Alleged N400m theft: Army court martial former GOC

Alleged N400m theft: Army court martial former GOC
Alleged N400m theft: Army court martial former GOC

By Sumaila Ogbaje

The Nigerian Army has commenced the trial of the former General Officer Commanding (GOC) 8 Division, Sokoto, Maj.-Gen. Hakeem Otiki, over alleged stolen N400 million by some soldiers under his command.

The Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai, while inaugurating the General Court Martial on Tuesday in Abuja, said the trial was in line with the Armed Forces Act Cap A20 Laws of the Federation 2004.

The General Court Martial is to be presided over by the Chief of Policy and Plans, Nigerian Army Headquarters, Maj.-Gen. Lamidi Adeosun, as the president of the court.

Members of the court are Maj.-Gen. A.A Tarfa from the Headquarters Training and Doctrine Nigerian Army, Maj.-Gen. F.O Agugo from Department of Army Transformation and Innovation and Maj.-Gen. J.S Malu from the Headquarters Nigerian Army Engineers.

Others are Maj.-Gen. M.A. Muhammed from the Headquarters Nigerian Army Signal, Maj.-Gen. C.T Olukuju from Land Forces Stimulation Centre while Maj.-Gen. C.C Okonkwo will serve as a waiting member.

Buratai also appointed Maj. A. Muhammed from the Headquarters Directorate of Army Legal Services as the Judge Advocate of the court.

The prosecuting officers are Maj. J.A Orumo, Maj. J,A Obot, from the Office of the National Security Adviser, Maj. I.A Suleman from Guards Brigade.

According to the convening order issued by Buratai, the General Court Martial as composed is to assemble at Army Headquarters Command Mess Abuja for the purpose of trying the accuse person.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the army authorities had in July begun the interrogation of the former GOC over the missing N400 million.

Five soldiers had been confirmed to have carted away a consignment containing the money, while on an escort duty from Sokoto to Kaduna states in July. (NAN)

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Group lauds removal of VAT on cooking gas

 

Group lauds removal of VAT on cooking gas

By Solomon Asowata

The Nigerian Association of Liquefied Petroleum Gas Marketers (NALPGAM), says the removal of Value Added Tax (VAT) on cooking gas by the Federal Government will deepen market penetration, boost the country’s economy and protect the environment.

Mr Nosa Ogieva-Okunbor, President , NALPGAM, stated this during the association’s Governing Council Meeting held in Lagos on Tuesday.

He noted that the removal of VAT on the gas supply to marketers by Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) would attract more investors and reduce importation of gas into the country.

“This removal of VAT on Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG), popularly known as cooking gas, has crashed the price of cooking gas by about 30 per cent in the market.

“Currently, a 12.5kg bottle of gas which was N4,300 now sells for between N2,500 and N2,700 and has also deepened household usage of gas,’’ he said.

Ogieva-Okunbor said the association would take effective steps to deepen the use of LPG and increase local consumption from the current 700,000 metric tonnes to 1,000,000 metric tonnes annually.

He said that the target can increase to about five million metric tonnes by 2025 if stakehokders in the sector adhere to standards.

“If achieved, Nigeria will join the league of nations with high level of LPG consumption,” he said.

The President also stressed the need for the reduction of import duty on LPG equipment so as to encourage more investors to come in and deepen LPG consumption in the country.

He, however, expressed concern over growing indiscriminate establishment of gas plants in filling stations, which he said pose a great danger to the citizenry and the economy.

Ogieva-Okunbor said that the association is not against establishments of such plants but insisted that they must operate with the same Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) applicable to standard gas plants as laid down by the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR).

He noted that the right procedure for petrol filling stations to dispense cooking gas was for them to retail already filled gas cylinders.

Ogieva-Okunbor added that the DPR had given a directive for the removal of gas plants in filling stations by December 2020.(NAN)

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UNGA: Nigeria to seek global support to combat terrorism

Foreign Minister Geoffrey Onyeama
Foreign Minister Geoffrey Onyeama

By Lizzy Okoji

Minister for Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama has said that the Nigerian Government would use the Forum of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) to seek global support fighting terrorism and increasing Foreign Direct Investments (FDI).

