Governor Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa state yesterday bowed to pressure and declined to sign the controversial Pension Bill for governors, deputy governors and House of Assembly members.
There have been outrage in Bayelsa State and beyond, since the lawmakers passed the bill through First and Second Reading within hours and was passed into law within four hours.
The bill had stipulated monthly life pension of N500,000 for the speaker, N200,000 for the deputy speaker and N100,000 for other members
However, Commissioner for Information, Daniel Iworiso-Markson, who said Dickson has declined assent to the bill, disclosed that the governor held consultations with members of the House of Assembly at his country home, Toru-Orua, at the weekend and explained reasons he declined assent.
Dickson said the provision of the bill is not consistent with Section 124 of the constitution of the country as amended.
He quoted Dickson as having argued that while the lawmakers lacked the powers to expand the category of public servants who should be entitled to pension, he had to withhold assent to the bill because the state which was bedevilled with a lot of challenges in spite of its low internally generated revenue base and unstable earnings from the oil economy was the only state out of Nigeria’s 36 to come up with such a bill.
The governor stressed that he was guided in the decision by the principle that government should not be for a select class of the privileged in the society, and would not discard it over seven years into his administration.
“While I agree that the Assembly can adjust the quantum of pension payable to persons entitled to pension, I am not convinced that the House has powers to add to the categories of pensionable public officers.
“Evidently, there is no record of any other state in this country that has expanded the categories of pensionable public officers to include lawmakers.
“I do not agree that Bayelsa which is coping with all the myriads of issues and challenges, with our low internally generated revenue base and the unpredictable oil economy, should be the first to initiate this.
“It is my philosophy that government should not be for a select few. In the last seven years, my actions and decisions which have sometimes elicited opposition from the elite who have been feeding fat on the resources of our state, have been marked by this singular disposition of mine.
“Therefore, I am unable to assent to this bill which in my view aims to expand and consolidate the class interest of a privileged few,” he declared.
Going by feelings in many more states now, about twenty states are likely to pay the N30,000 monthly minimum wage.
Their governors spoke on the controversial matter after President Muhammadu Buhari signed the New Minimum Wage (Amendment) Bill into Law.
Many of the states, however, said certain conditions must be reached between the workers’ umbrella unions and the Federal Government for them to pay.
Some said they were waiting for the implementation template from the Federal Government.
Labour, which vowed not to condone non-implementation of the new wage, plans to pile pressure on the National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission (NSIWC) to release the template to state governments.
The Vice Chairman of the Trade Union Congress (TUC), Sunday Salako, said the union would continue to put pressure on the government agency not to delay the template for the new wage to states.
He said: “Labour will not rest in the pursuit of the new minimum wage. Of course, we will mount the pressure. Once we have information on the reason for the delay, we will write to the National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission. I am sure that the chairman will not want to see the other side of labour.”
According to the General Secretary of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Dr. Peter Ozo-Eson, the first task before governors after their inauguration on May 29 will be to negotiate the implementation of the minimum wage.
He, however, noted that all states were not expected to pay the same amount to workers.
His words: “Each state council of the NLC will open negotiations with the state government. We’ve just conducted the state council elections. The new leadership that emerged in various states will open negotiations with state governments as their first assignment.”
Below are the states that have shown willingness to implement the new minimum wage:
Kano State Governor Abdullahi Ganduje said his administration has given priority to the welfare of civil servants. That, he said, accounted for not owing its workers.
He said: “We are ready to pay N30, 000 monthly salary, because the welfare of our workers is paramount. We will pay the N30, 000.”
The governor assured workers that the new minimum wage would be implemented without any retrenchment.
NLC’s National President, Ayuba Wabba descibed Ganduje as “a pacesetter” in civil servants/government cordial relationship, urging other governors to emulate him.
Speaking at the NLC pre-May Day Symposium organised by the Kano chapter of the union, Ganduje said that his administration would not sack any worker, even as he urged the workers to reciprocate the gesture by putting in their best.
Ganduje noted: “Because of my understanding of the importance of labour and the survival of the civil servant as a formidable entity, we have introduced several emoluments to deserving workers and now this symposium as a pre May Day programme and is the first of its kind in Nigeria.”
Wabba said: “There is a symbiotic relationship between workers and the government, with both sides expecting results, the government expects quality public service while workers expect to have sound welfare in order to be able to carry out their jobs effectively.”
Zamfara State Governor Abdul-Aziz Yari Abubakar promised to ensure better welfare for workers.
Speaking through his Senior Special Assistant on Media, Publicity & Public Enlightenment, Malam Ibrahim Dosara, the governor said that any state government with the interest of workers at heart will ensure the quick implementation of the new minimum wage.
The Osun State Government said it will await the guidelines on the N30, 000 minimum wage.
The Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Mr. Adesina Adeniyi, said that since it has already been signed into law, the state will only wait for the implementation guidelines of the minimum wage.
He said: “When the guidelines are released, the state will study, understand and eventually go into its implementation.
“Governor Gboyega Oyetola is concerned about the welfare of the people of the state, including the civil servants, and, therefore, will have no difficulty in ensuring that what is necessary is done at all times.”
The Kwara State Government also looks set for the payment of the new wage, according to Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Communications, Dr Muyideen Akorede.
Akorede recalled how the state raised a committee headed by the Head of Service (HoS), Modupe Susan, to work out the modalities and sources of revenue for payment months before the President signed the new into law.
“The committee is expected to submit its report to Governor Ahmed in the next two weeks,” the governor’s spokesman said.
The ministry of industry, trade and investment has been ordered by the Senate to return N14.3bn to the National Treasury without delay.
Industry, Trade & Investment Minister Dr Okechukwu Enelemah and the Acting Managing Director of Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority ( NEPZA), Terhemba Nongo, were yesterday told to return N14.3 billion allegedly diverted from 2017 NEPZA vote.
