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April 4, 2020500

Army destroys insurgent key camp near Lake Chad

The Nigerian Army gained strategic advantage against the Islamic State of West Africa Province (ISWAP) after successfully destroying the group’s camp at Tumbun Fulani on the fringes of Lake Chad in Northern Borno State says the report.

The operation was undertaken by the Air Task Force of Operation Lafiya Dole and Artillery Batteries of Sector 3 of the Multi-National Joint Task Force (MNJTF).

The Army has stepped its operations recently against the group following renewed hostilities that have led to the deaths of some nigerian soldiers in recent times.

The news of this operation was disclosed on Saturday to journalists by the office of the Defence Media Operations, Defence headquarters headed by Acting Director ,Brig. Gen. Bernard Onyeuko.

Gen.Onyeuko said the operation was achieved in a combined air and artillery bombardments conducted on 3 April 2020 as part of the coordinated joint offensive by the MNJTF to dislodge and completely rid the Islands (Tumbuns) of Lake Chad of terrorists’ presence and activities.

The operation according to him was executed on the heels of credible intelligence reports indicating that the ISWAP elements, with their structures concealed under the dense vegetation of the area, used the settlement as a base from where they plan and launch attacks.

He however said, the joint interdiction mission was launched with a Nigerian Air Force (NAF) Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) aircraft coordinating the barrage of artillery and air fire towards designated targets in the settlement, destroying them and neutralizing some of the ISWAP fighters in the process.

In a related development,Gen. Onyeuko also reported that, the Air Task Force has continued to provide airlift support to troops of participating MNJTF national contingents, along with their logistics.

“NAF ISR platforms and helicopters are also providing aerial command posts for enhanced coordination of close air support missions as well as fire control support for independent ground artillery bombardment of terrorists’ positions”.

He reechoed the relentless efforts of the Armed Forces of Nigeria, in furtherance of the objective of restoring peace and security in the North East, will sustain the offensive against the enemies of our Nation.


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April 4, 202010820
Buhari seeks NASS approval for additional N500b loan to fight coronavirus
The Federal government has said it needed N500 billion more to fight the novel coronavirus in the country.
To achieve this, President Muhammadu Buhari is seeking the approval of the National Assembly to get loan to establish a N500 billion COVID-19 Crisis Intervention Fund.
Consequently, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed alongside some senior officials of her ministry met with the leadership of the National Assembly on Saturday to work out modalities for the Presidential request.
“What we are proposing is an establisment of a N500 billion COVID-19 Crisis Intervention Fund,” the minister said.
She added that the proposed fund will require the Federal Government to ramp up N500 billion from various special accounts as loans.
The Minister added that the proposed intervention fund will be sourced from grants and loans from multilateral Institutions.
She explained to the lawmakers that the Fund, if approved, will also take care of special Public Work Programmes currently being implemented by the National Directorate of Employment(NDE).
Earlier in his remarks, the Senate President said the meeting was in fulfilment of an earlier promise to provide support as the need arises in this time of crisis.

