Nov 21, 2019
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October 21, 2019600

MTN Nigeria on Monday said it will go ahead to charge its customers for Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) voice or text message, saying no one can stop them.

The USSD service allows them access to bank services via their mobile phones.

The telecom giant said it would start charging its subscribers from today, being Monday despite a directive by the Federal Government to halt the plan.

The Central Bank of Nigeria has also declared the charge as illegal just like the Nigerian Communication Communication has ordered the stoppage of its implementation.

But MTN said the meeting leading to the comment of the charge was entered into with the CBN, the banks and all telecom network service providers.

MTN, however, said the USSD charge is not new as other telecoms coys have been charging that for long.

A staff who spoke with Daily Mail OnLine, preferring not to be named said, the management had ordered the commencement of the charge. He said the management had made it “a fait accompli.”

Attempts to speak with the management of the telecom company was unsuccessful.

A management staff however confided that CBN or NCC, not even the Ministry can stop it because MTN is licenced to carry out business operations and no rule has been broken.

“The rules are clear and we are abiding by the rules. USSD is not new. The manager has said we go ahead, so be it.”

Some customers of the company have received notifications today of its commencement.

One of the messages from MTN read, ‘’Yello, as requested by your bank, charging you directly for USSD access to banking services commences today. Please contact your bank for more info.’’

Daily Mail OnLine reports that N26 will be deducted. While the banks will retain N22, MTN will take the charge of N4.

The initial agreement entered into by the CBN and all telecom companies and banks it was revealed was to allow banks retainership of N18 while telecoms companies take N4.

But MTN has alleged banks retain the whole N22 leaving them with no choice than to charge fresh N4.

 


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October 21, 2019120

EKITI State Governor and Chairman of the Nigeria GovernorsNGF, Dr Kayode Fayemi, marked one year in office of his second term last Wednesday. He was denied re-election in 2014 and had to wait for 48 months before returning to the Government. In this interview with journalists in Lagos, Fayemi spoke on how the re-election hiatus adversely affected Ekiti. He also spoke on the need for restructuring, why states must have joint accounts with local councils and why Labour should jettison its proposed industrial action minimum wage.

On claims that almost five years after the All Progressives Congress, APC-led Federal Government came to power, the country has not witnessed positive change

The fact is that Nigerians just re-elected the APC-led Federal Government for a second term. Of course, you will agree with me that election is the best option of measuring performance of political parties as we haven’t devised any other means to judge political parties. You may argue on the fairness and credibility of the processes of the recent presidential election but there is only one vehicle for sorting it out. The jurists are still on that; there is still one leg to go, so we won’t push that any further.

To your substantive question that concerns every Nigerian and which is: How far has APC gone in taking Nigeria out of the woods? I think it is fair to say that it is work in progress. We are exactly not where we ought to be, but we are also not where we were in 2015 when our party took over.

No doubt, there are things that are in our manifesto, which for one reason or the other we have not done, particularly on issues such as restructuring. But, when you put that in proper perspective, the power to do that resides with the legislature, it doesn’t reside with the executive. However, a determined executive can still push the legislature to do it. You know what happened in our first four years, there was no synergy between the executive and legislature and sometimes I wonder if Nigerians even want synergy between the two arms of government.

I think Nigerians, sometimes, behave as if they want enmity of some sort. They think that progress will come if the two arms are not on the same page but I believe that we have seen the result of that from the Bukola Saraki-led Senate and the Muhammadu Buhari presidency. That clearly contributed to the slow pace of activities during the first term. For me, growth is the key, but stability is probably what most Nigerians are interested in right now because it is when we suffer a reversal that we will know how much progress that has been made.

On the extent the feelings he had when he was leaving Ekiti Government House in 2014 influenced his actions in his second term as governor of the state.

Naturally, the reason people seek for a second term in office, in my view, is to consolidate on their achievements. Theoretically and practically from my experience in Nigeria, you can do a lot and you can also do a little if you worked out an agenda before you come into office.

By the time I was leaving, my state had the highest enrolment of children in school with about 96 per cent; it had the lowest maternal mortality, child mortality and they were not accidental because when you looked at what happened four years after I was out of office, we fell to the lowest in terms of enrolment of children in school in the South-West.

