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Spillage: FG talks tough, vows to punish oil coys

From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja

Three weeks after a pipeline explosion in Nembe, Bayelsa State, which led to oil spillage across 45 communities, the Federal Government has announced plans to institute stiffer punishments for companies involved in oil spillage.

Minister of Environment, Sharon Ikeazor, who described oil spillage in the Niger Delta as massive devastation of the environment, spoke at the weekly ministerial press briefing organised by the presidential media team at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, yesterday.

According to her, the ministry is engaging other relevant government agencies to arrive at the stiffer sanctions applicable.

A wellhead in the Santa Barbara South field had blown on November 5 and since then, it had been spewing oil into the water bodies.

It is jointly owned by Aiteo Eastern Exploration and Production Company (AEEPCO) and Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).

While Aiteo, the operating company of the OML29 blamed the spillage on sabotage by the locals, Ikeazor announced that it had been brought under control with necessary personnel and equipment deployed to begin recovery and remediation efforts.

The minister said a bill is being worked out to amend the law establishing the National Oil Spillage Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) to build its capacity and give it the needed teeth to bite.

“On the Santa Babara oil spills, you remember the ministry of environment issued a statement stating what happened and the action being taken. It’s a collective action between the ministry of petroleum resources, the ministry of environment and the oil company involved. It goes beyond the oil companies giving out palliatives, they must put measures in pace to prevent such accidents from happening. They are also claiming that the spill was due to sabotage by the local communities. We are going to have a targeted approach to illegal bunkering, tampering with oil installation and artisanal mining in the Niger Delta to get alternative livelihood for the young people of the Niger Delta, so that they would desist from this because it is further polluting the environment. The situation has been brought under control. I got a brief from NOSDRA director general who was out on the field. So, now, work has to start on the proper clean up.

“I got briefings through the director of NOSDRA, and what I saw in term of the pollution either through oil refining or illegal oil refining and otherwise- the devastation of the Niger Delta is massive. As we are cleaning up, what we are cleaning up is minute compared to the devastation going on.

“So, it is something that government needs to tackle headlong. I hope they would have put the picture on, it was like a Hiroshima site. So, this is something we must tackle headlong. We are beyond talking and having workshop.”

On the issue of penalties, she said: “I mentioned earlier the review of NOSDRA bill. You know most of Acts we have passed years ago. You will see that they will give maybe N100 fine, anyone can pay that and go back and re-pollute.

“We need to put stiffer penalties, build the capacity of NOSDRA which is the regulatory agency in the oil sector to be able to have the teeth to bite. Without enhancing their capacity and reaffirming the legal framework, getting it stronger, they can’t do much. These are areas we are looking in to, it has to stop.”

The minister also touched on the need to put an end to artisanal refineries, which she said had continued to cause pollution in the Niger Delta.

Ikeazor also lamented the high rate of deaths from smoke, especially among women in the country, which she noted is the highest in the world.

She said something must be done about ongoing gas flaring, noting that the country cannot be committed to zero net emission and still be flaring gas.

The minister also said the country has made a strong statement by the signing of the climate change bill into an act by President Muhammadu Buhari.

Ikeazor added that with the step, the country has shown its commitment towards the Paris agreement on climate change.

“I will like to state that Nigeria has delivered the loudest statement after COP26, by the president signing the climate change bill into an Act and we have shown a very strong commitment.

“So, the next step now under the Ministry of Environment is the implementation of all these commitments and strategies as well as the national plans we have in place.”

Ikeazor stressed the need for every Nigerian to play a role towards providing a sustainable environments.

“For an environment that we can be in harmony with, each and every one of us has to be a part of that sustainable environment that we all dream about. We must implement and accelerate the Great Green Wall project which is basically to review and reverse desertification and land degradation in the Northern part of Nigeria.”

She assured that the Ogoni clean up would be completed.

“We must accelerate also, the Ogoni cleanup, to make sure the remediation is completed in time for the good people of Ogoni but at the same time, we must tackle the issue of artisanal refining because as we are cleaning, some are still polluting the environment and we ask that this must stop, for us to have a clean and decent environment,” she said.

Ikeazor said the ministry is already adopting various strategies to help address environmental challenges confronting the country.

