Edo Poll: Behave Responsibly, PMB Warns Candidates, Parties, Security Agents [LEADERSHIP]

President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday cautioned political parties, candidates and security agents to behave responsibly in tomorrow’s governorship election in Edo State.

The president, in a message to voters, political parties, election officials and security personnel, reiterated his stance that he is passionately committed to free and fair elections, adding that his own commitment is not enough if other actors at ground zero refuse to abide by the rules.

A statement by presidential spokesman, Mallam Garba Shehu, quoted Buhari as saying: “I want to see democratic standards in the country raised higher at every level, but these cannot be achieved when politicians resort to do or die methods to gain power by any means or machination.

“The do-or-die mentality to politics is a threat to free and fair elections because the actors are more focused on winning than caring about a fair outcome that reflects the Will of the people.”

The president appealed to all political parties and their candidates to behave peacefully and respect law and order.

He also advised election officials and security agents “to remain neutral to ensure free and fair elections and avoid any action(s) capable of compromising the integrity of the elections.”

President Buhari noted that conducting free and fair elections is one of his main concerns for the nation’s democracy, saying, “I want this commitment to be one of the legacies I will leave behind when I depart office.”

Security Operatives Embark On Another ‘Show Of Force’

Meanwhile, a team of combined security operatives yesterday embarked on another ‘Operation Show of Force’ in Benin City, the Edo State capital, to signify their preparedness to provide adequate security for tomorrow’s governorship election.

LEADERSHIP Friday reports that operatives from the various security agencies in no fewer than 70 patrol vehicles participated in the exercise.

It would be recalled that the operatives had embarked on similar exercise last Saturday and Sunday in the capital city.

Convoy of the troops moved from the State Police Command Headquarters in Benin City at Sapele Road through Country Home Road to Ugbo Road.

Other routes covered were the GRA, Adesuwa Road, Ihama Road and the entire stretch of the Airport Road.

Others were Akenzua Road, Ehaekpen Street, TV Road, Five Junction, Uselu-Lagos Road, Upper Mission Road and the Ring Road in the city.

The spokesman of the Police Command, SP Chidi Nwabuzor, told journalists that the exercise was to restate their commitment to provide adequate security for the election.

He urged voters to come out enmasse on Saturday and vote for the candidate of their choice, assuring that the protection of lives and property before, during and after the exercise is secured.

Security agencies that participated in the exercise include Police, Army, Air Force, Nigeria Customs Service and the Department of State Services.

Others are the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, Federal Road Safety Corps, Nigerian Correctional Service, Nigerian Immigrations Service and the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA).

 

FG Moves To Stop Relooting Of Recovered Assets [LEADERSHIP]

It will soon become impossible for recovered looted funds to be relooted as the federal government has put certain measures in place to prevent the corrupt act in the country.

As part of these measures, the federal government yesterday launched a Central Database under the Asset Tracing, Recovery and Management Regulations (ARTM) 2019 and the Central Criminal Justice Information System (CCJIS) under the National Anti-Corruption Strategy (NACS) 2017 – 2011.

The main objective of the exercise, according to the minister of Justice and attorney-general of the federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami (SAN), is to prevent the re-looting of recovered assets as is of the case in the past as well as to assist in the fight against corruption generally.

Speaking at the launch of the database in Abuja, Malami said that the database will ensure uniformity of process, access and information feeding to deepen transparency and accountability in the management of recovered assets.

To ensure compliance, he said that his office was developing legislation for the full implementation and operation of the CCJIS.

“We will work together to establish and re-enact transparency and accountability in governance and management of our resources which we have committed to do by way of strengthening international cooperation of our membership of Open Government Partnership”, Malami said.

On his part, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, said the regulation on asset tracing, recovery and proper management of proceeds of crime was signed on 24th October, 2019 and to take effect from 1st November, 2019, replaces the proceeds of Crime Regulation of 2012.

The Speaker who was represented by the chairman, House Committee on Justice, Ugonna Ozurigbo, noted that the new regulation ritled: “Asset Tracing, Recovery and Management Regulations 2019”, empowers the AGF to take charge of the custody and management of all final forfeited assets.

Gbajabiamila further listed the powers vested on the AGF to include approval and appointment of asset managers and operating and maintaining a database for the records of all recovered assets within and outside Nigeria.

He said the AGF’s office under the new regulation is also required to coordinate inter-agency investigations into recovery matters within and outside Nigeria from all law enforcement agencies which law empowers them to undertake recoveries and maintaining a depository for all forfeiture orders issued by Nigerian courts and courts outside the country.

Asset Tracing, Recovery and Management, according to the Speaker, is a core value of good governance and its effective management will serve as a deterrent to would be fraudulent minded individuals who may find themselves in public offices.