In just a period of four years, maternal mortality went up, child mortality also went up. And it is easy to see why these happened. I ran a free and compulsory education programme, but my successor came in and introduced education levies and fees. The consequence was that those who could not afford it stayed away. So, you can see a correlation why enrolment dropped and retention also dropped. Even some of those who were in school and were asked to go and look for West African Examination Council (WAEC) and National Council on Education (NECO) fees, which I paid for during the four years I was governor had to drop out of school. These are things that we don’t often pay much attention.

Again, the N5,000 that I was paying to the elderly may not mean much to somebody in Lagos but in Ekiti, it meant much as some of those elderly people even saved out of  the money after taking care of themselves and were also able to contribute to other things, including taking care of their grand-children or even their children, who had no jobs.

So, in terms of human capital development indices, it wasn’t perfect, but we achieved close to what we would have loved to. However, in terms of opening up Ekiti, which was my major priority, we tried to make the state a destination for business and tourism by doing Ikogosi and other things. Before I left, we hosted the NNMA and the Future Awards in Ikogosi. Several Nollywood movies were shot there.

There were a lot of things that I started, which were abandoned by my successor. Not just education and healthcare, but also infrastructure. Virtually every project that was ongoing then was stopped by my successor and left for four years in abeyance. It was only when I came back that I restarted them. The disadvantage of that is that instead of moving on with new things, we are going back to resuscitate and rebuild schools, hospitals as well as Ikogosi, which was running before we left.

For me, I don’t want to dwell on that because it generates negative energy. That is why I have basically refrained from the usual blame-game and exchanges over probe and others because what the people want is good governance. Yes, people must account for their time in office, but there are mechanisms in place that should do that without distracting occupants of the office and that is basically the advice I have been giving to my colleagues as chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, NGF. I have had cause to sit down with incoming and outgoing governors to resolve issues in the interest of their states.

Once you start this rush to the law courts, it never ends and you won’t even have time to focus on your own work. My belief is that anybody who has issues should go and sort himself out with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) or Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offence offences Commission (ICPC). Those are not state institutions; they are federal institutions, so that you can focus on governmental activities.

On his stand on restructuring which is a major component of APC’s manifesto

I have never stopped pushing for restructuring in all its ramifications. Sometimes, I get into trouble for pushing it, but everywhere you hear me speak, I push for a multi-level security arrangement that takes into account the gaps that we currently have. I deliberately say multi-level security arrangement because some people think that when you say state police, you want to get rid of federal police but that is not what the concept is all about.

The federal police has federal jurisdiction; state police has state jurisdiction and local police has local jurisdiction. Part of the problem is that we have overloaded the federal police and they are suffering from the tyranny of an unfunded and expanded mandate. They have this huge mandate but they don’t have the resources and the states that make resources available to them, don’t have control over them. So, we are all in suspended animation.

The other day, somebody asked me a question at an event organized by the Nigeria Economic Summit Group, NESG, about cost of governance and restructuring. I gave a comprehensive answer but the only thing that interested the media was that I said that we should go for a unicameral legislature.

But I think that if we should go for a unicameral legislature, it should be the one that really represents the people on account of the population because the House of Representatives is a product of federal constituencies and you know that the average population of a federal constituency is 100,000.

So, why don’t we reduce institutions whether it is at the level of the executive, especially Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) as the Stephen Oronsaye report proposed or at the legislative branch? So, I think there is really need for restructuring, but not just restructuring of public institutions alone. We also need restructuring of the mind. What does Nigeria mean to all of us, because if the tribe does not die, the nation cannot rise, as late President Samora Machel argued.

What is the position of the NGF on the status of local governments, especially as regards the directive by the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit, NFIU, on local council funds?

As far as we are concerned, the position of the NGF on the issue of NFIU’s directive on local governments’ fund is the position of the law. There is no law that has been passed in the country on local government autonomy. There have been several attempts, but it has never received the support of 24 State Houses of Assembly out of the 36 in the country to make it happen. That is the process. Currently, Nigeria is a two-tier federation; it is not a three-tier federation. Talks about Nigeria been a three-tier federation is a distortion.