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March 19, 2020950
Senate begins Electoral Act amendment to make election debate compulsory
The Senate on Thursday began amendment to the Electoral Act to introduce electoral debate as a requirement to be fulfilled by candidates of political parties seeking to contest Presidential and Governorship elections in Nigeria.
Sponsor of the Electoral Act Amendment bill 2020 (SB.176), Senator Abdulfatai Buhari (APC – Oyo North), in his lead debate said if passed by the National Assembly, the piece of legislation will put an end to voting based on ethnic and religious allegiances in the country.
He added that when signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari, the amended Act will also empower the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to organize and conduct debate for all candidates into the offices of the President and Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria; and of Governor and Deputy of a State.
The lawmaker explained that the introduction of debate to Nigeria’s election process would enable electorates to not only know about the personality of the candidates, but also their lifestyle, belief, and reaction to national issues and foreign policy.
“The Election Debates bill, if passed into law, shall be used to sample the candidates’ knowledge on a wide range of issues, like a detailed analysis on how they intend to drive the economy, foreign, health and education policies among others,” Senator Buhari said.
Likening the process to the function of the National Assembly under Section 147(1) of the Constitution (as amended) on the confirmation of Ministerial appointments, the lawmaker said the introduction of election debate would give electorates the platform to ask questions and test the knowledge of candidates on a wide range of issues.
“Anyone who desires to be Governor or President should be confident enough to lay derailed analysis of his or her plan before the electorates.
“This will offer the electorates the avenue to evaluate candidates and they will vote along ideological lines, rather than on ethnic or religious allegiance as it is prevailing in our country today,” Buhari said.
He added that, “other African countries that have imbibed the culture of elections debates include Ghana, Sierra-Leone among others.
“If these countries can successfully organize election debates for potential nominees thereby strengthening their democracy, it can only be an oversight on the part of Nigeria who prides itself as the Giant of Africa not to provide an all-inclusive avenue for her electorates to assess their to-be Representatives through informed process.”
Senators who contributed to the debate threw their weights behind the passage of the bill.
Some, however, called for the establishment of a separate Commission to be responsible for the conduct of election debate in the country.
Two Senators, Barau Jibrin (APC – Kano North); and Aishatu Dahiru Ahmed (APC – Adamawa Central), in their separate contributions suggested that participation in election debate be made optional as against mandatory.
Senator Yahaya Ibrahim Oloriegbe (APC – Kwara Central) said the current functions performed by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) were too cumbersome to accommodate more.
He, therefore, posited that, “this role (election debate) should be given to another body.”
According to him, the introduction of election debate for candidates “will help to deepen democracy and improve on the quality of persons standing for election” in Nigeria.
Senator Olamilekan Adeola (APC – Lagos West) said, “what this bill seeks to achieve is telling Nigerians, “know your candidates.”
Senator Barau Jibrin (APC – Kano North) observed that, “this is an idea that is tested and working elsewhere, infact, all over the world.”
“Ours cannot be different, we need to do the same, so that we don’t allow those who don’t have the ideas, knowledge and wherewithal to lead.”
Opining on the requirement for partaking in such debate, the lawmaker added, “for me, I think it should be optional. Let’s not make it mandatory, it should be optional.”
Senator Jibrin Isah (APC – Kogi East) said that making debate mandatory for candidates standing in for high political offices “will be an opportunity for electorates to know their candidates and make informed decisions.”
The lawmaker, however, said the National Orientation Agency (NOA) is in a better position to work with INEC in carrying out such responsibility.
Senator Smart Adeyemi (APC – Kogi West), while supporting the bill said its introduction “is a sure way of institutionalizing democracy in Nigeria.”
The lawmaker opined that for success to be recorded during the conduct of electoral debates, such a role should be reserved for the media, as it remains an “unbiased umpire” that would guarantee fairness and transparency.
President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, in his concluding remarks, called for the creation of a separate Commission that would be saddled with the responsibility of organizing election debates in the country.
According to him, doing so would not only reduce the burden on the Electoral Commission, but will secure the interest of opposition candidates who are expected to participate in such debates.
“I believe that INEC has enough responsibilities and to give them the responsibility again to organize this kind of debate, INEC being a government body, will cause some difficulty for people, especially in the opposition, in participating in such debates.
“So, I think we probably go the way of other countries, to have non-State actors, and independent people,” Lawan advised.
The Senate President, referred the bill which passed second reading to the Senator Kabiru Gaya-led Committee on INEC for further legislative work.