In a letter written by the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Trade and Investment, Senator Mohammed Nakudu Sabo (Jigawa Southwest),obtained by our reporter, the Red Chamber warned the minister and NEPZA boss to either comply with the directive or be ready to face serious legislative sanction.
The committee claimed that the alleged diverted N14.3 billion was “hurriedly transferred from NEPZA account into a private company called Nigerian Special Economic Zone Company account between April 8 and 10 despite earlier warnings.
The chairman said that the fund was first warehoused in NEPZA account with the CBN from 2017 budget allocations before it moved into the private company account about two weeks ago.
Sabo told reporters yesterday: “To prevent this fraud, my committee wrote a letter to CBN Governor Godwin Emefiele on the 8th of this month not to release the money but very annoyingly, the money is confirmed to have been released and transferred by NEPZA in collaboration with the Minister into a private company account.
“This is unacceptable and will not be condoned, hence the need for the money to be returned into national treasury.”
The Committee in the letter entitled: “Re: Transfer of N14.3 billion from NEPZA Account to Nigeria Special Economic Zone Company” addressed to the minister, said: “Pursuant to section 80(2)(3) and (4) of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as amended and Financial Regulation sections 313 and 314 and Senate Standing Order 98, 14(a-s) of 2015 as amended, we hereby write to you on the above matter.
“That you should return the transferred N14.3 billion from NEPZA account to the Nigeria Special Economic Zone Company account.
“That the transferred money must be returned back into the treasury within one week from the date of receipt of this letter.
“The available information to the committee shows that the said money is in the account of the Nigerian Special Economic Zone Company Account unappropriated for.
“That failure to comply with this directive will be visited with appropriate legislative action against your ministry as well as the company.”
The letter dated April 25 and signed by Sabo, was received in the minister’s office the following day.
The NEPZA had on the April 11 at the 2019 budget defence session with the committee, declared that warehousing of the N14.3 billion was not done fraudulently but in line with the Country’s Industrial Revolution Plan and approval of a memo submitted to that effect by Enelamah in June 2018.
According to him, in 2014, the Federal Government introduced the Nigeria Industrial Revolution Plan (NIRP) in its bid to promote diversification of the economy and address the fundamental issues affecting productive activities.
The minister said: “Subsequently, the present administration also introduced the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP). The ERGP adopted the substantial ideas and strategies identified in the NIRP.
“The total sum of N48.14 billion was appropriated in the 2017 Appropriation Act for NEPZA out of which the sum of N20.5 billion only was released.
“However, there was a turn of event. A memo dated 28th June, 2018, was submitted to the Federal Executive Council (FEC) by the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment seeking among other things: “The recognition of a newly formed company named the Nigeria Special Economic Zones Company (NSEZCO) as the entity for all FGN investments and proprietary interests in existing and future SEZs.
The Federal government should endeavor to make it’s presence felt well in the University in terms of funding and facilities to enable learning and research work go on as expected in an institution of higher education
The students of Federal University Oye-Ekiti, Ekiti State, are currently protesting and blocking the gates to the institution at the Oye campus, paralysing academic activities.
Vice Chancellor Prof. Kayode Shoremekun says that students who have refused to pay the school fees and who have been barred from taking the forthcoming examinations may be behind the protests. He also said students may be protesting the delayed completion the main library abandoned by his predecessor.
Shoremekun said that while serious efforts have been made to improve on school facilities, protocols which have to be followed as demanded by the Ministry or Education have slowed down the process of putting some facilities, particularly the abandoned main library, in proper shape.
He assured that the library will be in place by May and hinted that management is engaging the students representative in dialogue to end the crisis.
He, however, warned that students who fail to pay fees will not be allowed to take the coming exams.
The All Progressives Congress (APC) in Lagos has said that Lagosians made the right decision by voting Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu as governor.
The party spoke through Chief Sunny Ajose, its Deputy Chairman, at an ”Appreciation Dinner” held on Saturday night, to thank the residents for voting Sanwo-Olu and his running mate, Dr Obafemi Hamzat.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), reports that the dinner was organised by some chieftains of the party including Commissioner for Science and Technology Mr Hakeem Fahm and Mr Dele Alake, a former Commissioner of Information and Strategy in the state.
Ajose described Sanwo-Olu and Obafemi Hamzat as technocrats with great leadership experience, saying that they would serve the state meritoriously.
”We thank Lagos residents for voting Sanwo-Olu and Hamzat and we want to assure the people that they will fulfill their promises and meet expectations.
”Sanwo-Olu and Hamzat are tested and trusted leaders. Now that they have been given the mandate to pilot the affairs of the state, they will drive responsibly,” he said.
Ajose commended party members for their contributions to the success of the APC, and urged them to support the leaders so as to get the best from them.
In his remarks, APC chieftain Chief Pius Akinyelure, congratulated Sanwo-Olu and Hamzat on their electoral victory, saying that their overwhelming success reflected the confidence voters had in them.
Akinyelure particularly thanked Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, a leader of the party, for his efforts toward ensuring victory for the party in both the presidential and the governorship elections.
He described Tinubu as “a great political strategist and a visionary leader”, saying that his foresight had helped to entrench effective governance in the state.
Reports had it that prominent personalities at the dinner included Oba Rilwan Akiolu of Lagos and a one-time Commissioner of Finance, Mr Wale Edun.
Mobilization effort of President Muhammadu Buhari is in top gear to make the All Progressives Congress (APC) governors queue behind the party’s candidates for Senate president and House Speaker.
He has asked the governors to work for the emergence of Ahmad Lawan and Femi Gbajabiamila as Senate President and House of Representatives Speaker in the Ninth National Assembly.
The governors are expected to meet with the National Assembly members-elect to smoothen the way for Lawan’s and Gbajabiamila’s election at the inauguration of the Senate and the House in June. They are to push for unity and consensus in the emergence of Lawan and Gbajabiamila.
In line with the President ‘s directive, APC governors in the Southwest will tomorrow meet with the House of Representatives members-elect in Abuja.
