- Orders closure of boarding schools
Niger State Governor, Abubakar Sani-Bello, has confirmed the abduction 27 students, three workers and 12 family members at the Government Science College Karaga of Rafi local government areas of the state.
He stated this during a press conference after an emergency meeting with heads of security agencies in Minna on Wednesday.
Bello directed that all boarding schools in Shiroro, Rafi and Muyan be indefinitely closed down with immediate effect.
Gunmen had attacked the school at 2am Wednesday, killing one student and kidnapping 42 other persons.
About 40 bus passengers travelling from Kontagora to Minna were abducted by bandits on February 14.
Bello also called on the Federal Government to deploy all resources to secure the state just as he stated that the state government was doing everything possible to ensure safe return of the abducted students and others.
The governor also disclosed that out of the 40 bus passengers earlier abducted, eight had regained their freedom while the remaining persons were still in the hands of their abductors who were already demanding ransom.
The governor said that the state government would not pay ransom to the suspected bandits in order to secure the release of their victims, but was ready to support any bandit willing to surround arms.
“When you negotiate and pay ransom to criminals, they will use the money to purchase more weapons,” he said.
D’banj detained in Abuja over N-Power fund fraud
Popular Nigerian musician, Oladapo Oyebanji, also known as D’banj, has been arrested and detained in Abuja over alleged diversion of N-Power fund.
The pop star was arrested and detained Tuesday by the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission.
He was accused of fraudulently diverting huge funds earmarked by the Nigerian government for N- Power project, an empowerment programme set up by the Nigerian government in 2016 to address youth unemployment and increase social development.
According to an ICPC source, D’banj was said to have colluded with some government officials to introduce ghost beneficiaries into the payroll of the scheme.
The money meant for those beneficiaries was then paid to accounts that have now been allegedly linked to the pop star.
D’banj was reported to have dodged summons by the ICPC for weeks, claiming to be overseas for scheduled concerts for interrogation over fraud allegation.
“After the musician failed to show up for interrogation despite multiple invitations, the ICPC moved to arrest him, forcing him to show up at the commission’s office on Tuesday,” the source said.
On arrival at the ICPC office, D’banj was reportedly subjected to a prolonged interrogation session after which he was detained.
His plea for administrative bail was reportedly rejected by officials who said the musician could not be trusted to attend his trial if released on bail.
The ICPC might approach the court on Wednesday for an extended remand in order to enable the agency to complete its investigation before charging the musician to court.
Spokesperson for the ICPC, Azuka Ogugua, could not be reached for comment on the development.
FG losing $64m daily to oil thieves, inaugurates investigative panel
Worried about Nigeria’s continued loss of revenue to oil thieves put at $64m daily, the Federal Government on Tuesday inaugurated an investigative panel to unravel those behind the criminal act and bring them to book.
The National Security Adviser, Major General Babagana Monguno (retd) disclosed this in Abuja as he inaugurated a nine-member Special Investigative Panel (SIP) on oil theft with a mandate to unravel individuals, organisations and groups involved in the Niger Delta region.
He said, “Some sources put the figure of daily crude oil losses at 800,000 bpd. This translates to a loss of income of about $64 million daily at the rate of $80 per barrel. Consequently, it is projected that if this trend continues unchecked and these figures keep fluctuating, it will result in a revenue shortfall of approximately $23bn in 2023.
”This translates to a loss of about N10 trillion when calculated at N445 to $1 exchange rate. This menace assumed a more worrisome dimension with recent discovery of illegal pipeline connection through which Trans Escravos pipeline was siphoned for several years.”
Monguno also said that recent interventions by the security agencies had revealed massive illicit platforms of stealing, ranging from marine evacuations via vessels, and load-outs from illegal operations platforms.
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The panel, according to the NSA, is expected to commence its assignment with immediate effect and submit its report on or before February 21, 2023.
He said Nigeria had consistently failed to meet its daily production quota of about two million barrels per day as provided by the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) due to oil theft orchestrated by unscrupulous elements.
He added that Nigeria’s current crude production struggled to meet even one million barrels per day.
He said the oil and revenue losses were a major threat to the economy, constraining the present administration to revert to less popular monetary and fiscal policies to address revenue side constraints with dire implications.
He noted that the security operations in the region brought to the fore, “a pathetic pattern of organised criminal enterprise of economic sabotage orchestrated by unpatriotic private individuals/groups, local and international companies, leaders and communities that had shortchanged the economy and portrayed the Administration in bad light.