States resources, he said, must not be allowed to be stolen, but in the event where it happens by fraudulent individuals, efforts must be taken to trace proceeds, recover same and manage for the interest of the generality of the people.

He continued: “When the proceeds of crime is traced and recovered but again re-looted by government officials, I dare to say such act amounts to crime of tertiary capacity and must be avoided.

“Assets not accounted for are assets lost; loss of assets undervalues the economic potential of a country and will negatively impact on the net worth of a country. Accordingly, Asset Tracing Recovery and Management is a panacea to rekindling of the value system of a nation”.

He disclosed that the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) had reported that about $110billion was being looted annually from the Nigerian treasury and that stolen money stashed in foreign accounts by corrupt Nigerian public office holders increased from $50billion in 1999 to $170 billion in 2003.

While pointing out that the figure has increased over the years, the Speaker said it must not be allowed to continue unabated.

Gbajabiamila further noted that asset tracing, recovery and management of central database will help in addressing asset repatriation to country of origin through effective coordination of various anti-corruption bodies in the country.

He assured the AGF of the support of the National Assembly, particularly the House of Representatives, in areas of oversight and amendments of the legislations when the need arises.

Earlier in his speech, the solicitor-general of the federation and Permanent secretary, Dayo Apata (SAN), said the actualisation and development of the central database for recovered assets and the central criminal information system are practical expression of the present administration’s willingness to have a one-stop information centre where timely and verifiable information is sourced and provided to all stakeholders.

Apata listed the objectives of the Centralised Database for recovered assets to include centralised asset depository for easy coordination for all stakeholders with regards to asset management, providing timely access on all recovered asset within and outside the country, and assisting in the collection and collation of data for statistical analysis on assets recovered by Nigeria.

Other objectives, according to the Solicitor-general are adequate record keeping to conform the status of assets whether interim, seized or final forfeiture, strengthening of the efficiency of the anti-corruption agencies and law enforcement agencies, preventing the re-looting of recovered assets, assisting citizens, civil society organizations and journalists as well as the general public in monitoring recovered assets and disposal of the assets, serving as reference point and source of information on recovered assets, and assisting of researchers with materials and other information regarding recovered assets.

 

Global Economic Recovery May Take 5 Years – W/Bank [LEADERSHIP]

The global economic recovery from the crisis originated by the coronavirus pandemic may take as much as five years, the World Bank’s chief economist Carmen Reinhart said on Thursday.

“There will probably be a quick rebound as all the restriction measures linked to lockdowns are lifted, but a full recovery will take as much as five years,” Reinhart said in a remote intervention during a conference held in Madrid.

Reinhart said that the pandemic-caused recession will last longer in some countries than in others and will exacerbate inequalities as the poorest will be harder hit by the crisis in rich countries and the poorest nations will be harder hit than richer countries.

For the first time in 20 years, global poverty rates will rise following the crisis, she added.

 

Edo voters decide fate of Obaseki, Ize-Iyamu [THE NATION]

Saturday’s governorship election in Edo State in the volatile Niger Delta region will involve 14 political parties. But, it will be a battle between the standard bearer of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Governor Godwin Obaseki, and the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG).

Obaseki and Ize-Iyamu are Benin indigenes in Edo South Senatorial District.

It has been back and forth between PDP and APC leaders over allegations of thuggery and violence. But, the Oba of Benin, Omo N’ Oba N’ Edo Uku Akpolokpolo, Oba Ewuare II, on September 2, during a peace meeting with top Edo politicians in his palace, asked Obaseki’s running mate and Edo Deputy Governor, Philip Shaibu, to call his ‘boys’ to order and give peace a chance in Edo.

On July 25, at the Oba of Benin’s palace’s main entrance, PDP leaders from across Nigeria, who paid the first-class monarch courtesy visit, were booed by unknown persons, with sporadic gunshots making passersby to scamper to safety, while no fewer than 10 persons were seriously injured.

With the campaigns in full swing in the 192 wards across the 18 local government areas, it has been accusations and counter accusations, especially between chieftains of PDP and APC, over attacks and violence, as well as vandalism of campaign billboards, posters, banners and destruction of canopies, chairs and other items at the venues of campaigns, with many politicians raising the alarm, whether fake or real, about plots to assassinate or attack them by their opponents.

The APC and PDP in Edo also engaged in war of words over N5 billion for electoral malpractices in the state.

Ize-Iyamu media aide John Mayaki, disclosed that APC had uncovered a sinister plot traceable to the PDP and Obaseki to compromise identified officials of the various agencies carrying out key roles and facilitate comprehensive rigging agenda during the September 19 governorship election.

