All schools may be shut down indefinitely over the continued kidnapping of students in schools by bandits, the Nigeria Union of Teachers and the National Association of Nigerian Students have threatened.
They said in separate interviews on Friday that they would shut down schools since the lives of students and teachers were no longer safe.
Speaking in separate interviews with Vanguard, the National Secretary of the NUT, Dr Mike Ene, and the South-West Coordinator of NANS, Olawale Samuel, noted that it was apparent that some people were all out to discourage western education in Nigeria.
They were reacting to the latest abduction of about 300 girls at the Government Secondary School, Jangebe, Zamfara State.
Ene said, “These abductions here and there are deliberate steps to discourage education and encourage school dropout. It is unfortunate that schools have now become soft targets and we appear helpless.
“I watched a video yesterday where Shekau said anybody who identifies with Western Education is their enemy.
“You can see that by targeting boys-only schools and girls only schools, their aim is to discourage both males and females from going to school. We will not succumb to their threat and harassment. We are still battling with the Kagara boys matter and now this one.
“We won’t also hesitate to shut down all schools if the lives of the students and teachers are not safe.”
He also said, “The Zamfara State Governor, Metawalle, said his amnesty programme is working. Where is the result now? It is like if you are shaking somebody with your right hand and the person is slapping you with his left hand. Won’t you let go?”
Ene said the government should adopt the Safe School Initiative to make schools safe from intruders.
“All the schools should be fenced and the walls high so that anybody who manages to scale it would do that in a way that he would make noise that would attract the attention of security people.
Also, schools should have military and local vigilantes guarding them. The local vigilantes would help provide necessary security information and tips for the military to work on,” he added.
He also called for the deployment of sniffer dogs in the schools.
On his part, Olawale said the government had failed woefully in its duty to protect the lives and properties of the citizens.
He said, “We have lost confidence in the government and the government is not doing enough and the needful to curb this trend.
“The national leadership of NANS will hold a meeting soon on the matter and we will embark on rallies and shut down all the schools because we cannot continue to toy with the lives of our youths.”
Pop star Shakira faces tax-fraud trial in Spain
Colombian pop singer, Shakira, will face tax-fraud trial in Spain, a Spanish Judge said on Tuesday.
The music superstar faces eight-year jail term after she rejected a plea deal on accusations of tax evasion, Spanish prosecutors in July 2022.
Prosecutors in Barcelona will also demand a fine of nearly 24 million euros ($24.5 million) from the 45-year-old “Hips don’t Lie” songstress, whom they accuse of defrauding the Spanish tax office out of 14.5 million euros on income earned between 2012 and 2014.
The Spanish prosecutor had offered a deal to settle allegations she defrauded Spain’s government of 14.5 million euros ($15 million) in taxes.
The Colombian pop singer had claimed innocence and wanted the law to determine her fate.
But on Tuesday, the court in Esplugues de Llobregat near Barcelona said that Shakira would face six counts of tax fraud.
The date for the trial has yet to be fixed, according to AP.
The case hinges on where Shakira lived during 2012-14. Prosecutors in Barcelona have alleged the Grammy winner spent more than half of that period in Spain and should have paid taxes in the country, even though her official residence was in the Bahamas.
Shakira, whose full name is Shakira Isabel Mebarak Ripoll, has been linked to Spain since she started dating soccer player Gerard Pique.
The couple, who have two children, used to live together in Barcelona but recently ended their 11-year relationship.
Retired soldiers protect against non-payment of security allowance
Some retired soldiers on Monday protested in Abuja over non-payment of their security debarment allowances, among others.
The protesters who defied the rains demonstrated in front of the Ministry of Defence headquarters, clutching mats and banners as well as singing.
The protesters lamented the non-payment of their Security Debarment Allowance, among others.
They were joined by some relatives of deceased military personnel, blocking access road to the ministry located at Ship House on Olusegun Obasanjo Way in the Federal Capital Territory.
The military veterans under the aegis of the Retired Members of Nigerian Armed Forces and the Coalition of Concerned Veterans, accused the Minister of Defence, Maj.-Gen. Bashir Magashi (retd.), of being insensitive to their plight.
Addressing reporters during the protest, spokesman for the CVV, Abiodun Durowaiye-Herberts, vowed that they would not leave the ministry’s entrance until their demands were met.
He said they had already made arrangement to sleep overnight if the situation warranted it.
“We are here alongside our wives and children, and the widows of late military personnel and veterans who died in service, some of whom died fighting Boko Haram terrorists. We’ll be sleeping over at this place until the Minister of Defence, Magashi accede to our demands,” he said.
On his part, the National Secretary of RMNAF, Roy Okhidievbie, explained that the demonstration was to demand the payment of their security debarment allowance owed them by the Federal Government.
He accused the minister of refusing to disburse the allowances despite approval by President Muhammadu Buhari.
“We have had meetings with the Defence Minister, Magashi, but he appears to be headstrong, heartless, and unperturbed concerning the grievances of retired military officers, as he never paid nor showed any interest or concern to pay these allowances, especially the Security Debarment Allowance.
“Interestingly, President Buhari-led administration has approved the payment of this allowance, but Magashi has refused to make disbursements,”
In January, some retired soldiers under the aegis of the Coalition of Concerned Veterans protested against the non-payment of their pension arrears for 24 months.
The veterans who gathered at the Ministry of Finance headquarters, Abuja, insisted on getting answers to their demands, or else they would continue protesting.
They were seen with placards on which various inscriptions were written. One of the placards reads, “CCV demands immediate payment of security debarment allowance.” Another read, “Military veterans demand 24 months arrears of minimum wage approved.”
Nationwide outage as grid collapses to zero megawatts again
Nigeria was thrown into a total blackout Monday morning as the national grid collapsed to zero megawatts (MW).
The latest incident, which reportedly occurred at 10:51am Monday, is the seventh time the power grid would collapse this year.
This came just days after electricity consumers said they had enjoyed improved supply.
Some power distribution companies including Kaduna Electric, Enugu and Kano have already communicated the nationwide outage to their customers, adding that efforts were being made to restore supply.
The national electricity grid as of 10am on Monday had 3,712MW generated from 21 power generation companies (GenCos) before it dropped to 0MW one hour after, Daily Trust reported.
It stated that information from the System Operations, a section of the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN), indicated only Afam IV was on the grid but with zero supply as of 12noon.
It also showed that as of Sunday, the highest generation was 4,100MW while the lowest was 3,652MW with the frequency hovered between 49.04 Hertz (Hz) and 50.34Hz.
Electricity consumers have attested to improvement in supply in their various areas since July this year.
For instance, the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC) recently confirmed increment in its daily allocation to over 500MW from the actual 300MW it had distributed before then.
Though the national grid had not cross 5,000MW, Daily Trust observed that level of load rejection especially around the DisCos’ networks had dropped significantly with some customers entitled to five-hour supply, recording over 12 hours daily.
The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) had attributed the improvement in power supply nationwide to the partial activation of contracts seeking to hold sector operators liable for deliberate incompetence.
The national grid collapsed twice, in July and in August but was quickly restored and power supply improvement was sustained before the latest system collapse on Monday.
Although the TCN, the national grid manager, was yet to establish the cause of the crash, some insider said it could be as a result of a maintenance of the 330 kilovolts Jos – Bauchi transmission line maintenance slated for Monday.
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