He said the government had been briefed on the dwindling economic fortunes including, inability to replenish foreign reserves and reduction in revenue thereby, affecting accruals into the Federation Account.
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The NSA said, “With the scale of the theft and losses and the alleged complicity of regulatory agencies/officials and security personnel as well as the involvement of international collaborators, the enterprise is deeply entrenched and would be extremely difficult to exterminate without very stern and decisive action by the government.”
The panel has Major General Barry T Ndiomu (retd.) as chairman and Mr David Attah as secretary.
Other members are Mr. Erobiri Uchena, Mrs. Donu-Kogbora, Colonel B.A. Oguntayo (retd.), DIG Zaki Ahmed (retd), Dr Orji Ogbonnaya Orji, Mr. MO Ijere, Rear Admiral Atiku Abdulkadir (retd.), DIG Maigari Abbati Dikko (retd) and, Patrick Okonjo.
According to Monguno, nobody involved in the crime should be spared, whether serving or retired.
“We must fish them out and I guarantee you that they will be taken care of appropriately,” he said.
He rolled out the terms of reference as, to ascertain the circumstances surrounding the illegal insertion into the Trans-Escravos Pipeline (TEP) around Yokri area in Burutu local government area of Bayelsa State; establish the ramifications of crude oil theft/losses in Nigeria; ascertain the causative factors immediate and remote, of crude oil/theft/losses in the country; ascertain the extent of crude oil theft/losses in the country; with the widest possible amplitude identify persons/entities whether public, private or foreign, involved in the criminal enterprise; establish the level of culpability of identified persons/entities in the enterprise; examine the specific roles of Regulatory Agencies; Security Agencies, Tiers/Arms of Government and International Oil Companies (IOCs) in aiding and abetting the criminal enterprise; among others.
NBA, benchers set for showdown as Olanipekun leads call to bar ceremony
Crisis is brewing between leaders of two top lawyer groups, the Nigerian Bar Association and the Body of Benchers over the call to bar ceremony presided over by Chairman of the BoB, Woke Olanipekun (SAN).
Olanipekun was said to have ignored the warning of the NBA led by Yakubu Chonoko Maikyau, by presiding over the call to bar ceremony which began on Tuesday.
The call to bar is a graduation for new lawyers.
Maikyau had in a letter dated December 4 asked Olanipekun to withdraw from the BoB leadership following the action of Ms Ogunde, a partner in his law firm, who sought a client’s engagement of her principal (in a $130m case) over his alleged influence on judges.
Maikyau requested that Olanipekun should salvage the reputation and integrity of the BoB and the legal profession, by allowing the call to bar ceremony scheduled for 6 and 7 December 2022 to be presided by Justice Mary Peter Odili (Rtd), the vice chairman of the body.
But at the event on Tuesday, Olanipekun presided over the ceremony in defiance of the protest of the NBA president.
The NBA president boycotted the event implying that the legal profession is in for another round of rift.
He said, “The NBA under my leadership cannot be part of the ceremony superintended by the current chairman of the BoB for all the reasons stated in my letter under reference.
“To do so will be to endorse, celebrate or condone a practice that I consider unwholesome and unprofessional, by virtue of the Rules of Professional Conduct for Legal Practitioners 2007,” the NBA said in a statement on Tuesday.
The Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee under the BoB had exonerated Olanipekun of the allegation.
Responding to that in his letter on December 4, Maikyau stated that while he did not contend the correctness or otherwise of the committee’s decision, “Suffice however to say that the public reactions that trailed the emergence of that email and the decision exonerating the law firm would give a bit of insight into how this Body is presently being viewed by some members of the profession and the Nigerian public.”
Director General of the Nigerian Law School, Prof Isa Chiroma, announced at the event that 4,711 applicants qualified to be enlisted into the legal profession.
Olanipekun admitted all the applicants and ordered them to put on their wigs.
“By the powers conferred on me as Chairman of the Body of Benchers, I hereby admit each and every one of you into the bar as barristers,” he said.
Olanipekun, apparently replying to his critics, said at the ceremony that every life bencher has an idea of when to assume office as chairman of the BoB
He said the term of the BoB chairman is one year.
“At the end of the tenure of the Chairman, the Vice Chairman automatically transits into the position of Chairman. By the grace of God, come March 21, 2023, Justice Mary Odili will assume the position as Chairman of the body while we transit into the committee of elders as past chairmen,” he said.
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