Onyeama made this known on Tuesday in Abuja during a Pre-UNGA briefing with newsmen stating the expectations of the Nigerian government during the high level summit from Sept. 17 to Sept. 30.

According to Onyeama, Nigeria would take advantage of its position as President of the 74th UN General Assembly to project the country and articulate priorities of the country, what t seeks to achieve and areas for global support.

He said that President Muhammadu Buhari will be lead the Nigerian delegation which would include Members of his cabinet and some Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to ensure Nigeria have the best technical resources.

Onyeama listed other priority issues of the country to be discussed at the summit to include: issues of Peace and Security, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG ) which covers socio-economic, education, humanitarian issues regarding child’s right.

Other issues are: poverty eradication,  illicit financial flows, recovery of stolen assets,

“More strategically as a country, it is an opportunity to project our country as an important member of the international community.

“And having the Presidency of the General Assembly is something that also gives us that higher visibility and great influence.

“We would also want to use that to push agenda of importance to us as a country, our fight against corruption, repatriation of foreign loots, engaging with other countries.

“In our quest to successfully deliver on SDG objectives that cover our social economic challenges, terrorism, and countering violent extremism.

“Is also something we would want to maintain at the highest levels of global priorities because  it is our major challenges.

“Mr President has just come back from a summit of ECOWAS Heads of States on Peace and Security in the West Africa Sub-region so this is still a challenge that we are facing.

“And it is important to use that opportunity to keep the global community engaged and supportive of what we are doing, our fight.

“And also taking the opportunity to a greater United Nations for support in that fight against terrorism but also in the global conflicts taking  place in Africa,” Onyeama said.

Onyeama said tha Nigeria has been very present in Peace Keeping interventions  across the continent under the framework of the African Union.

He added that with such large troops from Nigeria it was important to have financial and other support from the UN peace keeping  division.

The Minister said that President Buhari would also be having bilateral meetings with some Heads of States and engaging with different personalities  like Bill Gates to discuss attracting FDI.

Onyeama explained that the Foreign revenue streams of the Country expected hence,  the  need to diversify  to attract more Foreign Direct Investment into our country.

He said that Nigeria would also be soliciting support of the UN to recharge the Lake Chad which has shrunk by 90 per cent and has affected the source of livelihood of people living across the region.

Onyeama added that  Nigeria  will use the opportunity to canvass support for a number of Nigerians and the country itself vying for certain international position,  engage with countries to try to get their support so that the nation can deliver on the positions.

“For instance, Nigeria is keen to be elected into a category of the International Maritime Organisation.

“We didn’t make it the last time round, so we are persisting this time and with the challenges that we have, maritime challenges, we feel that it is important that we be on the governing bodies for regulating maritime issues.

“We are also vying for a position on the World Heritage Committee of UNESCO, we are vying for a seat under part two on the International Civil Aviation Organisation Council.

“We have a candidate that we are pushing to be on the Committee Against Torture, we also have a candidate that we are pushing for election to the United Nations Committee on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women.

“So, we will be taking advantage of our presence there during the General Assembly to also lobby for these positions,” Onyeama said. (NAN)

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Kenya to host inaugural Africa Food Show in 2020

Kenya to host inaugural Africa Food Show in 2020
Kenya to host inaugural Africa Food Show in 2020

Kenya will in 2020 host the inaugural Africa Food Show that will bring together policymakers, industry executives, farmers and consumers to learn about emerging trends in trade on agricultural commodities, organisers said on Tuesday.

David Wang, the Chairman of MIE Groups, the event organiser, said this in Nairobi.

The premier event, which will take place in Nairobi from June 24 to 26 in 2020, will help showcase food products, processing and packaging technologies to investors as well as consumers.

“Africa Food Show will provide a platform for the next generation of entrepreneurs to gain a better understanding of the market for agricultural commodities in the continent,’’ Wang said.

Wang said that Kenya’s strategic position as a logistics hub informed the decision to host the inaugural continental food summit that is expected to unlock opportunities for local farmers, processors and distributors.