It is even an aberration that we even have to go to Abuja to get approval on local governments. If you want to create 200 local governments, it is your business because you and your people in your state should figure it out. It should not be the business of Abuja because that for me is surreptitious unitarism. You cannot go behind to do what the constitution does not allow you to do and that was what informed our position at the NGF over the ridiculous instruction to banks. You know that you cannot confront us; you are now going to bankers. What is the business of the banks with the accounts maintained by local governments as long as the accounts are funded, the process is transparent and the proper persons run the accounts?

Besides, what is the business of the NFIU on local governments’ funds? When you read the NFIU law, NFIU monitors what is going on in the banking system, internationally and locally and if you have a specific case of money laundering, please bring it up. You cannot have a general rule to address a unique problem.

You can’t because you want to fight money laundering; you say that states and local governments cannot run joint accounts, which is in the constitution of Nigeria. Section 162 and we have a case pending in court on the issue. It will come on October 26.

His take on the new National Minimum Wage and threats by labour to embark on strike over its non-implementation

We don’t want workers to down tools, but you will recall that the governors’ proposal in the course of the tripartite negotiation was N24,500. But, negotiations went back and forth, we ended up with N30,000 and the governors, in principle, said ‘we will pay.’ However, in private discussions with the President, we made it clear that this is another recipe for future bailout. To be frank with you, I don’t even consider N30,000 a living wage in today’s Nigeria, but you cannot promise what you don’t have.

It is also a fundamental principle of labour relations because you get into trouble if you do that. So, we agreed N30,000 and we all agreed to look for ways to boost revenues going to the states and we are working on that. We are doing reconciliation with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, on issues concerning pipeline vandalism; we have a committee headed by Kaduna State Governor, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai working on that. We don’t want workers to down tools, but we made it clear during the tripartite negotiation that an increase in the National Minimum Wage is not tantamount to a general wage review.

The fact that we moved people who are below N30,000 to N30,000 and wherever they should be on the scale should not automatically mean that we must increase the salaries of people who are on Level 17 and who are on N400,000. It is a minimum wage law; it is not a general wage law. Yes, if you promote levels 05 or 06, they may go over what the current level 07 is earning, so that calls for consequential adjustment, but that adjustment should not go over levels 08 and 09.

The Federal Government has even agreed to do nine per cent for levels 07 to 12 and five per cent for levels 13 and above, but they said no and insisted on 45 per cent. Where is Nigeria going to find the money? I mean the economy is in doldrums. Whether we openly admit or not, everyone knows. If you have an economy that N2.4 trillion is for debt servicing; then what are we talking about? So, I hope good sense will prevail and that people will be able to convince labour that it is futile effort if they do so because Nigeria cannot pay what it doesn’t have.


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October 21, 2019370

The Nigerian Army has said the Boko Haram and Islamic State West Africa Province fighters were smuggling smoked fish into the country to sustain their criminal activities.

This was contained in a statement signed by the Army Operations’ Media Coordinator, Col. Aminu Iliyasu, released on Sunday.

He noted that four suspects in the terrorists’ fishing business were arrested and 16 sacks of smoked fish concealed in a room were recovered from them.

The Army stated that its troops attached to the Operation Lafiya Dole arrested a syndicate of terrorists which specialised in smuggling “smoked fish from the Lake Chad region.”

According to the military, seven Boko Haram terrorists were also killed by an Improvised Explosive Device laid by them for the troops along the Jakana-Mainok Road in Borno State.

The statement said, “As the artillery bombardment and ground assault by troops intensify, some marauding Boko Haram criminals met their waterloo as one of their vehicles, a Toyota Sam Sahara Model, stepped on an IED laid by them against troops at the Lamba’a Forest. The destruction consumed seven Boko Haram criminals while eight others suffered severe injuries.

“In another development, a syndicate that specialises in the smuggling of smoked fish from the Lake Chad region for sale in some parts of Nigeria has been arrested by the troops of Operation Lafiya Dole. Reliable information available revealed that Boko Haram criminals, ISWAP and their collaborators are using the fish business to finance and sustain their heinous activities.

