hijab.

"Not all Muslim women opt to cover their heads." she explained. "It's how I interpret my religion, but there are women who are Muslim who choose not to wear the hijab. That's something people often forget."

The editor-in-chief of Allure, Michelle Lee, told the BBC the magazine was intensely proud of Halima and the cover.

"We knew that we wanted the July issue to be an ode to American beauty. One of Allure's core messages is that we believe strongly in the beauty of all people." Lee explained.

"America is, and always has been, a melting pot. The picture of American beauty is so diverse today, and Halima has an incredible story." 

Aden, who grew up in a Kenyan refugee camp, moved to the US at the age of seven and began wearing the hijab shortly after.

In a BBC interview in March the model described her hijab as her "crown" and explained how designers were reacting to a woman's right to choose: "It's almost surprising we haven't seen a hijab-wearing model. It should be normal, it shouldn't be any different to any other model.

"Designers should be happy with it. It shows their company is empowering women from all different walks of life, different faiths, and that's important."

It's not the first time the model has appeared on a magazine front cover. Earlier this month she was featured on the front page of Vogue Arabia.

Posted On Friday, 23 June 2017 23:03 Written by

The Federal Government is set to release the first tranche of capital release of N350bn to its Ministries, Departments and Agencies for implementation of the 2017 budget.

The Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, disclosed this on Monday in Abuja during the public presentation of the 2017 Federal Government budget.

The event was attended by top officials in government, including the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Udo Udoma; Minister of State for Budget, Zainab Ahmed; Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole; and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyema, among others.

The 2017 budget christened, ‘Budget of Recovery and Growth’, was presented to the National Assembly on December 14, 2016, and passed by the lawmakers on May 11, 2017.

It was signed into law by the Acting President Yemi Osinbajo on June 12, 2017 and had a total expenditure outlay of N7.44tn, out of which N2.99tn was for non-debt recurrent spending; N2.36tn for capital expenditure; while debt servicing is to gulp N1.66tn.

Adeosun said her ministry was ready to make the release as soon as the budget was loaded, adding that a cash plan meeting would soon be held where the funds would be released to the MDAs.

“We are ready to make releases as soon as the budget is loaded. We have a cash plan meeting and we will release the first tranche of N350bn for capital projects,” she stated.

Udoma, in his presentation at the event, said the 2017 budget would run for one full year till June next year.

He, however, said that both the executive and the legislature were working on a template that would enable the country to commence a predictable budget year that would run between January and December of every year.

He added that if this arrangement was to commence from the 2018 budget year, then the 2017 budget would cease once the next year’s budget was passed and signed into law in January.

The implication of this, according him, is that some of the programmes of government contained in the 2017 fiscal document would be re-introduced in the 2018 budget.

Udoma explained, “The period of the 2016 budget was up till May and the period of the 2017 budget is again by the provision of the bill that was sent to us, which is now an Act of Parliament, continues again, this time, till June.

“However, whenever a new Appropriations Act comes into law, it overtakes the previous Appropriations Act. This means that assuming we were as we intend to achieve this year, we pass the 2018 budget into law; when it is signed into law, then the other one ceases to exist.

“So our aim is by January 2018, we want to get back to the January to December budget year. That means some of the projects in the 2017 budget will have to be carried over.”

He added that the budget that was passed by the National Assembly was what was signed into law by the Acting President, adding that an understanding had been reached for the submission of virement application to adjust the budget to reflect some of the projects, which the lawmakers tinkered with.

Such projects, according to him, are the railways, health and Federal Capital Territory projects.

Udoma said, “We identified some of our priority projects where the allocations have been reduced and discussed with the National Assembly and they graciously agreed that we can bring a virement application to restore the amount of those projects.

“Those projects include the railways, some health projects and Federal Capital Territory projects. But until that is done, the budget and the Appropriations Act reflect exactly what was passed by the National Assembly, and this is what the law is as I speak.

“However, we will be bringing virement application on a number of these projects under consideration. It’s only after they have approved it before it now becomes a law, and the budget will be adjusted to reflect that.”

The minister said the capital allocation of N2.36tn, which represents 31.7 per cent of the total budget, was directed at projects that were aligned with the core execution priorities of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan.

Udoma noted that allocations had been targeted at critical economic sectors that had quick transformative potential such as infrastructure, agriculture, manufacturing, solid minerals, services, and social development.

For instance, he said the government would be embarking on a rail modernisation programme for which N148bn had been allocated mostly as counterpart funds on projects to be financed by China.

They are Lagos-Kano, Calabar-Lagos, Kano-Kaduna, Ajaokuta-Itakpe-Warri, Kaduna-Idu and other rail projects.

In the area of electricity, the minister said the sum of N40bn service-wide provision had been made to settle reconciled outstanding bills of government agencies as part of the strategy to revamp the ailing power sector.

For the housing sector, Udoma said the sum of N28bn was allocated in the budget for the Federal Government’s National Housing Programme nationwide.

He stated that the government was concerned about the number of abandoned projects scattered across the federation, adding that more targeted releases of funds would be done to relevant agencies of government.

The minister noted that in this year’s budget, funds had been allocated for construction and rehabilitation of over 65 roads and bridges across the six geo-political zones of the country.

