Fuel Importation To Reduce As Port Harcourt, Warri Refineries Begin Operation

Refinery-KadunaThe Group Managing Director (GMD) of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, is optimistic that fuel importation will reduce, with the commencement of production at the Port Harcourt refinery.

He said that the Port Harcourt refinery was producing five million litres of petrol every day and that the refinery in Warri, Delta State, would begin production soon.

The NNPC boss made the revelation to reporters on Wednesday during a visit to the Port Harcourt refinery in Alesa Eleme, in Rivers State.

Fuel Importation Reduction

According to Mr Kachikwu, the production rate signifies that fuel importation will reduce significantly from now on.

He also said that before the end of the week, the Warri refinery will also resume production.

The GMD explained that the target of the NNPC was to ensure that all states’ refineries would begin to refine petroleum products, with operation at full capacity.

“All the refineries put together could supply 20 million litres of petrol on daily basis,” he said.

He also hinted that “when all the pipelines across Nigeria are fixed, the Nigerian Air Force will be engaged to provide aerial survey of the pipelines.

The GMD then told Journalists that a major plan was on the way to unbundle the pipelines and products marketing into three different companies that would focus primarily on maintenance of the pipelines and all the 23 depots across the country.

DSS Releases Identities Of 21 Alleged B/Haram Front-Line Members

dssNigeria’s Department of State Services (DSS) has released the identities of 21 alleged commanders and front-line members of the Boko Haram terrorist group arrested in different parts of the country.

In a statement signed by Mr Tony Opuiyo, the DSS explained that the successful arrest is a result of the services’ “re-strategised measures to combat the insurgency menace”.

The suspects are said to have been arrested in Lagos, Kano, Plateau, Enugu and Gombe States between July 8 and August 25, 2015.

“They include those allegedly responsible for the coordination and execution of the suicide attacks in Potiskum, Kano, Zaria and Jos who were arrested on July 8 in Gombe State”, the statement said.

The suspects named by the DSS include “Usman Shuaibu a.k.a money, said to be the co-ordinator of the suicide attacks, Ahmed Mohammed also known as Abubakar, an Improvised Explosives Device (IED) expert, who is said to have prepared the IEDs for the attacks.

“Others are Adamu Abdullahi, Ibrahim Isa, who allegedly carried out reconnaissance on targets in the Jos attacks, and Mutaqqa Yusuf who is said to have assisted Usman Shuaibu in planning and executing the attacks.

The DSS added that “Shaibu and his group were intercepted on their way to Bauchi State, where they had planned to execute another bomb attack, saying their arrest has stemmed the spate of bombings by the sect.

12 other suspects are said to have been arrested in Lagos State, while three were nabbed in Enugu, Gombe and Kano States.

According to the service, the group has been been forced into a new pattern of movement owing to the pressure being put on them in their core areas of strength in the north-east.

SSS Bursts Child Trafficking Syndicates, Rescues 36

sss on child trafficking A child trafficking syndicate that specialises in bringing underage children from the northern part of Nigeria to serve as house-helps, has been uncovered by the State Security Service (SSS) in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State.

The security agency also rescued 36 victims.

While parading the suspects on Wednesday, the spokesperson for the State Director of Security, Friday Onuche, revealed that the group usually deceived the parents of the children by promising them that the children would get a better living condition and education.

He said: “There is need, therefore, for members of the public to be sensitised on the need to be circumspect in the way they give out children or take in children from such unscrupulous modern day slave traders.

The victims comprising 12 males and 24 females, whose age range between five and 14 years, have been brought into Bayelsa State to serve as maids.

The amount expected to get one of these kids as a living maid is the sum of 25,000 Naira.

According to reports, the syndicate is made up of four persons, three men who claimed to be pastors at a popular Nigerian church and a lady.

They are: Pastor Anthoy Onuibiyie (54) from Enugu State, Pastor Bala (41), Pastor Dauda Garda (32), both from Kebbi State and Miss Tonbra Alazigha (38) from Bayelsa.

Pastor Anthony Onuibiyie, who is said to be the leader of the group, travels to states to bring the children after those interested in the services of the children have made a payment of 12,000 Naira to cover the transportation.

It is also reported that this is not the first time the syndicates were being arrested by law enforcement agents, as they have been arrested by the Anambra State Police earlier in the year.

Miss Tonbra Alazigha is a single mother of five biological children. She is a proprietor of Christian Heritage School in Biogbolo, Yenagoa.

She has a charity organisation that is in charge of distributing the children to the different homes that they will serve. She has within the space of six months distributed 16 children in the state.

