Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has said the issue of kidnapping for ransom must be addressed with carrot-and-stick approach, noting that payment of ransom encourages the crime.
He also said the Federal Government including the administration of Goodluck Jonathan paid ransom to rescue kidnapped persons.
The country has recorded a series of mass abductions and students especially in North have been victims. And their abductors often demand ransom to release them.
Obasanjo, who spoke on Wednesday when members of the Tiv Professionals Group visited him in Abeokuta, Ogun State, said governments had been paying ransom.
He added that if ransom would not be paid, the situation must be dealt with using other methods.
“Some people are still reaching out, and hoping that lives can still be saved. But a situation whereby anybody thinks paying ransom is the way out, that person is folly. He is a folly,” he said.
Obasanjo said, “This is because when you pay ransom, you encourage. But if you are not going to pay ransom, you must have the means to deal heavily with it. You must have the stick to deal with it.
“Government has always paid ransom. Not only this government, even during Jonathan (administration). They paid ransom, but they denied it.”
He also said leaders must ensure that 2023 births a new federation in Nigeria to stop the country from sliding into disintegration.
Obasanjo expressed the fear that the people beating drums of division in Nigeria had not put the interest of the minority ethnic groups into consideration.
He said, “I do believe that whatever else we do we have to make the year 2023 a watershed for Nigeria. The year 2023 should give us the beginning of the emergence of a new federation or feeling that the rot continues, and then, we are going to be sliding back to dissolution. God forbid.
“And he would say to me if the Yorubas can stand as a country, if the Igbos can stand as a country if the Hausas/Fulanis can stand as a country, if you major tribes decide to break up from the country, where do you want the minority ethnic groups to stand? That, many Nigerians don’t know about it, unfortunately.”
Ex-Minister escapes assassination as gunmen kill 2, abduct 4 in Cross River
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.
News of Lawan as annointed presidential candidate shocked Buhari, say El-Rufai
Kaduna State Governor Nasir el-Rufai says President Muhammadu Buhari was shocked when he was told Senate President Ahmad Lawan was the “anointed” presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
He said this on Thursday while responding to questions on a programme on TVC.
In June 2022, some hours before voting at the APC presidential primary, Abdullahi Adamu, national chair of the party, had announced Lawan as the consensus candidate for the party.
Speaking on Thursday, El-Rufai said Buhari was very clear about his position on the choice of a presidential candidate for the party.
He said, “The members of the national working committee called us and said that the national chairman had told them that the senate president is the anointed one.
“Again, the northern APC governors asked for a meeting with the President. We went to the President and said ‘Mr. President, this is what we are hearing; this is not what you’ve been telling us in the past two to three years. Is it true?’
“And the President expressed shock and said ‘I’m not part of this’. And right there and then, he summoned Garba Shehu to issue a statement that he has not anointed anyone. And he told us very clearly ‘I have not anointed anyone’.”
Chief of Defence Staff threatens action as petrol prices hit N400/litre
The Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Gen. Lucky Irabor, yesterday threatened that the Federal Government would not fail to activate alternative actions should the marketers of petroleum product fail to end the prolonged fuel scarcity.
“We do have 24-day sufficiency for AGO (diesel) and the aviation we have 45 days of stuffiness for ATK aviation fuel,” he said.
He added that there is fuel in every depot and evacuation was ongoing.
The NNPC boss noted that petrol smuggling was on the rise as over 67million litres of petrol has been evacuated daily but the crisis has prevailed.
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“We have evidence now and we’re following this through that some of our customers are actually taking products to other countries. And we’ll get to the root of this. And the appropriate government security agencies will deal with this,” Kyari said.
The NNPC head also blamed the marketers, saying they did not follow the official petrol price rate at the depots and increased prices arbitrarily as some depots sell from N172 to N260/l above the agreed price, saying the marketers could not buy at that rate and sell at official rate.
“We have challenged IPMAN to bring documents on depots selling at N260 to them, but no one will bring a record,’’ he added.
The Chief Executive, Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA), Farouk Ahmed, confirmed there were several pacts with the marketers and transporters but such deals had not been followed through.
“But again, the more we agree, the more you lift the lever. We cannot continue like that,” he said.
He said recently NMDPRA sanctioned seven depots as deterrents but that did not work.
He urged marketers to help provide names of depots selling above ex-depot price but they refused.
CDS Irabor said: “It’s a crisis of internal nature which security and Police should lead but if it gets above that, there is an alternative.
“If there is no solution, let me reiterate that the government is not handicapped and there is an alternative and we pray that we don’t get to the level where the alternative will be activated,” Irabor said.
The Inspector General of Police Usman Alkali Baba, said the problem is in distribution, and urged operators for increased monitoring of the process.
“I think it is our role to assist the NNPC in monitoring the process of distribution if that will help us leverage the problem.”
Chairman of the Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MoMAN) Adetunji Oyebanji, said there are other costs that operators incur outside the ex-depot price. As he urged members to work to ensure products are supplied at the official rate.
Chairman of the Depot and Petroleum Products Marketers Association of Nigeria (DAPPMAN), Mrs Winifred Akpani, said the depot owners met last week on how to solve the price problem and distribution too.
She urged NNPC to only deliver products to depots (members) that will supply the right way, alleging that DAPPMAN does not regulate depot owners who are non-members.