“Kenya has modern infrastructure, policy support, growing foreign direct investments that are an incentive for hosting African Food Show and highlight untapped opportunities to global agricultural commodity traders.’’

The inaugural Africa Food Show, which will be held concurrently with China Trade Week, is expected to position Kenya as an attractive investment destination for agro-processing.

Lucy Njenga, Director of Policy Research and Regulation in the Ministry of Agriculture, said the event would boost the government’s food and nutritional security agenda.

“We are open to hosting an event that will provide an opportunity for farmers and investors to exchange knowledge on technologies and innovations that are key to promote food security and incomes through value addition,’’ said Njenga.

She said that Kenya would leverage the Africa Food Show to attract additional investors in value chains such as storage, processing and distribution in order to lift the fortunes of smallholder farmers.

Fadi Kaddoura, Vice President in charge of Sales and Marketing at MIE Groups, said the event would feature exhibitions alongside the business-to-business meetings.

The meeting is expected to raise the visibility of the continent’s major agricultural commodities.

The commodities will including cereals, fresh produce, spices and nuts. (Xinhua/NAN)

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Health officers plan to disinfect Abakaliki, environs of yellow fever

Health officers
Health officers

By Uchenna Ugwu

Mr Sunday Nwonu, a Sanitarian and Senior Environmental Health Officer, Ministry of Environment, Ebonyi, says the ministry plans to sanitise Abakaliki and environs following the recent outbreak of yellow fever in the state.

Nwonu made this known in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abakaliki on Tuesday during a programme to strengthen efforts in controlling the circulation of the yellow fever virus.

The Sanitarian said that the exercise was to ensure total elimination of mosquito vectors in dirty environments and to prevent further outbreak in the area.

Nwonu who is also the President, Environmental Health Officers Association of Nigeria, Ebonyi Chapter, said that it would also complement the long-term strategy of high coverage of yellow fever vaccination.

He said the association was collaborating with the state ministry of health to commence the exercise.

He appreciated the efforts of the World Health Organisation, (WHO), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Gavi, the state government, among other partners, in containing the situation.

“It is not enough to administer the vaccines to people because environments where the mosquitoes live is still a factor.

“We are making plans to interface with state government to embark on disinfection process around government property, drainages, residential areas and removing objects that will help the mosquitoes reside, among other factors.

“The exercise is the responsibility of the environmental health officers to attack the mosquito vector and eliminate the yellow fever,’’ Nwonu said.

He called on residents, schools and other public establishments to support government efforts by disinfecting their premises against yellow fever.

He, however, encouraged them to properly discard abandoned objects such as old tyres, cover empty containers and pots with water to avoid mosquitoes residing in them.

NAN reports that the state ministry of health reported that no fewer than 15 persons had died following the outbreak of yellow fever in Iboko community, Izzi Local Government Area of Ebonyi.

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China, US clash over ‘belt and road’ credit at UN Security Council

 

China and Russia clashed with the US and other United Nations Security Council members on Monday over Beijing’s insistence on including a reference to its U$1 trillion Belt and Road Initiative in a resolution on the UN’s political mission in a resolution on the UN’s political mission in Afghanistan

The mission’s six-month mandate expires on Tuesday, and council members met behind closed doors for more than 2½ hours, unable to agree on a text after China’s demand.

Russian ambassador Vassily Nebenzia, council president, said that diplomats were working on a compromise text. He said the council would meet on Tuesday in the hope of reaching unanimous agreement.

This is the second time in six months that the resolution to keep the UN political mission in Afghanistan operating has become embroiled in controversy over belt and road language.

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Bande in church service to usher in 74th UNGA

 

Bande joins other Muslims in church service to usher in 74th UNGA

Amb. Tijani Muhammad-Bande, President of the 74th session of the UN General Assembly, was among several Muslims that attended a special church service in New York on Monday evening.

The prayer service, hosted by the Church of the Holy Family, United Nations Parish, is an annual tradition of the UN to usher in every new session of the Assembly.

Monday’s edition came shortly after the President of the 73rd UNGA, Ms Maria Espinosa, handed over to Muhammad-Bande at the UN headquarters a few meters away.

