Senate gives NPA 96 hours to provide information on missing vessels.

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The president of the senate expressed confidence in the joint committee to carry out a thorough job that would help to sanitise the system.

The Senate on Thursday, gave the Managing Director, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Hadiza Usman, four days to explain the whereabouts of over 282 vessels allegedly missing from the sea ports.

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Sen. Hope Uzodinma, Chairman, Senate’s Joint Committee on Customs, Excise and Tariff and Marine Transport, gave the ultimatum in Abuja, at an investigative hearing on N30 trillion lost through leakages in Customs and other agencies.

Uzodinma, who expressed displeasure with the managing director for not honouring the committee’s two previous invitations, said the information on the vessels was imperative and must be available within four days.

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He threatened that the senate may be compelled to pursue a financial crime case against Usman should he fail to heed the committee’s directive.

“We are looking for these vessels. We have the date of arrival, the ports of discharge and manifest.

“Everything is with us but in information available to us, no money was collected by Customs, the NPA or any other person.

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“So you have four days to do your written explanation otherwise, we will consider it a financial crime,’’ he said.

According to Uzodinma, there are also recent missing vessels that we have discovered.

“I mean recent ones that happened under the new management.

[File Photo] Managing Director, Nigerian Ports Authority, Hadiza Bala Usman

“The NPA is the custodian of the vessels; it received the cargoes and the terminal is theirs.

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“We want to know under whose authority the cargoes were released, “he said.

The lawmaker said that the committee had also uncovered the activities of a port cabal that had defrauded the nation to the tune of over N30 trillion.

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“It is common knowledge that infractions abound in daily transactions at the nation’s ports, commercial banks, shipping companies, terminal owners and operators.

“They connive at ease with officials to defraud the nation of trillions of Naira.

“Preliminary evidence before us suggests that this is the case in all sea ports,’’ he said.

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He expressed concern that the leakages and infractions were costing the country huge revenue losses, while also constituting security threat.

The lawmaker, however, expressed optimism that the Senate was determined to tackle the assault on the economy.

He said that in doing so, the committee would be minded by the reality that those who wanted to bleed the nation to death without remorse must be dealt with without reprieve.

“Consequently, all those indicted in this crime will be made to face the full wrath of the law.

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“The nature and methodologies of these infractions include abuse of Form M and violation of foreign exchange manual issued by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), incorrect classification, under-valuation and incorrect declaration.

“Others are incorrect origin, error in calculation, temporary importation, exemptions and waivers, foreign exchange manipulations, unit cost analysis on excise, smuggling and illegal removal of cargo from terminals and lack of exit certificate by vessels.

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“We shall zero our search light into these areas of infraction and we are certain that our suspicions shall be confirmed.

“Nigeria Customs Service, Nigeria Ports Authority, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Nigerian Shippers Council(NSC), shipping companies , operators of bonded terminals and importers and exporters have questions to answer,’’ he said.

Uzodinma emphasised that the joint committee would carry out its assignment without fear or favour.

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In his remarks, the President of the Senate, Dr Bukola Saraki, decried the indicting reports about the ports.

Saraki said that it was disturbing to hear that trillions of Naira in revenue was lost annually within the import and export value chain as a result of financial leakages caused through various malpractice and infractions within the system.

He said that the Senate would use its oversight functions to expose corruption and ensure that all loopholes and leakages in the revenue system were blocked.

“We are determined to reverse these financial leakages to enable us to get the much-needed resources to fund our children’s education, healthcare and fix the potholes on our roads.

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“I urge you not leave any stone unturned to ensure that we incrementally eliminate waste and corruption in the management of our resources,’’ he said.

The president of the senate expressed confidence in the joint committee to carry out a thorough job that would help to sanitise the system.

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#Newsworthy

Group blast Malami over decision on Herdsmen.

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The human rights group alleged the minister unambiguously displayed elements and character of tribal and religious loyalties to his primordial..

An idea muted by Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), that ‘pastoralism commission’ be established as solution to incessant invasion of farmlands and communities across the country by armed Fulani herdsmen has been described as diversionary and highly irresponsible, irrational and misplaced.

Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), who criticised the idea, lamented that Malami could make such a call for herders who destroy farm produce and kill farmers as consequences of bitter discord arising from their destructive actions.

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HURIWA recalled that Malami had on Tuesday called for establishment of the commission even as he called for a community-oriented approach in diffusing and eliminating the menace of the herders that has retarded economic development and created widespread insecurity.

Malami, who was speaking as a special guest of honour at the Peace, Unity, and Security Lecture Series 2021 held at the ECOWAS main auditorium, Abuja, where he was represented by his Media Aide, Dr. Umar Gwandu, said for peaceful coexistence in the country, there was need for strict adherence to the rule of law, respecting the sanctity of the fundamental human rights in all ramifications.

HURIWA quoted the minister recommended setting up of regulated grazing reserves to replace the “Burtali” or “Hurumi” pastoral system as well as intensive enlightenment to livestock breeders on the need for sedentary farming and transhumance agriculture as a complementary economic process to nomadic farming.

HURIWA, however, strongly disagreed with Malami whom it accused of refusing to prosecute or ensure that all the terrorists and armed Fulani herdsmen who were accused of destroying farms of communities are prosecuted and punished since 2015.

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The human rights group alleged the minister unambiguously displayed elements and character of tribal and religious loyalties to his primordial and ethnoreligious affinities as a Fulani-born lawyer and politician rather than to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria of 1999 as amended.