APC said: “It was revealed that the plotters agreed to earmark N1 billion cash as the gift for specific officials of the various agencies involved in the prosecution of the election in Edo State, with an extra N4 billion set aside to purchase votes across the state on September 19.

“Each voter is pencilled to receive N20,000 on election day. The money is being planned for shipment into the state through the airport. With us are the detailed information including those who held the meeting, the venue of the meeting, identified officials of the various agencies to be purchased and the channels of disbursement of the cash haul.

Edo APC also reiterated that Obaseki’s seven-member House of Assembly that sat inside Government House, Benin, had just approved his N1.5 billion loan from a new generation bank and the $75 million World Bank’s loan meant for education, to be applied for Saturday’s election.

 

Babalakin accuses Visitation Panel to UNILAG of bias [THE NATION]

Pro-Chancellor of the University of Lagos, Dr. Wale Babalakin has resigned.

Babalakin went into a squabble with Vice Chancellor Prof. Toyin Ogundipe following which he “sacked” the VC.

But the government reversed the action and asked  both of them to vacate office for a visitation panel to examine the situation.

The panel sat for two weeks during which it took evidence from all the parties in the dispute and submitted its report on Thursday.

Babalakin’s resignation letter was also released on Thursday although dated September 15.

The erstwhile pro-chancellor accused the visitation panel of having a pre-determined position to exonerate the VC and indict the pro-chancellor.

He said although he appeared in protest before the panel, he told panel members that they could not determine the issues before it.

He said he will also not be available again to serve as the chairman of the Federal Government Negotiation Team on the Agreement reached with university unions in 2009.

He has been the chairman of the negotiating team since January 6th, 2017.

He said he had served the university system in Nigeria with his heart and intellect.

He said as Pro-Chancellor of the University of Maiduguri and the University of Lagos, he did not receive sitting allowances and other perks of office.

He said he did not allow the two institutions to provide him with food or drinks.

He said he paid for every right or privilege that was conferred on me.

The letter of resignation was copied President Muhammadu Buhari, who is the Visitor to the university.

The letter reads in part: ”I would like to thank the President of the Federal of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari for giving me the opportunity to serve as the Pro-Chancellor of the University of Lagos (the “University”) from May 2017 till date.

“I am also grateful that I was considered fit to be the Chairman of the Federal Government Negotiation Team on the Agreement reached with university unions in 2009, from 6th January 2017 till date. I equally want to thank you sir, for your role in recommending me to the President.

“Recent events have made my position in these two offices untenable.

”I led the Governing Council of the University to remove the Vice-Chancellor of the University from office for among other reasons: (a)Corruption and financial recklessness; (b)Forgery; (c) Complicity in the collapse of the University library and planned cover up; (d) Deliberate policy of wrongfully concealing information; ( e) Depriving the Faculties in the University of funds; (f)Concealing and distorting finances of the Internally Generating Units of the University; (g)Undermining the academic process and seeking to appoint a Professor by fiat; (h) Siphoning of the University’s funds through dubious contract awards; (i)Undermining the office of the Registrar; (j) Failure to follow due process in organizing the University’s convocation ceremony; and (k)Sponsoring or acquiescing in the unconstitutional actions of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), University of Lagos chapter.

 

Edo: Buhari warns against violence, rigging of poll [THE NATION]

President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday reiterated his commitment to credible elections.

He warned against violence and lack of fairness in Saturday’s governorship election in Edo State.

Governor Godwin Obaseki of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu of the All Progressives Congress (APC) are the leading candidates. Twelve others are also contesting.

The stakes are high given the fierce contest.

The President warned electoral officials and security agents to be neutral while carrying out their duties.

He also warned political parties and politicians to behave responsibly as they go into the election.

The President, according to a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, said he is committed to bequeathing the culture of free and fair elections. He said, however, that, the activities of those on the field would go a long way to determine outcomes.

In a message to voters, political parties, election officials and security personnel, the President reiterated his stance.

He said that: “I am passionately committed to free and fair elections, but my own commitment is not enough if other actors at ground zero refuse to abide by the rules.

“I want to see democratic standards in the country raised higher at every level, but these cannot be achieved when politicians resort to do or die methods to gain power by any means or machination.

“The do-or-die mentality to politics is a threat to free and fair elections because the actors are more focused on winning than caring about a fair outcome that reflects the Will of the people.”

Buhari appealed to political parties and their candidates to behave peacefully and respect law and order. He also advised election officials and security agents “to remain neutral to ensure free and fair elections and avoid any action(s) capable of compromising the integrity of the elections.”

He said: “Conducting free and fair elections is one of my main concerns for our democracy, and I want this commitment to be one of the legacies I will leave behind when I depart office.”

