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The Edo State Chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) dealt a big blow to the camp of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state on Friday, with the decamping of major PDP heavyweights, including Member representing Egor/Ikpoba Okha Federal Constituency, Honourable Ehiozuwa Johnson Agbonayinma and former gubernatorial aspirant of the PDP, Matthew Iduoriyekemwen.

 The Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki led the party leadership to receive Hon. Agbonayinma and Hon. Iduoriyekemwen and their followers at its Mega Rally, which hosted party chieftains and members across the state, at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium, in Benin City, the Edo State capital.

 Governor Obaseki, who welcomed the new members of the party, said that they have further swelled the ranks of the party to become an indomitable force in the state, adding that they would enjoy all due benefits as party members.

 He maintained that the infrastructural development witnessed in the state is the result of the solid foundation laid by his predecessor, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole.


 
 According to him, “Edo is working today, because Oshiomhole laid the foundation. Edo people have not seen anything yet. We will continue to demonstrate efforts in sustaining good governance.

 “I am making effort to attract investors to the state as this administration is committed to building the biggest industrial park in Nigeria. On our promise to facilitate job opportunities and engage 200, 000 youths, we will achieve that before the year 2020.”

 He assured that a modular refinery will be built in the state as part of the outcome for his recent visit to China, promising to replicate development in every local government in the state.

 On his part, Oshiomhole said that the action of the decampees to Edo APC reinforces the total clearing and cleansing of the opposition in the state, who, according to him, balkanised the state almost beyond repair.

 He stressed that the APC is running on the principle of social democracy, making a case for the state chapter of the party to reclaim Delta State from the PDP, to extend the developmental strides to their brothers and sisters with whom they formed the old Bendel State.

 He said, “Our aim in APC is to transfer power to the people as we have successfully taken power from the few who claimed to be godfathers and impoverished the masses.


 On the charge for the state APC to advance into Delta State, he said, “Together, we will sweep whatever is left out of Edo State and Delta. Comrades, we have secured Edo State, now we must advance to Delta. In the spirit of Bendel, which was governed by the late Samuel Ogbemudia, we must carry more brooms to Asaba and sweep all the way to Warri and install an APC governor in Asaba, so that the resources of Asaba can be used for the benefit of Deltans.”

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NEWS / Nigeria Develops Herbal Drugs For Treatment Of Ebola, Malaria
« on: January 20, 2018, 07:50:44 AM »
The National Institute for Pharmaceutical Research and Development (NIPRD) announced yesterday  it has successfully researched and developed six traditional herbal products for the treatment of Ebola, Malaria and other diseases.

Presenting the score card of his eight-year tenure (2009 to 2017) in Abuja  yesterday,the  NIPRD Director-General of NIPRD, Prof. Karniyus Gamaniel, said ‘NIPRIBOL’, a fixed dose combination drug was developed by the institute for the treatment of Ebola Virus Disease

The  institute has completed the Phase I study of the drug,he said.

The programme, organised by NIPRD,was  to present the products researched and developed by the institute and present staff service awards to deserving employees.


 
Gamaniel named other drugs developed by the institute as ‘NIPRIMAL’, an anti-malaria for treatment of uncomplicated malaria; ‘NIPRIMUNE’ an immunostimulant which can also be used to manage HIV ; and ‘NIPRIFAN’ for the treatment of fungal skin infection.

He said that another product developed by the institute, ‘NIPRD Oil’, could be used as a nasal decongestant, insect repellant, air freshner and an anti-inflammatory agent.

He however noted that excessive use of this oil could cause irritation.

He said that “the institute has also developed ‘NIPRISAN’ for the management of sickle cell anaemia.

“We are currently concluding plans to carry out commercial production and distribution of this product.

“We have developed and implemented various institutional policies for effective governance, this include the scheme and condition of service, intellectual policy and quality management system.”

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NEWS / Amosun Tasks Journalists On Unity
« on: January 20, 2018, 07:49:44 AM »
Ogun State Governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, has enjoined Nigerian journalists to always endeavour to work towards uniting Nigerians as the election year draws nearer.

Amosun made the remark while receiving Executive Members of the State House Press Corp (SHPC), in his Oke-Mosan, Abeokuta, office yesterday.

He said journalists should be alive to their responsibility, by ensuring a united and peaceful nation, which he said, are needed for a successful and rancour free polls.

The governor called for a responsible and ethical management of information in line with the theme of the symposium, “The Role of the Media in Peace Building: 2019 Election in Perspective”, adding that a responsive media is critical to the 2019 elections.


 
The governor, who commended SHPC for their role in the success of the President Mohammadu Buhari administration, called for their continued support, urging them to be objective in their news report as well as in the analysis of government policies and programmes.

Earlier, the Chairman of SHPC, Mr. Ubale Musa, said the choice of Abeokuta for the symposium, was due to the level of infrastructural development witnessed in the state in the last seven years.

Also, the Vice Chairman, Mr. Ikharo Attah described the state government as an epitome of good governance and massive transformation, revealing that members of the corp are happy with the administration’s giant strides.

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NEWS / Nigeria Develops Ebola, Malaria Herbal Drugs
« on: January 20, 2018, 07:48:31 AM »
The National Institute for Pharmaceutical Research and Development (NIPRD) says it has successfully researched and developed six traditional herbal products for the treatment of Ebola, Malaria and other diseases.

The NIPRD Director-General, Prof. Karniyus Gamaniel, said this while presenting the score card of his eight-year tenure (2009 to 2017) in Abuja on Friday.

The programme, organised by NIPRD, aimed to present the products researched and developed by the institute and present staff service awards to deserving worker.

He said that ‘NIPRIBOL’, a fixed dose combination drug was developed by the institute for the treatment of Ebola Virus Disease, adding that the institute had completed the Phase I study of the drug.


 
Gamaniel said that the institute had also developed ‘NIPRIMAL’, an anti-malaria for treatment of uncomplicated malaria, stating that the drug was also safe for use by pregnant women.

Others are: ‘NIPRIMUNE’ an immunostimulant which can also be used to manage HIV in Nigeria and ‘NIPRIFAN’ for the treatment of fungal skin infection.

He said that another product developed by the institute, ‘NIPRD Oil’, could be used as a nasal decongestant, insect repellant, air freshner and an anti-inflammatory agent.

He however noted that excessive use of this oil could cause irritation.

He said that “the institute has also developed ‘NIPRISAN’ for the management of sickle cell anaemia.

“We are currently concluding plans to carry out commercial production and distribution of this product.


 
“We have developed and implemented various institutional policies for effective governance, this include the scheme and condition of service, intellectual policy and quality management system.

“We have also ensured the introduction of traditional herbal medicine into the national health system and established partnerships with local and international organisations.

“The core competence of NIPRD is in the development of phytomedicines from indigenous plants and products, clinical trials, among others; we are a quality assured institute,” Gamaniel said.

He said that presenting a report was necessary as it would serve as a baseline for the new leadership and provide an opportunity for new strategies to be introduced.

The institute presented awards to over 150 staff for their hard work and dedication to the growth of the institute, and the research and development of traditional herbal products.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Federal Government in 1987 approved the establishment of the institute as a parastatal under the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology.

It was established with the primary objective of developing drugs, biological products and pharmaceutical raw materials from indigenous resources towards the growth and development of the country.