She said the Nigerian government is working on improving the livelihoods of youths of the Niger-Delta region, in order to move them away from restiveness.

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Firm to mount 1,000 CCTV cameras in 4 UNIZIK campuses

From Obinna Odogwu, Awka

Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Bionomics Nigeria Limited for the provision and installation of 1,000 CCTV cameras in its four campuses in Anambra State.

This was to improve and enhance security in its Awka, Agulu, Okofia and Ifite Ogwari campuses in Awka South, Anaocha, Nnewi and Ayamelum Local Government Areas of the state respectively.

Vice-Chancellor of the university, Prof. Charles Esimone, in a remark during the brief ceremony in his conference room, described security as a very essential component of the university’s progress and development.

He said that the move was in line with his vision of ‘Project 200’ with the mandate of very radical and administrative reform that would bring the town and gown together to meet the basic necessities of the varsity.

Esimone said that the project was highly innovative as it comes with no cost to the university; first of its kind and a testimony of the quality of graduates of UNIZIK as the Managing Director/CEO of the company, Mr Onyedika Ugochukwu, is an alumnus of the university.

The VC thanked Ugochukwu for his magnanimity while also stating that in the course of the project, they would not experience any form of bottlenecks and bureaucratic rigours.

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On his part, Ugochukwu said that it has been his passion to solve societal problems using technology. He said that the signing of the MoU would herald the kick-starting of the project with the first stage being to mark out points where the CCTV cameras would be fixed in the institution.

“What we entered today is a symbiotic relationship that will yield fruits to the university and us as a business venture. We will mount a digital board that will be used to advertise brands, and the university can utilize such means to disseminate information to staff and students.

“It will also serve as a credible source for dispelling rumours and fake news across the campuses.

“It will even serve as an information carrier for the Chief Safety Officer of the university, as well as be a deterrent for any sort of crime and threat in the university.

“We will be employing a best grade camera 8 Mega Pixels and bullet cameras, capable of recognizing faces even at night. This is a reality check, and not rocket science, and that’s why we have chosen the right materials that can last for over 60 years to execute this project”, he said.

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Ugochukwu explained that Fibre Optics, the most modern international standard way of connectivity would be used to ensure longevity of the infrastructure even for the next 50 years.

He also stated that the project would also generate revenue for the institution via advertising as digital advertising boards would be installed on the poles.

He further disclosed that the first phase of the project is expected to be completed within a space of four to six months.

Also present during the signing of the MoU were the University Registrar, Philomena Okoye, a lawyer; Director, Public Private Partnership and also Director, UNIZIK Business School, Prof. Emmanuel Okoye; Director, UNIZIK Business Ventures and Consultancy Services, Dr Uche Ngenegbo and the Director, University Production Process, Prof. Christopher Ihueze.

Members of the delegation from Bionomics include Margaret Effiom, the E.D Business Development and Obinna Ahaneku, Project Engineer, South East.

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Enugu moves to empower residents through mega lottery scheme

From Jude Chinedu, Enugu

Enugu State Gaming Commission (ESGC) has launched a lottery scheme aimed at financial empowerment of residents while at the same time serving as additional source of funds for community projects in the state.

The scheme which is described as a family entertainment initiative of government will also be used as a  standard in sanitizing the gaming market in the state.

According to the Chairman of ESGC, Harrison Ogara, the project is an opportunity for the people of Enugu to have fun while at the same time making money.

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“Life is aspirational and we want to ensure that no matter how rich or poor you are, you get to use that God given chance to try your luck and to increase your earnings by a large amount of money.”

Enugu State Lottery Project Leader, Anayochukwu Njoku, while addressing journalists in Enugu said that the project had received over one million dollars in Foreign Direct Investment.

He revealed that since its inception, the project has given out over N5 million wins, adding that it has over 70 registered agents across the state.

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“Enugu state lottery is not gambling. It is purely an entertainment and fun game. It is transparently done, safe and clean. The draw will be performed live for everyone to watch. While people who gamble pick numbers, this one is very transparent and reliable.

“The players play to win. This is why it is an entertainment. Indeed the players do actually win. In several cases their win significantly impacts their lifestyle.”

