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Restructuring Nigeria okay, secession unacceptable, says Lai Mohammed

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Minister of Information and Culture Alhaji Lai Mohammed has said the suggestion to restructure Nigeria is a welcome thing but rejected calls for secession, saying it is unacceptable.
He spoke while delivering a speech virtually at the opening of the 2021 Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR) in Bauchi State.
The minister said, “While it is alright for citizens to call for restructuring and true federalism, what is not acceptable is the call in certain quarters for secession.
“Whatever challenges we have today as a nation, can and will be surmounted. In fact, the Federal Government had set in motion the necessary machinery to tackle the challenge of insecurity.
“We should, therefore, not allow today’s challenges, whether in the area of economy or security, to jeopardise our unity.”
Mohammed, who apologised for not being able to attend the Bauchi event physically, however, appealed to the NIPR to use its platform to work for the unity of Nigeria.
He said, “That task has never been more urgent than now against the background of discordant voices in the country and calls for separation.
“I see NIPR as a capable partner in government’s effort to douse the tension in the land and beat the drum of unity rather than the drum of war.
“May I also repeat my call to NIPR to raise voice against those fanning the embers of disunity and discord in the country. Without a country that is peaceful and secured, there can be no development.
“This administration is doing everything possible to return peace and security across the country.” He urged the NIPR to partner with the Federal Government in the fight against fake news, misinformation as well as hate speech.
National President, NIPR, Mallam Mukhtar Suraju, said the event was coming at a time when public relations was solely needed to redirect the compass of the country.
He observed that all promises the country held were bedevilled by so many challenges, many of which he said were ordinarily avoidable and unnecessary.
Suraju said the challenges ranged from insecurity to social tension occasioned by mutual mistrust and suspicion among leaders of various components of the country.

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JUST IN: Old naira: IMF asks FG, CBN to extend February 10 deadline

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The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has called for the extension of the February 10 deadline to phase out the old naira notes.

The International monetary body made the call just after the Supreme Court had restrained the Federal Government and Central Bank of Nigeria(CBN) from enforcing the deadline.

The IMF, in a statement in Abuja on Wednesday by Laraba Bonet, said the plea was on the hardship Nigerians were exposed to over the issue.

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It said: “in light of hardships caused by disruptions to trade and payments due to the shortage of new bank notes available to the public, in spite of measures introduced by the CBN to mitigate the challenges in the banknote swap process, the IMF encourages the CBN to consider extending the deadline should problems persist  in the next few days leading up to the February 10, 2023 deadline”.

The IMF is the first international financial organisation to openly call for extension of the deadline for the deposit of old Naira notes.

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Cash crunch: Protesters defy police in Abeokuta, make bonfires on major roads

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Residents of Abeokuta, Ogun State, took to the streets on Tuesday protesting the scarcity of cash and the attendant pains.

Major streets affected by the protests are Aladesanmi, Fajol and Somorin in Obantoko area of Abeokuta as the protesters made bonfires and chanted anti-CBN songs
The Sapon branch of First Bank was also vandalised and the protesters tried to set it ablaze.
Ogun Police spokesman, Abimbola Oyeyemi, confirmed the protest, saying police officers were on the ground to monitor the situation and prevent the destruction of property and loss of lives.
He said some group of boys were involved in the crisis.
The police later came to disperse the protesters but they regrouped as soon as the operatives withdrew from the scene.
The situation affected vehicular movement as motorists and pedestrians ran in different directions to avert being caught up in the chaotic situation.

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Court frees Diezani associate Omokore of $1.6bn fraud

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An Abuja federal high court on Tuesday discharged and acquitted Jide Omokore, chairman of Atlantic Energy Drilling Concepts Nigeria Limited, of $1.6bn fraud allegations.

Omokore, an associate of former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke, was arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) with Victor Briggs, Abiye Membere, and David Mbanefo on a 15-count charge on July 4, 2016.

They were accused of fraudulently diverting the $1.6bn said to be part of proceeds of sales of petroleum products belonging to the Federal Government.

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