Minister of State for Mines and Steel Development, Dr Uche Ogah, has said private jets are being used for gold smuggling in Nigeria.
Daily Trust report quoted Ogah as stating this at an investigative hearing on $9bn annual loss to illegal mining and smuggling of gold, organised by the Senate Committee on Solid Minerals, Mines, Steel Development and Metallurgy.
Ogah also advocated capital punishment for offenders.
“Gold smuggling in Nigeria is often done using private jets, the very reason why private jets ownership and operations need to be streamlined in the country,” he said.
He said gold smuggling and illegal mining are robbing the country of billions of dollars on a yearly basis.
According to him, the menace thrives due to the connivance of security agencies with the offenders, host communities’ collaboration, low level of application of technology and negative mindsets of Nigerians to Nigeria.
“For these crimes to be fought decisively, potent punitive measures like capital punishment need to be legally provided for,” he said.
He added that the menace could be tackled proactively through the establishment of mines police, special court or tribunals to try offenders, adequate funding for the ministry and positive mindsets of Nigerians to Nigeria.
Chairman of the committee, Senator Tanko Al-Makura (APC, Nasarawa), said heads of relevant government agencies would be summoned for a thorough investigation into illegal mining and gold smuggling.
He listed the agencies as Central Bank of Nigeria, Nigeria Customs Service, Nigeria Immigration Service, Nigeria Police Force, Department of State Services, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and Nigerian Ports Authority.
Abuja-Kaduna train resumes operation Saturday – NRC
Barely 24 hours after suspending the Abuja-Kaduna trains for safety reasons, the Nigerian Railway Corporation says the services will resume Saturday October 23.
The suspension followed an explosion attack by hoodlums on the Abuja-Kaduna rail track Wednesday evening, which the corporation said affected the locomotive tank of a Kaduna-bound train.
Although there have been conflicting accounts of the attack with some attributing it to bandit or terrorist attack, the Managing Director of the corporation said in an interview on Friday night that the NRC team of engineers and technicians had fixed the problem and was certified that the train service could resume on the route after carrying out extensive an inspection of the line.
The NRC also said in a statement issued Friday evening that the Abuja-Kaduna Train Services (AKTS) would “resume tomorrow, Saturday, 23rd October, 2021 as follows: From IDU, Abuja (AK3) at 0950am. From Rigasa, Kaduna (KA4) at 10.35am.”
The statement read in part, “The board and management of the Nigerian railway corporation (NRC) hereby inform the general public, particularly our valued passengers that Abuja-Kaduna Train Services (AKTS) resume tomorrow, Saturday, 23rd October, 2021 as follows: From IDU, Abuja (AK3) at 0950am. From Rigasa, Kaduna (KA4) at 10.35am. Subsequent train services continue.
“The NRC once again sincerely apologises for the inconvenience.”
Motorists, travellers stranded as Delta bridge collapses
There was confusion in part of Delta State on Friday following the collapse of the Umutu Bridge in the Ukwuani Local Government Area of the state, leaving several motorists and travellers on the Agbor-Abraka-Eku road stranded.
The incident reportedly occurred in the early hours of the day, adding that the aged long bridge gave way as a Trailer conveying heavy duty construction bulldozer was passing through it towards the Agbor axis of the state.
The deplorable condition of federal road has been on the news, with report of the road project already awarded for reconstruction by the federal government.
The road link many communities in the state and connect the people with other parts of the country, particularly Northern and South-East states.
Deputy Speaker of the Delta State House of Assembly, Chief Ochor Christopher Ochor who hails from the area, regretted that the federal government had not given such an important road the desired attention.
Ochor who spoke to our Correspondent, described the collapsed of the bridge as unfortunate and sympathized with stranded motorists and travelers for the pains it may have caused them.
He said he had already contacted the Commissioner for Work in charge of Urban and Highways roads in the State, Mr Neol Omodion, who has promised to take necessary steps to address the ugly situation.
Ochor however stressed the need to beef up security in the area to protect the lives and properties of the stranded travelers, calling on the federal government to reconstruct the road due to its strategic position to the socio economic development of the area.
W/Bank: Higher inflation ahead as oil price hits $86/barrel
The World Bank Group says a higher global inflation rate is ahead, noting the current oil price rise may continue into 2022, after recording 80 per cent higher this year than what it was in 2020.
The latest Commodity Markets Outlook released on Thursday reported the global lender as saying higher oil prices were also impacting food security in some countries already.
This came as Brent Crude prices hit $86.10 per barrel early on Thursday, jumping to the highest level in three years, before retreating to just above $85 amid profit-taking.
Experts said the reluctance of OPEC+ to pump more in the short term suggests that oil prices will remain well supported for the remainder of this year.
Although Nigeria has set a $57 per barrel benchmark for the 2022 budget, it is expected to produce 1.88 million barrels per day while targeting N3.16 trillion from oil proceeds.
The World Bank outlook indicated that energy prices soared in the third quarter of 2021 and are expected to remain elevated in 2022, adding to global inflationary pressures and potentially shifting economic growth to energy-exporting countries from energy-importing ones.
“Energy prices, expected to average more than 80% higher in 2021 compared to last year, will remain at high levels in 2022 but will start to decline in the second half of the year as supply constraints ease.”
The global bank however feared that non-energy prices, including agriculture and metals, are projected to decrease in 2022, following strong gains this year.
Chief Economist and Director of the World Bank’s Prospects Group, Ayhan Kose, said, “The surge in energy prices poses significant near-term risks to global inflation and, if sustained, could also weigh on growth in energy-importing countries.”
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