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Rivers youths protest grounds NPA, oil, gas zone operations

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National assets and operations at the Nigerian Ports Authority, including the Onne oil and gas free zone in Eleme local government area of Rivers State, are under threat following days of protest by youths in the area over alleged marginalisation by the companies there.

The Onne youths who began their protests on Monday had blocked the entrance of the free zone for two days, expressing dismay that despite hosting over 50 companies, the people have no jobs, while the area remains underdeveloped.

Scores of them who spoke to journalists said the NPA, Onne Ports, which houses the Federal Ocean Terminal had not impacted on their lives despite operating on their land for decades.

The youths said they were part of the ongoing protest against police brutality and an end to bad governance, even as they demanded a separate local government from Eleme.

They said Onne given its landmass, population and resources was viable enough to have a separate local government and called on the government to look into it.

One of them said, “We are not only saying EndSARS, we are also saying no to marginalization; no to unemployment. The NPA is here, look at all the land occupied by the FOT, the FLT (Federal Lighter Terminal) and all the companies, but we are not feeling their impacts.

“No jobs; no development. We cannot continue like this. If they don’t employ us, they will not operate here again. We are also asking for a separate local government out of Eleme.”

When contacted, an official of the NPA who pleaded anonymity said employment was controlled from the headquarters, adding that recently online recruitment was advertised for qualified persons to apply.

The official lauded the protesting youths for being peaceful since the protest began, adding that the authority was already looking into the demands presented to it.

The official stated, “What they are requesting, the Ports management has been able to do one or two. They are looking at the issues with them too and we are try to calm their nerves so that they can allow movement in and out of the ports.

“If they say they are not employed, it is a Federal Government issue because we don’t employ in the ports. But we are appealing to them not to take laws into their hands by not blocking the company’s entrance.”

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Lagos airport shut temporarily, flights diverted over mangled corpse on runway

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Muritala Muhammed Airports

The international wing of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, was temporarily shut in the early hours of Thursday after the mangled body of a dead man was found on Runway 18R of the nation’s flagship airport.

The identity of the corpse could not be ascertained as of press time. Also, it could not be established whether the dead man was knocked down by an aircraft taking off or landing on the runway.

However, airport officials told our correspondent that the runway was temporarily shut down while a team of officials from the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria and the Nigeria Police Force evacuated the corpse from the runway.

During the temporary shutdown of the runway, international flights were prevented from landing and taking off from the airport’s international terminal.

Among the flights that could not land due to the shutdown was an Ethiopian Airlines flight 3907, a Boeing 77F aircraft with registration number ETAVN, which was coming from Lome, Togo to Lagos, Nigeria.

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The flight was later diverted back to Lome after holding for a while.

Airport officials said the corpse was suddenly found on Runway 18R during a routine runway inspection by FAAN personnel.

The spokesperson for FAAN, Mrs. Faithful Avokerie Hope-Ivbaz, could not immediately confirm the incident, saying she had yet to be briefed on the development.

Also, the Police Public Relations Officer, Airport Command, Mr Olayinka Ojelade, said he had yet to get the requited signal on the incident.

He promised to get back. As of the time of filing this report, he had yet to do so. However, a top police official at the MMIA confirmed the development.

He said the command was called upon in the early hours of Thursday to evacuate the corpse from Runway 18R.

According to him, the police are still investigating the identity of the dead man and how he got to the security area of the international airport.

However, an aviation security expert and former Military Commandant of the MMIA, Group Captain John Ojikutu,retd, said there was a need to investigate how the unidentified man found his way into the sensitive area of the airport, describing the incident as a major security breach.

According to him, the perimeter fence of the MMIA is not a security fence, adding that this has exposed the airport to various security breaches.

Ojikutu said, “The authorities need to investigate how the man got to the airport. Nobody can say much now; but he may have been knocked down by the wingspan or undercarriage of a jumbo jet but it is too early to say anything like that now.  But we need to examine the issue of houses that have been built too close to the Lagos airport. The rule says no building should be situated less than six metres to the airport structure or fence. However, we have seen cases of people crossing the runway before.