The institute was later moved to the Federal Ministry of Health in 2001. (NAN)

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NEWS / Modu Sheriff’s Loyalists Defect To APC In Edo
« on: January 20, 2018, 07:43:03 AM »
IMMEDIATE past governor of Edo State and leader of the All Progressive Congress caucus in the state, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, has urged Nigerians not to allow ‘armed robbers of yesterday’ return to power in the country. Oshiomhole called on Nigerians to support the anticorruption crusade of President Muhammadu Buhari, saying that corruption must be pushed back. He also cautioned Nigerians to be wary of politicians who want to use religion as a political weapon to destabilise the country.

The former governor spoke on Friday in Benin City when thousands of supporters of Senator Alli-Modu Sheriff in the state’s Peoples Democratic Party defected to the APC.

Those that led their supporters to defect to the APC included the lawmaker representing Ikpoba-Okha/Egor Constituency in the House of Representatives, Hon Ehiozuwa Agbonnayima, former governorship aspirant of the PDP, Matthew Iduoriyikemwen and a former member of the state House of Assembly, Hon Blessing Agbebaku. Oshiomhole told the mammoth crowd it was time for the APC to install the next government in neighbouring Delta State since all the strong elements of the PDP in Edo have left the party.

Oshiomhole said the APC must carry more brooms and extend the frontiers of progress and development to Delta State. He asserted that the PDP can no longer resurrect in Edo because “the party died in sin.” The former governor said the solution to Nigeria’s problem does not include bringing back the armed robbers of yesterday. He said the PDP destroyed the country beyond zero level and the problems could not be fixed overnight. According to him: “This process is not overnight. Our President is trying. The PDP destroyed this country beyond ground level. It cannot be fixed overnight. I have faith in my country. We must stop the looters. We must prosecute them, we must jail them.

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NEWS / Police Place N10m Bounty On Taraba Lawmaker’s Killers
« on: January 20, 2018, 07:40:28 AM »
THE Taraba State police command yesterday said it has placed the sum of N10 million as reward for anyone who will provide “useful information” leading to the arrest of killers of Hosea Ibi, late member of the Taraba State House of Assembly.

Ibi, a lawyer, who was representing Takum 1 State Constituency, was kidnapped on December 30 last year, in Takum when he went home for Christmas celebration. Eye-witnesses said he was whisked away at gun point by his abductors who rode on a motorbike.

The lawmaker was not seen until 16 days later; he was discovered dead, after a ransom was reportedly paid for his release.

Taraba State Governor, Darius Ishaku, said he has been devastated by Ibi’s death. “My heart has been broken,” he said,  urging security agencies to fish out the killers.


 
The governor revealed that he had fulfilled all the financial demands made by the kidnappers and was surprised that they eventually killed him.

“They asked for money, I gave them, I thought I was dealing with kidnappers, I didn’t know they were assassins,” he said.

Police spokesman, David Misal, on Monday confirmed that he was murdered. Misal said the body of the lawmaker was found in the afternoon at Kwari, along Takum –

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NEWS / Fight Anti-Corruption War With Courage, NSA Tells EFCC Cadets
« on: January 20, 2018, 07:39:06 AM »
The National Security Adviser, Gen. Mohammed Babagana Monguno (rtd), yesterday asked the newly- graduated cadets of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to fight the war against corruption with courage.

He also said the EFCC has made remarkable strides under the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.

He said the EFCC has become the lead fighter in the war against corruption and economic crimes.

Monguno gave the charge at the passing out of 183 cadets of the Detective Inspector Course 4 at the Nigerian Defence Academy Parade Ground, Ribadu Campus, Kaduna.


 
The event was the climax of a 13- month rigorous training on the necessary skills of law enforcement.

The NSA urged the operatives to be determined, patriotic, fearless and show no mercy to treasury looters.

He said: “As you enter the services of the EFCC, you must fight this war with courage, bravery, professionalism and a dogged spirit of patriotism as well as determination.

“It was the desire to develop these qualities in you that brought you to the Nigerian Defence Academy in the first place.

“You must carry into your career in the EFCC, the virtues of love for the fatherland, which was inculcated in you right here.

“You must be fearless fighters who will show no mercy to all those who seek to destroy our dear country through corrupt practices”.


 
He, however, warned the new operatives against compromising their integrity.

He said: “Any erring officer would be shown the way out as the present administration has zero tolerance for corruption”.

“With the advent of President Mohammadu Buhari, the leadership of Nigeria has found the political will to fight corruption”.

“Under the present administration, your organization has made remarkable strides in the recovery of stolen public assets and made significant progress in the investigation of politically exposed persons”.

A statement by the Acting Head of Media and Publicity, Samin Amaddin, said the NSA asked the new operatives not to lose sight of the fact that “ the EFCC is today the lead fighter in the war against corruption and economic crimes”.

He congratulated the officers and urged Nigerians to “support the EFCC, and, of course, the government in the prosecution of the war against corruption.”

The newly graduated operatives were recruited from the 36 states of the federation and the FCT through rigorous screening process that

featured aptitude test, fitness test and oral interview.

The operatives include 22 females and 161 males.

Four cadets, namely, O. Okpara, E. W Abili, M. O. Adeyeye and C N. Ekeka, were recognized for “exceptional performance in examinations, practical tests and for high degree of discipline, physical fitness and demonstrable leadership.”

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NEWS / CLI: Lagos, Firm Step Up Waste Evacuation Across Metropolis
« on: January 20, 2018, 07:36:45 AM »
In a bid to ensure clean and hygienic environment, the Lagos State government and the environmental utility firm contracted to implement the Cleaner Lagos Initiative (CLI), Visionscape Sanitation Solutions, have intensified evacuation of waste in black spots and illegal dump sites across the metropolis.

A tour of various parts of the State on Friday revealed that evacuation of filth had been carried out and still ongoing in major areas including Falomo Bridge, Obalende, Ikoyi, Mushin, Ikeja, Ipaja, Agege, Oshodi, among others.

The clean-up exercise, which was simultaneously going on across the State, is in line with “Operation Deep Clean,” a stop-gap measure designed to keep the city clean pending the full transition to the new waste management policy of the State Government encapsulated in the CLI.

The CLI was established to address, enforce and regulate the challenges in the solid waste management systems within the State in line with global best practices.


 
Speaking after observing the evacuation of heaps of refuse in Ikeja Along axis of Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway, a resident of the area, Mr. Babatunde Bamidele commended the state government and Visionscape for the exercise, saying it was obvious that a good job was done.

He said: “What they have done here is very good. Everywhere is clean now. I will only appeal to them to keep up the good work by coming regularly.”

Another resident, Tanwa Babarinde, who operates a public toilet in Ikeja, urged the state government to designate officials to monitor the area especially at night to prevent indiscriminately dumping of refuse.

She said: “I like what Governor Akinwunmi Ambode is doing to make the State clean. The Visionscape people have been here to clean up this area and they did a very good job.

“My only appeal to the state government is to designate their officials here especially at night to prevent indiscriminate dumping of waste because anytime they clean up the illegal dump site here, before the next day, you will see heaps of refuse again meaning that some people are coming here to dump waste at night,” Babarinde said.

It would be recalled that the operators of Private Sector Participation (PSP) in waste management and the Lagos State Government had agreed to amicably settle a court case which delayed full implementation of CLI.


 
Investigation revealed that some people were going out in the middle of the night to dump waste on a large scale on the roads. But the government, in turn, had vowed to go all out after such unscrupulous elements and punish them accordingly in line with the law.

The state government has also urged residents to properly bag their waste and put in front of their houses for evacuation by officials of the Cleaner Lagos Initiative and other assigned bodies.