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Plateau: Senator Dadu’ut provides toilets facilities, boreholes to fight open defecation, improve access to potable water

“I am determined to provide educational infrastructure in Plateau South because of my passion for education and my strong desire to give the youths quality education and conducive atmosphere for growth and development of the people.”

Sen. Dadu’ut noted with dismay the hardship the COVID-19 pandemic inflicted on citizens and facilitated N60 million COVID-19 intervention fund which addressed the plights of over 1,000 members of in his constituency.

She said in an effort to enhance the living condition of her people and reduce the current hardship, said “1,000 constituents got N60,000 each COVID-19 intervention.

“We need to intervene so that they will not just be left abandoned, so that they will not go astray. I have the zeal to help my community, particularly the youth and the women.

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“As you can see, I started today by inaugurating some blocks of classrooms for the young ones because we need to invest in them.They are our future and leaders of tomorrow,” she said.

Stated further, “We also inaugurated some solar-powered boreholes for the benefit of the people because water is life. Also, some public toilets were inaugurated with the idea of keeping the environment clean, particularly within schools and rural communities.”

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Sen. Dadu’ut said youths in Plateau South were also trained in Information Communication Technology (ICT) to increase their knowledge on global economy.

“I am also here to see the ongoing training of our graduates who have left school and have nothing  meaningful to do. I have put them here so that they will be trained on how to use Information Communication Technology.”

She expressed gratitude to Plateau State Government and the All Progressives Congress APC in Plateau State for given her the opportunity to serve Plateau South and Nigeria.

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Buhari presides over FEC meeting

From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja

President Muhammadu Buhari is currently presiding over the weekly meeting of the Federal Executive Council at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

The virtual meeting, holding at the conference room of the First Lady’s office has in attendance Secretary to Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha and Chief of Staff to the President, Professor Ibrahim Gambari.

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Others physically attending the meeting, which started at 10am are Ministers of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, Federal Capital Territory, Mohammed Bello, Interior, Rauf Aregbeshola, Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami, and Women Affairs, Pauline Tallen.
The Head of Civil Service of the Federation, Folashade Yemi-Esan and other Ministers are attending virtually from their various offices in Abuja.
Wednesday’s meeting was preceded by the swearing of two Commissioners of Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission.

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Details Later…

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Nigeria is set for 5th generation mobile network roll out, says dambatta , NCC boss

From Desmond Mgboh, Kanio

Executive Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Nigeria Communications Commission, Prof Umar Garba Dambatta yesterday declared that that the stage was set for the roll out of the 5th Generation Mobile Network (5G) in Nigeria.

He dropped this hint at a capacity building workshop for media practitioners in Kano State, explaining that a mock auction would take place on Friday while the real auction would be held on Monday, December 13, 2021.

According to him, three companies among them MTN Nigeria  and Airtel Network Limited have successfully submitted their bids for the auction as at 29th, November, 2021 while adding that it is expected that the two slots to be auctioned will be picked up at the end of the exercise.

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He observed that Nigeria’s 5G plan has the objectives of ensuring an efficient assignment of spectrum, creating an enabling environment for investment in the telecom industry and ensuring effective deployment of 5G to cover major urban cities by 2025.

He added that its successful and timely deployment was crucial for national development given that it would result in enhanced broadband, ultra reliable low latency and greater speed even as he stressed that the new mobile network would facilitate several emerging technologies, including Internet Obtains and machine to machine communications, among others

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The media, he held therefore, has a critical role to play in the entire deployment exercise by ensuring proper and adequate reportage of the programs and activities of the Commission as it rolls out the 5th Generation Mobile Network.

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SANship:  Kinsmen, well-wishers storm Abuja to celebrate Abacha family lawyer, Reuben Atabo

From Noah Ebije, Kaduna

When on October 21, 2021 the Supreme Court of Nigeria unveiled 72 new set of Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SAN), the name of Dr. Reuben Atabo, the lawyer to the family of late Head of State, General Sani Abacha was glaring among the list of the new SANs.

The 72 lawyers, who are successful applicants for the rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) this year, would be formally conferred with the title at a ceremony scheduled for today, December 8 at the Supreme Court, Abuja.