“The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority and FAAN need to investigate this to ascertain what really happened. They need to find out the flights that landed before that incident. The current airport perimeter fence is not a security fence and we need to do something about it.”

Meanwhile, there have been a couple of airport security breaches in recent times.

A mishap was averted at the airside of the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos some months ago when a speeding vehicle had a near collision with a Dana Air plane taxiing to take off on Runway 18L of the airport.

The unfortunate incident, which happened on December 21, 2021, occurred barely one week after a landing Max Air jet almost rammed into a malfunctioning car being tested on  Runway 18L.

Also, there was pandemonium at the airside of the Lagos airport on December 27, 2019 when an unidentified man found his way into the airside mysteriously and mounted a moving Air Peace plane.

The man was later arrested by security operatives who were notified by the pilot of a private jet coming behind the Air Peace plane.

The incident happened barely six months after a man found his way into the Lagos airport and climbed a Port Harcourt-bound Azman Airlines plane.

The man, believed to be mentally ill, was later identified as Usman Adamu from the Republic of Niger.

The Police said the Nigerien could not speak or understand English Language.

The authorities said then that investigation was still ongoing to ascertain how Adamu gained access to the restricted area at the airport.

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AutoTrends: Customs to reintroduce suspended e-valuation of vehicles Friday

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The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) says it will reintroduce the suspended electronic valuation of vehicles on Friday.

The NCS said this in a letter dated May 17, 2022, and signed by Ajibola Odusany, NCS’ deputy controller, administration, on behalf of Yusuf Malanta, area controller in charge of the Apapa Command of the service.

Also known as vehicle inspection number (VIN), the policy has generated controversy since its introduction this year.

Clearing agents associations had protested against the e-valuation policy and grounded activities at the ports.

The freight forwarders said the e-valuation system sharply increased duty paid on imported vehicles.

This had forced the NCS to suspend the implementation of the VIN policy, following the intervention of the House of Representatives.

In bringing back the policy, the NCS said there would be a sensitisation programme for stakeholders in the clearance chain in preparation for the redeployment.

“In line with the planned nationwide deployment of the VIN Valuation on Friday, 20 May 2022, and the need to continually enhance the platform for optimal performance and service delivery, the sensitisation which is scheduled to take place on Thursday, May 19, 2022, at 11:00 am is to hold at the Apapa Command conference hall. The Deputy Controller Administration, A Y. Odusanya, on behalf of the Customs Area Controller requested that clearing agents should send their representatives to attend, saying the session would benefit everyone and further clarify any question,” the letter stated.

Acting President of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Kayode Farinto, confirmed the development,

saying the association would speak after the training.

“We’re going for the training. So, we can’t say anything until we’re through with the training,” he said.

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AutoTrends: Stop driving your old crossovers, Mercedes warns, recalls ML, others

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Mercedes-Benz has asked owners of certain older crossovers to stop driving due a to corroded brake booster that could cause the brakes to fail.

The automaker said the request and corresponding recall applied to 292,287 ML-, GL-, and R-Class crossovers and SUVs from the 2006-2012 model years.

Recalls are common, but urging customers to stop driving is not,  according to thecarconnection.com.

In the affected vehicles, water exposure in the brake booster housing can cause a joint to corrode, leading to a leak in the brake system.

Brake force may also be reduced, forcing drivers to press harder on the brake pedal to decelerate and come to a stop. In rare cases, Mercedes said, it may be impossible to stop if there has been severe corrosion.

The risk of a crash or injury would increase, although Mercedes said it was aware of no known crashes or injuries related to the issue.

According to the premium brand automaker, the emergency brake pedal is not affected, and could be used in case of a regular brake pedal failure. Mercedes will provide complimentary towing of the affected vehicles to service centers.

Dealers are expected to inspect the brake booster housing and replace parts as required. If the part cannot be fixed immediately, Mercedes said it will help “coordinate an individual solution for the customer, including alternate mobility.”

 

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