According to investigation by our correspondent, the President and the APC opted for zonal consultations to ensure a rancour-free inauguration and to block the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) from hijacking Assembly the leadership.
It was also learnt that the six geopolitical zones may use the opportunity to agree on the candidates for the offices allotted to them in the APC power sharing formula.
Under the formula, the Northeast is to produce the Senate President; Deputy Senate President (Southsouth); Senate Leader (Northcentral); Chief Whip (Southeast/ Southwest) and Deputy Chief Whip (Southwest / Southeast).
Besides the Speaker, the party is yet to release the details of zoning in the House because of challenges in some zones.
A top source said: “The President and the APC leaders are not taking things for granted. All APC governors have been advised to take charge and unite National Assembly members-elect at the zonal level.
“We want senators-elect and House members-elect to come for the inauguration of the National Assembly ready to work for the interest of the party.
“Apart from resolving issues surrounding principal offices zoned to the six geopolitical zones, our Senators and members of the House would be in a position to assist the President in ensuring the election of Lawan and Gbajabiamila.
“The essence of the consultations by the governors is to keep APC intact, ensure party supremacy and checkmate the opposition PDP which is desperate to infiltrate the ranks of the new Senators and House members.
“If we are able to overcome challenges at the zonal level on principal officers, we will be more focused for the battle for the Senate President and the Speaker.”
Responding to a question, the source said: “Out of the six zones, we have a major challenge in the Northwest, especially Kano where we have heavyweights (returnee House members) seeking juicy principal offices in the Lower Chamber.
“With the President coming from Katsina, our leaders in Kano State want to have all the offices zoned to the Northwest. This is why consensus is necessary at zonal level.”
On tomorrow’s Southwest governors, meeting with House members-elect in Abuja, another source added: “We want to speak with one voice unlike the situation in 2015 when Southwest lawmakers betrayed Gbajabiamila. The meeting, which will take place in Ekiti Governor’s Lodge will set the template for amicable sharing of offices likely to be zoned to the Southwest.”
At the weekend in Abuja, APC National Vice Chairman in the Northcentral Ahmed Suleiman Wambai explained why the President and the party settled for Lawan and Gbajabiamila for the Assembly leadership.
Justifying the party’s position, Wambai identified past experience, excellence and loyalty as ingredients that qualified Lawan and Gbajabiamila for the exalted offices.
Wambai said the President and other party leaders showed interests in the duo because of their loyalty and vast experience.
The party, he said, supported the two to move the country forward.
He said: “We have not given Ahmed Lawan the position of Senate President because he is from Northeast or Gbajabiamila Speaker because he is from Southwest but based on the performance of the party, their contribution and loyalty.
“There was a time Mr. President sent budget to the National Assembly and that proposal was kept there for about seven months. This Gbabiamila and Lawan were the ones fighting and because of that, they received a lot of frustration, traumatisation and intimidation from the present leadership of the National Assembly.
“So, do you think the party and Mr. President should not reward those people? No. We said that despite the fact that the Northwest has the President, the Southwest has the vice president, the Senate President is zoned to the Northeast, Mr. President felt we should reward Femi Gbajabiamila based on the compelling loyalty and his experience.
“Mr. President prefers these people because of their past experiences. We are not saying that there is nobody in the Northcentral that is qualified. No. But the issue is that there are certain considerations. We fought for the zone to get deputy speaker in the House of Representatives and also Senate Majority Leader in the Senate.”
On whether the ruling APC put religion balancing into consideration, bearing in mind that both candidates are Muslims, he said: “You do not understand the political dynamism of our country. Do you think if we concentrate on religion this country will move forward? We go for excellence sometime, we go for those people who can key into the project of change and deliver.
“What do you mean by sensitivity? Between the APC and PDP which party is more sensitive?
“We should no longer say discriminate against anybody who has something to offer. The moment a nation starts thinking about where someone comes from or the religion he or she practices such a nation is doomed.”
Told that some Representatives of his members from Northcentral are scheming to take the position of speaker, Wambai said the Southwest should be allowed to produce the Speaker.
He said: “I share the assertion that things should be given to any region based on their contribution and acceptance of mantra.
“But in politics, you may not get what you sometimes think is yours because of certain pecuniary reason and expediency. But as far as I am concerned, the consideration should be given based on merit. Having produced the Senate President for the past 12 years, the Northcentral should allow other zones to produce the Speaker since we are not the only zone.
“Recall that in 2015, the post of Speaker and Senate President were zoned to the Southwest and the Northeast respectively. Ahmad Lawan from the Northeast and Femi Gbajabiamila from the Southwest were favoured but there was internal coup which truncated the process.”
Nigeria is endowed with a crop of highly trained intelligent officers
The Nigerian Navy (NN) says the Chief of Naval Staff, Pakistan Navy, Admiral Zafar Abbasi, will pay a two-day official visit to Nigeria from April 29 to May 1.
Navy spokesman, Commodore Suleman Dahun, disclosed this in a statement on Sunday in Abuja.
Dahun said the visit was in line with the ongoing efforts to foster cooperation with navies of allied countries, especially in the areas of capacity building and mutual cooperation between the Pakistan Navy and the Nigerian Navy.
He said during the visit, Abbasi would hold bilateral discussions with the Chief of the Naval Staff, Vice Adm. Ibok-Ete Ibas.
He said that Abbasi would also visit the Minister of Defence, Mansur Dan-Ali, as well as the Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Gabriel Olonisakin.
“Thereafter, Abbasi will proceed to Lagos to visit NNS QUORRA, Western Naval Command and Naval Dockyard Limited,” the spokesman said.
Nigerian Navy brings down about 20 impostors on their knees
The Nigerian Navy (NN) on Sunday said its operatives had arrested a total of 19 imposters in the First Quarter of 2019.
Navy spokesman, Commodore Suleman Dahun,made this known in a statement on Sunday in Abuja.