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March 18, 20201300
Coronavirus: Time to talk to Nigerians is now, Senate tells Buhari
The Senate on Wednesday urged President Muhammadu Buhari, to immediately brief Nigerians on efforts by the government to address the outbreak of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) disease in the country.
The call on the President was contained in resolutions reached sequel to the consideration of a motion brought to the floor by Senator Danjuma Goje (APC – Gombe Central).
Buhari has so far made no mention of the virus which has brought the world to it’s knees, killing hundreds of thousands.
There has been consternation as to why a country with a president would not address the citizens like all other countries have been doing.
The latest resolution brought Oluremi Tinubu (APC – Lagos Central), to say the outbreak of the disease is a wake up call for Nigerians to take personal hygiene seriously, adding that Nigerians should not go about in fear.
Ajayi Boroffice (APC – Ondo North), said because Nigeria’s borders are porous, foreign nationals now use the land borders as entry and exit route to and from Nigeria.
He, therefore, urged the Ministry of Health to immediately place a ban on citizens of countries already affected by the Coronavirus disease.
Jibrin Barau (APC – Kano North) advised authorities of churches and hotels to introduce the use of testers in identifying infected persons so as to control the spread of the dreaded disease.
Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi (APC – Niger North) said, “the issue at stake is one that calls for caution and proactive measures.”
“There are people who are having the virus and the symptoms are not there.
“For us to deal with this matter, individual contribution is key. Those who have travel to the epicenter of the disease are supposed to isolate themselves. Are they keeping to this?
“If you look at our health facilities, it is not in the best of state. Countries with good health facilities are on lockdown,” the lawmaker added.
Senator Emmanuel Bwacha (PDP – Taraba South) said, “we (Nigeria) are the largest black nation in the world, and our borders are very porous.”
“The dangers that this virus will bring upon us because of our policy will be very dangerous.
“Once you’re not a Nigerian, we should stop them at the border and ask them to return to where they are coming from,” Bwacha added.
Senator George Thompson Sekibo (PDP – Rivers East) said, “even those that have the technology to solve the problem, the virus is still spreading without respecting any person.
“Let the ministry of health come with real standard on how to behave now.
“Our airports and seaports are still open, and you don’t have the equipments to fight it.
“Let no one from this chamber travel out of here. Let us quarantine those coming from outside. Let us be more careful because we don’t have the resources to fight it,” the law maker appealed.
Sam Egwu (PDP – Ebonyi North), urged Senators who travel out of the country to quarantine themselves before coming to the chamber to attend plenary proceedings.
Senator Yahaya Ibrahim Oloriegbe (APC – Kwara Central) advocated for more resources to enable Nigeria establish test Centres across states.
He stressed that the availability of funds will ensure effective tracking, testing and quarantining of anyone who comes in contact with persons identified to be infected with the disease.
President of the Senate, Senator Ahmad Lawan, in his concluding remarks called for improved measures to be taken so as prevent uncontrollable outbreak of the disease in Nigeria.
He cautioned that, “even if our environment is hostile to Coronavirus, we need to be extremely careful. We won’t know when it adjusts to the environment and become very potent.”
The Senate in its prayers, accordingly, urged the Federal Government and Nigerians to keep abreast of all measures and developments related to Coronavirus globally.
Similarly, the Upper Chamber while urging the National Assembly to give the federal government full support to fight Coronavirus (COVID-19) spread, called for a Special Intervention Fund to combat the deadly disease.

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March 9, 2020830

President Muhammadu Buhari has sent messages to Presidents Hassan Rouhani and Moon Jae-in of Iran and South Korea, respectively, and the Prime Minister of Italy, Guiseppo Conte, expressing “deep sympathies” following increasing incidents of the deadly Coronavirus in their countries.

In the messages, according to his Spokesman, Malam Garba Shehu, in a statement in Abuja on Sunday, Buhari said the Nigerian government would continue to diligently carry out its duty to the international community by ensuring that the spread of the disease is curtailed.

While commending the three countries on their efforts to contain the virus, Buhari expressed confidence that “with the support of the World Health Organisation and other global agencies all working together to contain the virus, it will only be a matter of time before the world sees an end to this disease”.