The 4 Brigade Nigerian Army, Benin, released two help lines for the public to report untowards activities.

The Assistant Director Army Public Relations, Maj. Ojo Adenegan, made in a statement gave the telephone numbers as 08079831567 and 08079839190.

He said the telephone lines would be operational round the clock.

Also on Thursday, the Police Service Commission (PSC) cautioned police officers and men to operate within the law or face sanctions.

The commission has already deployed a high powered team to monitor the conduct of policemen on electoral duties.

Head, Press and Public Relations of the Commission, Mr Ikechukwu Ani, said the team is led by Rommy Mom, a Commissioner representing the Human Rights Organizations and Austin Braimoh, representing the Media.

The Commission has also released dedicated telephone numbers for complaints and commendation on the conduct of Police during the poll.

 

President signs Police Bill 2020 into law [THE NATION]

President Muhammadu Buhari has signed the Nigeria Police Bill, 2020, into law.

A statement on Thursday in Abuja by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina said President Buhari, in a memo, dated September 16, 2020, communicated his assent to the Bill to the National Assembly through the Clerk of the legislature.

The Act repeals the Police Act Cap. P19. Laws of the Federation, 2004, and provides for a more effective and well organised Police Force, driven by the principles of transparency and accountability in its operations and management of its resources.

Among others, the Act establishes an appropriate funding framework for the Police in line with what is obtainable, in other Federal Government key institutions; enhances professionalism in the Force through increased training opportunities; and creates an enduring cooperation and partnership between the Police Force and communities in maintaining peace and combating crimes nationwide.

 

FG orders schools to conduct weekly COVID-19 assessment [PUNCH]

The Federal Government has released more guidelines that will  prevent the spread of COVID-19 as  more states fully reopen schools  on Monday.

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, which disclosed this to The PUNCH on Thursday,  stated that  schools had been directed to conduct COVID-19 risk assessment every week.

The NCDC also disclosed that  local governments and states  were  directed to conduct monthly and quarterly COVID-19 risk assessment in schools respectively.

The NCDC  Director General, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu,  stated these in an electronic mail sent to one of our correspondents in response to enquiries.

According to the NCDC, the assessment will determine schools’ level of compliance with safety protocols including physical distancing, hand-washing and the use of face masks, whose violation can put students at risk of COVID-19.

Also on Thursday, the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 said the Federal Government would seize passports of travellers who failed to carry out COVID-19 test. It added that visas of foreign travellers would be cancelled.

Schools across the country were shut in March as part of measures to check the spread of COVID-19.

But the Senior Secondary School 3 students resumed on August 17 to write the West African Senior School Examinations.

At its press conference on September 3, the PTF recommended  phased reopening of schools.

Following the PTF’s recommendation, states that have   announced dates for reopening  of their schools include Ogun, Lagos, Osun, Ekiti, Ekiti, Delta and Kogi. States where schools are resuming on Monday include Lagos, Ekiti , Osun and Ogun.

On Thursday, the  NCDC DG told The PUNCH that part of its  responsibility  was  to work with all relevant stakeholders to strengthen the country’s capacity for early detection and response to COVID-19 cases.

He stated,  “We have also continued to educate the public on measures to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19.

“We know that as the economy and society re-open gradually, we may record a spike in COVID-19 cases. We have reviewed the situation in other countries that have re-opened schools as well as guidance from WHO, UNICEF and other public health authorities.

“There is lesser risk of COVID-19 cases in school settings, if schools carefully coordinate, plan and put the required safety measures in place before reopening.

“We are working closely with the Federal Ministry of Education, PTF-COVID-19, states and our partners to ensure that the required safety measures are in place to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on our schools.”

“The PTF-COVID-19 and Federal Ministry of Education have mandated schools to conduct periodic (weekly) risk assessments. This is to review the gaps that may exist in reducing the risk of COVID-19 spread in schools, and tailor interventions to address these gaps. Local governments areas and states are to conduct monthly and quarterly risk assessment respectively.”

“In addition to this, schools are to set up school health teams including teachers and learners that would facilitate implementation of the safety protocols in schools. LGAs and States have been advised to set up multi-sectoral school health committees dedicated to supporting and monitoring the implementation of safety protocols in the school.”

Speaking further on risk assessment, the NCDC spokesman Emeka Oguanuo, said it included,   “the process of identifying and analysing potential gaps, threats that may cause a likelihood of COVID-19 spread.

“Risk assessments in public health are also done to determine severity or degree of an outbreak.  In this case, it is done to determine if school re-opening  is safe  and whenever a bridge in safety is observed, it  can be addressed by relevant stakeholders.”