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NEWS / APDA Rejects Cattle Colonies, Opts For Ranches, Grazing Reserves
« on: January 20, 2018, 07:35:18 AM »
The Advanced Peoples Democratic Alliance (APDA) yesterday added its voice to the opposition against Federal Government’s proposed cattle colonies in different parts of the country.

A statement issued after a meeting of the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party advised the Federal Government to set up cattle ranches and grazing reserves as a step towards ending persistent clashes between herdsmen and farmers.

Deadly clashes between the two groups in Benue, Kaduna, Taraba, Plateau and other parts of the country has resulted in the death of hundreds of people in recent times, promptint the Federal Government to moot the idea of creating cattle colonies in a bid to ease tension between herdsmen and farmers.

The NWC also resolved to set up a financial committee for the party for the purpose of raising funds.


 
It reviewed the crisis in the Ekiti Chapter of the party and resolved to suspend working committee in the state while constituting a three-man committee to run the affairs of the party in the state until a congress is held.

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NEWS / REVEALED: Syndicate Behind Illegal Refineries In Bayelsa
« on: January 20, 2018, 07:32:04 AM »
I belebiri has all the trappings of an Ijaw community. Tucked away into Kolo creek axis of Ogbia Local Government Area, Bayelsa State, it is rich in oil resources and hosts a chain of oil pipelines belonging to the Nigerian Agip Oil Company (NAOC).

The main occupations of the people, like in other typical Ijaw communities, are farming and fishing. But these means of livelihood appear to have been relegated to the background following a new booming business of illegal refineries.

Camps of illegal refineries, known in Ijaw parlance as Kpo Fire, operated in secrecy in connivance with some leaders in the community and authorities in high places, are scattered in the area.

Health and environmental hazards of crude cooking of crude oil stare visitors in the face. Oil slicks washed ashore, polluted creeks and mangled vegetation are some signs that illegal oil business thrives in the community.


 
But there is something strange about Ibelebiri. Many of the people have lost their lives in explosions that occurred in the illegal refinery camps, but the business still goes on as if nothing has happened. Recently, over 25 persons perished following an explosion in one of the camps. But the dealers have learnt nothing from the experience.

A recent field study conducted by the Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth (ERA/FoEN) showed that despite the tragic event, the illegal business still thrives. An eyewitness, Obonin Austin, who survived the recent explosion by a whisker, said there was no end in sight to the business.

Austin, who hails from neighbouring Imiringi community, relived the sad event of December 8, 2017, describing it as bloody. He said it was by divine intervention that he survived the inferno, adding that his friend could not make it. He said about three of them that made it out of the camp were treated in different hospitals. But he lamented that one of them, his bosom friend, later died in the hospital. Narrating how the incident occurred and how he escaped from the scene, he said: “It was because of the bunkering fire incident that happened on the 8th of December, 2017 that you are seeing part of my body like this. That night, we went there around 7 pm. It happened when one lady struck a match to light a stove and prepare some noodles.

“She used to be one of the women in the camps selling food to customers. That actually caused the fire because the bush was already saturated with enough gas evaporating from refined products and refining operations were still ongoing. So, the flame from the match attracted gas from the refining oven.

“There was an immediate explosion. Workers who were working at the upper side started rushing down like rain. When I looked up, I saw a huge fire, so I started running away from the area. As I was running, some of the refined products splashed on my hand and my hand caught fire too.

“As I was running, I noticed that my shoes were on fire too. So, when I ran a certain distance, I stopped and removed the shoes from my legs so as to avoid them burning to melting point. I was later taken to Christ the King Hospital.


 
“But we were three who went together that evening. One was rushed to another medical facility where he later died. The third one was admitted at the Cottage hospital at Otuasega community. That is what I know about the incident.

“But, according to people who went there the next day, they saw a lot of dead bodies; some burnt beyond recognition and so only their bones were left and they gathered the bones for burial.

“It was a mass burial. Some dead bodies started floating on the Creek after about two days, because that night, even the water in the creek was on fire. Some of us were able to swim across to the other side.”

Although he could not say the exact number of the casualties, Austin said more than 20 people breathed their last on the night of the incident. “It is difficult to say the total, because some also died in the hospital. All I know is that those who died were more than 20.

“More than 100 people were there before the incident. But in the morning, you would observe that the number of people there was more than a community. The fire incident occurred at about 3 am that night.

“Not only the workers were there; some were there as customers to buy and arrange for finished products to be transferred to various destinations in the morning. The environment is a hustling place,” he said.

Austin said it would be difficult to stop people from engaging in illegal refining of crude oil.

He gave his reasons: “I cannot tell people to stop going there because, we take that place as a ground where we go to hustle instead of going to steal.

“I will advise people not to go in the night, but in the morning when all the ovens would have been put off. The ovens are normally put off around 5 am. They should avoid anything like naked flame, matches, lighter or anything that can cause fire outbreak.

“Government should formalise this business, because without this, crime rate would be too much. This has presented an avenue for people to get busy and assist themselves. It has reduced the rate of crime.

“So, government should, please allow them to do it. The death rate is the only big issue in the operations. For me, they should look for a safer, modernised way so that it will not cause these types of death again. That is my own advice.”

He regretted that his friend, who he identified as Trust, who had gone to the site to make a living, could not survive the injuries he sustained from the incident.

“Yes, we were three who went together, and one of the other two was my best friend. Unfortunately, he died at the hospital. That guy, I know him as Trust, but I don’t know his surname. His father is from Kolo community but the mother is from Onuebum community, both in Ogbia Local Government Area.

“So, three of us went there. But, to God be the glory, two of us are still alive. I don’t know why. I pray that God should see him through because our going to the site of the unfortunate incident was not for any trouble. It was for us to struggle to survive.

“My friend was burnt from head to toe. Parts of his burnt body were falling off. He died at the hospital around 8 pm three days after the fire incident. He was about 20 years old when he died. Before he fell off the hospital bed and died, he was calling the names of different people and screaming.”

Also a community chief, who spoke in confidence because of the sensitive nature of the issues, said Ibelebiri is host to many illegal refinery camps.

He said: “The fire incident which happened in our community environment is common knowledge. It was a most unfortunate incident, even though no one from this community died as a result of the fire. But over 16 souls perished in the inferno and none of them was a member of this community. A lot of strangers are involved. I reliably gathered that the refining camp where the fire incident happened was owned by an Ijaw guy, not from Ogbia Local Government.

“It is being rumoured that the guy also owns a refining camp in Rivers State and a similar thing occurred there too at his camp. Some people are suspecting it to be related to rituals. So, when the owner of the burnt camp came with a brand new jeep, he was booed by the people. “There are several camps in the environment; about 30 of such camps. Security agencies are aware. If not for the involvement of security agents, what else would explain why the business still thrives here?

“After the fire incident, the security agencies just came around and did some kind of controlled burning of what could be termed condemned oil and part of the already burnt environment and left. Operators and some security agencies who ought to ensure the business is completely stopped here settled in the end.”

The allegations that security agencies are in connivance with the owners of the camps are strong in the state and the community. Some residents believe that without such conspiracy, the business would have ended a long time ago.

Following the explosion that killed many people in one of the camps, a reliable source from the police said the incident was avoidable if the Joint Task Force (JTF), Operation Delta (ODS) and the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) saddled with the responsibility of clamping down on illegal refineries had acted on a letter written to them by the Commissioner of Police, Mr. Asuquo Amba.