 

For Reuben Atabo (SAN), it is an opportunity for him to host his kinsmen, business associates, colleagues in the legal profession as well as other well-wishers across the country to grand reception for their prayers and support for the national honour bestowed on him.

 

Traditional musicians, drummers and dancers from Omala local government area of Kogi State, where the new SAN hails from, are already on ground to grace the occasion with a lot of entertainment.

 

Other well-wishers from far and near are already in Abuja for the big event.

 

However, it is expected that, earlier before the reception, the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Hon. Dr. Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad, CFR, will confer the highly coveted rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria on 72 senior lawyers at the main Courtroom of the Supreme Court of Nigeria.

The Director of Press and Information, the Supreme Court of Nigeria, Dr. Festus Akande said, in a statement, that the event was part of activities to formally herald the court’s new legal year.

“The prevailing third wave of COVID-19 and the protracted strike embarked upon by the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) early in the year, which largely slowed down the work of the Legal Practitioners’ Privileges Committee, informed the late conferment of the SAN rank for 2021.

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“It will be recalled that out of the 159 legal practitioners that applied for the rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria in the course of this year, 72 were successful at the end of the rigorous exercise. Out of this number, ten are academics while 62 are advocates”.

 

Meanwhile, the former caretaker Chairman of Omala local government area, Mr. Jerome Agi has sent congratulations to Atabo and one other new SAN, Johnson Usman from the same local government area.

Agi said, The entire Omala LGA Sons and Daughters rejoice and Celebrate   the appointment of our Illustrious Sons into the Prestigious and Enviable Legal League of SENIOR ADVOCATES OF NIGERIA (SAN) as our first legal practitioners to be inducted from Omala local government.

“God gave us two at once to become the first set of SANs from Omala LGA in the Persons of  Dr. REUBEN ATABOR (SAN) from Okpotala in Omala North (Udaba Omala) Zone  and JOHNSON USMAN (SAN) of Oti  in Olaedihi Zone .

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“As we Pray  and  look forward to more SANs from Omala LGA, let us Proudly  and  loudly celebrate this first Set of SANs from Omala LGA remarkably and memorably today and always”.

For the Chairman of Ife Development Association, Kaduna State chapter, Mr. Sunday Idakwoji, it was a moment of joy when the news of the elevation to SAN of their sons came.

Ife is a district in Omala local government with Abejukolo-Ife as its headquarters as well as the headquarters of the local government.

According to Idakwoji, “We, the entire members of Ife Development Association (IDA), Kaduna State Branch wish to formally congratulate you on your recent elevation to the position of Senior Advocate of Nigeria( SAN).

“We received the news with topmost excitement the very day you were elevated.

“Our joy, indeed, knew no bound for the fact that what we used to hear and see in far away lands of fellow Nigerians, has eventually reached the turn of our own sons.

“You have indeed made Omala Local Government Area proud among the people of Nigeria.

“It is our belief that your elevation will impact positively on the entire Local Government Area and Ife District in particular”.

“We pray that God Almighty gives

you the wisdom and strength to justify the national honour bestowed on you for the betterment of our dear country and your family”.

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Nigerian Army, Californian National Guard  to strengthen partnership on Army aviation,cyber defence capability, others

From Charity Nwakaudu, Abuja

The Nigerian Army is set to strengthen the relationship that has existed between it and the California National Guard on Army Aviation, logistic support with expertise,  the improvised explosives Devices IEDs defeat training, Cyber Defence Capability, night fighting skills to help in tackling security challenges in the Country.

Adjuant General of the California National Guard to Nigeria, Major General David Baldwin stated this, yesterday, when he led his team on a courtesy visit to the Chief of Army Staff,  Lt General Farouk Yahaya at the Nigerian Army Headquarters in Abuja

Baldwin said, the visit is made  to  strengthen the partnership between Nigerian Army and the California National Guard for mutual benefits within the partnership arrangement with the Armed Forces of Nigeria and Ministry of Interior, and its agencies.

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“We have been in partnership with Nigerian Army since 2008 and everyday it is growing stronger. The purpose of the visit is to work together to continue to make sure that we provide support to Nigerian army priorities and staff recommendations, and also what could be beneficial for California soldiers in trainings and requirements.”