COVID-19 test: FG to suspend passports of errant travellers for six months

Meanwhile, the PTF on  Thursday warned international travellers arriving the country to carry out COVID-19 test within 14 days of their arrival.

The National Coordinator of PTF, Dr Sani Aliyu, said at the task force’s briefing in Abuja that such Nigerian travellers who failed to carry out the PCR COVID-19 test within the stipulated period would have their passports suspended for six months, while foreigners would have their visas on their way out of the country cancelled.

He explained that a passenger must have a negative PCR COVID-19 test, upload it on the prescribed portal and generate a QR Code, before departure and must pay for another test within seven days, and undergo the test within 14 days of arriving Nigeria.

He said, “We are urging passengers coming into the country to make sure they pay for their COVID-19 PCR test by day 7 of arrival. If passengers do not have a test for COVID 19 by day 14,  our system will pick up these passengers and if it is very clear they haven’t had a test for COVID 19 , the passports will be suspended  for a period of six months.

“Therefore it is really essential for non-Nigerians,  their visas on their way out of Nigeria will be cancelled. So, they might have difficulties coming to the country.”

He said although government continued “to have issues with payment” for the PCR test by arriving passengers, it would “not insist on evidence of payment before boarding, but we will be releasing a strong recommendation to airlines  that preferably people come onboard with the QR Code.”

Aliyu said it was unrealistic and unsustainable for the Federal Government to bear the cost of the PCR test for every passenger arriving the country.

He said, “Currently about 5,000 air travellers come in and out of Nigeria, and the PTF wants to ensure that we do not lose the gains made in the response.

 

FG orders all bank, other account holders to re-register [PUNCH]

The Federal Government has ordered all account holders in the country’s financial institutions to register their details again.

The order was given despite the possession of the Bank Verification Number and the National Identification Number by account holders.

This new order was disclosed by the government on its Twitter account, @NigeriaGov, on Thursday.

It said, “This is to notify the general public that all account holders in financial institutions (banks, insurance companies, etc) are required to obtain, complete and submit self-certification forms to their respective financial institutions.

“Persons holding accounts in different financial institutions are required to complete and submit the form to each one of the institutions.

“The forms are required by the relevant financial institutions to carry out due diligence procedures in line with the Income Tax Regulations 2019.

“The self-certification form is in three categories: Form for entity – for controlling person (individuals having controlling interest in a legal person, trustee, etc) – Form for individual.

“Failure to comply with the requirement to administer or execute this form attracts sanctions, which may include monetary penalty or inability to operate the account.”

The government, however, did not give more explanation on this order.

 

Hike: Electricity consumers to pay N417.09bn in four months [PUNCH]

Following the recent increase in electricity tariffs, the 11 distribution companies in the country are allowed to collect a total of N417.09bn from their customers from September to December.

The Discos had early this month announced what they called ‘new service reflective tariff’, which took effect from September 1, with the tariffs being charged residential consumers receiving a minimum of 12 hours of power supply rising by over 70 per cent.

The amounts recoverable by the Discos through the allowed end-user tariffs range from 61 per cent to 90 per cent of the total revenue required, according to the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission.

The tariff shortfall, which is the difference between the Discos’ revenue requirement and the amounts they are allowed to recover from their customers by the regulator, will be funded by the Federal Government.

The PUNCH had reported that the Federal Government would fund a tariff shortfall of N104.5bn that will be recorded by the Discos in the four-month period, according to the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission.

Ikeja Disco is allowed to recover N66.52bn (90 per cent of its total revenue requirement) from September to December, a NERC document showed.

Eko Disco is allowed to recover N48.46bn (86 per cent); Kano Disco, N34.13bn (84 per cent); Abuja Disco, N49.16bn (83 per cent); and Enugu Disco, N38.81bn (82 per cent).

The amounts recoverable by Kaduna Disco is N35.22bn (82 per cent: Ibadan Disco, N54.61bn (78 per cent); Benin Disco, N34.94bn (74 per cent); and Yola Disco, N13.34bn (71 per cent).

Port Harcourt and Jos Discos are allowed to recover N23.63bn (68 per cent) and N18.27bn (61 per cent) respectively.

NERC said the Power Sector Recovery Plan provided for a gradual transition to cost-reflective tariffs with safeguards for the less privileged in the society, adding that full cost-reflective tariffs would be charged by July 2021.

“The Federal Government, under the PSRP Financing Plan, has committed to fund the revenue gap arising from the difference between cost-reflective tariffs determined by the commission and the actual end-user tariffs during the transition to cost-reflective tariffs,” it added.

According to the commission, all the Discos are obligated to settle their market invoices in full as adjusted and netted off by applicable tariff shortfall approved by the commission.