He said the commissioner on September 21 dispatched a letter to responsible security commanders, appealing to them to treat the matter with urgency.

He quoted some parts of the letter as saying: “Information gathered revealed the presence of ongoing illegal refining of petroleum products like kerosene, diesel at Ebelebiri and Otuogwe, two communities in Ogbia Local Government Area Bayelsa State under the Kolo jurisdiction.

“The activities of these criminals constitute economic sabotage to the nation as well as endangering lives and properties, as explosion on this pipeline may lead to disaster.”

The source said it was disheartening to hear that despite the warning, the explosion still occurred and claimed lives.

A community leader, who spoke to ERA on condition of anonymity, confirmed that some community leaders and security personnel were involved in the deal. He said there was a time officials of a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) working on environmental issues were attacked for taking photographs of the crude oil polluted creek by some youths.

“Besides the involvement of community members, security personnel are alleged to be part of the deal. The syndicated nature of the operation has given confidence to the main operators to continue, especially the camp owners,” he said.

One Emmanuel Eze, a commercial driver said: “This operation seems to be controlled by a syndicate. I say so because there was a day I drove through Ibelebiri community in the night, at about 11 pm, and I was surprised to see many persons on the road as I got to the community.

“They blocked the road and I was even scared for my life. They demanded that I carry them or I would not pass. They wanted me to drop them at the next community, Okaki. Before I knew it, some of them rushed into my car. Some even occupied the boot. Up till now, I cannot tell how many of them I carried in the car that night.

“Between where I picked them and where they dropped, a team of policemen stopped me. The passengers promptly identified the policemen and said, ‘Officers, nothing today. We didn’t work because there was low pressure.’

“It means they didn’t transport crude oil in the pipelines today so there is no raw material to work. And the policemen understood and allowed us to proceed without demanding anything.”

Emmanuel added: “There is a retired security agent. He is now deeply involved in the business of dealing on local refinery products. He has two cars and he uses one in the local refinery business.”

Following their visit to the Ibelebiri community on January 8, 2018, officials of ERA, Mr. Alagoa Morris and Akpotu Ziworitin, in their report gave vivid descriptions of their discoveries.

The report said: “When ERA visited Ibelebiri community again on 8th January, 2018, the transfer/loading of refined products into cars and tricycles was ongoing. For strangers passing through the community environment, it would be difficult to have any idea as to such things happening there.

“This is so because there is no rising column of dark smoke for anyone to observe during the day, the crude oil polluted Kolo Creek is not visible from the road and the refined products are not transferred in conventional containers associated with liquid substances.

“Refined products are put in special bags and loaded into cars or tricycles. Trucks also have points where loading takes place at night only. Some who also confirmed how the fire incident happened informed ERA that the lady who struck the match and other customers who were within the camp to buy products died in the inferno, including a lady whom they said usually buys large quantities. “One of the main tell tales of any environment where refining of crude oil was ongoing in the past was the thick column of smoke rising and spreading above the particular area. The other two signs include the large presence of strangers in the locality and crude oil freely spreading on the creeks within the environment.

“However, since security agencies and contractors like the Oil and Gas Task Force took the fight to operators of local refineries and did colossal destruction of such sites and equipment, most sites have since closed down in Bayelsa State, especially in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area, which used to be like the headquarters of the business, and the few that are still in operation have taken to operating mostly at night.

“ERA had earlier been informed that some security operatives had suggested and supported the night operations since the accompanying thick columns of smoke cannot report the incident to the public at night.

“Be that as it may, the pollution of creeks in areas of operation has continued to tell the story. Unfortunately, because folks from communities along the polluted Kolo Creek are involved, such environmentally inimical hydrocarbon in the water has not elicited the sort of outcry expected from the communities.”

The report also observed that the route where refined products left the camp was highly policed by security agencies, especially the police and NSCDC. It indicted the security agents at the various checkpoints for providing cover for the transporters instead of curtailing the act.

Lamenting that such cover had emboldened operators of illegal refineries, the report further said some petrol stations in Yenagoa were dispensing products from such sources to unsuspecting members of the public.

The report said: “The activities of local refinery operators are remotely encouraged by greed, unemployment, unavailability of refined products, cheap price of the locally refined products, high demand for the products, inadequate monitoring/inspection of petrol stations to ascertain source of products by the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), etc.

“No matter how unhappy and uncomfortable some fellow community leaders/folks may be about the local refinery related hazards in their community environment, unless the government and security agencies do the needful, the lives of those who oppose the operation could be on the line.

“The culpability of the military, police and Civil Defence cannot be ruled out, especially as the environment of interest is just few kilometres from the headquarters of these relevant security agencies in the state capital. And yet the business still thrives.”

ERA, among other things, asked the federal and state governments to encourage youths by providing willing ones with scholarship for training in the area of renewable energy as the world is gradually moving away from fossil fuel.

The report said: “The Federal Government should build more refineries in the country and ensure that the existing four are functional and producing in full capacity.

“This will make refined petroleum products available and at cheaper prices to the Nigerian public. The export of crude oil and importation of refined products is not only a bad business principle; it makes Nigeria a laughing stock in the comity of nations.

“As promised by the Federal Government, Environmental Impact Assessment [EIA] should be visible and ongoing in the creeks, as a confidence building action preceding approval for the location of modular refineries promised by the Federal Government during the tour of the Niger Delta state by the then Acting President. This is critical and would go a long way to minimise risks associated with lives and environment in general.

“The Bayelsa State Government and Security agencies should inform the public whether the refining operation ongoing within Ibelebiri environment is approved by them and, if so, why other sites in the creeks have been destroyed?

“Communities along the Kolo Creek should take measures necessary for the protection of their natural fresh water. They should join in condemning the crude oil pollution of the Kolo Creek by operators of local refineries. Keeping silent on such self-inflicted injuries weakens any argument against oil industry related environmental degradation.”

11
NEWS / FRSC Decorates Promoted Officers, Marshals
« on: January 20, 2018, 07:26:39 AM »
The Zone RS2 Lagos of Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) has decorated its newly promoted officers and marshals with their new ranks.

Among the newly promoted officers is Olugbenga Mohammed that was promoted to the rank of Chief Route Commander.

From Route Commander to Superintendent Route Commander are: Olufemi Ige,  Kasali Jamal and  Elizabeth Olubunmi Soneye.

The newly promoted Route Commanders include Igrubia Kennedy,  Dolapo Elizabeth Awe,  Ndidi Marian Fredrick-Imo, while the newly promoted Deputy Route Commanders from Assistant Route Commanders are Kehinde Abayomi Olusola,  Racheal Oluyemi Baji,  Suswam Diligence Dondan and Nwibe Cordelia Ngozi.  14 officers were also promoted to the marshal status.


 
Speaking while decorating them, the Zonal Commanding Officer,  Shehu Alkali Zaki, advised them to imbibe selflessness and dedication in the discharge of their responsibilities.

He said promotion means adding more responsibilities, adding that” to whom much is given, much is expected”.

He urged the officers to continue to work in accordance with the corps’ laid- down rules and regulations for it to achieve its vision of crash free on Nigeria roads.

The Lagos State Sector Commander,  Hyginus Omeje, told the newly promoted officers to justify their elevation through increase in their productivity level and better performance.

He said the FRSC job is a thankless job, but doing it is a spirit of serving the fatherland through humanity.

He urged the officers to be more dedicated to their duties, saying they could only justify their elevation and pave the way for more future recognition and promotions through more dedication to duties.