He added that the California National Guard will develop an Army Aviation programme and go through the process of selecting Nigerian Army Warfare Aircraft and inducting the aircraft successfully to provide security for the country.

He further added that the California National Guard will develop an Army Aviation programme and go through the process of selecting Nigerian Army Warfare Aircraft and inducting the aircraft successfully to provide security for the Country.

“We have a very large army aviation component in California. We have California aviation brigade, aviation battalions with almost 100 Aircraft in the California Engineering Department, over half of which are in our Army”, he noted.

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He added that the Californian National Guard will continue to partner with the Nigerian Army on Military Intelligence to improve personnel on tracking processes in fighting insurgency, having enjoyed historical relationship with Intelligence soldiers from California at Nigerian Army Intelligence School in Lagos.

 Army Chief, Lt General Farouk Yahaya, while responding, appreciated the California National Guard,said he is looking forward to expand of the relationship between Nigerian Army and California National Guard for the mutual benefits.

General Yahaya said he believe the California Army has what it takes to support Nigerian Army to develop and enhance competence in concern areas.

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$15.668bn offshore borrowing strengthened naira at forex market, says DMO

From Uche Usim, Abuja

The Debt Management Office (DMO), on Monday, informed critics of the federal government’s borrowing that the $15.668 billion offshore loans provided remarkable traction for the naira at the exchange rate market and saved it from further erosion.

The Director General of the DMO, Ms. Patience Oniha, made the disclosure in Abuja at a Workshop on Understanding Nigeria’s Public Debt Management organised for The Secretariats of the Senate Committee on Local & Foreign Debts and House Committee on Aids, Loans & Debt Management.

The DMO boss explained that the $15.668 billion raised from offshore loans secured between January 2011 and September 2021 was a strategic booster to Nigeria’s foreign reserves contrary to toxic opinions from some quarters that described it as a wrong move.

Oniha explained that there was more to external borrowings than just raising funds to finance budget deficits.

She said: “The DMO’s activities are not limited to domestic financial markets. It may please you to note that the DMO has raised over USD15.368 billion through Eurobonds and a USD300 million Diaspora Bond to finance budget deficits and various projects.

“Through these securities issuance in the international capital markets, the sources of funding for the Federal Government has expanded while, it created opportunities for Nigerian corporates including banks to raise capital abroad. Perhaps, even more important, the proceeds of Eurobonds issued, increased Nigeria’s External Reserves thereby supporting the Naira Exchange Rate.

“The new borrowings are undertaken in compliance with legislations and public debt is managed in accordance with international best practice and that Debt is serviced in a timely manner. In the case of the latter, the DMO undertakes an annual Debt Sustainability Analysis and is guided by a Medium Term Debt Management Strategy which is prepared every four years”, she explained.

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On the 2021 domestic borrowing, the Oniha pointed out that about 90 percent of it had been achieved through various securities.

She added: “As you know, for the domestic borrowing for this year, we have about N3.145 trillion from both the Appropriation Act and the supplementary.

“As you probably know already, we will raise between N200 billion and N250 billion Sukuk, so what is outstanding is about N345 billion

“So we have raised about N2.8 trillion, what is remaining is about N350 billion. We’ll do a sukuk, possibly within two weeks, the remaining we would raise form an FGN bond auction in December, we still have one more month to go. So we are almost there.”

Oniha added that $4 billion out of the $6.18 billion approved external borrowing in the 2021 budget has since been realized.

According to her, “For the external, which is about $6.18bn, we raised $4bn in September. We did have what you will call demand, which is the same thing as an order book or subscription of over $12bn, but the advisers said to us, let’s drop the interest rate a bit and see how much we get and also $6bn at once is huge.

“You know after you issue, then there’s a secondary market where they are traded, so we dropped the rate a bit and we still had demand of over $9 billion, but $4bn was a good size to issue at once so that it doesn’t become such a surplus in the market that the price will not be very good both for the sovereign and for other borrowers.

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“So for the remaining $2.18bn, we are working with the transaction advisers and monitoring the market.  If we think the market is good and our supervisors say we should raise that money, we will. But our options are on the table for the borrowing sources. We’ve done quite a lot to fund the 2020 budget.”

