Friday, 19 January 2018

President Muhammadu Buhari on Saturday felicitated with Nigerians, particularly the Christian community, on the occasion of this year’s Christmas celebration and reassured that “better days lie ahead for us as a nation.’’

The President, who stated this in a Christmas message released by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, in Abuja, said his administration had redouble efforts to surmount the challenges facing the country.

He said: “I am deeply convinced that better days lie ahead for us as a nation as we make progress on all the major fronts where we have set our energies to surmount the challenges.’’

According to him, the commemoration of the birth of Jesus Christ is an important opportunity for all citizens to show love to one another and encourage unity by spending quality time with friends, families and the less-privileged.

He also enjoined the citizens to draw inspiration from the exemplary lifestyle and teachings of Jesus Christ, who constantly stood for what is right, true and honest.

“The Holy Book describes Christmas as a festival of peace, joy, healing, hope and fulfillment. It kindles great expectations in the heart, irrespective of the challenges of the moment.

“As we celebrate this yuletide season, let us devote some time to pray and appreciate the sacrifices of members of our armed services to keep our nation safe and secure.

“By the same token, and keeping with the spirit of the season, our gallant troops serving in the frontlines in the fight against insurgency; those wounded, lying in the hospital, as well as civilians who have suffered the brunt of evil and wicked elements these past years, deserve our fervent goodwill and sustained prayers.”

Buhari maintained that the personal fortitude of these individuals would continue to inspire the nation to victory “as we turn the tide against the enemy and annihilate those who work against the unity of our nation.

“In this season of hope, let us remember to provide refuge to those who cannot enjoy Christmas at home with their families, or have been driven from their homes by insurgency or violence, particularly the Internally Displaced Persons.’’

On illegal migration, the President frowned at the activities of trans-border syndicates who had been luring youths to modern slavery.

NAN

The Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) in Ogun, on Saturday, sealed off six petrol stations and arrested four persons in the state.

The DPR made the arrests for fuel hoarding, under-dispensing, sabotage, obstruction of justice and installation of commercial gas cylinders without approval.

All the affected petrol stations were found to have more than enough of the commodity but refused to sell it to the public.Some buyers, who spoke with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), accused the station owners of selling fuel at night above the pump price of N145.

“They only sell at night and they sell for N200 per litre,” one of the buyers in Ota, Ogun, who pleaded anonymity, said.

A mild drama, however, ensued at one of the filling stations along Ilaro expressway, as the attendants and the manager fled upon sighting the DPR officials and men of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC).

The DPR Head of Operations, Mr Kasali Akinade, led the surveillance team to the stations.

Akinade said that the exercise became necessary after receiving the information that some filling stations were hoarding, under-dispensing and selling above the pump price.

“We are aware that some filling stations are either hoarding or selling above the pump price; as high as N180 or N200 per litre, which is against the government price policy of N145.

“When we see any filling station, either hoarding or not selling, what we do is to order them to start selling at the approved pump price,” he said.

Kasali, who decried the artificial scarcity created by the filling stations, added that the arrests made were due to the uncooperative attitude of those arrested.

“Normally in a situation like this, we didn’t want to make any arrest, but just to ask them to sell, however, some of them were not willing to cooperate with us.

“When we asked them to start selling, they put off the engine; that is, the electric generator, which is against government policy.

‘‘This country is blessed with petroleum and the good people of Nigeria are not supposed to be denied the use of the resources.

Meanwhile, the Zonal Public Relations Officer of the NSCDC, Mr Kareem Olarenwaju, explained that those arrested were caught hoarding fuel and selling above pump price.

He said, “four were arrested for their role in hoarding fuel and some were also guilty of breach of peace; one of them obstructed us for a long time”.

Olarenwaju revealed that those arrested would be made to face the full wrath of the law.

‘‘They may be made to pay normal fine to the DPR, otherwise, they will be charged to court,” he said.

Other filling stations visited that were hitherto not selling fuel prior to the DPR’s arrival, were forced to sell at the official pump price.