 
Route Commander Ndidi Mariam Friedrick-Imo, who spoke on behalf of the newly promoted officers, said she gave God the glory for making them part of the promotion beneficiaries and thanked the management of the corps for making the much-desired promotions a reality.

12
NEWS / Let’s Not Sweep Restructuring Under The Carpet—Obasanjo
« on: January 20, 2018, 07:25:51 AM »
Former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, yesterday  cautioned against hushing the call for restructuring in Nigeria.

Obasanjo made the call while presenting a plaque to Prof. Ehosa Osaghae, the Convocation Lecturer at the National Open University (NOUN) in Abuja.

“We should not sweep the quest for restructuring under the carpet.

“Let us talk about it,’’ he said.


 
Obasanjo, is among 14, 771 persons expected to receive honours at the 7th convocation of NOUN later today.

The former president is expected to receive a doctorate in Christian Theology.

Osaghae, had earlier in lecture entitled` `Restructuring and True Federalism: Nigeria in Perspective’’ said that restructuring should start from the subnational units of the federation.

He said that states had performed poorly in the provision of social amenities and infrastructure despite their allocations.

“The states, which are responsible for over 50 per cent of public sector expenditures, have performed very poorly in the delivery of basic social services and infrastructure.

“It is ironic that allegations of marginalization, exclusion and injustice allude to poor roads, absence of running water, hospitals and schools, erosion, unemployment and the like-matters which the states and local governments should take responsibility.


 
“A major part of the problem of the states has to do with poor governance variables-low levels or absence of accountability and unrestrained powers of governors who have emasculated the capacities of states legislative assemblies, political parties, traditional rulers and civil societies.

“Local governments are of course far worse than the states which practically strangulate them; though the real problem with local governments is that they are inorganic and artificial to function as accountable units of governance,’’ he said.

13
NEWS / NIS Elevates 8,821
« on: January 20, 2018, 07:24:31 AM »
The Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) has promoted 8821 Officers and Men for 2017 promotion exercise.

The senior officer’s promotion list which was approved by the Civil Defence, Fire, Immigration and Prison Service Board (CDFIPB) at its 59th meeting held on the 16th January, 2018 has a total of 5070 newly promoted officers which comprises 23 Assistant Comptrollers General (ACG) and 58 Comptrollers of Immigration Service (CIS).

According to a statment issued last night by the NIS spokesman, Sunday James, further breakdown of the promotion list has 79 Deputy Comptrollers of Immigration (DCI), 269 Assistant Comptrollers of Immigration (ACI) and 249 Chief Superintendent of Immigration (CSI). Others are 662 Superintendent of Immigration (SI), 423 Deputy Superintendent of Immigration (DSI), 152 Assistant Superintendent of Immigration 1 (ASI1) and 108 Assistant Superintendent of Immigration 2 (ASI2).

Also on the list are 100 Chief Inspectors of Immigration 1 (CII1), 187 Chief Inspectors of Immigration (CII), 233 Deputy Chief Inspectors of Immigration (DCII), 363 Assistant Chief Inspectors of Immigration (ACII), 409 Principal Inspectors of Immigration (PII), and 1757 Senior Inspectors of Immigration (SII).

On the Junior Cadre, the list as approved by the Comptroller General of Immigration (CGI) has a total of 3751 Men who were promoted to the next ranks.

14
NEWS / Itsekiri Group Lauds Malami Over Maritime University Memo
« on: January 20, 2018, 07:23:40 AM »
FOREMOST Itsekiri socio-cultural body, Warri Progressive Society, alias Otonloye, has commended the action of the Attorney General of the Federation for the memo of advice that he has sent to the National Assembly to take into cognizance the proper name of the host community of the proposed National Maritime University, saying that the real name of the host community is Okerenghigho and not Okerekoko. The statement reads:

“The Warri Progressive Society highly commends the Attorney General, Justice Abubakar Malami on his memo dated 17/10/2017 to the National Assembly, just as we enjoin the National Assembly to take cognizance of the Supreme Court’s judgment on the matter and tow the path of “Rule of Law”, and do justice to the memo by naming the National Maritime University, Okerenghigho and not Okerenkoko – a corrupted name by the Ijaws of Gbaramatu. “Furthermore, we posit that the land should be properly acquired from the rightful owners, the Omadino Itsekiri. A position clearly stated during the visit of the Vice President, His Excellency Prof. Yemi Osinbajo to Warri Kingdom in 2017. “We welcome the National Maritime University in our land, Okerenghigho but we detest with scorn the forceful naming, and wrongful acquisition of the “Itsekiri land” from our legally established tenants, Ijaws of Gbaramatu.”

15
NEWS / Policemen Deployed In Ogun Community As Herdsmen Kill Farmer
« on: January 20, 2018, 07:22:46 AM »
Armed policemen yesterday took over Imeko-Afon Local Government Area of Ogun State, following the alleged killing of a farmer by suspected herdsmen on Thursday.

Few hours after the Ogun State Government took proactive measures to prevent clashes between herdsmen and farmers in the state, people suspected to be herdsmen have ......ed a man to death on his farm.

The farmer identified as Adetona Owolabi was allegedly killed on his farm at Afon, a community in the council area.

The incident happened a few hours after the state government took proactive measures to prevent clashes between farmers and herders in the state.


 
The Nation gathered that Adetona  was working on his farm situated a few  meters away from the  Afon bridge along Owode/Abeokuta road when he observed that herds of cattle were  grazing on the farm ravaged his  cassava, yam and vegetables.

It was learnt further that herdsmen attacked him with machetes for daring to challenge them for leading their cattle to his farm to eat up his crops.

The victim, who was in his mid-60s, it was learnt, suffered machete cuts on his body leading to his death before he could get help while the perpetrators escaped.

The spokesman of Ogun State Police Command, Mr. Abimbola Oyeyemi, an Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP), told The Nation that two persons have been arrested in connection with the killing.

He said the Commissioner of Police, Mr. Ahmed Iliyasu, had instructed the suspects be moved to the Homicide Section of Ogun State Police Command, Eleweran, for discrete investigation.

16
NEWS / Court Orders Forfeiture Of Osborne Towers Flat 7B
« on: January 20, 2018, 07:21:46 AM »
The Federal High Court in Lagos yesterday ordered the final forfeiture of Flat 7B in Osborne Towers, Ikoyi, where large sums of money were found.

Justice Saliu Saidu ruled on an application by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) seeking the flat’s forfeiture.

He dismissed an application by Union Bank Plc which claimed control of the flat, describing the bank as a “busy body”.

Large sums of money were found in the flat, including $43,449,947, N23, 218,000 and £27,800, which were forfeited to the Federal Government last June 6.


 
The EFCC accused former National Intelligence Agency (NIA) Director-General Ayodele Oke of fraudulently converting the agency’s funds and hiding them in the flat.

It alleged that Oke’s wife, Folasade, used part of the funds to buy the flat through her company, Chobe Ventures Ltd.

But, Union Bank said the flat was part of 16, Osborne Road, Ikoyi, belonging to former two-term governor of Bauchi State Alhaji Ahmadu Adamu Mu’azu.

The bank said Muazu mortgaged the property to it by virtue of a tripartite deed of legal mortgage of November 1, 2011 as security for a loan granted to Tripple A Properties & Investment Ltd.

It said the original title deed was vested in it, adding that the loan’s tenor had expired but it was not liquidated.