“The proceeds from the sale are believed to be channelled into the procurement of foodstuffs, groceries, drugs, toiletries, vehicle spare parts and other items for the sustenance of their criminal activities.

“Troops of Sector 3 of the operation, while acting on reliable intelligence, raided the residence of some suspected illegal fish smugglers near the Water Board Internally Displaced Persons’ camp in the Monguno Local Government Area of Borno State. Four suspects were arrested and 16 sacks of smoked fish concealed in a room were recovered.

“In a similar operation, nine vehicles loaded with illegal smoked fish consignments were equally intercepted at Bukarti in the Geidam Local Government Area of Yobe State en-route Hadejia in Jigawa State. Consequently, 18 suspects including the drivers, conductors, mechanics and agents were also apprehended.”

 

 


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October 20, 2019810

In what appears to be a spirit of defeat, the Nigerian Army under the auspices of the special military task force on Sunday held a special prayer service for Nigeria to defeat Boko Haram.

The terrorists have upped the ante lately leading to killings of dozens of soldiers while many soldiers escaped. They have also consolidated their hold on some villages and seizing some more while farmlands and markets routes have been deserted in the Borno and Yobe, which still remained epicentre of terrorist attacks.

According to the Army, the enemies of peace will be disgraced and flushed out of the North East, Plateau State and Nigeria in general.

The terrorists attacks in Plateau State have been linked to herdsnen with accusation of federal government complicity and laxity.

The taskforce also known as ‘Operation Safe Haven’, said the successes attained in restoring peace in the hitherto, troubled Plateau state can be attributed to the gains of prayer, said the Commander of the task force, Major General Augustine Agundu.

Maj. Gen. Agundu, who spoke during an annual harvest thanksgiving service and fund raising of the ‘Operation Safe Haven’, held at the Divine Grace Chapel, also warned trouble shooters to relocate from the state or they will be dealt with.

“We are here today is a testimony of the fingers of God and by the grace of God we shall experience total peace; we should imbibe the spirit of forgiveness which in turn brings healing,” the general stated.. The army boss thanked officers and men of the command for their untiring efforts in ensuring that peace is restored in all their area of operation.

Also at the service, Governor Simon Lalong of Plateau state, who was represented by the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Prof. Danladi Atu, said if not for God, the state would have been engulfed by crisis.

“What we are witnessing today on the Plateau is a product of prayer and hard work; we shall join hands with the task force to fight the enemies of Plateau state. This event has blessings for everybody as we continue to preach peace,” Gov. Lalong said.


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October 20, 2019370

ABDUCTED ACP RESCUED UNHURT. TWO MALE SUSPECTS ARRESTED.

The Nigerian Police Force announced late Sunday evening it has rescued ACP Musa Rabo abducted over the weekend.

In its verified Twitter handle @PoliceNG, it said, “ABDUCTED ACP RESCUED UNHURT. TWO MALE SUSPECTS ARRESTED.

“Musa Rabo abducted over the weekend was today 20th October 2019 rescued unhurt.”

It added that, “The officer was successfully rescued this evening by a combined team of Police operatives from Kaduna, Niger and Zone 7 Command Headquarters Abuja, backed-up by members of the elite Special Forces of the NPF.

It further added that “two male suspects have been arrested in connection with the incident. Investigation into the incident is ongoing.

“The officer was travelling in his civil dress, with his private vehicle and without escort or any special security at the time of the incident.”

According to the Force, “He was not targeted as a cop. It was purely an opportunistic crime, indiscriminately and maliciously targeted at citizens using that particular road. He was, perhaps, positionally unlucky at the time of the incident!”

 

 

 

 

 

was today 20th October 2019 rescued unhurt.


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October 20, 2019980

The Central Bank of Nigeria has declared and illegal plans by MTN to charge their subscribers for Unstructured Supplementary Service Data access to banking services from Oct. 21.

It therefore opposes.

The Governor of CBN, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, gave the bank’s position at a news briefing by the Nigerian delegation to the just-concluded World Bank/IMF Annual Meetings, in Washington on Sunday.