The DMO boss noted that the nation’s debt latest sustainability analysis showed a 21.61 percent Debt-to-GDP ratio, much less than the 40 percent limit set by the nation for itself and the 55 percent recommended by the World bank..

She said, however, that the nation has to pay more attention to the revenue, as according to her, “we use revenue to service debt.”

“Our Debt-to-GDP is low, about 21.61 percent now. The limit we put for Nigeria is 40 percent, as a country, but the World Bank recommends up to 55 percent.

“So if you look at it from that narrow perspective, you’ll say it’s sustainable. But really, it’s revenue that you use to service Debt, so we need to generate more revenues to ensure that the Debt is sustainable going forward. We just concluded one for 2021, the report will be out soon. But it did show that our Debt is very sensitive to revenues, implying Debt service, so we need to move in that area.”

Oniha further disclosed that the federal government had issued about N1.5 trillion Promissory Notes to various categories of its debtors including contractors, oil marketers

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Katsina govt. exempts sale of small ruminants from containment order – Police

The Katsina State Government has directed that small ruminants such as goats and sheep should not be affected by the recent security containment order in the state.

The Police Public Relations Officer in the state, SP Gambo Isah, announced this in a statement issued to newsmen on Tuesday in Katsina.

“His Excellency has directed that small animals such as goats and sheep should not be affected by the containment order as earlier envisaged.

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“Therefore, the Chairman of the Committee, Commissioner of Police, Katsina State Command, CP Sanusi Buba, has also directed all DPOs (Divisional Police Officers) to allow the sale of that category of animals in markets all over the state.

“This is for the information and guidance of the enforcement committee and all stakeholders,” according to the police’s spokesperson.

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The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that Gov. Aminu Masari recently signed a Security Containment order that banned the sale of cattle in markets in the state. (NAN)

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FCT education reads riot act to private school owners

Alhaji Sani El-katuzu, the Secretary for Federal Capital Territory Education Secretariat, has vowed to sanction proprietors of private schools abusing the nationally approved curriculum for schools.

El-katuzu issue the warning shortly after receiving the official handover briefs of the secretariat, from the Director of Administration and Finance, Mr Leramoh Abdulrazaq, on Tuesday in Abuja.

The secretary said that the secretariat would no longer tolerate situations where strange elements were introduced in schools in the name of branding.

El-katuzu also decried the outright violation of laws put in place by regulatory agencies.

” There are some other challenges I also need to point out like private proprietors of schools within the FCT operating outside the laws. They are not supposed to follow teaching outside the nationally accepted curriculum.

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” No school in Nigeria will be allow to teach any child outside the approved curriculum. There are schools that adopt curriculum from elsewhere to come and teach in our schools and we will not tolerate that,” he said.

The secretary warned that the secretariat under his watch would not recognise or shield highly placed individuals.

He stressed the need for all private schools to collaborate with the regulatory agencies with a view to avoid flaunting the law, saying ” we will not tolerate that.

” My findings revealed that some private schools in the Federal Capital Territory are own by the who is who of this country.

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” We will not make any distinction between highly placed or commoners. All Nigerians are equal and we should operate within the law,” he warned.

El-katuzu advised members of staff of the secretariat to brace up for the task ahead as he intends to push them, to make his mark in the education sector in the FCT.

Earlier, the Director of Administration and Finance of the secretariat, Abdulrazaq, thanked the FCT Minister, Malam Muhammad Bello and staff of the department for the opportunity to served. (NAN)(

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It’s worrying wealthy nations are restricting investment in fossil fuels — Osinbajo

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo says it is worrying that a growing number of wealthy nations have banned or restricted public investment in fossil fuels, including natural gas.

The vice president expressed his concern on Tuesday in his keynote address at the World Liquefied Petroleum Gas Association (WLPGA) week-long forum in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

Osinbajo spokesman, Laolu Akande, in a statement, said the theme of forum being held at the Dubai World Trade Centre, is “Energising Tomorrow.”

Osinbajo said that the world should not have to choose between energy poverty and climate change as the challenge could be addressed with both natural gas and Liquified Petroleum Gas (LPG) as transition fuels alongside other renewable sources.

“It is worrying that a growing number of wealthy nations have banned or restricted public investment in fossil fuels, including natural gas.