In a statement yesterday in Abuja by the National Coordinator, Emmanuel Onwubiko, the group said “the minister is simply chasing shadows and attempting to deceive Nigerians by veering off into the arena of embarking on a wild voyage of discovery as shown by his suggestion for setting up of a pastoralists commission as a solution to the terrorism of armed Fulani herdsmen instead of enforcing the laws of Nigeria to punish persons who wield several weapons of mass destruction and have unleashed bloody violence all around the country, including Benue, Plateau, Southern Kaduna, Enugu and parts of Imo State.”

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#Newsworthy

Ikere-Ekiti raises alarm over herder’s attack on varsity.

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The Ikere-Ekiti Community in Ikere Local Council of Ekiti State has lamented over the destructive activities of Fulani herdsmen at the newly-established Bamidele Olumilua University of Education, Science and Technology, Ikere-Ekiti (BOUESTI) and the entire community.

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The paramount ruler of the community, the Ogoga of Ikere, Oba Adejimi Adu, stated this, at the weekend, while presenting a cheque of N60 million raised by the community to support the take-off of the university.

Oba Adu, therefore, appealed to the Ekiti State Governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, to help tackle the Fulani herdsmen and ‘local bandits’ operating under the cover of cultism, robbery and terrorising the community and the new university.

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The monarch said the call became imperative because the establishment of a new university would bring an upsurge of people of diverse characters into the town, saying: “I don’t want the lives of the students and my people to be endangered by these criminals.

Fayemi, in his remarks, represented at the occasion by the Commissioner for Education, Dr. Olabimpe Aderiye, applauded the Ikere community for donating N60 million as grant to the take-off of the institution.

He reiterated the commitment of the administration to sound and qualitative education through proper funding, saying that the government would strive hard to ensure every interested Ekiti citizen has access to good education up to university level.

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The governor said: “For sustainable development, no amount can be too much to expend on sound education. Schools with more funds clearly have greater ability to provide higher quality, broader and deeper educational opportunities to the students they serve.

“We understand that without proper funding, efficiency and innovation are easily compromised. This is why today’s event is significant. All well-meaning individuals and corporate bodies must join hands to fund education.

“I commend the donors for sharing our vision and passion to make the university a world class and one we can all be proud of.”

“The development of a nation or state depends on quality education of its citizenry. Education is the foundation of a country which brings wealth, social prosperity and economic stability.”

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Meanwhile, Chairman, Funding Support to BOUESTI, Assistant Inspector-General of Police (AIG) Tunde Ogunsakin (rtd), represented by Pastor Tope Orolu, said the fund was a partial fulfilment of the pledge of financial support to the governing council of the institution.

Ogunsakin, therefore, urged the university management to run the institution like a truly 21st century institution through “radical curriculum reform, research-oriented education, technology transfer, intellectual exchange programmes and edu-tourism initiative in the institution.”

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#Newsworthy

Lawan’s statement on Shasha crisis ‘got YCE talking.’

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The Yoruba Council of Elders (YCE) has berated the Senate President, Dr. Ahmad Lawan, for accusing South-West governors and leaders as responsible for ethnic crisis and killings in the region.

But reacting to Lawan’s accusation in a telephone chat with The Guardian, yesterday, the Secretary of YCE, Dr. Kunle Olajide, described his claim as untrue.

He said that on the contrary, it was the silence of the national leadership, including the President of the Senate, fuelling ethnic crisis.

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“It is totally untrue. Ethnic crisis is being amplified by the relative silence of even the National Assembly and the Senate President himself and also the Presidency.

“What appears to be the insensitivity of the Federal Government to our plight that has been on now in the last four years in the South-West, that our people are being raped, slaughtered and our farms plundered and not a word or positive action from the Federal Government, including the Senate President, is the cause of the crisis.

“What we hear is platitudes or rhetoric from ministers or aides of the President. So, they are the one responsible for the brazen attitude of the criminals in the forests as none of them has been prosecuted. In fact, the negotiation for payment of ransom some people are advocating encourages abductions to make more money.

“The money they make, they use to buy more arms to keep terrorising people. So, it is the national leadership, including the Senate President himself and the highest authority in the land, that are fuelling the crisis by silence and gross insensitivity,” he said.

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Olajide, therefore, advocated the restructuring of the country to a true federation that would give the state governors power to enforce security in their states

“We must restructure this country,” he further said.

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#Newsworthy

Abducted Kagara students, teachers ‘set free’ – Report.

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The students and teachers abducted by bandits in Government Science College Kagara, Niger State have been released.

The abductees, include 27 students, 3 staff and 12 members of their family were kidnapped by bandits last week.

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According to NoRM‘s known Media, the abductees were dropped off at a different location from the kidnapped passengers, who were rescued earlier.

NoRM had reported that all passengers abducted at Kundu via Yakila in Rafi Local Government of the state earlier in the day regained freedom.

Story Source: Daily Post.

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#Newsworthy

Rochas Okorocha, Aides ‘arrested’ for estate fraud.

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The ex-governor had stormed the estate with his supporters, policemen, soldiers and personnel of Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps on Sunday morning and ordered the unsealing of the estate.

Some operatives of the Imo State Police Command, Owerri, have arrested a former governor of the state, Rochas Okorocha.

Also arrested were Ijeoma Igboanusi and Lasbrey Okafor-Anyanwu.

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While Igboanusi was the deputy chief of staff (Domestics), Okafor-Anyanwu was the commissioner for Transportation when Okorocha, who is the current lawmaker representing Imo West (Orlu Senatorial Zone), held sway as the state governor.

This was as the former governor claimed that the incumbent Imo State Governor, Hope Uzodimma, attacked him (Okorocha) with 1,000 thugs.