Fit-again Cameroon international defender Ambroise Oyongo has agreed a four-year deal to join 2012 French champions Montpellier.

The 26-year-old, whose contract with MLS club Montreal Impact ends on 31 December, ruptured a tendon in June.

He becomes the club's first major winter signing, according to club president Laurent Nicollin.

"It's done, it's signed," Nicollin told French publication 'Midi Libre,'

"He's an endearing boy, who has not played since June and is only making a big return from his injury.

"I hope it's going to be a nice surprise, he's here to help us from this season, but most importantly to be starting from the next."

It will be Oyongo's first professional club in Europe in a career which began at Coton Sport in his native Cameroon, where he won three league titles between 2010 and 2014.

He had a brief spell with Major League Soccer (MLS) club New York Red Bulls in 2014, before switching to Montreal Impact in January 2015.

Oyongo scored three goals and provided six assists in 72 games for the MLS Eastern Conference outfit.

Capped 28 times by Cameroon scoring twice, Oyongo played all six games as the Indomitable Lions won their fifth African Cup of Nations title in Gabon early this year.

LATELY, crude oil prices have rallied steadily, rising above $60 per barrel in November. The increase has been precipitated by three principal factors. First is the production cut by members of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). The reduction in OPEC members’ output reduced supply to the market with a corresponding increase in prices. Another reason is the ongoing hostilities between Iraq and Kurdistan over the status of the city and region of Kirkuk. The crisis has impeded Iraq from reaching its optimal production capacity.

But the most recent factor is the situation in Saudi Arabia. When Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince, Mohammed ibn Salman, launched an anti-corruption purge which saw the arrest and detention of 201 persons, including 11 princes and 38 officials, oil prices rose to $62 per barrel, hitting the highest point since July 2015. Since the Kingdom is the world’s largest exporter of crude oil, whatever happens therein goes a long way in determining the direction in which the oil price pendulum will swing.

The rise in the prices of crude oil is good news to Nigeria because oil is the main source of the country’s revenue. Thus, a rise in its prices signals a surge in Nigeria’s revenue inflow which increases the likelihood of budget implementation and project execution.  However, since the benchmark used for the budget is usually lower than the expected crude oil prices, high crude oil prices means that more money than appropriated comes into the government’s coffers. The temptation, therefore, is for government agencies and officials to treat such money as free fund and squander same.

A pointer to this is the issue of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) which was forced to pay N30 billion into the Federation Account following the boycott by state finance commissioners of the September meeting of the Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC) because, according to them, the revenue to be shared was grossly inadequate.

The House of Representatives ad hoc committee investigating the pump prices of petroleum products quickly swung into action, directing the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) to provide details of the N30 billion unremitted crude oil revenue into the Federation Account. While the step taken by the House is commendable, the action of NNPC suggests that the above-the-benchmark revenue from crude oil sales is largely unaccounted for and ends up in private accounts because if the commissioners had not raised the alarm, the money would not have been paid into the Federation Account.

However, the failure of the NNPC to remit the money points to the far more serious issues of incompetence and negligence of those whose responsibility it is to track the nation’s revenue. Since there is a daily production figure and crude oil prices are not a secret, why was it so difficult for those in charge of monitoring this to find out the unconstitutional act of the NNPC before the commissioners’ protest? Was it a case of a collusion of a few against the interest of the majority? The current administration has repeatedly accused its immediate predecessor of failing to save and squandering the nation’s resources. Therefore, it should not be found guilty of what it accused others of.

Every avenue for ripping the country off should be effectively blocked. The excess earnings from crude oil sales should either be deployed to infrastructure development or saved for the rainy day in the Excess Crude Account as stipulated by the nation’s laws. It is distressing and discomfiting to note that in spite of the hike in the prices of crude oil and the attendant increase in the nation’s revenue, so much debt has been amassed in the last two years. This is not the way to go. No country can experience development without prudent utilisation and optimal management of resources.

The Ministry of Finance must up its game of monitoring and managing the nation’s resources for the benefit of every Nigerian. Every dollar earned by the country must be properly appropriated for the benefit of every Nigerian. It should not be left for a few to misappropriate.