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“We have all determined to ensure that we can help where we can help,” adding that profiteering is causing many problems to the country.
NARTO president, Yusuf Othman, lamented the increase in freight rate due to market reality saying officially it is N42 per kilometre but in reality it’s over N50 and so truckers give preference to marketers that pay cash and the market rate.
He decried the rising cost of buying trucks which he now said is over N60m as well as rising diesel cost of N880/l.
He noted that only major marketers pay twice for freight and that only OVH/NNPC give diesel at rebate, others do not.
According to Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG), President, Comrade Williams Akporeha, said marketers have no right to increase the price because petrol is subsidized.
“Our position at NUPENG is that any depot or filling station that sells above the price must have the wrath of Nigerians to face,” he said.
The price of petrol across the country averaged between N380 and N400 per litre yesterday as the scarcity of the product assumed a disturbing dimension, nearly grinding economic activities.
Our correspondent who monitored some petrol stations in Aba, the commercial nerve of Abia state reports that most major marketers were out of stock of the product.
A visit to MRS filing by Asa road and among others revealed that they dispensed their PMS to customers at N400 per liter.
Commercial bus and tricycle operators operating within Umuahia capital city and Aba have since increased their fares with N50, N100 or more depending on the distance.
In Osun State, petrol was sold for N400, N370 and N365 per liter.
Although there is no long queues at the petrol stations selling at these prices, there are still are still long queues in other stations where it is sold for cheaper rates.
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Long queues still surfaces at Bovas, NNPC, Matrix, NIPCO among others in the city.
Residents of Makurdi, Benue State capital and its environs are passing through hell to buy petrol too.
Yesterday, petrol was sold at #355 per litre in all the Independent marketers filing stations in Makurdi.
Getting the products was difficult as motorist remained on long queue for hours lamenting in frustration
The situation remained same in Adamawa State.
Car owners and commercial vehicle operators queued up in the few filling stations dispensing fuel where prices ranged at between N370 and N390 per litre within the state capital, Yola, and as much as N500 per litre in rural communities in the southern and northern tips of the state.
The whole of Yola had just one NNPC mega station selling fuel at the ‘sane’ price of N199 per litre yesterday, but the queue is usually so long that only people with the luxury of servants or unattached staff could send such persons, usually to buy large volumes of the commodity.
In Kaduna State, scarcity of petrol persisted in Kaduna, as price of the product reached N625 in the black market.
Also, our correspondents observed that, few major and independent petrol stations dispensing petrol for N210 per litre, had unprecedented queue, while filing stations on the outskirts of the metropolis, especially on Kaduna-Zaria highway, Kaduna-Abuja and Kaduna-Kachia roads, were selling for between N350 to N380 per litre.
The Nigeria Midstream and Down Stream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA) said it has intensified routine patrol and monitoring of servicing stations to enhance steady fuel supply in Adamawa.
While going round some of the filling stations in Yola , it was observed that a team of officials led by the State Coordinator of the Regulatory Agency directed all filling stations which had products to begin selling to consumers or risked being sanctioned.
In Edo State, Godwin Obaseki led administration promised quick end to the scarcity and hike in the price of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), thereby receiving 780,000 litres of petrol.
It also set up of a task force to monitor the distribution and sale of petrol in filling stations across the 18 local government areas of the Southsouth state.
Edo Commissioner for Mining and Energy, Ethan Uzamere, an engineer, who was accompanied by his counterpart in the Ministry of Communication and Orientation, Chris Nehikhare, and the Special Adviser to Obaseki on Media Projects, Crusoe Osagie, made the disclosure yesterday afternoon in Benin at a news conference.
The news conference took place after the meeting between the representatives of Edo government and leaders of the protesting Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in the state.
Uzamere revealed that the supplied product (780,000 litres) would be distributed among the major and independent marketers of petroleum products in Edo’s three senatorial districts.
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He stated that Edo government would monitor the sale of petrol in the state, in order to ensure that members of the public were not exploited by the owners of the various filling stations.
The commissioner for mining and energy in Edo disclosed that members of the petroleum monitoring task force would be unveiled later yesterday evening, while assuring that all efforts would be put in place to ensure that no product supplied to the state was diverted.
He said: “Edo government has heard the cries of the residents of the state on the issue of fuel scarcity in Edo. The state government is working to ensure the availability of the product.
“As part of the measures, Edo government has set up a task force to monitor the situation, and ensure that no resident of the state is exploited. We also wish to announce that already, the state has received 780,000 litres of petrol, which will be distributed to major and independent marketers.
“The task force, whose members will be announced before the close of work today (Tuesday), will monitor the distribution and sale of petroleum products in Edo State.”
Nehikhare, in his remarks, gave an assurance that the welfare of the residents of Edo was very crucial, and being taken seriously by the state government.
Edo commissioner for communication and orientation also hailed leaders of CSOs for the maturity displayed in handling the protest that erupted on Monday, over petrol scarcity and price hike, while assuring that Obaseki’s administration would continue to engage all the major stakeholders, in order to find a lasting solution to the fuel challenge.
Osagie, while also speaking, noted that part of the duties of the task force’s members would be to monitor prices of petroleum products in Edo, while warn the marketers against arbitrary increase in the prices of the products,.declaring that anyone caught would be severely punished according to the dictates of the law.
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