The president also encouraged Nigerians to continue to show support to citizens of all the countries who are resident in Nigeria.

“There is no cause for panic. Italy, South Korea and Iran remain Nigeria’s allies in good and bad times,” he added.

The Nigerian leader noted that: “So far, there have been no known cases of the disease on Nigerian soil, but for the penetration of a lone foreign nationale found to be a carrier of the virus.”

He also commended the diligent efforts of federal, state health officials as well as ports and border personnel in keeping Nigeria safe from the epidemic.

Meanwhile, the Federal Government has so far released N984 million in its efforts to check the influx of the Covid-19 into the country.

The presidential spokesman, who confirmed this development, said additional N620 million was approved by the government to combat the virus disease.

“In fulfilment of the President’s promise to give the health authorities all that they need to keep Nigeria clear of the virus, the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning confirmed making the second approved payment in the sum N620 million last Friday, bringing the total payments made so far to N984 million,” he said.


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March 9, 2020790

Buhari set up economic committee on Coronavirus

Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed has just announced President Muhammadu Buhari has announced n economic committee on Coronavirus.

She disclosed this while briefing newsmen after a meeting with the president at the State House.

She was flanked by Timipre Sylva, Minister of State, Petroleum Resources.

She said, “We just met with the President to discuss the matter of the impact of the Coronavirus on our economy and Mr President has formed us into a committee, with the Minister of State, Petroleum Resources, the Central Bank Governor, the GMD NNPC and myself as members.

“Our mandate is to make a quick assessment of the impact of this Coronavirus on the economy, especially as it affects the crude oil price.

“We will be writing a report and brief Mr President tomorrow or Wednesday morning and after that we’ll also have more substantial information for the press.

“But it is very clear that we will have to revisit the crude oil benchmark price that we have of $57 per barrel, we have to revisit it and lower the price. Where it will be lowered to is the subject of the work of this Committee.

“What the impact will be on that is that there will be reduced revenue to the budget and it will mean cutting the size of the budget. The quantum of the cut is what we are supposed to assess as a committee.

“This is just an initial update to inform you on the directives that we have and subsequently we will be sending a report to the President, after which we will be briefing the press on the actions that government will be taking.”

Speaking amid Sharp drop in the prices of oil at the international market and the effect on Nigerian economic as it concerns the budget,  Sylva said, “On the issue of engaging Russia, we as a member of OPEC are not in a position to take that engagement on our own unilaterally.

“There was a disagreement between OPEC and OPEC+, it’s not just Russia, but the biggest producers within OPEC and OPEC+ are Saudi Arabia and Russia.

“We believe that in the coming days when all of us would have begun to see effect of the reduction of prices, OPEC and OPEC+ might need to meet again and reconsider our positions.

“Meanwhile, we expect also that a lot of discussions are going on at the level of Saudi Arabia and Russia, but as Nigeria, we are not in a position to begin to engage members on this matter.”


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March 6, 2020850

President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the appointment of Monica Dongban-Mensem, a judge, as the acting president of the court of appeal for a period of three months.

Garba Shehu, the senior special assistant on media and publicity to the president, announced the appointment in a statement on Thursday.

According to the statement, Dongban-Mensem’s appointment followed the recommendation of Ibrahim Muhammad, the chief justice of Nigeria, in line with the provisions of the constitution.

The appointment is expected to take effect from March 6 when Zainab Bulkachuwa, the incumbent president of the appellate court, would statutorily retire from service.

“Justice Dongban-Mensem, who is the next most senior judge of the court of appeal, will be acting pending when a substantive appointment to the position of the president of the court of appeal may be made by President Buhari subject to the confirmation of the senate,” the statement said.

“The president’s approval of the appointment of Justice Dongban-Mensem followed the recommendation of the Chief Justice of Nigeria in line with the provisions of Section 238(4) & (5) of the 1999 constitution as amended.”

Dongban-Mensem is currently the presiding justice of the court of appeal, Enugu division.