Zimbabwe’s new President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Saturday named the former army chief who led a coup that ended Robert Mugabe’s 37-year rule, as one of his two deputies in the ruling party, the presidency said.

Presidential press secretary George Charamba said in a statement, retired general Constantino Chiwenga and long-serving state security minister Kembo Mohadi were appointed as Mnangagwa’s deputies in the ZANU-PF party “with immediate effect.”

The party appointment is a first step in their elevation to state vice presidents. Two other top military officials were earlier this month awarded ministerial posts.

Chiwenga retired this week, slightly over a month after the military temporarily took control of the country on November 15 as internal feuding escalated in ZANU-PF over then president Mugabe’s succession.

The takeover which the army said was targeting Mugabe’s corrupt allies came days after the 93-year-old leader had fired then deputy Mnangagwa who has strong military ties and was widely tipped as the likely successor.

Mugabe’s wife Grace had indicated interest in succeeding her husband.

The army’s intervention was followed by mass street protests against Mugabe and a motion to impeach the veteran ruler who resigned in a letter to parliament as proceedings to recall him began.

The ruling ZANU PF party then appointed Mnangagwa as Mugabe’s replacement, leading to his inauguration as the country’s president on November 24.

Friday, 22 December 2017 16:35

Police declare Badoo kingpin Alaka wanted

The Lagos State Police Command has declared a popular independent oil marketer and prime suspect of the Badoo cult killings in Ikorodu and Epe axis of the State, Alhaji Alaka Abayomi Kamal, wanted.

In a statement, signed by the Police Public Relations officer, SP Chike Oti, the 51-year-old suspect, who is the owner of Alaka Petroleum, is wanted in connection with series of well-orchestrated killings of the Badoo cult group. The statement reads;

”The 51-year-old suspect, who is the owner of Alaka Petroleum, is wanted in connection with series of well-orchestrated killings and nefarious activities of the Badoo cult group.

The notorious activities of the dreaded cult group had sent many to their early graves with cruel killings through the smashing of mortar and pestle on victims’ heads.

In a Special Police Gazette Bulletin issued under the authority of the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, with reference number CR 07/2017, Alaka who had earlier been arrested and released on bail by the police, was said to have frustrated attempts to rearrest him.

His declaration as a wanted man followed a warrant of arrest duly obtained from a Lagos State Magistrate Court.

According to the bulletin, “The above-named person (Alhaji Alaka Abayomi Kamal “M”) is hereby declared wanted by the Nigeria Police Force on CRO Form “5” issued by the Office of the Deputy Commissioner of Police, Criminal Intelligence and Intelligence Department, Musiliu Smith Street, Yaba, Lagos.

“He (Alaka) is wanted for the offence of Badoo Cult Killings in Ikorodu and Epe areas of Lagos State. He was once arrested, and released on bail; since then it has been impossible to rearrest him.

“He is 5ft 8ft tall, dark in complexion, stout in stature, no tribal marks, speaks Yoruba and English. A Yoruba by tribe, 51 years of age. Home Address – No 22, PSSDC Magodo Estate, Shangisha, Lagos State. A business man with good set of teeth, brown eyes, oval face, small head, low forehead and always on white kaftan.

“If seen should be arrested and handed over to the office of the Deputy Commissioner of Police, Musiliu Street, Yaba, Lagos or any nearest Police Station or call 08068169076 and 08125151772.”

The State Government and the State Police Command had earlier uncovered and demolished the alleged Badoo shrine belonging to Alaka in Agbowa area of Ikorodu on September 20, 2017 in an operation led by the Commissioner of Police, Mr Imohimi Edgal.

SIGNED

SP CHIKE OTI

POLICE PUBLIC RELATIONS OFFICER,

LAGOS STATE POLICE COMMAND

DECEMBER 22, 2017”

The Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami (SAN) and the Chairman, Special Presidential Investigation Panel for Recovery of Public Property (SPIPRPP), Okoi Obono-Obla have explained why the panel was probing the purchase of the official residence of the Senate President by David Mark.