A breakdown of those arrested criminals given by the spokesman showed that 13 were arrested in Calabar/Ikang area; 5 in Yenogoa/Port Harcourt area and 1 in Lagos area.
Dahun said: ” Typically, these criminals were arrested either in possession of fake Navy ID Card or dressed in Navy uniforms (Camouflage or Blue Rig).”
He warned that wearing and illegal possession of military accoutrements is unlawful and punishable under the Nigerian Criminal Code.
” For the avoidance of doubt, the NN wishes to inform the general public that wearing and illegal possession of military accoutrements is unlawful and punishable under Section 109, 110 and 251 of Nigerian Criminal Code.
He advised members of the public not to patronise such unscrupulous individuals in any engagement.
” The general public is also advised to report to the nearest Naval, Army, Air Force or Police unit any suspicious individual wearing a naval uniform and engaging in non-military or naval duties,” he said (NAN)
Dynamite comes in small packages. She’s petite but a bundle of talent. She’s also charming and beautiful.
Indeed, Ugochi aka Guchi is the new kid on the block of Nigerian music. Determined, strong-willed and passionate, the 22-year-old is currently ruling the airwaves with her single, No Be Jazz.
In this chat, Guchi opens up on how she’s not afraid of fame and how she’s ready to swim the tides of stardom. Enjoy it.
Where were you born and what was your growing up like?
I was born in Kaduna but I grew up in Abuja. I am the second child of a family of six. I am 22-year-old. I was a student of Edo State University but I relocated to Lagos and had to start all over again at University of Lagos where I am now studying Theatre and Media Arts.
What inspired your going into music?
I have always had passion for music. Growing up, I sang in the choir and this helped shape my desire to take on music fully.
You’re now 22, at what age did you actually start music?
I started music at the age of seven. I remember the family having a get-together on my grandfather’s birthday and the children were called upon to sing. I was the only child that came out to sing that day. I sang with excitement and clarity.
Which song did you sing?
It was a song I got from a Barbie cartoon movie. The title of the song was ‘Wish For One Thing’.
Is any of your parents gifted in music and are they supportive of your choice of career?
My dad is a music lover. He was always playing Michael Jackson’s songs and he made me fall in love with him. For me, that was an early influence and inspiration. Yes, of course, my parents are totally supportive of my decision to go into music.
How would you describe your kind of music?
I sing Afropop, dancehall and highlife. I am not strictly everybody’s kind of Afropop musician, but I can do any of the three genres depending on what inspires me.
You sound a lot like Simi. Is it some kind of marketing strategy?
I have no relationship with Simi. I admire her like I admire lots of other artistes who are doing wonderfully well, but I don’t think I sound like her. I sound like Guchi and not Simi.
What inspired your song, No Be Jazz?
The inspiration came from the fact that girls of today seem more interested in money than in true love. ‘No Be Jazz’ portrays the old kind of love where neither money nor sex was the basis for relationship or marriage, but true love. And that was why together couples could go through the good and bad times in love. My mother actually inspired the song. Taking a cue from her, she was always steadfast in the good and the bad times, always steadfast in love. So, the song preaches trust and love in the face of challenges.
Are your songs based on personal experiences then?
Most times, the songs artistes sing do not necessarily define the artistes. There’s a song I did entitled ‘Hennessy’. I did the song not because I drink Hennessy but because there are people it would appeal to. A song like that could also be used to promote the brand. That is why I said music is like acting.
The competition in the Nigerian music industry is high, are you prepared to cope? And how do you intend to balance your music career and education?
Yes, I am prepared and like I said earlier, I have been in music since 2012. I have dozens of songs already in the kitty, and I will be dropping them back-to-back. As for balancing music and education, I know it’s not going to be easy. But then, my course, Theatre and Media Arts, falls in line with what I am doing. So, I think I can cope. And again, I am not running a full time programme, I’m doing part time so I can have time for my music.
Show business comes with lots of negative stories and scandals, how prepared are you for these?
I wouldn’t let that bother me because I know who I am. My personal life is different from my life as a musician, which to me is more like acting. I think saying things about me would only make me more popular.
You are signed to which record label?
I am signed to Media Viva Productions Company (MVP) run by popular broadcaster and compere, Mr Israel Edjeren; and I’m the first artiste on his label.
Do you have plans to collaborate with some established artistes in the future?
I hope to collaborate and perform alongside some of the established artistes like Burna Boy, Kizz Daniel, Tiwa Savage and Davido.
If not music, what would you have done?
I don’t think there’s any other thing I would have done. Music is my love!
Culled from The Sun
Some victims of the violence in Kajuru, Kaduna
When one of the leading inbound tour companies in the country decided to have a special package for the Easter festivity period, it was to offer Nigerians and non-Nigerians the opportunity to enjoy one of the iconic tourist sites in the north, the Kajuru Castle, in Kajuru council area, southern Kaduna, Kaduna State.
Kajuru Castle is pitched on a rocky hill giving visitors a bird-eye view of the surrounding area. It is a medieval style fortress edifice with baronial style hall with suites and armour; however, it is pitched on top of the rocky hill like a Barian castle. The bedrooms look like dungeons. The castle, like the ones of old, has towers. There is also a swimming pool in the centre of the castle. All these have become a pull for local and inbound tourists. It has enjoyed a steady tourist traffic until the black Easter Friday in Kajuru when bandits snuffed out life from two out of 11 tourists that had gone hideaway to relax, rejuvenate and return to the city. In the hellish attack by the bandits, two tourists, Faye, a British aid worker, and Mathew Danjuma Ogwuche, were unfortunately killed. It was a black day for tourism in Nigeria.
In the last two or three years, there has been a buzz about tourist sites in Nigeria. These sites have become exciting to visit and enjoy the ambience. The positive about this new found interest in Nigerian tourist sites is that the push is coming from the young and vibrant in search of adventure and new experiences. The current difficult economic climate in the country has made it difficult for many to go on holiday outside the country. Ghana that used to be a favourite destination for the Nigerian tourists has also become expensive for Nigerian tourists, hence the desire to explore Nigerian sites.
