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Army cancels conference as officers test positive for COVID-19

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The ongoing Chief of Army Staff Conference, Thursday, came to an abrupt end after one of the participating senior army officers tested positive for COVID-19.

All participants have been mandated by the Nigerian Army authority to immediately proceed on self-isolation.

Also, the number of guests earlier invited for the wedding of the son of the Chief of Army Staff, Mr Hamisu Tukur Buratai, has been pruned down with total exclusion of all the officers who were at the conference.

Acting Director Army Public Relations, Brigadier General Sagir Musa, said in a statement, “The Nigerian Army wishes to inform members of the public that due to resurgence of COVID-19 Pandemic in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja in what appears to be a second wave of infection cycle and the unfortunate incident on Tuesday 8 December 2020, where an officer participating in the ongoing Chief of Army Staff Annual Conference 2020 here in Abuja tested positive for COVID-19.

“The remaining activities of the conference have therefore been immediately cancelled. All the participants have been mandated to immediately proceed on self-isolation in line with the Federal Government’s protocol for COVID 19 and to prevent any further spread of the disease”.

Another statement, signed by Musa, read, “This is to inform Your Excellencies, Your Royal Highnesses, distinguished senators, honourable members, respected elders, Friends, brothers, sisters and other invited guests that due to resurgence of COVID-19 pandemic in the Federal Capital Territory Abuja in what appears to be a second wave of infection cycle and the unfortunate incident on Tuesday 8 December 2020, where an officer participating in the ongoing Chief of Army Staff’s Annual Conference 2020 here in Abuja tested positive to COVID-19, the Chief of Army Staff Lt Gen TY Buratai wishes to inform all dignitaries and other invited guests that activities earlier scheduled for the wedding of his son Mr. Hamisu Tukur Buratai will proceed as arranged albeit pruned down without the participation of all those who were at the conference.”

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FG losing $64m daily to oil thieves, inaugurates investigative panel

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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.

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NBA, benchers set for showdown as Olanipekun leads call to bar ceremony

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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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Bauchi commissioner for education resigns

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Bauchi State Commissioner for Education, Dr Aliyu Usman Tilde, has resigned his appointment, saying he wants to pursue some other assignment.

He made the announcement via his verified Facebook page on Monday.

He said he had earlier sent a letter of resignation to Governor Bala Mohammed, seeking his approval to allow him to attend to a call of an associate needing his services.

He stated, “I left my office last Thursday after writing a letter to His Excellency, the Governor of Bauchi State, to allow me to attend to a call of an associate who dearly needs my services.

“Few minutes ago, Today, 5 December 2022, I received a letter from the Secretary to the Government conveying my release by His Excellency. In it, the secretary conveyed ‘the appreciation of the Executive Governor for your contribution to the Education sector and wish you well in your future endeavours.'”

He thanked the governor and the people of Bauchi State for giving him the opportunity to serve as commissioner.

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