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Bandits: Northern Nigeria, worst place to live, says Sultan

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The Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar, says the North has become the worst place in the country to live as bandits operate freely, causing terror among the people.

The Sultan said this at the fourth quarterly meeting of the Nigeria Inter-Religious Council in Abuja with the theme, ‘Questioning for peace in the challenges of insecurity and COVID-19’

He said the security system in the North had completely collapsed making the bandits to become daring as they moved from house to house, village to village, market to market, with AK-47 rifles openly, purchasing foodstuffs and other items and even collecting change without any challenge from the security agencies.

He said, “Security situation in Northern Nigeria has assumed a worrisome situation. Few weeks ago, over 76 persons were killed in a community in Sokoto in a day. I was there with the governor to commiserate with the affected community.

“Unfortunately, you don’t hear these stories in the media because it’s in the North. We have accepted the fact that the North does not have strong media to report the atrocities of these bandits.

“People think the North is safe but that assumption is not true. In fact, it’s the worst place to be in this country because bandits go around in the villages, households and markets with their AK 47 and nobody is challenging them.

“They stop at the market, buy things, pay and collect change, with their weapons openly displayed. These are facts I know because I am at the centre of it.

“I am not only a traditional ruler; I am also a religious leader. So, I am in a better place to tell the story. I can speak for the North in this regard because I am fully aware of the security challenges there. We have to sincerely and seriously find solutions to the problem, otherwise, we will find ourselves soon in a situation where we would lose sleep because of insecurity.”

The Catholic Archbishop of Abuja Diocese, Ignatius Kaigama, outlined a code of conduct for both Christians and Muslims in Nigeria.

He said, “We Christians and Muslims must avoid imposing our religious views on others or denying them public amenities, jobs or influential positions because they don’t belong to our faith.

“Merit, not the vigour of our religious piety or affiliation should determine all we do or get in this country. We should not unjustly or corruptly deprive others of their rights, not to talk of wounding or killing anyone for economic or partisan political interests or because of blind religious zeal.

“It is preposterous that Nigerians clamouring for their rights and privileges from government would turn their anger on religious institutions by attacking Churches and Mosques, instigating Christians and Muslims to turn against one another or to destroy public amenities and infrastructure.

“We understand that the budget for national and state security is huge. Let us not deceive ourselves that the bigger the budget the more peace will flow. Weapons don’t bring peace.

“What we need is a change of attitude, a conversion of heart; an objective appraisal of the religious or ethnic indoctrination we perhaps were subjected to in schools or at home. If we are only propelled by religious interests that exclude others we shall always remain in chaos and darkness.

The President, Christian Association of Nigeria and co-Chairman of NIREC, Dr Samson Ayokunle, thanked God for saving the nation from the COVID-19 pandemic when compared to other country.

He also urged the government to reverse the recent decision to hike the price of electricity and fuel.

Ayokunle said, “That’s not what we send them to do for us. The decision, evidently, has added to our pains and they should reverse it as quickly as possible.

“The development that led to #EndSARS protest was quite unfortunate, and one of that development is police brutality which ought to be addressed before now.

“We have never witnessed such a mass action in Nigeria before. People were frustrated and because those in power didn’t respond appropriately until it degenerated to that level.

 “But attributing the actions of the angry youths to a particular religion or ethnic group is insincere and unsafe. No religious group was exempted from the effect of the protest. The action was a spontaneous action that cannot be attributed to any religion or ethnic group.”

The Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, said, “Today, despite all efforts including the deployment of enormous resources, our country still faces a measure of insecurity which is impacting negatively on our economy, social life, education of children and young persons, investment and remains a threat to lives and livelihood.”

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NNPC to inject fresh N1tn into road projects

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The Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited is to provide additional N1tn for road projects in Nigeria, NNPC Group Chief Executive, Mele Kyari, has said.

Kyari, in a video clip seen in Abuja, disclosed this on Thursday during a tour of the ongoing construction work on the Agbara-Badagry road, Lagos.

He said the N1tn would come through the Federal Government road infrastructure tax credit scheme.

He said, “We are very happy about the state of this road development. We are very happy with this intervention across the country not just in this place. We are doing 1,800km across the country. We are taking another set of over N1tn of investments in road infrastructure in the country.

“We believe that this tax credit system which Mr. President has put in place is the game changer for our country.

“We believe that in the next 24 months, there will be massive change to the entire road network in this country and this is why the NNPC is your company and working for all of us.

“We think that it is the best way to intervene and bring up our infrastructure. We are adding another set of cash, we have not reached the final numbers, but I know it is over N1tn.”

According to a Punch report, the NNPC in the third quarter of 2021 announced its intention to provide funds for the reconstruction of selected road projects in order to ease the movement of petroleum products.

This was executed under the tax credit scheme that was funded by the NNPC through the Federal Inland Revenue Service in accordance with the President’s executive order 007.

The construction exercise was under the management of the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing, as the NNPC provided funds for the construction of 1,804.6km of roads at a cost of N621,24bn.

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Military under pressure to compromise elections, says CDS Irabor

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Chief of Defence Staff, General Lucky Irabor, has disclosed that the security agencies and the military have been under pressure to compromise general elections through financial inducement.

He however assured Nigerians that the military would maintain neutrality in the whole electoral process.

He spoke at the weekly ministerial press briefing on Thursday in Abuja and gave updates on strides made by the military in the fight against insurgency, terrorism and banditry.

He stated that military personnel were being trained to follow the codified rules of engagement before, during and after the elections.

The CDS disclosed that over 300,000 persons had been freed from the hands of abductors since 2016 while refugees who fled the North-East owing to insurgency were already returning.

General Irabor who admitted there were few sabotaurs within the military asserted that they had not succeeded.

He debunked a recent allegation by an international news media which accused the military of carrying out over 10,000 illegal abortions on female victims of the war in the North-East.

According to him, it is impossible for the military to have been engaged in a planned abortion programme since 2013 and as the military commander in charge of Operation Lafia Dole between 2016 and 2017, he never heard of any such thing.

The CDS also revisited the alleged Lekki tollgate massacre in 2020, insisting that the Nigerian military is not interested in killing its own people, but more concerned about protecting the citizens.

He added that the efforts of the military in the fight against crude oil theft had been yielding positive results with the increase in the crude oil production of 1.6 million barrels per day.

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FG recovers N120bn from crime proceeds —Lai Mohammed

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Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed

The Federal Government has said it had realised at least N120 billion as proceeds from criminal financial operations since the bill on Proceeds of Crime Recovery Management was signed into law earlier this year by President Muhammadu Buhari.

Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, made the disclosure at a news briefing where Minister of Environment presented the scorecard of the ministry under the Buhari administration in Abuja, yesterday.

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Mohammed said:  “I have an update on the Proceeds of Crime (Recovery and Management) Act (POCA), 2022. In line with the new law, all relevant agencies of government have now opened ‘Confiscated and Forfeiture Properties Account with the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN.

“I can confirm that so far, the Federal Government has realised over N120 billion, among other currencies, from POCA. This money will be used to fund the completion of ongoing critical infrastructure projects in the country such as the Second Niger Bridge as well as Lagos-Ibadan and Abuja-Kano Expressways. We will continue to update you on this,” he added.

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