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Okorocha was arrested on Sunday after unsealing the Spring Palm Estate linked to his wife, Nkechi.

The ex-governor had stormed the estate with his supporters, policemen, soldiers and personnel of Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps on Sunday morning and ordered the unsealing of the estate.

Government officials had mobilised to the estate, leading to a free-for-all, as cars were smashed and many persons injured.

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A police source, who confided in our correspondent, said that the former governor had been arrested.

The source said, “Rochas Okorocha has been arrested. He is here with us at the state CID. Two of his political associates are also with us. We will record him any moment from now. They are currently meeting with the CP.”

Meanwhile, Okorocha on Sunday alleged that Governor Uzodimma attacked him with “more than 1,000 thugs.”

Okorocha, who spoke through his Spokesperson, Sam Onwuemeodo, in a statement on Sunday, alleged that the governor’s Special Adviser on Special Duties, Chinasa Nwanari, allegedly led thugs, who stormed the estate and destroyed vehicles in his convoy.

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The statement read, “More than 1,000 thugs, armed to teeth with knives and guns and led by Chinasa Nwaneri, Governor Hope Uzodinma’s Special Adviser on Special Duties today, Sunday, with the backing of armed policemen from Government House, attacked the former governor of the state and Senator representing Imo West Senatorial District, Senator Rochas Okorocha’s convoy.

“They attacked and damaged all the vehicles in his convoy. They also attacked his personal aides. Senator Okorocha was with only his personal aides when the thugs unleashed the attack.

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Responding, the state Commissioner for Information, Mr. Declan Emelumba, dismissed Okorocha’s claim, adding that the former governor’s arrest was in line with the report of a White Paper, which indicated that the Royal Palm Estate in the state was built with taxpayers’ money and not Okorocha wife’s property.

Explaining that Okorocha would be charged to court on Monday, Emelumba said, “There was a judicial panel of inquiry that looked into land use and related matters set up by the Emeka Ihedioha administration, which we inherited and retained. They came up with a report and government accepted it, and then turned it to a White Paper.

“Part of the White Paper’s report indicates that the Royal Palm Estate was built with taxpayers’ money, but Okorocha claims it is his wife’s own. However, the report says it was built with government money.

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“The facility even violated Owerri master plan as well. Two days ago, the state government went and sealed the place in accordance with the White Paper. Then today, Okorocha, on his own, led thugs and carried hammer to unseal what government sealed off in line with the dictates of the law.

“He (Okorocha) was there, saying he is daring Governor Uzodinma to come and stop him if he (Uzodinma) has courage. This is lawlessness. So, police went there and caught him in the act and arrested him and some of his aides who arrested him. He (Okorocha) would be taken to court tomorrow.”

On the allegation that Uzodimma attacked the ex-governor with over 1,000 thugs, Emelumba described the claim as lies.

“If 1,000 thugs attacked him, would he be alive now? What then would be the business of the police if 1,000 thugs attacked and took him (Okorocha) away,” Emelumba queried.

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When contacted, the spokesperson for the state Police Command, Mr. Orlando Ikeokwu, confirmed the arrest of Okorocha.

Asked if the former governor would be arraigned, Ikeokwu said, “Nobody is above the law. If he is found culpable, we will arraign him at the conclusion of the investigation.”

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#Newsworthy

Sterling’s first strike keeps Arsenal behind till ‘end of the match’

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The Belgium midfielder, who came off the bench in the win at Everton in midweek, tried to pick out Ilkay Gundogan but his errant pass betrayed a little rustiness.

Manchester City moved a step closer to the Premier League title as Raheem Sterling’s early goal gave the runaway leaders a 1-0 win against Arsenal on Sunday.

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Pep Guardiola’s side made it 18 successive victories in all competitions thanks to Sterling’s second-minute header at the Emirates Stadium.

With 13 games left, City are 10 points clear of second-placed Leicester, who had closed the gap to seven with a 2-1 win at Aston Villa earlier on Sunday.

City have equalled the club record of 11 successive away victories in all competitions, set from May to November 2017.

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They are the first top-flight team to win their opening 11 league matches in a calendar year.

Storming towards a third title in four seasons, City have won 13 consecutive league matches and are unbeaten in 25 games in all competitions since a defeat at Tottenham in November.

Incredibly, that was the last time they trailed in any league fixture.

Guardiola’s men weren’t even at their best on their return to north London, but they still had enough in the locker to hand Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal a third defeat in their last four league games.

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“It was hard like we expected it would be. We suffered a lot. It’s difficult to play against Arsenal and Mikel. That’s why I give the players incredible credit for this victory,” Guardiola said.

“People look at our run of wins and think it’s so easy. I didn’t expect it. I’m more than grateful for these players for what they’re doing, but winning these games 1-0 is what we need to do.

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“The last 10-15 minutes was brilliant. We know what we want to do. We want to make a big step.”

Borussia Monchengladbach have the next chance to stop City’s incredible winning streak in the Champions League last-16 first leg on Wednesday.

If anyone would have the secret to stopping City’s march to the title, it might have been Gunners boss Arteta.

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The Spaniard served as Guardiola’s City assistant before taking charge of Arsenal last season.

But Arteta had to make changes as several of his players were fatigued after their midweek Europa League draw against Benfica.

“When we conceded the first goal it put us in a difficult situation. It was tough. With the formation and the players they use they are really comfortable,” Arteta said.

“After that the team reacted really well, were on top of the game and created chances but we lacked the quality in those situations to score the goal.”

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Ruthless City

City ruthlessly pounced on the uncertainty in Arsenal’s reshuffled line-up as they took the lead after just 80 seconds.