“Such policies often do not distinguish between different kinds of fossil fuels, nor do they consider the vital role some of these fuels play in powering the growth of developing economies, especially in sub-Saharan Africa.

“As development finance institutions try to balance climate concerns against the need to spur equitable development and increase energy security, the UK, the US, the EU have all taken aggressive steps to limit fossil fuel investments in developing and emerging economies.

“The World Bank and other multilateral development banks are being urged by some shareholders to do the same.

“The African Development Bank, for instance, is increasingly unable to support large natural gas projects in the face of European shareholder pressure.”

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The vice president acknowledged that all countries had a part to play in the fight against climate change.

According to him, a global transition away from carbon- based fuels must account for the economic differences between countries and allow for multiple pathways to net-zero emissions.

He said that it should not be necessary to have to choose between energy-poverty nexus and climate change since both could be properly addressed simultaneously.

Osinbajo said that were still close to 600 million Africans without access to electricity.

“For developing countries, unlike the rest of the world, the transition to net zero emissions poses two existential problems.

“Aside from the climate crisis, we have the problem of lifting millions out of extreme poverty and access to energy is a huge part of that.

“For the few with access to electricity, it is either unreliable due to lack of generating capacity and infrastructure, or unaffordable due to high prices.

“But a more important aspect of that problem is the 2.6 billion people globally without access to clean cooking solutions, including over 900 million in Africa.

“In fact, this energy-poverty nexus has distinct gender characteristics.

“ A report from the World Health Organisation revealed that about 4.3 million people die annually from inefficient cooking practices using polluting stoves paired with solid fuels like charcoal and kerosene…so, clearly there is an urgent need to transition from these fatally hazardous fuels to cleaner energy.’’

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He said that the Federal Government had developed an Energy Transition Plan which showed that achieving net-zero by 2060 would require investments of about 410 billion dollars

Osinbajo spoke on the implementation of Nigeria’s Domestic LPG expansion initiatives, including the LPG policy as part of its National Gas Policy and the National Gas Flare Commercialisation Programme.

He said there were specific provisions in the new Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) 2021 that elevated LPG as the fuel of choice compared to other competing fuels.

“And we have established a 20 million Cylinder Injection Scheme; 5 -10 million of these are to be introduced in pilot states next year.

“We have also established an LPG Energy Fund in the order of 50 million dollars in its first phase, in partnership with AFREXIMBANK.’’

He also listed the mandated conversion of 58,000 Telecommunications cell sites from diesel to LPG due to identified emissions from the industry and an autogas conversion scheme and capacity building in the 12 pilot states.

WLPGA’s 2021 LPG Week brings together 2,000 delegates from 72 countries, including major LPG companies, senior public sector officials, industry experts and other relevant stakeholders.

Osinbajo was accompanied to the event by Gov. Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna, the Nigerian Ambassador to the UAE, Mohammed Rimi, among others.(NAN)

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African Union calls for end to Omicron travel curbs on some African nations

The African Union on Tuesday called for an urgent end to travel restrictions imposed on some of its member states, saying the measures effectively penalize governments for timely data sharing in line with international health regulations.

The measures act “as a disincentive for information sharing in the future, potentially posing a threat to health security on the continent and globally,” the AU said in a statement.

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Late last month, European Union states, the United States, and Britain, among other nations such as Israel, imposed travel curbs on seven southern African countries after they reported several cases of the Omicron variant, which is considered highly infectious. (Reuters/NAN)

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UNIZIK to mount 1,000 CCTV cameras in 4 campuses

From Obinna Odogwu, Awka

Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Bionomics Nigeria Limited for the provision and installation of 1,000 CCTV cameras in its four campuses in Anambra State.

This was to improve and enhance security in its Awka, Agulu, Okofia and Ifite Ogwari campuses in Awka South, Anaocha, Nnewi and Ayamelum Local Government Areas of the state respectively.

Vice-Chancellor of the university, Prof. Charles Esimone, in a remark during the brief ceremony in his conference room, described security as a very essential component of the university’s progress and development.

He said that the move was in line with his vision of ‘Project 200’ with the mandate of very radical and administrative reform that would bring the town and gown together to meet the basic necessities of the varsity.