It said the Discos would be liable to relevant penalties/sanctions for failure to meet the minimum remittance requirement in any payment cycle in accordance with the terms of its respective contracts with the Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading and the Market Operator, an arm of the Transmission Company of Nigeria.

 

Policeman arrested as girlfriend dies in Lagos hotel [PUNCH]

A police sergeant, Anthony Kachukwu, has been arrested by men of the Lagos State Police Command after his girlfriend, Justina Omofuma, died in one of the rooms of the Exclusive Mansion Hotel in the Surulere area of the state.

PUNCH Metro gathered that Anthony took Justina to the hotel, where they both passed the night, but the lady was said to have lost consciousness and fell to the ground while sitting on a chair.

In the process of falling, it was learnt that Justina hit her forehead on the ground and died due to the impact of the injuries she sustained.

A source, who spoke with PUNCH Metro, said Anthony was discussing with Justina when he stepped into the toilet but on his return, he saw Justina lying on the floor of the room.

“They were both inside the room in the hotel and he left her, where she was sitting, to do something in the toilet. When he was done, he stepped back into the room, but was shocked to see the girl lying on the floor face down. It was when he moved closer that he realised that the girl had died,” the source said.

When all efforts to resuscitate the victim reportedly proved abortive, PUNCH Metro gathered that Anthony reported the incident at the Surulere Police Division, where he was taken into custody.

It was learnt that Justina’s remains were evacuated from the hotel and deposited in the Mainland Hospital’s mortuary for autopsy.

However, a resident, who identified himself simply as Adeoti, said Justina’s family said they did not want an autopsy to be conducted on her body, adding that they suspected no foul play as they were aware that she and Anthony were lovers.

“Justina’s family know that they were both lovers and they never suspected any foul play. All they wanted was for them to perform her burial rites; so, they didn’t allow the police to continue the investigation or conduct an autopsy to reveal the cause of death. The incident occurred on July 26, 2020,” he said.

It was learnt that Justina’s family applied for her corpse and after fulfilling all the necessary conditions, her corpse was released to them for burial.

When contacted, the state Police Public Relations Officer, Olumuyiwa Adejobi, said the cause of Justina’s death could not be ascertained, because her family withdrew the case on the ground that they suspected no foul play.

He, however, added that Anthony was undergoing orderly room trial for other disciplinary matters.

Adejobi stated, “The family of the deceased girl wrote that they were not interested in any case and did not allow the police to go on with the autopsy. They withdrew the case and revealed that they knew that the two of them were actually close.

“So, the corpse was released to them and buried accordingly. However, at our end, the policeman is still facing an orderly room trial. From the brief I got, the lady went to meet him at the hotel and she slumped there.

“Anything could have caused the incident, but since we didn’t do any post mortem, we cannot ascertain the immediate or remote cause of death, because the family withdrew the case.”

 

Edo election: Tension, anxiety swells [SUN]

As all is now set for the Edo governorship election which is now less than 24hrs to the D-day, Saturday, September 19, the state is fully soaked in an atmosphere of tension and uneasiness.

Expectedly, most of the political gladiators are moving out of Benin, the state capital to their country home/ wards where they are expected to cast their votes as well as put their influence on displaying, thereby influencing voting too.

The general atmosphere in the state is tensed as the two contending political parties; the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Party (APC) have all strategised to spring a surprise.

Although the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) said 14 political parties are on the ballot, it will be a straight battle between Gov. Godwin Obaseki, candidate of the PDP, and Pastor Ize Iyamu, candidate of the APC.

Each of the two political parties has been boasting of coasting home easy victory, it will be more of a big battle between two elephants as none of the parties is leaving anything to chance.

A lot of promises and assurances have been made that the election will be violent free, but there is no gainsaying the fact that the atmosphere is fully charged for the showdown.

The Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu has already ordered the restriction of vehicular movement from 11.59 pm today (Friday) to 6.00 am tomorrow (Saturday).

The Force Public Relations Officer (FPRO), Mr. Frank Mba Said the order was part of efforts by the police to ensure orderliness and safety during the election.

Also, spokesman for the police command in Edo state, S.P Chidi Nwabuzor said there is no cause for alarm as he assured the commitment of their men and other security agencies to provide adequate security for the exercise.

While APC has reiterated commitment to the peace accord which the parties signed on Wednesday to eschew violence during the election, Obaseki said the election will be free and fair given the massive preparation put in place by the security agency.

To see that the prediction of violence and bloodshed does not come to pass during the election the police said not less than three policemen and other security agencies (Army, Road Safety, Navy, etc) will be on the ground to man each of the 2,627 polling booths.

It is on record that since 1999, democratic elections have always been conducted with varying degrees of violence. What will be the degree of violence in the Edo governorship election can only be known after its conduct tomorrow.