Other Muslims at the service included presidential spokesman, Mr Garba Shehu; former Chairman of INEC, Prof, Attahiru Jega, and officials of Nigerian missions to the UN and the United States.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres; the Deputy Secretary General, Ms Amina Mohammed, also a Muslim, and Espinosa, equally attended the service.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that speakers at the occasion underscored the significance of the composition of the gathering to religious tolerance and harmony.

In his address, Guterres said “our presence here sends an important message” at a time of “widespread polarisation and horrific violence targeting people solely for their (religious) identity”.

“We are recognising our human connections and reaffirming respect for each other’s religions, cultures and traditions”, he said.

Speaking later, Muhammad-Bande said the service was a reminder of the “place of faith and the role that empathy and love can in agreeing when we want to disagree”.

He urged all those present to recommit themselves to God and seek His intervention while also doing their best to address the challenges facing the world.

The Apostolic Vicar of Southern Arabia, Bishop Paul Hinder, spoke in similar vein in a sermon.

Hinder called on Muslims, Christians and adherents of other religions to unite and find a common cause in the fight against religious violence and extremism.

The service featured special prayers for the UN and its leaders, for lasting peace in war-torn regions and for a “globalisation of solidarity” against hunger hunger, poverty, disease, among others.(NAN)

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GenCos releases 3,306 MWH of electricity to national grid – report

 

Electricity power line
GenCos releases 3,306 MWH of electricity to national grid – report

By Constance Imasuen

Electricity Generation Companies (GenCos), comprising gas-fired and hydro stations, said they released an average of 3,306 MegaWatts/Hour of electricity into the national grid on Sunday .

The Advisory Power Team, Office of the Vice President, disclosed this in a daily energy report made available to News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Monday.

The report noted that the electricity sent out by the GenCos was down by 4.49 megawatts from the figure released on Saturday.

It, however, said that 1,591 megawatts could not be generated due to unavailability of gas.

The report noted that zero (0) megawatts was not generated due to unavailability of transmission infrastructure during the period.

Similarly, it said that 2,963.40 megawatts were not generated due to high frequency resulting from unavailability of distribution infrastructure.

According to the report, zero (0) megawatts was recorded as losses due to water management procedures.

The report revealed that the power sector lost an estimated over N2 billion on Sunday  due to insufficient gas supply, distribution and transmission infrastructure.

On sector reform/activities, it said that the dominant constraint for Sunday was high frequency resulting from unavailability of distribution infrastructure.

The report noted that the peak generation attained on Sunday was 4 186.8 megawatts. (NAN)

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Minimum Wage: Again FG, JNPSNC fail to reach agreement

NLC leads protest against Kaduna government
NLC to work against governors opposing new minimum wage

By Tosin Kolade

The Joint National Public Service Negotiating Council (JNPSNC) and the Representatives of the Federal Government have again failed to reach an agreement over relativity and consequential adjustment for the implementation of the new minimum wage.

Mr Alade Lawal, JNPSNC General Secretary, Trade Union Side, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that the organised labour will decide on a next line of action towards the issue of the minimum wage, saying in due time, Nigerians would be informed.

“The meeting is deadlocked, we found out that the Federal Government officials are not serious about it at all, we are suspecting fowl play or a hidden agenda somewhere.

“We have decided to report the development to our principals, including the Labour unions, Nigerians will be adequately briefed of our next line of action very shortly.”

Chairman of the Labour team, Mr Simon Anchaver, said labour negotiating team has also resolved to write to the Nigeria Labour congress and the trade union congress, TUC on their advise to consider an industrial action.

He said government’s foot dragging is an invitation for industrial action, since workers are already engulfed in fear and agitations whether their accumulated arrears will be paid when talks are finally concluded.

NAN reports that the Head of Service, Winifred Oyo-Ita, chaired the meeting, and the acting Chairman, National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission, as the Secretary of the negotiating council.

NAN recalls that the new minimum wage bill was signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari in April.

However, deliberations continued as the issue of relativity/consequential adjustment of salaries still persisted.

The Federal Government had on May 14 inaugurated the relativity/Consequential Adjustment Committee which in turn set up a Technical Sub-Committee to work out the template for the adjustment of salaries of Public Service Employees.