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March 4, 2020450

THE Nigeria Customs Service, NCS, has claimed that powerful and well connected Nigerians use religious houses and government agencies to evade payment of duty on imported items.

The Service said some persons related to religious houses and government agencies present fake documents and signatures to get such goods released.

The Coordinator of Zone A, Assistant Comptroller General, ACG Katherine Ekekezie, who disclosed this in Lagos, said that activities of these individuals is costing the Federal Government huge financial loss as well as having negative effect on the nation’s economy.

According to her, “On fraudulent identification of intending beneficiaries of such items, they even faked a Catholic church; they made the Cardinal himself to sign. I went to his office and he told me that he signed but that he did not know what he signed for.

“These were telephone calls, very high powered. What happened was that they were operating in Lagos but the officer said it is my uncle that is supposed to be signing this, let me call my uncle and the agent ran away and never came back. They resurfaced in Abuja; I think they did the first one and they were successful. When they came again for the second one, we said no; something fishy was going on and we followed up.

“What we found out, if I tell you, were the faking was coming from where you would not believe it. Very high powered people are behind it.”

Giving another instance, she said, “We keep on seeing many waivers that are purported to come from an organisation that are actually registered; some persons also have a way of beating around them.

“When I was in Tariff and Trade, in-fact I was desk officer. We had to call the signatory; I asked him one day, sir, are you actually the one signing all these documents we are seeing?  For instance, how will you feel that a lot of money has been waived for bitumen which can be picked from Ondo. He said he did not sign that document.

“So I told him I am sending everything I have worked on between January and December. He should study it and send it to me and we discovered that out of the 15 documents, guess what; only three were signed by him. So the truth is that people working in that office were involved. A level 14 officer was affected because Customs police went and made arrest,” she noted.

Contrary to claims that the Service demand for Form “M” for the clearance of charity items, the Customs boss said “It is out of our procedure to ask for Form “M” for donated items. Officers must account for every import into the country.

“If such goods must be released, if they are not released based on duty payment, then they are released based on waivers,” she concluded.

 

 

 

 


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February 24, 2020530

The President, Muhammadu Buhari on Monday announced his approval of the constitution of a National Humanitarian Coordination Committee to oversee all humanitarian actions in Nigeria.

Buhari said Vice President Yemi Osinbajo would inaugurate the committee.

According to the president, the committee would be chaired by the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Hajiya Sadiya Farouq; and have the National Security Adviser, Babagana Monguno, as co-Chairman.

He said, “The committee will, among other things, provide a national vision for humanitarian actions, advise on coordination between the security services and humanitarian actors, and settle disputes that may arise from interactions between security services and the humanitarian community.

“The committee will also propose policies that enhance coordination and seamless delivery of humanitarian aid to affected communities, facilitate the delivery of humanitarian interventions to vulnerable persons, and promote transparency and accountability in all aspects of humanitarian delivery in the country.”

 


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February 17, 20201280

Presidency has on Monday faulted news making the rounds that President Muhammadu Buhari had planned to travel to United Kingdom for 20 days, noting that the story was concocted by mischief makers.

Femi Adesina, who signed the statement, advised Nigerians to be discriminatory in their news consumption.

His words, “Purveyors of fake and concocted Information are currently on overdrive, and Nigerians are urged to be careful what they consume as news, and also share with others, particularly from the social media.

An unfounded information has been making the rounds that President Muhammadu Buhari is billed to travel to the United Kingdom for 20 days, and from there proceed to Saudi Arabia, and then Austria. Fake. It is nothing but falsehood from mischievous minds.

Members of the First Family, Ministers, top government officials, the military, and other key institutions, are equally objects of this orchestrated falsehood, coming from enemies of national cohesion.

We urge Nigerians to be discriminatory about what they accept as credible information, and restrain themselves from sharing what they have not authenticated as genuine. That is how we can all collectively beat the malevolent minds at their pernicious games.”