The castle was built by a German national, Gerhard Huebner. It all started sometime in 1975 when the District Head of Kajuru, acting on the instruction of the Emir of Zaria, granted permission to the German to build a temporary weekend hospitality resort on a hilltop in Kajuru village. It was initially a temporary structure but it later became a permanent structure, which he named The Kajuru Castle. Although the construction started in the early 80s, it was not completed until around 1989. Since then, it had become a hit to both local and international tourists. The tourists who arrived the castle last Easter Friday, were among the thousands that had visited the place in the last 20 years with no incident. Hitherto, there had never been any serious security issue at the castle, nevertheless, adequate security has always been provided for visitors.
Before the Easter tragedy, Motley Tours and Logistics Company had released a beautiful flyer for the tour it intended to package to Kajuru Castle, titled: “Explore Kajuru Castle”. Other activities lined up for the tour included train ride, castle tour, lunch, pool fun, hike, game and more. It was to be at the cost of N19,999 for single lodgers and N39,999 for two persons sharing a room.
There had not been anything out of the ordinary from Kajuru packaged tours, but this time, tragedy struck. An insider with the tour company narrated what subsequently happened. He said: “On Friday, April 19, 2019, a group of tourists from various parts of Nigeria assembled in Abuja and took the train to Kaduna, numbering 11 guests, accompanied with a representative of the tour operator and two mobile policemen. In Kaduna, we took a coaster bus which transferred us from the train station to the destination, Kajuru Castle, in Kajuru council area.
“In the night, around 22:30, a gang of heavily armed bandits attacked Kajuru Castle. While the tourists were climbing the hill, the attackers were shooting sporadically. The policemen within the walls returned fire and repelled the attackers so they could not enter. However, some of the staff members were outside the walls at that time and five of them were abducted.
Two of the guests tried to come down from their rooms and, most unfortunately, they were shot by the bandits on the stairs from outside. The two killed turned out to be Mooney and Matthew.
“Because of the fierce resistance of the policemen, the bandits left the scene towards Kajuru Station, where they intercepted a motorcycle coming towards them. They laid ambush and killed the passenger, but the rider escaped. Two out of the five abducted staff, however, later escaped as they ran into the bush”.
The Nation contacted a staff of the Kajuru Castle on the fate of the staff of the resort kidnapped by the bandits, he replied: “The bandits have been calling. We’ve been in talks but today(Thursday), we couldn’t talk to them because we have been having meetings on the issue.”
The Kajuru attack has become a source of worry to practitioners and stakeholders in the tourism industry. As a result of this, many stakeholders are calling for the creation of a Tourism Police Department within the Nigerian Police Force. The President of the Federation of Tourism Associations of Nigeria (FTAN), Alhaji Saleh Rabo, said about the incident: “FTAN unequivocally condemns the dastardly attack on Kajuru Castle. We are saddened by the news of this brazen banditry that led to the death of Ms. Faye Mooney, a British aid worker, and Mr. Matthew Oguche, a Nigerian, while visiting Kajuru Castle in Kajuru council area of Kaduna.
“As the private sector representatives of the tourism industry, over the years, we have consistently called on both the federal and state governments to provide adequate security at every tourist site across Nigeria. This is necessary because, aside the protection of Nigerian tourism sites and investments, tourism is an international service trade and social endeavour, which can improve Nigeria’s image globally. Hence, tourism business in Nigeria should be encouraged, not poorly unprotected. Insecurity in any country is an anathema to tourism development.
•Tourists climbing the hill that leads to the castle
“This latest attack on Kajuru Castle is a sad commentary and a glaring wake-up call. The government should immediately rise to the occasion and prevent a recurrence before it escalates and become entrenched in Nigeria. Such attack on tourists can deeply hurt Nigeria’s tourism development efforts and destroy our growing brand as a cultural tourism destination.
“We, therefore, recommend the establishment of Tourism Police to be deployed in popular tourist destinations in Nigeria. The idea of Tourism Police is not new, it is a tested policing structure currently being implemented at several international tourist destinations in Africa and the West. “Additionally, we call on the Nigerian Police and Department of State Security to readily avail tour operators with armed escorts, as they move around with tourists at known flash points in Nigeria.”
One individual who has championed tourism development in in Nigeria, Chief Mike Amachree, also described the event as a sad development for Nigerian, saying that if people can’t travel freely without fear, then the business of tourism in the country would collapse. He also called on the government to create a special police department that would be in charge of handling issues that have to do with tourism as it is obtainable in other countries.
The fear among practitioners now is that the attack would dissuade international tourists from visiting Nigeria despite the fact that places where most tourist attractions are situated in the southern part of the country are safe.
However, the Federal Government has moved to assure the visitors that the country is safe. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs had issued a statement, saying: “The ministry also wishes to assure foreign nationals working in Nigeria that the Federal Government is committed to guaranteeing their safety by ensuring the security of lives and property.”
More than 165 ex-corps members get employment, scholarship from President Buhari
President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday presented awards to 168 ex-corps members at the combined 2015/2016/2017 President’s NYSC Honours Award held at the State House Banquet Hall, Abuja.
Buhari, who was represented by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, also announced automatic employment to the awardees in the Federal Civil Service and scholarships up to Doctorate level in any Nigerian universities.
Former Head of State, Yakubu Gowon, who created the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) in 1973, was also in attendance.
15 ex-corps members who suffered disability during their service year were also recognised under the NYSC Hope Alive programme.
There was also the National Council for Women Affairs Award to three best female awardees.
The President’s NYSC Honours Award was instituted in 1974 to encourage corps members to contribute to the overall national development by embarking on community development projects.
Buhari said that it was the exceptional individuals in society who were the true builders of institutions and nations.
According to him, the vision, innovation and hard work of one person is sufficient to make a difference in the life of a community or a nation.