Esimone said that the project was highly innovative as it comes with no cost to the university; first of its kind and a testimony of the quality of graduates of UNIZIK as the Managing Director/CEO of the company, Mr Onyedika Ugochukwu, is an alumnus of the university.

The VC thanked Ugochukwu for his magnanimity while also stating that in the course of the project, they would not experience any form of bottlenecks and bureaucratic rigours.

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On his part, Ugochukwu said that it has been his passion to solve societal problems using technology. He said that the signing of the MoU would herald the kick-starting of the project with the first stage being to mark out points where the CCTV cameras would be fixed in the institution.

“What we entered today is a symbiotic relationship that will yield fruits to the university and us as a business venture. We will mount a digital board that will be used to advertise brands, and the university can utilize such means to disseminate information to staff and students.

“It will also serve as a credible source for dispelling rumours and fake news across the campuses.

“It will even serve as an information carrier for the Chief Safety Officer of the university, as well as be a deterrent for any sort of crime and threat in the university.

“We will be employing a best grade camera 8 Mega Pixels and bullet cameras, capable of recognizing faces even at night. This is a reality check, and not rocket science, and that’s why we have chosen the right materials that can last for over 60 years to execute this project”, he said.

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Ugochukwu explained that Fibre Optics, the most modern international standard way of connectivity would be used to ensure longevity of the infrastructure even for the next 50 years.

He also stated that the project would also generate revenue for the institution via advertising as digital advertising boards would be installed on the poles.

He further disclosed that the first phase of the project is expected to be completed within a space of four to six months.

Also present during the signing of the MoU were the University Registrar, Philomena Okoye, a lawyer; Director, Public Private Partnership and also Director, UNIZIK Business School, Prof. Emmanuel Okoye; Director, UNIZIK Business Ventures and Consultancy Services, Dr Uche Ngenegbo and the Director, University Production Process, Prof. Christopher Ihueze.

Members of the delegation from Bionomics include Margaret Effiom, the E.D Business Development and Obinna Ahaneku, Project Engineer, South East.

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Gunmen kidnap Catholic priest in Ondo

From Bamigbola Gbolagunte, Akure

Unknown gunmen have abducted Rev. Fr. Joseph Ajayi, the parish priest of St. Peter Clavar, Ilara Mokin, in Ifedore Local Government Area of Ondo State.

The priest was kidnapped along Akure-Ikere expressway while on a trip.

The abduction of the clergyman was confirmed on  by the Catholic Diocese of Ondo.

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Rev. Fr. Victor Ibiyemi who confirmed the abduction of Rev. Fr. Ajayi, said he was kidnapped by some unknown gunmen.

It was further learnt that the incident happened while the priest was travelling in his Toyota Corolla car.

A source revealed that the cleric was traveling to Akure, the Ondo State capital from Ikere, Ekiti State, when the hoodlums struck and whisked him away.

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The Secretary to the Bishop of Ondo Catholic Diocese, Jude Arogundade, Rev. Fr. Victor Ibiyemi, who confirmed the incident said the abductors had contacted the church, demanding a sum of N20million ransom.

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Nembe oil Spill: Yoruba youths raise alarm

From Fred Itua, Abuja

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Yoruba youths, under the umbrella of the Oduduwa Youths Movement (OYM), have said that the oil spill recorded in Nembe, Bayelsa State, has been turned into a political tool by the State Government.

In a statement made available to newsmen by Ade Balogun, OYM leader, he said they were surprised that reckless and unfounded statements on the spill could be coming from leaders such as Governor Douye Diri of Bayelsa State.

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The statement read: “We, members of the Oduduwa Youths Movement (OYM), have been closely observing events as they unfold since the Nembe oil spill episode started.

“We have been monitoring developments in the affected community independently and we make bold to say that we are impressed by the remedial efforts put in place by the relevant Federal Government agencies and Aiteo.

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“We are therefore not only shocked but also embarrassed that leaders of Governor Diri’s status can jump into the fray in an uncharitable manner and turn the development into a political tool.

“The governor’s comment is, to say the least, wild and suspicious. Leaders, including Governor Diri, should always resist the temptation of dancing naked in the market place just for political gains.”

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