Ruben Dias played a superb long pass to Riyad Mahrez and the Algeria winger lofted a cross into the six-yard box, where Sterling defied his diminutive stature as he rose above Rob Holding to head into the far corner.

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Sterling’s 13th club goal of the season was his sixth in his last nine appearances.

He should have had another moments later when Kevin De Bruyne’s pass split the Arsenal defence, but this time Sterling delayed his shot and Bernd Leno was able to save at the forward’s feet.

Mahrez was tormenting Arsenal left-back Kieran Tierney and he danced past him for a shot that deflected wide.

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City’s De Bruyne was making his first start for over a month after a hamstring injury.

The Belgium midfielder, who came off the bench in the win at Everton in midweek, tried to pick out Ilkay Gundogan but his errant pass betrayed a little rustiness.

City nearly conceded against the run of play when Tierney’s volley forced a good save from Ederson.

They regained their momentum at the start of the second half and De Bruyne was just wide with an audacious chip from the edge of the area.

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Leno had to save well from Gundogan’s 20-yard drive before De Bruyne’s volley whistled wide.

Joao Cancelo nearly gifted Arsenal an equaliser when his high backpass was volleyed straight to Mohamed Elneny by Ederson, but the midfielder blazed just wide.

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#NobleSport

Crashed Aircraft planned to survey Kagara abductees – NAF.

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The Nigerian Air Force Sunday said the Beechcraft KingAir B350i (NAF 201), which crashed while returning to the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Abuja after reporting engine failure was scheduled to conduct surveillance missions over Niger State and its environs in connection with the concerted efforts to secure the release of the students/staff abducted from the Government Science College Kagara, Niger State.

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Director of Public Relations and Information, Air Vice Marshal Ibikunle Daramola said the Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Vice Marshal Oladayo Amao, has instituted an investigative panel to determine the remote and immediate causes of the accident.

Seven Air Force officials died in the crash.

He noted that the panel has commenced its work, the NAF, having notified the next of kins and families of the deceased.

The seven officials that died included Flight Lieutenant Haruna Gadzama (Captain) Flight Lieutenant Henry Piyo (Co-Pilot), Flying Officer Micheal Okpara (Airborne Tactical Observation System (ATOS) Specialist), Warrant Officer Bassey Etim (ATOS Specialis”t), Flight Sergeant Olasunkanmi Olawunmi (ATOS Specialist).

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Others were Sergeant Ugochukwu Oluka (ATOS Specialist), Aircraftman Adewale Johnson (Onboard Technician).

“Earlier, the CAS visited the scene of the accident, in company of the Honourable Minister of Defence, Major General Bashir Magashi (retired); Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika; Chief of Defence Staff, Major General Lucky Irabor, and other Service Chiefs. The CAS, on behalf of officers, airmen and airwomen of the NAF, once more commiserates with the families of the deceased personnel and prays that the Almighty God grants their souls eternal repose,” Daramola said.

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#Newsworthy

CAS orders immediate investigation into Abuja Aircraft crash.

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The Chief of Air Staff (CAS) urged the general public to remain calm and await the outcome of the investigation.

Chief of Air Staff, Air Vice Marshal Oladayo Amao, has ordered an investigation into the military plane crash that led to the death of seven persons.

The said Air Force plane, a Beechcraft KingAir B350i crashed on Sunday while returning to Abuja Airport after reporting engine failure en-route Minna, the Niger State capital.

Confirming the development, the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) spokesman, Air Vice Marshal Ibikunle Daramola in a brief communique stated that all seven personnel aboard the craft died in the crash.

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The NAF spokesman further stated that the Chief of Air Staff (CAS) urged the general public to remain calm and await the outcome of the investigation.

The CAS also commiserated with the families of the deceased.

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#Newsworthy

Police arrest 3 Herders for ‘attempted murder’ in Ogun.

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Three herdsmen have been arrested for their alleged role in the attack of Bamajo village in Ayetoro, Yewa North area of Ogun State.

The Police Public Relations Officer, Abimbola Oyeyemi, who disclosed this in a statement on Sunday said the suspects had attacked the village where they set some houses ablaze and inflicted a deep machete cut injury on one Ismaila Alabi.

“On receiving the report, the Area commander Ayetoro Assistant Commissioner of Police, Anthony Aruna mobilized his men, Hunters and youths to the scene where the entire area was thoroughly combed,” the statement partly read.

He said that the search exercise was extended to Igboaje bush where one of the herdsmen was arrested with a gun and a cutlass stained with blood.

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“His arrest led to the arrest of two others namely: Usman Mohammed and Aliyu Abubakar who is strongly believed to be part of those who launched the violent attack. The injured victim was quickly rushed to the general hospital for treatment.”

Meanwhile, the Commissioner of Police, Edward Ajogun, has ordered the immediate transfer of the suspects to the state criminal investigation and intelligence department for further investigation.

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#Newsworthy

Abuja Aircraft crash leaves seven ‘dead.’

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Seven persons have been killed after a military aircraft crashed a few yards off the runway at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport in Abuja.

Confirming the incident on Sunday, the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) spokesman, Air Vice Marshal Ibikunle Daramola stated that the Beechcraft KingAir B350i aircraft crashed while returning to Abuja Airport after reporting engine failure enroute Minna.

Caregivers work at the scene of an accident involving a Nigerian military aircraft that crashed killing seven occupants on board at the Airport runway near Nigeria’s capital Abuja, on February 21, 2021. KOLA SULAIMON / AFP

Vice Marshal Daramola further stated that first responders were already at the scene, adding that all seven personnel on board died in the crash.