 

Edo guber: IGP orders restriction of vehicular movement from 11:59pm to 6pm tomorrow [SUN]

Ahead of tomorrow’s governorship election in Edo State, Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mohammed Adamu, has ordered the restriction of vehicular movement from 11:59pm today to 6pm tomorrow.

The IGP said the restriction was to prevent the circulation and use of illicit arms and hard drugs. He also said the restriction was to checkmate the movement of political thugs and touts and other criminally-minded individuals, especially from contiguous states from hijacking and disrupting the electoral processes.

Adamu, in a statement by Force Public Relations Officer, Frank Mba, said: “In line with concerted efforts at ensuring public order and safety, during the Edo governorship election tomorrow, the IGP has ordered the restriction of vehicular movement from 11:59pm to 6pm tomorrow.

“The IGP notes that the restriction order is informed by the need to prevent the free flow, circulation and use of illicit arms and hard drugs and checkmate the movement of political thugs and touts and other criminally-minded individuals, especially from contiguous states from hijacking and disrupting the electoral processes.

“He enjoins citizens to go out en-masse on the day of the election and vote, noting that the police and other security agencies have been sufficiently mobilised to provide a safe, secure and conducive environment for the election.

“While regretting any inconveniences the restriction order may cause the citizens, the IGP enjoins the citizens to see the restriction as part of necessary sacrifices towards the enthronement of democracy. He, however, warns that the Force will not sit idly-by and watch citizens who may want to engage in any criminal act – violent and destructive acts, snatching of ballot boxes, vote buying, vote selling, hate speeches, and other act(s) capable of compromising the electoral processes.”

Meanwhile, combined security operatives, yesterday, in Benin embarked on another ‘Operation Show of Force’ to signify their preparedness to provide adequate security for tomorrow election.

Operatives from the various security agencies in no fewer than 70 patrol vehicles participated in the exercise.

The operatives had embarked on similarly exercises on Saturday and Sunday in the ancient city.

Convoy of the troops moved from the Police Command Headquarters in Benin on Sapele road, Country Home road through Ugbo road.

Other routes covered were the GRA, Adesuwa road, Ihama road and the entire stretch of the Airport road.

Others were Akenzua road, Ehaekpen St., TV road, Five junction, Uselu-Lagos road, Upper Mission road and the Ring road.

Chidi Nwabuzor, spokesman for the police command in Edo, told newsmen that the exercise was to restate their commitment to provide adequate security for the election.

He urged voters to come out en masse tomorrow and vote for the candidate of their choice, assuring them of the protection of their lives and property before, during and after the exercise.

Security agencies that participated in the exercise include police, army, Air Force, Nigerian Customs Service and the Department of State Services.

Others were the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, Federal Road Safety Corps, Nigerian Correctional Service, Nigerian Immigration Service and the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency.

Meanwhile, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), yesterday, began the distributions of sensitive materials to the 18 local government areas of the state ahead of the governorship election.

Addressing journalists at the premises of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Benin, Timidi Wariowei, INEC Head of Voter Education and Publicity in Edo, said the distribution commenced with the farthest local government areas.

“So far, we have loaded about 11 local government. We started from Akoko-Edo, Etsako Central, Owan East and Owan West among others.

“Some have gone and others are completely loaded and are sorting out their security escort and very soon, materials will move to the local governments.

“From the local government, the materials will move to registration areas centres (RACs) and from the RACs, they will move to the polling units and voting points tomorrow morning.

“As you can see, we are fully ready for the election. This is the high point of our preparation, that is moving the materials from the CBN to local government areas,” he said.

 

Money laundering: 13 rich Nigerians under probe [SUN]

Less than two weeks after it froze accounts of  38 companies over  foreign exchange(forex) infractions, the Central Bank of Nigeria(CBN) has again ordered banks to provide details of the domiciliary account statements of some high profile customers and other accounts linked to them through their Bank Verification Numbers.

In a letter to all the banks referenced, ‘BSD/DIR/GEN/LAB/13/063, dated September 15, and titled ‘Request for Statement of Accounts’, signed for the Director of Banking Supervision, by Z. Marcus, the Deposit Money Banks were ordered to send details to five listed email addresses by the CBN after listing the names of 16 individuals in the letter. Some of the individuals recently had their company’s bank accounts frozen over forex infractions.

The customers listed included Chief Kesington A. Adebutu; Adebisi A. Adebutu; Ajibola Bankole Adebutu; Olanipekun Orekoya Adebutu; and Olasegun Oladiran Adebutu. The Adebutus are directors of Premier Lotto.

The list also includes Adekunle O. Soname and Ayodeji Ojuroye, owners of Bet9ja.