They said the investigation was informed by information to the effect that Mark, a former Senate President, unlawfully acquired the property in 2011, without being reflected in the Federal Government’s gazette as required.

They argued that the house said to be built on 1.6 hectares of land, located in Gudu, Apo, Abuja, is a national monument that was not meant to be acquired by an individual.

Malami and Obono-Obla’s explanation is contained in the court papers they filed before the Federal High Court in Abuja Thursday in reaction to a suit by Mark, challenging the notice of investigation served on him by the SPIPRPP.

The documents include a notice of preliminary objection, a counter-affidavit to Mark’s motion for interlocutory injunction and a defence to the substantive suit.

An official in the office of the Chairman of SPIPRPP, Aribatise Olanrewaju, who deposed to the counter- affidavit for Malami and Obono-Obla stated that the panel was empowered to probe the circumstances in which Mark took over the property.

He said although former President Goodluck approved the sale of the property to Mark; the purchase was not gazetted as required by law.

He said: “The request of Senator Bala Muhammad (the then Minister of Federal Capital Territory) was approved by former President Jonathan, but on the condition that the sale should be gazetted.

“However, the sales of the houses were never gazette. Notwithstanding the directive of former President Jonathan that the said house should be sold to the plaintiff upon enactment of a Federal Government gazette, the said property was illegally sold to the plaintiff;

“The sales of these houses were never reflected in the Federal Government official gazette contrary to directive/ minute in the memo of Senator Bala Muhammad by former President Jonathan;

“I know as a fact that the sale of the said house to the plaintiff was never conducted in a competitive bidding and transparent process; this is contrary to the provisions of Section 15 (1) of the Procurement Act, 2007;

“I know as a fact that the sale was contrary to the provisions of the Federal Government of Nigeria official gazette No. 82, Vol. 92 of 15 August 2005;

“The said house is a national monument, which should have never been sold;

“I know as a fact that the provisions of Part 11 (b) of the Certain Political, Public and Judicial Office Holders (Salaries and Allowances, Etc.) (Amendment) Act, 2008 otherwise known as the Remuneration Act, 2008 provides that Senate President is provided with accommodation by the Federal Government of Nigeria.

“I know as a fact that the sale to the said house was contrary to the provisions of Paragraphs 1  & 6 (1) of Part 1 of the 5th Schedule to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) since the purchaser (the Plaintiff) was a the Senate President  he purchased the house.”

Olanrewaju referred the law that empowered the  panel to investigate Mark’s acquisition of the property.

He said: “I know as a fact that the notice alluded to in paragraph 17 of the affidavit is therefore not a notice of eviction as claimed by the plaintiff/applicant.

“I know as a fact that the 2nd defendant never declared the plaintiff/applicant acquisition of the said property illegal, but a notice to inform him that the acquisition of the said property was under investigation by the Special Investigation Panel.

“I know as a fact that the Special Presidential Investigation Panel for Recovery of Public Property was set up by the Federal Government of Nigeria pursuant to the provisions of Recovery of Public Property (Special Provisions) Act, Cap. R4, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004,” he said.

In their objection, Malami and Obono-Obla faulted the suit by Marked and described it as a ploy to stall his ongoing investigation.

Obono-Obla, who endorsed the processes filed by the respondents in the suit – the AGF and Obono-Obla – described the suit as speculative and hypothetical.

He contended, in the objection that the Federal High Court was without the jurisdiction to hear the suit.

He grounds on which he hinged his argument include that the court has no jurisdiction to grant the relief sought by the plaintiffs in view of the fact that, by virtue of Section 251 (1) (p) of the Constitution, the subject matter of the case has nothing to do with the administration or the management and control of the Federal Government or any of its agencies.

He said the suit was a disguise to scuttle criminal investigation of the plaintiff  (a public officer) using the court.