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According to the NAF spokesman’s statement published on Twitter, the Chief of Air Staff (CAS), Air Vice Marshal Oladayo Amao has ordered an immediate investigation into the accident.

While urging the general public to remain calm and await the outcome of the investigation, the CAS, on behalf of all Nigerian Air Force personnel, commiserated with the families of the deceased.

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#Newsworthy

Sudan economic crisis thickens.

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The exchange rate policy shift comes amid concern that Sudan’s level of foreign currency holdings are approaching exhaustion.

Sudan announced Sunday it was ditching its fixed exchange rate and adopting a managed float, in line with an IMF programme but at the risk of fanning already-smouldering discontent.

The move aims to stem a flourishing black market that has seen the local pound recently trade at around 400 to the dollar, while the official rate was fixed at 55 pounds to the greenback.

It is expected to substantially devalue the official exchange rate towards black market levels, sending prices higher even as citizens grapple with an inflation rate that topped 300 percent last month.

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The transitional government has decided to undertake policies “aimed at reforming and unifying the exchange rate system by applying a managed flexible exchange rate system,” the central bank said in a statement.

Closing the yawning gap between the official and black market exchange rates is central to a reform programme agreed with the International Monetary Fund last year.

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The central bank said its policy shift, which follows the recent appointment of a new cabinet tasked with tackling the economic crisis, is “imperative” to help achieve stability.

It is one of several painful IMF mandated reforms, which also include reducing costly subsidies, aimed at securing debt relief and attracting investment following the April 2019 ouster of autocrat Omar al-Bashir.

Newly-appointed finance minister Gibril Ibrahim urged citizens to tolerate the impact of the policy change, saying in a press conference on Sunday that it “will require a high patriotic spirit” and “cooperation”.

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Ominously for Sudan’s transitional authorities, protests have already flared in recent weeks in several areas over the skyrocketing prices, alongside bread and medicine shortages.

Sudan’s economy was decimated by decades of US sanctions under Bashir, mismanagement and civil war, as well as oil-rich South Sudan’s 2011 secession.

– Cushioning the blow –

The finance minister and the central bank governor, Mohamed al-Fatih, said the exchange rate policy shift will be cushioned by international donors financing a project aimed at supporting poor families from Monday.

The programme offers $5 dollars per month each to around 80 percent of the country’s 45 million population.

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In January, the IMF said it was “working very intensively” with Sudan to build the preconditions for debt relief.

The US recently removed Sudan from its state sponsors of terrorism blacklist, another move Khartoum hopes will unlock debt relief and aid.

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The central bank governor said Sudan has begun applying a dual banking system, instead of solely Islamic banking, in a move allowing international banks to operate in the country.

The exchange rate policy shift comes amid concern that Sudan’s level of foreign currency holdings are approaching exhaustion.

If the central bank is to be successful in drawing transactions away from the black market, then reserves need to stand at around $5 billion, Mohamed el-Nayer, a Sudanese economist, told AFP.

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Authorities have not lately disclosed the level of reserves.

Asked if the country had enough reserves, the Ibrahim replied that funds had lately been received, but did not specify the origin or amount.

But the recent bread shortages — and also of fuel — point to the possibility of “severely lacking” foreign reserves, the economist Nayer said.

Bashir’s fall nearly two years ago came after months of protests against his autocratic rule that were triggered by his cash strapped government effectively trebling bread prices.

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In October, Sudan signed a peace deal with rebel groups that observers hoped would end long-running conflicts in the country’s far-flung regions.

Last month, the government approved this year’s budget and it is aiming for inflation of 95 percent by end-2021.

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#Newsworthy

COVID-19: Israel reopens further.

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Netanyahu is hoping that the successful vaccine procurement and rollout will boost his support ahead of March 23 elections, Israel’s fourth vote in less than two years.

Nearly three million people, almost a third of Israel’s population, have received the two recommended doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine, the world’s quickest inoculation pace per capita.

With a steady flow of data proving the Pfizer vaccine’s efficacy in stopping serious illness from Covid-19, Israel’s government has begin gradually easing restrictions.

Shopping malls and stores with street access re-opened Sunday, with certain limitations on crowd size.

But gyms, swimming pools, hotels and some cultural facilities are re-opening only to those who have been fully vaccinated and obtained the so-called green pass.

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Israel’s green pass scheme is being closely-watched as a possible model for how other economies might re-open once a substantial part of the population is vaccinated, while stirring controversy over unequal access for those who opt out of the jab.

People carry shopping bags as Israel reopens swathes of its economy, while it continues to lift restrictions of a national lockdown. Photo: MINT

Lifting weights at gym in Petah Tikva near Tel Aviv late Saturday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu insisted Israel was moving ahead “with caution,” while imploring “everyone to get vaccinated.”

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Standing at the entrance of a posh Tel Aviv gym, 90-year-old Ora Davidovicz said she “couldn’t wait” to go swimming.

“It’s been almost a year since I went to the pool,” she told AFP. “I’ve been counting the days.”

“All I have to do is put on my swim suit,” she said, before heading in.

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As of Sunday, nearly 3.2 million Israelis are eligible for the green pass, according to the health ministry.

That includes 2.5 million people who had their second shot more than a week ago as well as nearly 700,000 people who have recovered from Covid-19.

At the family-owned Katalina shoe store in central Tel Aviv, Mordechai Nazarian said his business had been closed for eight of the last 12 months, with “little openings here and there” as Israel lifted restrictions between lockdowns.

“We hope this one is the right one,” he told AFP.

