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FG to deploy secret officers, hidden cameras in passport offices

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The Federal Government says it will soon deploy secret operatives and hidden body cameras in all passport offices of the Nigeria Immigration Service across the country to curb corrupt practices by its personnel.

Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, said this on Thursday in Abuja, while addressing the press after a meeting with the Comptroller General of Immigration, Mohammad Babandede; passport officers and attaches in Nigerian Missions abroad.

He said this was to ensure a seamless, transparent process and accord human dignity to applicants and fulfil citizenship integrity, in line with the mandate of the Ministry of Interior.

Aregbesola, said, “We have had several challenges in the past, including shortage of booklets, touting, racketeering, inflating the cost, passports being issued to ineligible persons, among others, said it was imperative for the NIS to review its operations and rejig its system, in order to be able to offer excellent services to its clients.

“Therefore, I am declaring a zero-tolerance stance to all forms of touting. No applicant will be made to pay any illegitimate fees.”

He also spoke about security personnel to be deployed, saying, “They will wear body cameras. They will detect and report any form of solicitations, inflation, improper communications, extortion, diversion, hoarding and other corrupt practices.

“Those caught will be dealt with according to the law.”

The minister said, henceforth, applicants would have no basis for further communication with officers, other than to complete their application process and leave the venue.

He said the date for the collection of their passports or any challenge to the application, would be communicated to them, adding that the technology for the efficient running of the system had been acquired and would be deployed.

The minister disclosed further that an ombudsman would also be created for members of the public to receive complaints and reports officers trying to deviate from prescribed guidelines and subversion of the process.

According to Aregbesola, starting from June 1, the passport application process will have a six-week timeline.

He said, “A timeline will be fixed for every application; that is a collection date. This will be six weeks, comparable to what obtains in other countries.

“This is to allow for enough time to investigate and validate personal information supplied by the applicants.

“If there are circumstances that will make the date to change, it will be communicated to the applicant one week before the collection date.”

The minister, however, said all backlog of applications would be dealt with between now and May 31, 2021.

He also hinted that express centres were being created to deliver the passports to applicants within two weeks.

The minister said a centre had been established in Abuja already, with ten more to be created in the coming weeks all over the country.

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Photos: Kia dazzles Nigerian fans, unveils Sonet, Seltos compact SUVs

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Lovers of compact sport utility vehicles built with sophistication in Nigeria have two new stunning products to celebrate, coming from Kia Motors. They are the all-new Sonet and the high-tech Seltos.

The two models assembled in Nigeria and unveiled in Lagos on Friday to the motoring journalists are expected to substantially raise the market share of Kia in the compact SUV segment, which is fast becoming the toast of many new car buyers globally including Nigeria, especially young trendy people.

Details later…

 

 

 

 

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Southern govs okay VAT collection by state governments

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Governors of the southern states have agreed that collection of value-added tax (VAT) should be undertaken by state governments.

Chairman of the Southern Governors Forum and Governor of Ondo State, Rotimi Akeredolu, disclosed this on Thursday while reading a communique at the end of a meeting of the governors in Enugu.

The Federal Inland Revenue Service and some state governments are currently in court over VAT collection.

Rivers and Lagos state governments have enacted laws empowering their respective states to collect the tax (VAT).

Last week, the Court of Appeal directed states to maintain status quo on VAT collection pending the determination of an appeal filed by the FIRS.

Akeredolu said that the governors affirmed that the collection of VAT fell within the powers of state governments.

“We resolved to support the position that the collection of VAT falls within the powers of the state,” he said.

He also said, “The meeting reaffirmed its earlier commitment to fiscal federalism and emphasised the need to pursue its inclusion in the Nigerian Constitution through the ongoing constitutional amendment.”

Akeredolu urged states in the south to leverage the competence of their houses of assembly and representation at the national assembly to pursue the goal.

He said that the meeting reviewed the state of the nation and the progress made in the implementation of the ban on open grazing of cattle in the south of Nigeria.

He said, “The meeting expressed satisfaction with the rate at which states in the south of Nigeria are amending or enacting the anti-open grazing law.

“This aligns with the uniform template and aspiration of governors in the south and we encourage the states that have yet to enact the law to do so expeditiously.

“The meeting agreed to encourage the full operationalisation of the already agreed regional security which will share intelligence and collaborate toward the safety and security of the region.”

The meeting was attended by Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu, Nyesom Wike of Rivers, Emmanuel Udom of Akwa Ibom, Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos and Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta.

Others are Adegboyega Oyetola (Osun), Douye Diri (Bayelsa) and Dapo Abiodun (Ogun).

The deputy governors in attendance were Bisi Egbeyemi (Ekiti), Rauf Olaniyan (Oyo), Kelechi Igwe (Ebonyi), Ude Oko-Chukwu (Abia), Philip Shuaibu (Edo), Prof. Ivara Esu (Cross River) and Placid Njoku (Imo).

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Land Rover to expand Defender with eight-seater 130, showstopper models  

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Land Rover is preparing to expand the Defender lineup, turning it into a family of vehicles similar to what it did with the Range Rover nameplate.

The expansion will specifically cover a long-wheelbase variant, an eight-seater 130, due next year to a posh, six-figure model in 2025, caranddriver.com reports.

According to a report from Autocar, the first variant to arrive will be the 130, an extended-wheelbase version with eight seats and it is due in 2022.

An opulent range-topper is also expected by 2025, and will ride on the MLA platform that will also underpin the next generation Range Rover.

Land Rover already sells multiple versions of the Defender—the stubby but charming two-door 90, the standard four-door 110, and the burly supercharged V8 model.

The 130 should be at least 10 inches longer than the 110, with most of that length added to the rear overhang.

The Defender 130 is expected to only come in higher trim levels and should feature both the six and eight-cylinder engine options.

The US and China will be the stretched Defender’s primary markets, says the report.

The fancier model coming in 2025 will be based on the MLA platform that will underpin the next Range Rover. The MLA platform will support combustion engines, plug-in-hybrid setups, and electric powertrains, and will also form the basis for the next Range Rover Sport, Velar, and Discovery.

This would make a Defender EV possible, but the Range Rover and Velar are expected to have priority for all-electric versions.

The high-end Defender’s interior will be the major distinction, and Autocar says it will feature more vibrant colours and upscale materials.

Although the powertrain landscape will have shifted even further towards EVs by 2025, the luxe-Defender will likely still be powered by the six-cylinder engine.

A plug-in hybrid is also currently sold in Europe, and an evolution of this setup could come to the US as well.

An entry-level Defender 80 had also been rumoured to debut by 2025. It would have been based on the EMA (Electric Modular Architecture) platform, but Autocar reports that this model has been cancelled. That platform will be found in the next Evoque and Discovery Sport, but Land Rover has apparently decided to not move the Defender name down market, as a baby Defender likely wouldn’t have the higher profit margins that should make the 130 and luxury Defender worth the investment.

 

 

 

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