News Agency of Nigeria reports that MTN, in an SMS message to its subscribers, had said the decision was on the request of the banks and would take effect from October 21.

“Yello, as requested by your bank, from October 21, we will start charging you directly for USSD access to banking services.

“Please, contact your bank for more info,’’ the message said.

Responding to a question seeking his reaction to the announcement, the CBN governor said the bank would not allow that to happen.

“About five, four months ago, I held a meeting with some telecom companies as well as the leading banks in Nigeria at Central Bank, Lagos.

“At that time, we came to a conclusion that the use of USSD is a sunk cost.

“What we mean by a sunk cost is that it is not an additional cost on the infrastructure of the telecom company.

“But the telecom companies disagreed with us. They said it was an additional investment on infrastructure and for that reason, they needed to impose it.

“I have told the banks that we will not allow this to happen.

“The banks are the people who give this business to the telecom companies and I leave the banks and the telecom companies to engage.

“I have told the banks that they have to move their business, move their traffic to a telecom company that is ready to provide it at the lowest possible, if not zero cost.

“And that is where we stand, and we must achieve it,’’ he said.

NAN reports that the transactions to be affected by the charges include intra- and inter-bank money transfers, through USSD, among others.

 


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October 20, 2019410
The Federal Ministry of Communications, Nigeria has orders the immediate suspension of the alleged USSD service charge by MTN Nigeria.

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October 20, 2019150

Musiliu Smith, chairman of the Police Service Commission (PSC), has written to Abba Kyari, Chief of Staff to the President, on why the commission is in court over the recent police recruitment.

PSC had accused the police authorities of padding the recruitment list of 10,000 constables with unqualified candidates, requesting that the process should be discarded.

But Abubakar Malami, attorney-general of the federation (AGF), had backed the police, asking the force to conclude the recruitment of new constables.

In a legal advice to President Muhammadu Buhari, Malami had said there were previous legal pronouncements that favoured the police.

Subsequently, the commission filed a suit at the federal high court in Abuja.

In a letter to Buhari’s chief of staff, Smith said of all former attorneys-general of the federation, only one gave an advice in favour of the police.

He insisted that the police ought not to carry on with the recruitment.

“Since the return to civil rule on May 29,1999, four legal opinions listed here have been issued. When the copy of the opinion of 2019 was received and it was observed that the only earlier opinion considered was that of 2010, the attention of the Attorney-General was drawn to his oversight in a letter from the commission,” the letter read.

“Please note that the legal advice of Kanu Agabi (SAN) and that of Bayo Ojo (SAN) expressly and exclusively vested the power of recruitment/appointment in the commission as against that of Mohammed Adoke and Abubakar Malami.

“Because nothing was subsequently heard in the matter, the board of the commission met and decided to approach the Federal High Court, Abuja, for proper interpretation of section 30 of the Third Schedule of the constitution, which, amongst others, gave the commission the power of appointment of policemen.”

In the act establishing the PSC, one of its listed functions is to “be responsible for the appointment and promotion of persons Functions of the to offices (other than the office of the Inspector-General of Police) in the Commission Nigeria Police Force.”

Buhari had waded into the crisis between both parties over the recruitment, asking both to work together.


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October 20, 2019270

The management of the Kano zoological garden has announced the capture of the lion that escaped from its cage, after hours of searching.

Saidu Gwadabe, head of the zoological garden, told BBC Hausa on Sunday morning that the animal was spotted inside the zoo premises but in a cage where goats were kept.

According to him, the lion devoured all the goats in the cage.

He said the lion was shot with an injection which made him powerless before it was captured and returned to its cage.

On Saturday, there was panic around the zoo road in Kano metropolis when reports emerged that the lion had escaped from its cage at  the zoological garden.

It was gathered that the residents of the area went indoors earlier than usual to avoid the consequences of an encounter with a loose lion.

Gwadabe had earlier told NAN that the team would do everything possible to capture the escaped animal alive.

“We don’t want to kill the lion unless it becomes the last option as they can shot it to make it unconscious,” he had said.

He said the operation, which started on Saturday night, had to be suspended around 11 p.m. because of the darkness of the bush where it was currently hiding in the zoo.



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