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Israel, which has one of the world’s most sophisticated medical data systems, secured a substantial stock of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine by paying above market price and by striking a data-sharing deal with the drug giant.

Netanyahu is hoping that the successful vaccine procurement and rollout will boost his support ahead of March 23 elections, Israel’s fourth vote in less than two years.

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#Newsworthy

Borno, TCN to restore power supply in Maiduguri.

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Abdulaziz said that electricity supply would be restored as quickly as possible on completion of the tower erection work.

The Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) with the support of Borno State Government have mobilised to ensure quick restoration of electricity supply to Maiduguri and environs.

TCN’s General Manager, Public Affairs, Mrs Ndidi Mbah disclosed this in a statement in Abuja on Sunday.

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Mbah said that electricity supply was interrupted following the damage to its high tension towers T159, T160 and T161 of 330 Kilo Bolt (KV) Damaturu-Maiduguri Transmission Line in the North East.

She said TCN had completed new foundation of Tower T159 and had equally procured all the necessary tower members and materials for the replacement of the other two damaged towers.

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According to her, the materials are presently on ground at TCN’s Baga Road Substation in Maiduguri and work is ongoing to make them ready for installation.

She said “The Management team of TCN led by the Acting Managing Director/CEO, Mr Sule Abdulaziz, Borno state officials led by the State Commissioner for Housing and Energy, Mr Yuguda Vungas and the Managing Director of Yola Electricity Distribution Company, Mr Baba Mustapha are at the TCN Maiduguri Work Centre for an on-the-spot inspection of the equipment/materials and ongoing fabrication work of the tower parts for the replacement of the damaged towers.”

She said Abdulaziz assured that since all the necessary equipment, materials and workforce were on ground and fabrication work ongoing, the reconstruction work proper would soon commence at the sites as tower foundation had been completed.

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Abdulaziz said that electricity supply would be restored as quickly as possible on completion of the tower erection work.

He further explained that while the damaged towers reconstruction was ongoing, TCN was also temporarily constructing a by-pass line for temporary diversion to supply power to the affected areas before the main tower structures were completed.

“First of all, I want to apologise on behalf TCN over what happened in Maiduguri and the North East as a whole, we understand the urgent need for power supply especially in this axis at this time.

” I want to assure you that the TCN is committed to doing all that is possible to make sure that the power supply is restored as quickly as possible.

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“All the materials you see here will be installed very quickly, you can see all the materials, the conductors, composite insulators, channel irons and you can see our workforce at work already, fabricating the parts.

“Everybody is working and they have been working everyday, Saturday and Sunday inclusive. This is because we are bent on ensuring that light is restored as soon as possible in Maiduguri and environs,” he said.

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Speaking on the transmission line in Damboa axis, Abdulaziz said the re-conducting of the Damboa-Maiduguri transmission line had been procured and work would soon begin on the project.

He said that when the Damboa-Maiduguri transmission line is completed, it would serve as a second source of power supply to Maiduguri and environs.

Earlier, the TCN boss while addressing its engineering staff working on the project, assured them of maximum support to facilitate its speedy execution and commended them for their commitment.

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On his part, the Borno State Commissioner for Housing and Energy, Mr Yuguda Vungas, assured that government would provide the necessary support and security for the work to be accomplished on time.

He reiterated the commitment of Gov. Babagana Zulum administration to ensure that light was restored in the area and promised to lend the necessary assistance to TCN to facilitate the project.

He said ‘The efforts of the state government is to provide the necessary support and equipment for TCN to reconnect the state to the national grid for his citizens to have regular supply of electricity.

“Our own part is to ensure that security is provided for human safety and the movement of materials.

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“We are very happy to find ourselves here today with the managing director TCN, and managing director of Yola Electricity Distribution Company.

” It is a sign of good relationship between the state government, TCN and Yola Disco. Together we will work to restore supply to our people,” he said.

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#Newsworthy

WHO calls Tanzania to fight Covid virus.

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At the same time Magufuli revealed he had secretly had a variety of items tested for the virus — of which a papaya, a quail and a goat apparently tested positive.

The head of the World Health Organization on Sunday appealed to Tanzania to take “robust action” against Covid-19 in the country, where the president has long played down the virus.

President John Magufuli has claimed coronavirus has been has fended off by prayer in Tanzania, and refused to take tough measures to curb its spread.

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But a recent spate of deaths attributed to pneumonia has struck both members of the public and government officials.

And Magufuli on Friday appeared to admit the coronavirus was circulating in his country after months of denial.

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WHO director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said a number of Tanzanians travelling to neighbouring countries and beyond have tested positive for the coronavirus.

“This underscores the need for Tanzania to take robust action both to safeguard their own people and protect populations in these countries and beyond,” he said in a statement.

Tedros said he had urged Tanzania in late January to take measures against the pandemic and to prepare for vaccinations.

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“Since then I have spoken with several authorities in Tanzania but WHO is yet to receive any information regarding what measures Tanzania is taking to respond to the pandemic.

– Papaya, quail and goat -“This situation remains very concerning. I renew my call for Tanzania to start reporting COVID-19 cases and share data.

“I also call on Tanzania to implement the public health measures that we know work in breaking the chains of transmission, and to prepare for vaccination.”

The country last gave case figures in April 2020, reporting 509 infections.

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At the same time Magufuli revealed he had secretly had a variety of items tested for the virus — of which a papaya, a quail and a goat apparently tested positive.

On Wednesday, the vice president of semi-autonomous Zanzibar, Seif Sharif Hamad, died after his opposition party admitted he had contracted coronavirus.

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The head of the civil service, John Kijazi, also died Wednesday.