Union Bank said it sold the flat to Chobe Ventures, owned by Oke’s wife, with an agreement that flat’s owner would observe several “covenants”, including payment of service charges, land use charge and levies, among others.


 
The bank said Flat 7B forms part of several flats in the property and that it “cannot be severed from the other flats in the building”.

The bank said forfeiting the flat would be detrimental to other occupants of the property as it would not be able to enforce the terms of its agreement with the owner.

Ruling, Justice Saidu held that Chobe Ventures, which was the respondent, did not file anything to controvert the EFCC’s claim that the flat was acquired with proceeds of crime.

“The interested party/applicant has no proprietary or legal interest in the flat having divested its interest by outright sale of the property to the respondent (Chobe Ventures).

“I find the interested party/applicant’s motion to set aside and discharge the order of this court as unmeritorious and same is struck out,” Justice Saidu held.

He agreed with the EFCC that the property was reasonably suspected to have been acquired with proceeds of unlawful activity.

Justice Saidu held: “The respondent, Chobe Ventures, refused and neglected to file anything in this case or to appear.

“As stated earlier, the interested party/applicant does not have a right to the property. The Federal Government will take over the property and all the liabilities attached to it.

“Based on the provision of Section 44 (2) (b) of the Constitution and Section 17 of the Advance Fee Fraud Act, I hereby order the final forfeiture to the Federal Government of Nigeria of the property known as Flat 7B, 16 Osborne Road, Ikoyi, acquired in the name of Chobe Ventures.”

17
NEWS / 2019: We’re Worried About Killings, Says APC Spokesman
« on: January 20, 2018, 07:06:58 AM »
The National Public Secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Bolaji Abdullahi, fears that the current wave of killings by herdsmen in parts of the country could constitute a threat to the party’s 2019 presidential fortune.

He therefore wants the problem resolved immediately.

Abdullahi, who spoke at the reading of his book, “On A Platter of Gold,” in Ikeja on Thursday night, said the killings have “the potential to affect our political fortune if we don’t deal with it decisively the way we dealt with Boko Haram.”

“If we fail to do that, we also know the consequences, because we had a recent experience,” he said in response to a question at the event.


 
He added: “We are worried with the way herdsmen kill people.

“The significant part of it is that even as we speak, there are also interpretations of what is going on regarding the herdsmen that approximate closely the interpretation President Jonathan was being given about Boko Haram.

“You will recall that some people said what happened in Benue was a communal clash; some said it was Ortom who had some militia and refused to pay them, and it was the militia who turned their weapons against the people. It is frightening for us to hear these.

“At the party level, we are having conversation, that we want to see the President and tell him that this interpretation you are being given is potentially destructive to our party and your own position as the President and potential candidate of the party.’

Responding to another question on why Buhari has not visited Benue State to douse the tension generated by the killings, Abdullahi said: “We don’t know the information the President has, and we don’t know what the security people are telling him. When you are in power, you are being held hostage.”

Abdullahi, who served former President Goodluck Jonathan as Minister of Youth and Sports, used the occasion to shed light on the circumstances that led to his sack.


 
Jonathan, he said, had wanted him to deliver a speech publicly condemning the now Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, who is well known as his (Abdullahi’s) mentor, but he declined the assignement.

“I said no. And it is not because I am loyal to Saraki that I said so; I will do it for everybody I have relationship with,” he said.

“To ask me to be the one to abuse him, no way. I take it to be hypocritical of me to stand for something and not get the repercussion.

“There was no bitterness at all with Jonathan or to get at somebody. Anybody reading this book will be looking out for vengeance words, but I tried to be objective.”

18
NEWS / No Final Word Yet On Cattle Colonies
« on: January 20, 2018, 07:06:13 AM »
There were indications yesterday that the Presidency is weighing four options on how to end killings by Fulani herdsmen and their constant clashes with farmers nationwide.

Also, the government has dug up a 1998 report by the Petroleum (Special) Trust Fund (PTF), which made far-reaching recommendations on herdsmen-farmers relationship.

It was learnt that the report has been sent to the 10-man committee headed by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, which was set up by the National Economic Council (NEC) on Thursday.

The late Head of State, Gen. Sani Abacha, had established the PTF in 1994, which was headed by President Muhammadu Buhari as the Executive Chairman.


 
Investigation by our correspondent revealed that the Presidency has been looking at four options in order to find a permanent solution to the perennial crisis of herders-farmers clashes.

It was gathered that the options on the card are as follows:

creating grazing reserves through the Grazing Reserve Law as the case in the defunct Northern Region in 1965;
establishing grazing / stock routes nationwide for herdsmen
o possibility of having cattle colonies

Establishment of ranches
A top source in the presidency, who spoke in confidence to avoid interference with the assignment of Osinbajo’s committee, said: “As at this moment, the Presidency is weighing at least four options, and the alternatives could be more depending on the findings of the panel

being led by the Vice President.

“The options are having grazing reserves, ranches, grazing/stock routes, and cattle colonies. Contrary to insinuations, the government has not opted for cattle colonies.


 
“At the end of the day, the government and all stakeholders will agree on the best option which can guarantee peace and harmony between herdsmen and farmers.”

Meanwhile, it was learnt that the presidency has sent a 1998 blueprint, prepared by the defunct Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF), to the Osinbajo Committee.

The top source added: “The PTF report on herdsmen-farmers clash has been dug up and made available to the committee through the Chairman of the Nigerian Governors Forum, Alhaji Abdulaziz Yari.

“There are far-reaching recommendations in the 1998 PTF report which the late Head of State, Gen. Sani Abacha could not implement before he died.

“This report is not imposed on the panel but as a reminder of past efforts which could assist the VP and others.

“The same PTF, which produced the report, was headed by President Buhari. This means that he foresaw the challenges at hand. Yet the crisis is seen as a personal thing instead of a national one.

“You can see that the crisis has been there for a long time. But this administration is determined to find a permanent solution to it.”

The source however confirmed yesterday that President Muhammadu Buhari did not visit the killing flashpoints in Benue, Taraba and other states because he “preferred to act to stop the killings than playing to the gallery.”

The source said the “President was conscious of being in a pre-election year and did not want to make political capital of such shuttles.”

The source added: “If you ask the governors of the affected states, they will tell you that the President acted swiftly by ordering the police and security agencies to stop the killings, protect the innocent Nigerians in the affected parts of the country, fish out the killers for justice to take its course and conduct thorough investigations on how to prevent reoccurrence.”

The Governor of Benue State, Dr. Samuel Ortom, last Sunday told THE NATION that he was not opposed to any solution which can stop the killings.

He said: “I am very open. I am a democratically elected governor. It is what the people want that I go with.

“So, if you are able to convince my people that we can tinker with the law or do whatever, I am ready to go. I have no hard feelings about it.

“I will do whatever can bring progress and stop these mindless, killings whether they are Fulani or herdsmen, Hausa, Igbo or Tiv, Idoma or Igede. Whatever can stop the killings, I am ready for it.”

19
It was a rain of tributes yesterday for Nigeria’s first elected Vice President, the late Dr Alex Ifeanyichukwu Ekwueme.

Lagos State Governor, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode; Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola; former Anambra State Governor, Peter  Obi, and Africa’s richest woman, Folorunsho Alakija, all extolled  Ekwueme’s integrity and statesmanship.

They and others, including former Commonwealth Secretary-General, Sir Emeka Anyaoku, spoke at the commendation service for Ekwueme at the Cathedral Church of God, Marina and the ‘Evening of Tributes and Music’ at the Muson Centre, Lagos Island.