The president said that enduring individual success was a function of courage and resilience, adding that he was challenged by the remarkable courage of the Corp members who suffered various accidents while in service.
“The fact that they have gone through these harrowing personal injuries and are still determined to engage the future with hope and confidence is proof that they will still experience the joys of great success and fulfillment.
“To all of today’s honorees, let me make it clear that you are not just the future of this country, but also its present.
“You must all see yourselves as the leaders that you are; but leadership comes with responsibilities and continuous sacrifice.
“The successes you have achieved and are being rewarded for today, should inspire you to even greater feats, in your various spheres of influence.
“I therefore charge you all to continue to be the light for others to follow, whilst also seeing yourselves as lifelong ambassadors of the NYSC.
“In line with our policy of encouraging and rewarding excellence among our youth, I hereby announce the immediate employment into the Federal Civil Service of all the Award winners and beneficiaries of the NYSC Hope Alive Programme.
“In addition, the Federal Government hereby offers each of you automatic scholarships up to Doctorate level in any Nigerian University of your choice,” he said.
In his address, Solomon Dalung, Minister of Youth and Sports Development, said that nothing motivated young people than rewards for their contributions no matter how small.
He said that the Federal Government would continue to reward hard work and devotion to duty among Nigerian youths.
On his part, the outgoing Director-General of NYSC Maj.-Gen Suleman Kazaure, said the award aimed at encouraging high ideals and patriotism through selfless and dedicated service to fatherland.
Kazaure said the award was recognition of teamwork, honesty, loyalty, devotion to duty and creativity.
“Though the young men and women being honoured today were the most outstanding in performance, I am proud to report that corps members deployed in 2015, 2016 and 2017 service years generally contributed immensely to the socio-economic development of our dear country.
“Their performances in key sectors such as education, health, agriculture and infrastructure were applauded by all Nigerians.
“In the areas of Community Development Service, successive batches of corps members have been adding value to communities throughout the federation with various projects.
“These include construction and renovation of schools and hospitals as well as provision of potable water,” he said.
One of the awardees, Nelson Nnamdi, in an interview, said he felt great and was giving God the glory.
He said he learnt the act of service to humanity and to the nation during his service year.
“When I was serving, I did the Virtually Impaired Electronic Working Guide; it is for the blind.
“When I executed the project in the school of the blind in Izzi, Ebonyi State, the project went far; in fact the joy in the heart of those young blind students gives me joy.
“My advice to servicing corps members; if you identify a special need in the place you are serving, you should try to make an impact and leave the rest to God; in the right time, God will reward you as he has rewarded me today,” he said. (NAN)
Senators yesterday reviewed the security situation, submitting that people in many parts of the country, especially the North, were at the mercy of hoodlums.
They said banditry and kidnapping were now the order of the day, with the rich and the poor fallen prey.
The senators were contributing to a motion on “Senseless killing of a Briton and the abduction of three others in a holiday resort in Kaduna State by armed bandits”, sponsored by Senator Shehu Sani and 108 others.
Painting a grim picture of things in Zamfara State, which is fast becoming the epicentre of banditry, Senator Kabiru Marafa said over 3000 persons were in bandits’ den.
Stunned by his revelation, the Senate summoned the Acting Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Mohammed Adamu, to brief it next week on measures being taken to address the problems.
The invitation followed the adoption of the prayer of Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu, who noted that kidnapping of expatriates had pushed up the cost of construction in the country.
Foreign firms, he said, were building funds for ransom payment into their contract bids.
To lend credence to his claim, two Chinese nationals were yesterday kidnapped at a construction site in Ebonyi State.
Also yesterday, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) urged President Muhammadu Buhari to overhaul the security agencies over the security challenges.
Read also: ‘How Lawan can become Senate President’
Marafa, who noted that businesses and other sources of livelihood, including farming had collapsed in most northern states, warned that Zamfara might collapse in the next few years, if measures were not taken to battle what he called the suffocating banditry there.
The government, he said, should, as a matter of urgency, engage the youths who are involved in banditry and other acts of criminality.
He said: “There might be no Zamfara State in the next two years if something is not done about the insecurity in the state. I saw a video from my state where children of about 11 years are wielding AK47. This is the reality on ground in my state.
“In Zamfara State, there are over 3,000 kidnapped victims in the dens of bandits. Banditry is not reducing. It has become a business. There is technically no business in the north, except kidnapping.
“People have abandoned their farms in the North. There are no more peasant farmers in the north. They are being kidnapped by these bandits.
“I disagree with my colleague from Katsina. All businesses in the north are dead. The government must employ people or they will join these bandits. The reason behind this problem is corruption.
“We cannot employ enough security personnel to man every community in this country. Where are we going to? With due respect to my colleagues, with the kind of leadership we have seen in some states, we cannot solve this problem.”
Senator Sani (Kaduna central), in his lead debate, said some parts the north had become killing fields, with bandits and other criminal elements carrying on with reckless abandon.
He said it was regrettable that despite repeated bandits’ attacks, no one has been brought to book.
This, he claimed, had emboldened the bandits and other criminal elements to conduct their heinous crimes audaciously.
Marafa said: “In recent times, the attacks on individuals, houses and villages have become one too many and there is no single person that has been brought to book as a result of the wanton killings. So much talked about efforts at combating the banditry and crime are not yielding results.
“We are worried about the fact that perpetrators of these heinous activities tend to be gaining more courage to carry out their dastardly acts without fear of confrontation due to their acclaimed superior fire power.
“In the unfortunate event of 19th April, 2019, gunmen raided a resort called Holiday Resort in Kajuru Local Government Area of Kaduna State; a Briton, Ms. Faye Mooney and a Nigerian, Mr. Matthew Oguche were killed and three others abducted. This has put more fears into Nigerians.
“Ms. Faye Mooney was a humanitarian worker with a non-governmental organisation (NGO), Mercy Corps, who had worked in war-torn countries like Iraq and Kosovo helping the needy, the vulnerable and internally displaced persons.