Obono-Obla added tha: “This court has no jurisdiction to stop the Special Investigation Panel for Recovery of Public Property established pursuant to Section 1 (1) of the Recovery of Public Property (Special Provisions) Act, Cap. R4, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 from carrying out its statutory functions.

“The 2nd defendant (Obono-Obla) is an agent of a disclosed principal and as such the plaintiff is wrong to sue the 2nd defendant in his official capacity with his personal name.

“This suit has disclosed no reasonable cause of action; it is speculative and hypothetical,” he said.

The SPIPRPP, in September this year, issued a 21-day notice to Mark to quit the property or “show cause” why the Federal Government should not “enforce the recovery of the property for public good”.

Rather than “show cause” as requested by SPIPRPP, Mark head before the Federal High Court where he lodged the suit and prayed the court to among others, quash all steps taken by the panel to evict him and recover the house from him.

The case will come up for hearing on January 22 next year before Justice Gabriel Kolawole.

 

Barely 24 hours after his arrest,  the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has released the owner of Innoson Motors, Chief Innocent Chukwuma, on bail.

The anti-graft agency, however, said Chukwuma and his brother, Charles Chukwuma, are being probed for N1,478,366,859.66 fraud and forgery.

The industrialist was also accused of using forged documents to secure tax waivers.

A statement by the Head of Media and Publicity of EFCC, Mr. Wilson Uwujaren, said: “The EFCC has released the Nnewi, Anambra-State born industrialist, Chief Innocent Chukwuma, on bail.

“The businessman who runs a local auto assembly plant was arrested on Tuesday December 19, 2017 at his Enugu residence, following his refusal to respond to invitations by the commission, after initially being granted administrative bail by the commission, while his surety could also not be found.

“Unfortunately, the industrialist resisted arrest and stirred controversy by bringing six truck-loads of thugs to block the entrance to his Plot W1, Industrial Layout, Abakaliki Road, Emeni, Enugu home.

“This was after he initially misled the Police Command by informing them that his home had been invaded by armed robbers and kidnappers despite the fact that operatives of the commission duly identified themselves to policemen guarding his home.

“His unruly thugs encircled and manhandled operatives of the commission, who had gone to effect the arrest.

“Consequently, a distress call was sent to the commission’s Enugu Office for reinforcement.

“In all of this, the commission’s operatives acted with decorum and civility.

“No one was manhandled or assaulted by the EFCC team, and not a single shot was fired, despite the provocation.”

The EFCC explained why it was investigating the industrialist.

It said was in connection with N1, 478, 366, 859.66 fraud and forgery.

The statement added: “Chief Chukwuma and his brother, Charles Chukwuma (who is still at large), are being investigated by the Insurance and Capital Market Fraud Section of the commission’s office in Lagos over matters bordering on N1,478,366,859.66 fraud and forgery.

“The industrialist, among other infractions, allegedly used forged documents to secure tax waivers.”

 

This was exactly the feelings of Fatima Ganduje, daughter of Governor Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano State when her heartthrob, Abolaji Ajimobi, the only son of Governor Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo State, proposed to her.

To express her deep feelings, Fatima paid glowing tributes to her man and posted the photographs on the internet for the world to see.

”I am blessed and at peace, it all began a year ago. Idris Abolaji you have filled my life with passion, commitment, laughter, partnership, adventure, respect and selfless love. You are my knight in shinning armor, my protector and my King. I have always admired people who look ahead and see challenges as tests and not as hurdles, you have pushed every limit that was given to you and loved me in all aspects of life.

”Look where we are! I got myself a winner. I love you Idris and I will be that woman you fell in love with all the days of our lives here and in heaven. Ololufe Mi ?? ”.

 
 
Tuesday, 19 December 2017 03:08

Henry Thiery ‘crowned’ Igwe of football

Football legend, Henry Thiery, who is popularly referred to as ‘Igwe’ by Arsenal fans, was on Sunday crowned ‘Igwe of football.’

The Arsenal legend was unveiled as the ambassador for Guinness ‘Made of Black’ campaign held at the Landmark Event Centre, Victoria Island, Lagos.

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