The cause of death has not been revealed. But Magufuli brought up Covid-19 at his funeral.

“When this respiratory disease erupted last year, we won because we put God first and took other measures. I’m sure we will win again if we do so this time around,” he said.

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However dissent is mounting within the country to the government’s position on the pandemic.

On Saturday, the Tanzania Law Society became the first professional body to call on the government to openly recognise the virus and take adequate measures.

On Sunday, Magufuli revealed that some of his aides and family members had contracted Covid but recovered, and offered some lukewarm support for the use of masks.

“The government has not banned use of masks but some of these are not safe at all… let’s be careful,” he said after a service in a Dar es Salaam church.

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“Let us all depend on God as we also take other preventive measures. I put God first and that is why I do not wear a mask.”

The health ministry in a statement Sunday called on citizens to “continue to believe in God” and also respect preventive measures, including mask-wearing.

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#Newsworthy

AIB confirms aircraft crash at Abuja airport.

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The Accident Investigation Bureau, Nigeria (AIB-N) on Sunday confirmed the crash of an aircraft belonging to the Nigerian military at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.

The General Manager, Public Affairs of AIB, Mr Tunji Oketunbi, confirmed this on Sunday in an interview with NoRM‘s known Media in Lagos.

Oketunbi said “It is a military aircraft and the crash is outside our jurisdiction to comment.

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” I will advise you call the NAF PRO for detail”.

Also, an industry source also confirmed to NoRM‘s known Media that the aircraft belongs to the Nigerian Air Force.

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#Newsworthy

Rev. Dr. Adewale Martins seek Leah Sharibu’s release after years.

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The cleric, while congratulating the newly appointed Service Chiefs, reminded them of the enormous responsibility ahead of them.

The Catholic Archbishop of Lagos, Most Rev. Dr. Alfred Adewale Martins has urged the Federal Government to secure Leah Sharibu’s release.

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He said government’s failure to secure her release for the past three years, coupled with increase in cases of kidnapping and armed banditry across the country, recent being the abduction of over 40 students of Government Science College, Kagara, in Niger State and four teachers, was regrettable and unjustifiable in view of enormous financial and material resources expended to wage war against insurgency and all forms of insecurity in the country.

Recall with NoRM that Leah Sharibu, a Christian, was among 110 female students of Government Science Secondary School, Dapchi, Yunusari Local Council, Yobe State abducted by Boko Haram on February 19, 2018. Her case, in particular, attracted unprecedented local and global attention, owing to the fact that others were released, while she was detained for refusing to renounce her Christian faith.

In a release, yesterday, by the Director of Social Communications, Rev. Fr. Anthony Godonu, the Archbishop insisted that government owed Leah Sharibu’s family, and indeed, all Nigerians the duty to not only secure her release and other abducted students, but also to put an end to all forms of insecurity.

The statement read: “It is sad to note three years have passed by since Leah Sharibu, a Christian student of Government Science Secondary School, Dapchi, Yunusari Council, Yobe State was abducted from her school along with other girls and has since been in incarceration. The Federal Government promised, as a matter of priority, to ensure her release. Unfortunately, she along with others are still languishing in the hands of their abductors. We have been told several efforts have been made to ensure her release, but we are yet to see them materialise.”

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Martins appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to do all within his power to secure Leah’s release and those of other abducted students.

The cleric, while congratulating the newly appointed Service Chiefs, reminded them of the enormous responsibility ahead of them.

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#Newsworthy

Benin Republic set to become Nigeria’s 37th State – Minister.

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Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama has said that the President of Benin Republic, Patrice Talon had expressed readiness of his country to become Nigeria’s 37th state.

Speaking after a close door meeting with Beninoise Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation Aurélien Agbenonci, Onyeama said the Beninoise president made the offer when he visited President Muhammadu Buhari a few weeks back.

He said;

“The President of Benin said as far as they are concerned, they want (not just saying it like that) but in reality, Benin should be the 37th state of Nigeria.

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“We should really be one. They charged us to come together at ministerial level, to work out a framework for a sustainable relationship.”

Onyeama further disclosed that both presidents also discussed agreements between the two countries to put the issue of smuggling to an end once and for all.

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#Newsworthy

Southwest Govs, rulers meet in Ibadan over insecurity.

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The meeting equally had in attendance the Deputy Inspector General of Police in charge of South-West, David Folawiyo, and security chiefs serving in Oyo State.

South-West governors and traditional rulers met in Ibadan, Oyo State capital, on Saturday, to appraise the security situation of the zone.

Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State and Chairman of the South-West Governors’ Forum, who spoke at the end of the meeting said that though the meeting was at the instance of the Chief of Staff to the President, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, and the Director-General of the Department of State Services, the trio could not fly out of Abuja due to bad weather.

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He said that the governors and the traditional rulers thereafter decided to meet to appraise the security situation in the zone.

A statement by the Chief Press Secretary to Governor ‘Seyi Makinde of Oyo State, Mr. Taiwo Adisa, indicated that Akeredolu read a three-point communique agreed to after the meeting.

The communique said, “that the meeting supported the decision of the National Economic Council (NEC) on forest management; that the nation’s borders need to be fully secured and protected; that open grazing must be checked and looked at and that media practitioners must assist the country to end fake news.”

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The meeting, which was held inside the Executive Council Chambers of the Governor’s office, Agodi, Ibadan, had in attendance five governors including the host, Governor Makinde; Governors Akeredolu of Ondo, Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti, Gboyega Oyetola of Osun and Dapo Abiodun of Ogun State.

The meeting equally had in attendance the Deputy Inspector General of Police in charge of South-West, David Folawiyo, and security chiefs serving in Oyo State.