“Recall that earlier in the year, President Muhammadu Buhari had ordered senior security chiefs to curb kidnapping in the region when two Americans and two Canadians were abducted in Kaduna in an ambush in January that left two of their police escorts dead.
“Banditry has reached a tragic level in Zamfara, Kaduna and Niger states. It is not an overstatement to say that the country is at war. Kidnapping has reached such a tragic level that people are losing hope about the ability of government to protect them.
“It is unfortunate that this has continued despite all sorts of operations launched by security operatives. It has reached such a level that highly-placed persons have abandoned the roads for the train. We have all seen how the seed of destruction has moved beyond Zamfara State to other parts of the north.
“We can no longer afford to fight 21st century crime with 20th century system. The idea of keeping police men to open boots at check points can no longer suffice in the north.
“The problem used to be for only poor people. Now it has moved to the upper class of people. If this trend continues a time will come when all people in the north will move to Abuja because Abuja is where the paradise is. As time goes on, there will be no heaven in Abuja.
“We must begin to tell truth to power. Zamfara has become a cancer spreading to other parts of Nigeria. The blame should be on every person who has the opportunity to speak truth to power and refuses to do so.”
Senate President Bukola Saraki said the country must find lasting solution to the problem.
He said: “When we talk about the way forward, we must be true to ourselves. In discussing this issue, we must be frontal. We need to tell ourselves where this started from. We must not see it from the eyes of political parties or anything sentimental.
“There was a time when we could not even talk to the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) for over a year. He refused to honour our invitation. We need to be serious whether we want to find a solution or just play to the gallery.
“I am aware that people have now deserted Kaduna Expressway because of insecurity. In the past, kidnapping was done in the city. Today, it is different. Nowhere is safe anymore. We need to tell ourselves the truth and find a way out of this mess. We must find a solution.”
The curious aspect of the motion was the listing of jailed Senator Joshua Dariye as one of sponsors.
Dariye, who is representing Plateau Central Senatorial District, is serving a 14-year-jail term, following his conviction for money laundering by a Federal High Court.
Sani jokingly told reporters that Dariye’s name was not on the Order Paper he used to move the motion.
The senators, who observed a minute silence in honour of the dead, urged security agents to intensify their search for the killers so as to bring them to book.
They urged the government to set up an inter-agency task force to tackle cases of banditry and kidnapping in Kaduna, Katsina, Zamfara and Niger.
The Senate also urged security agencies to give special cover to foreign workers and tourists as well as to immediately deploy the use of drones and interceptors in tracking kidnappers.
It implored community leaders, traditional leaders and all stakeholders to co-operate with security agencies, adding that telecommunication firms should provide agencies with information in areas where there is kidnapping.
The Senate resolved to send a delegation to condole with the British Embassy over the Briton’s death.
Governor Adegboyega Oyetola of Osun state, his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) have asked the Court of Appeal in Abuja to uphold the governor’s victory in the governorship election held on September 22 and 27, 2018.
Their request was contained in three separate appeals they filed against the majority judgment given by the Osun State Governorship Election Tribunal on March 22, 2019.
The tribunal had, in the majority judgment, given by two of its three members upheld the petition by the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and its candidate in the election, Senator Ademola Adeleke and voided Oyetola and APC’s victory.
In their appeals, argued yesterday, Oyetola, the APC and INEC prayed the five-man panel of the Court of Appeal, led by Justice Jummai Sankey, to set aside the majority decision of the tribunal, uphold their appeals and dismiss the October 16, 2018 petition by Adeleke and the PDP.
They equally urged the court to dismiss the cross-appeal filed by Adeleke, on the grounds that it is unmeritorious.
In the appeal by Oyetola, his lawyer, Wole Olanipekun (SAN), faulted the reasons given by the tribunal in reaching the judgment appealed against, arguing that the decision was not supported by the evidence led by the petitioners.
He urged the court to void the judgment because the judge, Justice Peter Obiorah, who wrote and delivered it, did not participate in all the proceedings of the tribunal.
Olanipekun noted that “the judge, who did not sit, came to write the lead judgment and reviewed the evidence of February 6, 2019 proceedings, where he was absent”.
“Adjudication is like video watching. It cannot be done by proxy. The judge cannot analyse the evidence of a witness, whose demeanour he did not observe. The judgment should be declared a nullity on this ground alone,” he said.
Olanipekun, who said he and some named senior lawyers were at the tribunal on February 6, 2019, faulted the argument by lawyer to Adeleke and the PDP that it was not clear from the record of proceedings, whether or not Justice Obiorah was absent on the particular day.
He argued that the judge’s failure to sign at the end of the proceedings on February 6, 2019, was enough evidence to justify the appellant’s claim that Justice Obiorah was absent on the day in question.
Olanipekun also faulted the tribunal’s cancellation of results in 17 polling units in the state, and noted that the petitioners did not tender any result of the election before the tribunal.
He argued that the tribunal went beyond its powers by annulling results in the 17 polling units to justify the judgment it gave in favour of the petitioners.
Lawyer to the APC, Akin Olujinmi (SAN), while arguing the party’s appeal, contended that the tribunal was wrong to have allowed the petition, which was incurably incompetent.
“The 1st and 2nd respondents sought to be declared winner of the election, held on September 22, 2018, which was declared inconclusive. They also asked the tribunal to void the rerun election held on September 27, 2018, because they believed it was unlawful.
“You cannot say you should be declared a winner on the election that you said was unlawful and void,” the senior lawyer said.
Olujinmi accused the tribunal of exceeding its jurisdiction when it engaged in amending the petitioners’ reliefs to make them grantable.
“No tribunal has the jurisdiction to reframe, amend or formulate reliefs for the petitioners.
“On realising that the reliefs could not be granted, they (members of the tribunal) amended the reliefs and granted it by themselves.