In a meeting between the government and labour last month (August), government proposed a 10 per cent increment for level seven to 14 and a 5.5 per cent increment for level 15 to 17.

Egbule, immediate past Chairman, National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission, had attributed the delay in the implementation of the “consequential adjustment” of the N30,000 new minimum wage to the unrealistic demands of labour unions.

Egbule explained that the current demand of the labour unions would raise the total wage bill too high and that was why government could not accept their proposed salary adjustments.

But labour turned down government’s offer, proposing 30 per cent increase for levels seven to 14 and 25 per cent for levels 15 to 17.

The JNPSNC declined the offer, saying that since the increase in wage from N18, 000 to N30, 000 was 66 per cent, they wanted 66 per cent increment across board for all workers.

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Agricultural value chain crucial for jobs, productivity – Osinbajo

By Chijioke Okoronkwo

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo says that the greatest value for jobs and improved productivity lies in the agro-allied value chain.

Osinbajo made the assertion while declaring open the 2019 Annual National Management Conference of the Nigerian Institute of Management (Chartered) on Monday in Abuja.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the theme of the conference is, “ Managing the Challenges of Democracy.’’

He said that the central question especially in the public sector was not the lack of talent or well researched policies but the weakness in implementation.

The vice president said that the implementation of policies and programmes to address the challenges of poverty and wealth creation, jobs for millions of young people required collective thinking and action.

According to him the Federal Government has created appreciable value in agriculture, with the Anchor Borrower programme by adding new jobs and acreage in paddy rice, sorghum, millet, cassava and yams.

“But we recognise that it is in the agro-allied value chain that the greatest value lies for jobs and improved productivity.

“So a crucial component of that is our mechanisation of agriculture programme with the Brazilian government where we intend to build service centers in every local government to render extension services, leasing of farm equipment, provision of improved inputs.

”In addition to that there will be six assembly plants for tractors and other equipment. The enhancing of commerce in agriculture by the building of rural roads for access to markets and commodity exchanges are also priority items.

“The expansion of opportunities in manufacturing with the completion of the first phase of the special economic zones in Enyimba City in Abia, Lekki Free Trade Zone in Lagos and the Funtua Cotton in Katsina are priorities and good progress has been made thus far.

“In addition we are in collaboration with the BOI in investing in infrastructure in small businesses and commercial clusters all over Nigeria.

“Leather works clusters, shoe making, food processing clusters, printer clusters etc are to benefit from the provision of power, equipment, and other infrastructure.’’

He said that the issues of capacity in human capital development, affordable healthcare for all, education, especially getting out-of-school children into the school system, education of girls, and relevant educational curricular were front burner issues.

Osinbajo said that healthcare for all could not come from budget allocations alone as the government had taken major steps in the provision of universal coverage policy.

He said that the next level would be the implementation of compulsory health insurance for all Nigerians on a co-payment basis with government.

“We are working at the level of the National Economic Council to achieve the President’s June 20 charge to state governors to ensure full implementation of free and compulsory education in the first nine years of the school life of every Nigerian child.

“The Home-grown School Feeding Programme which is now in about 30 states and feeding over 9.5 million children daily has helped to drive enrollment figures upwards.’’

The Vice president said that under the energising economies scheme, the Federal Government licensed and ensured the provision of power on a willing-buyer willing-seller basis to large and medium scale markets, such as Sabongari in Kano, Ariaria in Aba and Sura in Lagos.

He said that Federal Government’s Social intervention Programmes had greatly enhanced access to credit and improved the inventories of petty traders.

Osinbajo said that the programme recently won the African Development Bank prize for financial inclusion.

The Vice President said that efforts were being made to scale up.

He added that after the presidential policy dialogue preceding the inauguration of ministers, President Muhammadu Buhari developed a list of specific mandates for each ministry.

“The full and effective performance of their mandates is of course an implementation challenge. We look forward to your contributions on the journey,’’ he said.

Earlier in his speech, Prof. Olukunle Iyanda, President of the institute, said the conference always presented a platform to discuss topical issues of national interest with a view to proffering solutions. (NAN)

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