Some of them are N10bn for the rehabilitation/reconstruction and expansion of Lagos-Shagamu-Ibadan dual carriageway sections I and II; N13.19bn for the dualisation of the Kano-Maiduguri road Sections I-V; N10.63bn for the rehabilitation of the Enugu-Port Harcourt dual carriageway Sections I-IV; and N7bn for the construction of the Second Niger Bridge phases 2A & 2B, including the access roads.

The Director-General, Budget Office of the Federation, Mr. Ben Akabueze, said the government would be engaging the citizens more in its budgeting process in order to enable the country to have a document that would be all inclusive.

He added that steps were being taken to bridge the gap between the people and the government by promoting transparency and accountability in the entire budget process.

Posted On Tuesday, 20 June 2017 02:03 Written by

These are certainly not the best of times for notorious kidnapper, Chukwudidume Onuamadike, popularly known as Evans, who was last weekend arrested by operatives of the Inspector General of Police Intelligence Response Team as he has gone spiritual in police cell.

Saturday Tribune gathered that the suspect, who is being detained at the Ikeja headquarters of the Lagos State police command, requested for a copy of the Holy Bible on Friday.

A police source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said “he (Evans) asked for a copy of the Bible today (Friday) and we gave him one. He has been reading it since then. He has been very sober. He has been focusing on Job and Lamentations in the Bible. He kept shifting his focus between the two books of the Bible”.

Lamentations consists of series of poetic and powerful laments, traditionally ascribed to Jeremiah over the destruction of Jerusalem in 586 BC while Job is a series of monologues, giving an account of a righteous man who suffers under terrible disasters.

The police source added that “other suspects in his (Evans’) cell claimed that he has been keeping to himself. He has become quiet since the Bible was given to him this morning (Friday).”

Also, operatives of the IRT have begun analyses of the call data of the over 190 SIM cards recovered from Evans.

A police source at the IRT told Saturday Tribune that “what we are doing now is to look at the call history of all the SIM cards and possibly arrest other members of his gangs who may want to continue with the business.

“We are still looking at the possibility that he has more SIM cards, but he stated that the only remaining few are with his wife but we still want to continue with our investigations. We want to put a permanent end to his gangs. We want to ensure that every single member of all his gangs is arrested.”

He also stated that “he (Evans) is very experienced and some of his gang members might have acquired enough experience to start a new gang but we will put an end to Evans’ dynasty in kidnapping and other crimes.”

A source at the Force Headquarters, Abuja, told Saturday Tribune that apart from ACP Abba Kyari, the leader of the police team who was recently promoted, the Inspector General has approved the promotion of all other members of the team.

A close neighbour of Evans in Magodo (names withheld) told the media that he was yet to recover from the shock of realising that he had lived so closely with Nigeria’s most-wanted kidnapper.

He recalled that he and Evans used to have their haircut at the same barbing salon in Shangisha.

It was learnt that he usually paid the same amount for the haircut as his neighbour in order to take any attention of affluence away from him.

He was also said to be a regular face at the bar sharing fence with the salon, with those who sat around him before claiming that he never exceeded two bottles of beer at any given drinking session.

“He (Evans) is well known around here and it is a big surprise that he was wanted by police for close to four years,” the source said, while raising the suspicion of collusion, either with certain persons within Magodo who allegedly kept watch for him, or within the security system.

However, cab hire operators around Magodo and Shangisha were said to have been the biggest beneficiaries of his generosity.

Regardless of the distance, he reportedly paid high amount, making him very popular among them.

Whenever he was done with barbing his hair or taking his beer, he would, according to those who knew him, pick a cab to his Fred Soboyede home, a distance of less than 10 minutes, for a high amount of money.

One rule, however, was that the cab operator would not take him to his house.

One of his neighbours said “he always disembarked from the taxi at our area and would walk home.”

His mansion is part of the three on the first plot on the street.

It was also learnt that cars were rarely seen in his compound, with a shouting distance neighbour disclosing that “cars had never been parked in his home, which we now believe was to ensure he wasn’t being trailed and avoid being trailed at all through car registration.

“It was only yesterday, in about a year of him being with us here, that the house was without light. He wasn’t using government electricity. His noiseless generator was always on, every minute of the day.”

A police source, who pleaded for anonymity, while speaking on the recent arrest of Evans, disclosed that he was also very popular in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, where he had choice houses and other properties in many parts of the state.

Another reliable police source also told the said that Evans took police operatives to a mechanic’s workshop on Liasu Road, Ikotun, Lagos, on Tuesday, where one of his cars, which got damaged in an accident within the area, was kept.

However, a couple of high-profile residents had already made representations to the Chief Security Officer (CSO) of the estate on how to sanitise the area.

Apart from this, the police are set to spread their dragnets in a bid to root out more kidnappers in Lagos State.

“With the arrest of Evans, we hope to crack other gangs that live like kings in Lagos State,” the police source added.

Evans was the acclaimed brains behind most of the high-profile kidnap cases in the country. For over four years, he was declared wanted in Edo, Anambra and Lagos states.

According to a police source, who spoke anonymously, “Vampire is the most deadly kidnapper in Nigerian history and Evans remains the most notorious, brilliant and crafty kidnapper in our history.

A police source had told the media that “after a strategic monitoring by our men, Evans was tracked to Magodo in Lagos and he was finally arrested by ACP Kyari and his men at his Magodo Estate mansion in Lagos State.

Posted On Sunday, 18 June 2017 12:52 Written by
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