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FG announces total closure of Third Mainland Bridge, Lagos-Ibadan Expressway

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The Federal Government has announced a 72-hour total closure of the Third Mainland Bridge after celebration, with effect from 12 midnight of December 25.

According to the Federal Controller of Works, Lagos, Mr Olukayode Popoola, the closure is meant to give the contractor handling the bridge repair the required quietness to fix three expansion joints.

He also said the MFM-Magboro section of the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway would be closed for 48 hours for installation of cross beams on a flyover project.

Popoola said the construction work on the Third Mainland Bridge had reached the stage for casting of concrete on three expansion joints.

He said, “There is going to be a total closure of Third Mainland Bridge in order to allow for the casting of three expansion joints on the Island-bound lane

“The effective date of the closure will be from 12:00 midnight on 25th of December. So, people will be allowed to use the Third Mainland Bridge to celebrate Christmas.

“By the time the Christmas is winding down which is 12:00 midnight, we are going to close it so that we will be able to cast the concrete on Saturday the 26th and 27th.

“And we need about 72 hours for this concrete to set. Therefore, the opening will be on December 28th midnight – that is 72-hour closure.

“This is to prevent vibration of the bridge. If we allow vehicles to be moving on one lane, there is going to be vibrations and the concrete will not set properly.”

The controller said that all the alternative routes are in good condition and traffic regulatory agencies would be deployed to effectively divert and manage traffic.

He appealed to road users to cooperate with traffic regulatory agencies.

Popoola said the 48-hour partial closure of the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway would commence December 28 and end December 29.

He said, “The contractor, Messers Julius Berger, wants to install cross beams at Kilometre 16, that is, around MFM.

“That area will be cordoned off; there will be closure within that section from 12 noon on 28th of December and it will be opened to traffic by 5am the following day.

“200 metres to get to that particular location, we have diversion and another diversion 200 metres away from that place; one lane will be opened to traffic; it is only one lane we are closing to traffic at a time.

“The first lane that we are going to close is outward Lagos, which is the Ibadan-bound carriageway. We will close it on the 28th.

“Then the second day, which is 29th, we are moving to the other lane, which is inward Lagos. The same 12 noon to 5am.”

He appealed for patience and understanding of road users, saying that the construction was part of the progress that the Federal Government had achieved on the project.

“We regret all the inconveniences and hardship this might have created,” he said.

He said that all the construction zones had been cleared and the highway had been opened to traffic which was responsible for the seamless movement on the road.

The Third Mainland Bridge in Lagos has been partially shut since July 24 for another round of rehabilitation work.

The repair expected to last six months was extended by one month due to the recent #EndSARS protests, extending the completion date from January 2021 to February.

The 11.8km bridge is the longest of the three bridges connecting Lagos Island to the Mainland.

Constructed in 1990, the bridge was adjudged as the longest in Africa until 1996 when the October 6 Bridge in Cairo, Egypt was completed.

The reconstruction/rehabilitation of the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway on the other hand was flagged off in 2013 by former President Goodluck Jonathan and was awarded to two firms.

Julius Berger is constructing section one which spans from Ojota in Lagos to the Sagamu Interchange while the RCC is working from the Sagamu Interchange to Ibadan.

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Ex-Minister escapes assassination as gunmen kill 2, abduct 4 in Cross River

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Gun-riddled vehicle of ex-Minister Usani Usani

For Usani Usani, former Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, it was a lucky escape on Saturday as gunmen suspected to be kidnappers rain bullets on his vehicle along the Calabar-Ikom highway of Cross River.

Usani, who is the governorship candidate of Peoples Redemption Party, PRP was reportedly to be on his way to his home town in Nko, Yakurr Local Government Area when he was attacked.

But while the ex-minister and his deputy who was with him were lucky, the gunmen killed two persons in another vehicle while three other persons were abducted.

The State Commissioner of Police, Sule Balarabe, who confirmed the news, said it occurred between the axis of Akamkpa and Biase Local Government Areas of the state at about 4pm on Friday.

He said it started when a white Ford with Registration number AAA 41 AQ was ambushed by the suspected kidnappers, killing the two yet-to-be identified victims.

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The Commissioner further said that three other persons were abducted in the process by the gunmen.

“The vehicle in which they killed two persons had seven occupants including two police officers, ASP Ibor Bassey and Insp. Ebro Ebri who escaped and called for reinforcement.