Other names are Akinola Adekunle Alabi, founder of NairaBet and a member of the House of Representatives; Oluwadamilare Olubukola Alabi; Oluwafemi Babalola; and Adetayo Cosmas Adesanwo.

Some foreigners doing business in the country on the CBN list are David Patrick Grogan; Domenico Giovando; Mauro Ripamonti; Charbel Jabbour Chidiac; and Byron Powell.

Similarly, a number of the persons on the list are linked to the betting industry.

A source expressed worry on the light that had been beamed on the members of Adebutu’s family.

The source said, “apart from being directors of their father’s betting business, these men (the Adebutus) have their own businesses. I know one of them that is into oil business.

“Their businesses have to do with forex; so, they cannot do without using forex.”

Part of the letter to the bank read, “You are required to furnish us with the domiciliary account statements (Excel and PDF format of the under-listed individuals including the domiciliary accounts linked to them by the Bank Verification Number.

“The statement should cover the period January 1, 2013 to July 31, 2020.”

The CBN on September 4 instructed banks to place a post-no-debit on the bank accounts of 38 companies.

It stated in a circular to the banks: “You are hereby required to place the under listed accounts on post-no-debit with immediate effect and revert with the account names, numbers, currencies and balances of all accounts placed on PND.”

The affected accounts belonged to betting companies, bureau de change companies and some logistics companies. The report stated that the companies were accused of forex infractions, economic sabotage, moving forex abroad without the required authorisation. Sources said one of the gaming companies moved $420 million abroad under the guise of purchasing software, only for the funds to be traced to the foreign accounts of some of the directors of the company.

“The forex was sourced from the black market, thereby putting pressure on the exchange rate. The gaming companies are awash with naira which sit in their bank accounts, so they devised a way of moving the funds abroad,”  the source said.

“The forex was sourced from the black market, thereby putting pressure on the exchange rate. The gaming companies are awash with naira which sit in their bank accounts, so they devised a way of moving the funds abroad,” the source said.

 

No going back on proposed nationwide shut down –TUC [SUN]

The Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC) has reiterated its resolve to embark on nationwide protest slated for Wednesday, September 23 if the Federal Government failed to reverse the hike in electricity bill and Premium Motor Spirit (fuel) and other decisions and policies “sinister to Nigerians.”

In a statement delivered by the Secretary of the Union, Lagos Council, Abiodun Aladetan, the union notified all members of state Administrative Committee and State Executive Committee to mobilise members and act accordingly.

Aladetan said survival of every worker was significantly dependent on the proposed mass industrial action. He noted that nothing would stop them from fighting against anti -people policies in the country.

“This is to inform all members of the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC), Lagos State Council that in line with the nationwide protest and industrial action declared by the national leadership of TUC after the expiration of the seven-day ultimatum given to the Federal Government calling for the reversal in the prices of PMS and electricity tariff, all members and affiliates of TUC should, therefore, commence mobilisation in earnest towards ensuring the success of the protest.

“Our survival as workers and Nigerians is heavily dependent on the success of this protest because the gains of the last minimum wage has been eroded. A people united can never be defeated. Solidarity…Forever.”

Meanwhile, the Federal Government has appealed to the Joint Health Sector Unions (JOHESU) to suspend its nationwide strike, saying it has cost human lives.

“Let me once again send a strong appeal to all health workers particularly, JOHESU members, that the nation can ill-afford any further disruption to its health systems.

“The ongoing strike has been very costly in terms of human lives but such losses can be avoided. Government shall continue to do its best to push through the negotiations with the unions and hopefully, reason shall prevail.”

However, he declared that the country’s national response, the use of science, data and experience from other countries, the curve of COVID-19 pandemic was flattening.

Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) and Chairman of the Presidential Taskforce (PTF) on COVID-19, Boss Mustapha, stated this at the briefing in Abuja, yesterday. This is even as the task force marks six months of the country’s national response from March 17 since the PTF was inaugurated.

According to Mustapha, with the world cases now at 30,026,460, Africa with cumulatively 1,380,223 cases, Nigeria with 56,604 cases, and with India crossing the five million cases mark as at yesterday, the numbers are reminders that the country’s national response needs to remain top notch, build stronger and more unified global collaborative efforts to overcome the virus.

The SGF said: “Looking back at our National Response, using science, data and experience from other countries, we cannot but say that tremendous progress has been made and that we are beginning to notice that the curve is flattening. However, as we have always stated, this positive development shall be taken with vigilance and cautious optimism. This is based on the fact that we are convinced that we have not tested enough, we have only recently reopened our international flights and that nations that had opened up their economies have done a re-think following the resurgence of the cases in their countries.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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