Other guests at the events included Ogun State Governor, Ibikunle Amosun; former Ekiti State Governor and Minister of Solid Minerals Development, John Kayode Fayemi; former Ogun State Governor, Chief Olusegun Osoba; former Abia State Governor, Chief Orji Uzor, among others.


 
Ambode described Ekwueme, who died in London last November 19 aged 85, as “a leader among leaders.”

He said Ekwueme was “a well respected elder statesman who carried himself with dignity and exuded knowledge, experience and maturity.”

Ambode noted the “exemplary patriotic roles” played by Ekwueme.

He said: “Significantly, his answer to the still-problematic National Question grabbed public attention in a multi-ethnic and multi-cultural country searching for unity, stability and an equitable power-sharing formula.

“Dr. Ekwueme had proposed six geopolitical zones as the federating units that would rotationally produce a five-year single-term presidency. The six geopolitical zones are Northwest, Northeast, North central, Southwest, Southeast and South-south.”

“There is no doubt that Dr. Ekwueme was a creative political thinker. Although his novel proposal during the 1994-1995 National Constitutional Conference (NCC) that produced the 1999 Nigerian Constitution was not formally included in the constitution, it is to his credit that the idea of six geopolitical zones has been informally embraced and today informs aspects of governance in the country. In this respect, his contribution to the country’s political evolution has an enduring quality.”


 
Fashola, who paid his tributes via a video interview said Ekwueme was “a truly great man.”

He recommended Ekwueme’s credibility and high values as worth emulating.

Obi described Ekwueme as a nationalist and urged other politicians to emulate him.

He told The Nation that Ekwueme was one of Nigeria’s best leaders ever.

Anyaoku said: “He was not a typical leader. He left a legacy of diligence, hardwork.”

Subomi, Ekwueme’s friend and former Lagos neighbour, recalled how their bond of friendship was cemented after Ekwueme returned to his house in Apapa from the east after the civil war. He noted God used Ekwueme to direct opportunities his way.

Alhaji Lateef Okunnu SAN, Ekwueme’s former school mate at King’s College, Lagos, said Ekwueme would have made Nigeria great if he had become President.

Mrs Alakija recalled Ekwueme’s brilliance.

She said: “He was extremely sharp and would always recognise anyone who was sharp. He loved dancing. He would dance and dance.”

Bishop of Lagos and Dean Emeritus, Church of Nigeria, (Anglican Communion), Most Rev. Adebola Ademowo, the Bishop of Lagos and Dean Emeritus, Church of Nigeria, (Anglican Communion), described the late former Vice President as a selfless and God fearing Nigerian statesman.

He said: “We cannot compare him to the politicians of today as he single-handedly supervised the construction of Oko Comprehensive Secondary School, among many things he did, he spent his money for the good and benefits of Nigerians.

Ekwueme will be buried in his hometown Oko, Anambra State on February 2.

20
NEWS / Northern Govs Beg Ortom Not To Abandon Forum Over Benue Killings
« on: January 20, 2018, 07:03:56 AM »
The Governor of Borno State, Kashim Shettima, led northern governors to beg Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, not to resign from the Nigeria Governors’ Forum over herdsmen killings in the state.

It was the first move from governors in north since Fulani herdsmen killed 73 people in Benue.

The visit came after South- south, South East, South West and Middle Belt stakeholders condoled with Governor Ortom on the tragic incident.

Shettima was accompanied on the trip by governors Nasir el-Rufai (Kaduna), Yahaya Bello (Kogi) and Simon Lalong (Plateau).


 
The Deputy Governor of Osun State, Otunba Grace Titilayo Laoye also visited the Benue governor.

Governor Shettima, who spoke on behalf of his colleagues, said they were in Benue to commiserate with Ortom on the killings.

But midway into his speech, there was murmuring from some guests who expressed dismay that he did not condemn the attack or made mention of the Fulani herdsmen in his address.

The governor also clashed with journalists outside the Banquet hall of the Benue Government House.

He accused South West and South-south leaders of coming to score cheap political points.

21
NEWS / I Went Into Coma When Jonathan Called In 2015 – Buhari
« on: January 20, 2018, 07:02:45 AM »
… I was reckless in military uniform – President

President Muhammadu Buhari said on Thursday night that he went temporarily into coma when former President Goodluck Jonathan called to congratulate him on his victory in the 2015 presidential election.

The President stated this when he hosted All Progressives Congress (APC) leaders to a dinner at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

He also recounted his experiences in the Nigerian electoral processes and his eventual victory in the 2015 presidential election.


 
He said: “The PVCs worked well in 2015. That was why when the former President rang me, I went temporarily into a coma. I will never forget the time. It was quartet after 5:00 p.m. and he said he called to congratulate me and that he has conceded defeat. He asked if I heard him and I said yes and I thanked him for his statesmanship.

“The truth is after being a deputy governor, a governor, Vice-president and President for six years, and he took that decision is great. He could have caused some problems. He had stayed long enough to cause problems.

He said: “I am the only politician that ended up three times in the Supreme Court and still virtually refused to give up.

“There is one thing that disabused my mind in a dispassionate way about ethnicity and religion across the country. You know that tribunal for presidential election started at High Court of Appeal. The President was my classmate. I missed only four of the court sittings.

“For that first phase in 2003, we were in court for 30 months. My legal leader was Chief Ahamba (SAN), an Igbo man. He asked the panel of judges to direct INEC to produce the voters register to prove to you that the election was done underground.

“When they came to write the judgment, they completely omitted that. Another Igbo man, a Roman Catholic, in the panel of judges wrote a minority report.


 
“I went to the Supreme Court. Who was the Chief Justice? An Hausa Fulani, a Muslim from Zaria. After 27 months, Ahamba presented our case for two hours and 45 minutes. The Chief Justice got up and said they were going on break and when they return the following day, they will deliver the judgment. They went away for three months. That was what made it 30 months.

“And when they came back, they discussed my case within 45 minutes. In 2007, who was the Chief Justice? A Muslim from Niger State.

“The third one, who was the Chief Justice? My neighbour from Jigawa State. The same religion and the same tribe.

“Finally, the determination of our people and technology: the Permanent Voters Cards made it possible for us to be here.

“Voters’ education is important. Let people be educated that it is their right to choose leaders of their choice.

“There is something that hit me very hard and I am happy I hit it back at somebody. Seven states of the North are only represented in my cabinet by junior ministers, ministers of state. In South East, I got 198,000 votes but I have four substantive ministers and seven junior ministers from there.

“You are closer to the people than myself, now that I have been locked up here, don’t allow anybody to talk of ethnicity. It is not true.

“I felt I should invite you and eat together and to tell you that as I am sitting here, I am very much aware of the problems in this country and that I will always reflect on the historical antecedents before I arrived here.

“I keep telling people that while I was in uniform, quite reckless and young, I got all the ministers and governors, and put them in Kirikiri. I said they were guilty until they could prove their innocence. I was also detained too.

“I decided to drop the uniform and come back. Eventually, I am here. So really, I have gone through it over and over again. This is why I am not in a hurry virtually to do anything. I will sit and reflect and continue with my clear conscience.

“I thank you for honouring my invitation and I am telling you that if I don’t ring you or call you, it is not because I ever forgot how you supported me at one stage or the other over the years from 2003 till now.”

The APC National Chairman, John Odigie-Oyegun, said “I was very touched by what you said. I hope it is understood in the proper perspective.