“A tactical Unit was immediately dispatched to the area and three persons have so far been rescued,” he stated.

Balarabe said that the rescued persons were members of the PRP who were traveling with the former Minister.

He solicited for support by way of useful information to the police from the communities along the Calabar-Ikom highway.

“We are appealing to all community leaders and traditional rulers to help security agencies by providing us with useful information through our dedicated lines.

“These criminals are not spirits, they are human beings who live amongst them, without useful and timely information, it will be very difficult to nip this nefarious activities in the bud,” he said.

Speaking on the attack, Media Aide to the former Minister, Mr David Agabi, said that they escaped by the whiskers.

According to him, “We were in a convoy, the gunmen started shooting at us around Betem in Biase, my principal’s driver sustained gunshot injuries while the vehicle was riddled with bullets.

NAN/PM
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Zulum threatens to revoke lands of banks hoarding new naira notes

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Borno State Governor, Professor Babagana Zulum

Following the alleged hoarding of the naira notes by the banks, the Borno State Governor, Professor Babagana Zulum, has directed banks in the state to dispense the new notes via Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) and banking halls or risk losing their lands to the state government.
The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) has also arrested bank officials in Dei Dei, Abuja, for hoarding cash.
Also, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has commenced an investigation of Oluwadarasimi Omoseyin, an actress and cosmetologist, for allegedly tampering with the redesigned naira notes, an offence contrary to Section 21 (5) of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Act, 2007.

This is coming as the Chairman of the Southern Nigeria Governors’ Forum and Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, has alleged that the scarcity of the naira could de-market the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in the forthcoming elections and called on President Muhammadu Buhari to address the issue before it snowballs into crisis.
Zulum gave the warning yesterday after visiting branches of banks in Maiduguri, the state capital, to assess problems being faced by residents trying to access new naira notes.

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 “Any bank in Borno State unwilling to ensure their ATMs are fully dispensing new naira notes cash to ease the suffering of our people, we will withdraw their land title immediately. We will only spare Banks with verifiable constraints,” Zulum said.
He added that he was unhappy seeing hundreds of people queuing at a bank branch, with only one out of 10 ATMs dispensing cash.
“As you can see here, only the less-privileged people are queued up. I didn’t see rich people here. Many people are said to be here since 3:00 am; some could not even eat anything. The new naira note and even the old ones are not available, which is adversely affecting commercial activities in the state, and people are suffering,” the governor said.

He said further: “We just released salaries of about N5 billion, and the banks don’t have money; some of the ATMs are not working. We don’t have any problem with the CBN policy or the withdrawal limit, they said individuals could only withdraw N20,000, but why can’t everyone have access to that N20,000?” he queried.
“Yesterday, I was in Gubio with over 70,000 people, but it was impossible to source N100,000 in the entire local government, neither of the new or old notes. A ram worth N100,000 is now being sold for N35,000 because people are desperate for cash, and some wicked rich people are going to rural areas to exploit poor people,” Zulum explained.
The governor urged the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to ensure the availability of new notes at commercial banks for people to access their money.
“Right now in Borno State, I have visited more than 10 ATMs, and there’s no cash,” Zulum said.

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Naira scarcity: Oyo youths, police clash, three killed

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Barely 24 hours after protest rocked Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, over the scarcity of fuel and new naira notes, another group of youths, on Saturday staged a protest at Dogo community in Apata, Ido Local Government Area of the state, leading to the death of three persons.

It was gathered that the youths were assembling when security operatives arrived at the scene and asked them to disperse.

The directive by the security personnel led to an argument between them and the youths.

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A credible source told Sunday PUNCH that, “I cannot actually say what really happened. The youths assembled themselves and suddenly police and soldiers arrived in the area. Nobody knew what happened until one of them angrily shot into the air. People started scampering for safety.

“This action infuriated those youths, and they engaged security officers. The officers shot three people. One died immediately, the second guy died before getting to the hospital while the third person died at the hospital.”

Reacting to the unrest through a statement, the state Police Command said only one person was killed.

A statement authorised by the state Police Public Relations Officer, Adewale Osifeso, said, “Today (Saturday) at about 1015hrs, while embarking on series of confidence building patrols around different black spots and flash points, the joint convoy patrol comprising of the police and other agencies ran into a band of hoodlums around Apata junction market, Apata Area, under Ido Local Government Area.”

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