Others included the chairmen of Council of Traditional Rulers in each of the South-West states and some first-class monarchs.

According to Akeredolu, the meeting was held to find lasting solutions to the lingering security issues in the zone.

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Some of the traditional rulers who took part in the meeting include the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi III; Ooni of Ife, Oba Enitan Ogunwusi; Akarigbo of Remo, Oba Babatunde Ajayi; Olugbo of Ugbo kingdom, Oba Fredrick Akinruntan; Olubadan of Ibadan, Oba Saliu Adetunji, Aje Ogungunnjso 1; and Olugbon of Orile Igbon, Oba Francis Olusola Alao.

Also in attendance was the Oyo State Commissioner of Police, Ngozi Onadeko, and other heads of security agencies in Oyo State.

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#Newsworthy

Shell says theft allegations against its terminal is misleading.

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OML 29 includes the 97-kilometer NCTL which has capacity to lift up to 180,000 barrels per day of crude from oilfields in Bayelsa and Rivers to the Bonny terminal.

The Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria (SPDC) says allegations of involvement in oil theft at its Bonny Crude Export Terminal is misleading.

Noble Reporters Media reports that a 2 million barrels crude deficit between 2016 and 2018 reported at the Bonny terminal operated by SPDC has caused a dispute amongst several oil firms that use the oil export facility.

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Aiteo Exploration and Production Company claimed that SPDC shortchanged it of 1,022,029 barrels of crude while using the Bonny Crude Export Terminal operated by SPDC between 2016 and 2018.

Aiteo, an indigenous oil firm which acquired OML 29 for US$2.4 billion following SPDC’s 2015 divestment of its 45 per cent stake from the asset.

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OML 29 includes the 97-kilometer NCTL which has capacity to lift up to 180,000 barrels per day of crude from oilfields in Bayelsa and Rivers to the Bonny terminal.

In a statement, made available to NoRM‘s known Media on Saturday, Mr Bamidele Odugbesan, Media Relations Manager at SPDC, described the claim as factually incorrect.

“The crude theft/diversion allegation is also factually incorrect.

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“This is a distinct issue that relates to the directive by the Department of Petroleum Resources to SPDC as operator of the Bonny Oil and Gas Terminal, an asset belonging to the SPDC Joint Venture, to implement a crude re-allocation programme between injectors into the SPDC JV’s Trans Niger Pipeline and injectors into the NCTL.

“Crude allocation review and re-allocation is a normal industry practice to re-allocate previous provisional allocated volumes under the directive and supervision of DPR, and this is not an exercise resulting from crude diversion, underreporting or theft at the terminal.

“This industry practice is not peculiar to the SPDC-operated Bonny Oil and Gas Terminal alone and does not translate into any loss of volumes to the Federal Government of Nigeria.

“The re-allocation in issue was initiated by SPDC as operator of the Bonny Oil and Gas Terminal, while the DPR validated and confirmed it for implementation for the concerned oil producers.

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“Crude oil production metering and allocation are subject to specific guidelines issued by the industry regulator, DPR. SPDC strictly adheres to these guidelines and the implementation is regularly verified by the regulator,” Odugbesan stated.

NoRM learnt that SPDC, Belema Oil Ltd, Eroton E & P, Niger Delta Petroleum Resources, Total E & P and Walter Smith Petroleum Ltd use the NCTL to convey crude to the Bonny terminal and are proportionately affected by the deficit.

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#Newsworthy

Five ‘rest in pieces’ as early morning bombs rock Kabul.

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Peace talks between the Taliban and Afghanistan’s government that began in September remain deadlocked.

Three explosions rocked Kabul Saturday morning, killing at least five people and injuring two others, authorities said, the latest in a series of similar recent attacks in the Afghan capital.

Police spokesman Ferdaws Faramarz said that three “sticky bomb” explosions had taken place in different locations between 08:00 and 10:00 am local time.

Targeted killings with remotely detonated bombs attached to vehicles have long been a favoured tactic of militants in Afghanistan, especially during the morning commute in cities, where civilians pay a disproportionate price for the violence.

No group has claimed responsibility for Saturday’s attacks, though Afghan and US officials have blamed the Taliban for previous similar incidents, a charge it rejects.

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Faramarz said the first explosion had injured two civilians, while the second blast had killed two soldiers, as well as a woman.

The third bomb left two police officers dead.

The details were confirmed by the Afghan Ministry of Interior.

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Security sources also said at least two of the victims in the second explosion worked for the defence ministry, though the ministry would not confirm.

Peace talks between the Taliban and Afghanistan’s government that began in September remain deadlocked.

The latest rise in violence has led US President Joe Biden’s administration to launch a review of a deal signed between Washington and Taliban last year that paved the way for the withdrawal of all American troops in coming months.

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Biden is reviewing whether to stick to a looming May 1 deadline to withdraw the remaining 2,500 US troops or risk a bloody backlash from the insurgents by staying.

General Kenneth McKenzie, head of the US Army Central Command, on Thursday indicated that conditions have not been met for a withdrawal.

While the Taliban had pledged to reduce violence under their deal with the US, they have not done so, McKenzie said on a plane to Pakistan.

“Certainly ISIS has launched some attacks. It pales against what the Taliban is doing,” McKenzie said, denouncing violence against Afghan forces, and “targeted assassinations in some of the urban areas.”

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“This is clearly the Taliban,” he said. “There is no way it’s anyone else. That’s very clear.”

The Taliban denies being behind escalated violence, saying those responsible are other jihadist groups.

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#Newsworthy

Endless Updates