“It indicates quite clearly that you have listened to what people are saying. It has been such a terrible misrepresentation. You have seized this opportunity to say that you are not what people are saying.

“There are so much misconceptions. Look at the example you have given that those who stood by you through the periods of problems and struggles are not people of the same religious persuasion.

“You have said it that you are not an ethnic jingoist. I know this because I have known you for a very long time.

“For some of us, when these things are said, we find it painful but I hope there will be proper rendition of what you said today and it will start clearing the air.”

22
NEWS / 27-Year-Old Nigerian Killed In South Africa
« on: January 20, 2018, 07:00:16 AM »
A 27- year –old Nigerian, Ebuka Okori, was killed by the police in Durban in the early hours of Friday, the Nigerian community in South Africa said.

Mr Bartholomew Eziagulu, the Chairman of the Nigerian Union chapter in Kwazulu Natal Province of South Africa, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on telephone from Durban  that the victim was a native of Umunze in Orumba North Local Government of Anambra.

He said that an eyewitness informed the union that two police officers in mufti forcefully gained access to the victim`s house at Campbell Street in Durban at 2.am on Friday.

According to him, the officers immediately demanded money from Okori.


 
“ When he refused, he was handcuffed, taken outside and shot dead. The officers took away his cell phone, e-passport and other valuable documents.

“ The relative of the victim was tortured and robbed of his belongings while a third victim, a South African,  was also robbed,” he said.

Eziagulu said that the Okori`s  brother escaped from the house and called for help.

“ The Metro Police around the vicinity swiftly intervened and picked the vehicle number of the assailants,” he said.

Eziagulu said that police detectives and another special police team which investigates complaints against their colleagues are assisting to arrest the culprits.

“So far I must appreciate the effort of the SAPS detectives, Metro Police and the IPID team, there were fantastic at services , so much cooperation ,never seen before.


 
“The station of the culprits has been directed for immediate arrest, while one of them already requested for sick leave ,the other still at large”, he said.

Mr Adetola Olubajo, the President of  the Nigerian Union in  South Africa, said that the national secretariat had been informed about the incident.

He said that the union was  monitoring the situation and had informed the Nigerian Mission and the South African police.

Eziagulu in  a statement also drew attention to the case of another Nigerian
Ebuka Eziomwu , charged with  robbery.

23
SPORTS / Walcott Left Arsenal With His Things In Bin Bags
« on: January 20, 2018, 06:56:51 AM »
Theo Walcott will make time for proper goodbyes with his old Arsenal colleagues after a rushed exit to Everton left him with his belongings in bin bags.

England international Walcott ended a 12-year association with the Gunners when he joined Everton in a £20million deal this week, having fallen down the pecking order at Emirates Stadium.

And the 28-year-old told a news conference on Thursday there was no great fanfare when he came to leave Arsenal’s training ground.


 
“When I found that I was coming here I had to go there at night just to pick up all my stuff in binbags,” he said, much to the amusement of new boss Sam Allardyce.

“That’s loyalty for you,” the well-travelled Allardyce chortled. “I’ve had a few of those – you have to sneak in and sneak out.”

Walcott went on to explain he is keen to say more prolonged farewells, while relishing Everton’s trip to north London on February 3.

“I’ve spoken to the gaffer [Arsene Wenger] and I’m sure I’ll get some time to go back and catch up with people and do my proper goodbyes. That’s the right way to do it,” he added.

“We do also play them soon as well, which I’m looking forward to.

“I’ve always had so much time for the fans and they’ve been great to me, through all our ups and downs. I can’t thank them enough. It’s part of my family, Arsenal.”


 
Walcott scored 19 times last season but found himself out of favour with Wenger this time around.

Nevertheless, his respect for the man who plucked him from Southampton as a teenager remains undiminished.

“I’ve always had so much respect for the manager. For whatever reason it didn’t happen this year, that’s why I’ve moved on. I just want to work hard for this team

“I’ve known him since I was 16 – to bring a young player in and have faith in him, I can’t thank him enough.”

Managers at international level have not been such a mainstay during Walcott’s up-and-down career with England, but his time in the squad during Allardyce’s fleeting time in charge left an impression.

“I had a brief spell with the manager with England I and I felt like I wanted more of that,” he explained, ahead of a prospective Everton debut at home to West Brom on Saturday

24
Ivorian Ex-international, Didier Drogba has said his future is not in politics and the possibility of joining government despite George Weah’s appeal is not visible.

The former Chelsea ace turned down calls by the Liberian counterpart to join in salvaging Ivorian politics from the hands of oppressive leadership.

Drogba insisted he would not follow the footsteps of the Liberia’s president-elect, George Weah, who won elections late last year.

“He has been a big brother also for a long time and what he has done today shows that in the labor force, with perseverance, we can achieve our objectives and to realize our dreams for the good of the community.


 
“It’s not necessarily the case that all footballers will [now] want to become president. George [Weah] has opened the way for him to make an impact in his own way, and others can make an impact on their communities in other ways,” he said as reported in an online post.

Weah, ex-Liberia international and three-time African Player of the Year, Ballon d’Or and Fifa Player of the Year award winner was overwhelmingly voted Liberia president last month after winning a re-run election.

The former Liberian skipper won the first round of the October 2017 vote but failed to secure an outright win which led to a re-run.

The run-off between him and outgoing vice president Joseph Boakai eventually delivered the seat for the former AC Milan, Paris Saint Germain, Chelsea, and Manchester City striker.

Weah will be sworn in as 25th Liberia president on Sunday.

Succinct to not that Drogba has been part of community development in his country with the latest being a massive investment in education sector as the footballer built a gigantic school in Ivory Coast.

25
SPORTS / Pele Pulls Out Of London Event After Collapse
« on: January 20, 2018, 06:53:07 AM »
Brazilian great Pele collapsed with exhaustion and was forced to cancel a long-planned trip to London this Sunday.

The Football Writers Association (FWA) was due to host a dinner in his honour at the Savoy hotel on Sunday but said the 77-year-old would not make it.

‘In the early hours of Thursday morning, Pele collapsed and was taken to hospital in Brazil where he has undergone a series of tests which appear to point to severe exhaustion,’ the FWA said in a statement.


 
‘He remains on fluids while doctors monitor his recovery. Thankfully, there is no suggestion of anything more serious than exhaustion.’

Pele, who is the only player to win three World Cups, has been taken to hospital for kidney and prostate problems in recent years and also underwent hip surgery.

Still considered by many to be the greatest player of all time, he appeared in a wheelchair at his last big international appearance in Moscow in December for the draw for the 2018 World Cup.

An adviser to Pele told Brazilian media the 77-year-old – who used a walking frame in an appearance at the 2018 Carioca Football Championship earlier this week – pulled out of the trip to the United Kingdom to avoid fatigue.

He scored 77 goals in 92 caps for Brazil, helping his country to World Cup glory in 1958, 1962 and 1970.

“While it is incredibly sad Pele cannot attend the function, the FWA are grateful that all those who have been asked to pay tribute on the night Gareth Southgate, Cliff Jones, Gordon Banks and Steve Hunt are determined to help make the evening a memorable one.


 
“Pele’s team have also asked that we film the event and send a copy to Brazil in the knowledge it will lift the great man’s spirits to see his friends are thinking of him and sending their best wishes. With that in mind, we want to do Pele proud and make Sunday night as memorable as possible.

“It goes without saying, Pele has an open invitation to any of our functions once he regains his health and we are already discussing the possibility of him joining us in May for the Footballer of the Year dinner.”

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