“We are saying the tribunal has no power to amend a petitioner’s reliefs. The much they ought to do, on realising that the reliefs could not be granted, was to have dismissed the petition.”
He faulted the tribunal for holding that the petitioners proved its case of non-compliance in respect of the polling units where it voided results.
Lawyer to INEC Yusuf Ali (SAN), who argued in a similar manner, contended that the tribunal erred in its majority judgment, particularly as regards the issue of non-compliance.
He noted that the tribunal, having found that accreditation was properly done and that all witnesses agreed that the votes scored were not affected by the omissions noted in some result sheets, ought not to have voided any results.
Citing Section 134 (b) of the Electoral Act, Ali argued that non-compliance means not compliance with the provision of the Act, not an act of omission on the part of INEC officials, which are not contrary to the provision of the Act.
Ali also argued that since the tribunal held that the petitioners did not prove over-voting and non-compliance, it ought not to have turned around to void votes in some polling units.
On the question of why INEC did not call it witnesses at the tribunal, Ali said it was unnecessary because the petitioners did not discharge the burden of proof placed on them by the law to warrant INEC to call fresh witnesses.
Lawyer to Adeleke and the PDP, Onyechi Ikpeazu (SAN), faulted the three appeals and the arguments proffered by Olanipekun, Olujinmi and Ali.
Ikpeazu argued that the tribunal was right in its decision to have declared Adeleke and his party as the winner of the election.
He faulted the argument that Justice Obiorah did not participate in all the proceedings of the tribunal, arguing that there was no sufficient evidence to that effect.
Ikpeazu urged the court to dismiss the three appeals and uphold the judgment of the tribunal.
Kehinde Ogunwumiju (SAN), who argued Adeleke’s cross-appeal, urged the court to allow his client’s appeal and reverse the portion of the judgment, where the tribunal rejected the evidence the petitioners lead in relation to six polling units.
Ogunwumiju argued that the tribunal wrongly excluded some of its evidence, because while it called 23 witnesses to prove it’s allegation of non-compliance in 23 polling units, the tribunal only upheld 17 where it voided elections.
Olanipekun, Olujinmi and Ali argued that the cross-appeal was incompetent on several grounds and urged the tribunal to reject it.
At the conclusion of proceedings that lasted over eight hours, the presiding judge, Justice Sankey, said judgments would be reserved till a later date.
She told the parties that the date of the judgment would be communicated to them by the court’s Registry.
Other members of the court’s five-man panel are: Justices Abubakar Datti Yahaya, Ita George Mbaba, Isaiah Olufemi Akeju and Bitrus Sanga.
Popular Nigerian actor Jim Iyke welcomes a baby boy. Nigerian actor, James Ikechukwu popularly known as Jim Iyke has welcomed a baby boy.
The 42-year-old who started his acting career in 2001 is one of the highest paid actors in Nollywood.
Popularly known for playing “lover boy” roles, the actor took to Instagram to announce the arrival of his son.
He wrote: “I’m ultra-private with my family but this is the rarest of moments.
“Back to 2hours sleep nightly. Back to cat naps with my subconscious peaked for the slightest movement. Back to groggy mornings and big unknowing smiles.
“Welcome home king. I can’t find the right words now. Every being in me is pulsating with raw primordial energy.
“A lion beget a lion, welcome to my pride dear son.
He went on to thank God for yet another blessing added to his life.
“I don’t know what I’m doing right to deserve it all. It takes a man to bring a child home, it takes a community to raise him,” he wrote.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Iyke has appeared in over 150 films including ‘Last Flight to Abuja’ which he featured in alongside Omotola Jalade.
The award-winning actor runs a charity foundation, Jim Iyke foundation, for children living with special disabilities.
The Board of the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) has approved the elevation of four Assistant Corps Marshals (ACM) to the rank of Deputy Corps Marshals (DCM).
It also approved the promotion of 14 Corps Commanders (CC) to Assistant Corps Marshals (ACM) and 16 Deputy Corps Commanders (DCC) to the rank of Corps Commanders (CC).
A statement by Corps Public Education Officer, Mr Bisi Kazeem, in Abuja on Tuesday said this was in furtherance to the corps’ determination for greater performance and optimal productivity.
He gave the list of the officers promoted to the rank of Deputy Corps Marshals as; Julius Asom who is the present Special Assistant to the Corps Marshal, Kenneth Nwaegbe Commandant FRSC Academy Udi.
Others are Umar Aliyu , Zonal Commanding Officer, Zone 7 Abuja and Shehu Zaki , Zonal Commanding Officer RS 12 Bauchi.
Kazeem also gave the names of officers promoted to the rank of Assistant Corps Marshals as, Oluwasusi Familoni, Head of National Vehicle Identification Scheme, Gwagalada, Edward Zamber, Sector Commander, Rivers State Sector Command.
“Angus Ibezim Sector Commander, Jigawa, Ann Marjah, Sector Commander, Taraba, Aliyu Datsama, Commandant , Training school, Jos, Umar Ibrahim, Sector Commander, Kaduna.
“Also, Jonah Etuk, Zonal Head of Operations, Zone RS4, Jos , Christopher Ademoluti, Head of section , Policy, Yusuf Garba, Sector Commander, Kano State, Godwin Ngueku, Sector Commander, Katsina State.
“Gojara, Head of section, Special duties and Partnership, Joseph Aremu, Sector Commander, Imo, Fumibi Olawoyin, Head of Special Marshal and Pat Emordi, Sector Commander, Plateau.”
Furthermore, officers promoted to the rank of Corps Commanders include; Roland Onamusi, Ali Tanimu, Hafiz Mohammed, Aliyu Baba, Abiodun Akinlade, Emmanuel Dung among others.
With this promotion, Kazeem, quoted the Corps Marshal, Mr Boboye Oyeyemi, as saying that the Board Chairman, Mallam Bukhari Bello, had urged the newly promoted officers to be dedicated to duty.(NAN)