Some of the children, who narrated their ordeal to reporters, said that the missionaries, who arranged with their parents to place them in choice schools, handed them to foster parents.

“The pastors came to our villages in Zaria and convinced some parents, who are unable to train their children in schools. When we got to Bayelsa they took us to different homes.

“The woman I was asked to live with used to assign me to the farm and I also sold water for her. I no longer went to school. I started school at the beginning of the term but she told me to stop school now,” one of the children said.

Group Tasks INEC On Card Reader Failure

annidAs Nigerians prepare for the Governorship and State Assembly elections, an international election observer group, All Nigeria Nationals In the Diaspora (ANNID) has advised the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to urgently address the issue of card reader failure experienced in some states, in order to have a hitch-free election.

Presenting a preliminary report of the election to journalists in Abuja, the acting Global Chairperson of the group, Dr Justina Obi who identified other anomalies, said the delayed accreditation of voters in some polling centers, negatively affected the electoral process.

The group also appealed to all Nigerians and the International Community to support the President-Elect, General Muhammadu Buhari, in piloting Nigeria to her next level of socio-economic and political advancement.

SERAP Urges U.S. To Limit FG’s Control Of Abacha Loot

serapThe Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has proposed to the U.S. Department of Justice “a repatriation arrangement to limit control or management of $480 million forfeited Abacha funds by the Nigerian government to the extent necessary to ensure that there is transparency and accountability in the process.”

The organisation said this has become necessary “in the light of the unflattering indicators that the Nigerian government condones corruption in public service and its precedent on repatriated funds.”

The letter dated 25 March 2015 was sent to Mr Tom Malinowski, Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labour by SERAP’s Volunteer Counsel, Professor Alexander Sierck and Omolola Adekanye of Cameron LPP, Washington DC.

According to the organisation, the Department of Justice should “lend itself to public suggestions and proposals prior to drafting a proposal for repatriation and disbursement of Abacha assets for Court approval. SERAP seeks the State Department’s support for this purpose.”

The letter reads in part: “SERAP is in ongoing communications with the Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section of the Department of Justice by Order of Court entered on February 6, 2014 by District Judge John D. Bates of the District of Colombia.

“Hence, SERAP has respectfully requested that the U.S. Department of Justice publish an invitation in the Federal Register for public suggestions and comments to be made regarding inter-alia i) Proposed permitted and prohibited use of the Abacha funds; ii) Proposed framework for monitoring and evaluation of development programs; and iii) Integration of transparency and accountability protocols in the process of disbursement.”

“Corruption remains the primary factor undermining democracy, human rights and economic development in Nigeria. Fostering robust anti-corruption measures should therefore be a prime objective of U.S. foreign policy regarding Nigeria and other comparable nations. Accordingly, SERAP respectfully invites the State Department to support SERAP’s ongoing discussions with the U.S. Department of Justice to achieve our shared objective.”

“SERAP’s concern about the repatriation and ultimate disbursement of these funds stems from the fact that an arrangement that would potentially allow the Nigerian government access, control or management of the funds when repatriated undermines the objective of the Kleptocracy Initiative. This is because the Nigerian government has shown no disposition towards actively combating corruption by public officials and has not promoted transparency and accountability in public spending.”

“SERAP specifically notes that as testament to the above claims, the Nigerian government dropped the nine counts of corruption charges against the co-conspirators in the Abacha case, as well as in several other high profile cases of large-scale embezzlement. Indeed, in 2014, the highest honor of the Nation was conferred on the late Dictator Sani Abacha by the Nigerian government in spite of his reputation, and a co-conspirator in the Abacha matter currently holds office as a member of the Senate in Nigeria.”

“SERAP further notes that the World Bank’s expenditure report on the spending of the $500 million looted assets stolen by Sani Abacha, which was repatriated in 2005, indicates that the weakness in the public financial system in Nigeria and lack of a proper audit made it difficult to track the spending of those repatriated funds.”

“SERAP’s objective for the repatriation of these assets aligns with the policy objectives of the U.S. under the Kleptocracy Initiative with regards to repatriation of forfeited assets. However, SERAP, like the UN Convention on Corruption Coalition, is concerned about the challenges of ensuring that repatriation process and allocation of the funds will indeed be transparent, promote accountability and ultimately not undermine human rights and other interests of the true beneficiaries, the Nigerian people.”

In a separate letter also dated 25 March 2015 addressed to the U.S. Attorney General, the Honorable Eric Holder, Jr. “SERAP notes that the Nigerian Government has made its intentions to seek repatriation of these funds known. However under the technical provisions of the relevant U.S. Laws and going by precedents, also alluded to in your to SERAP, there is no basis for the Nigerian Government to legitimately initiate the process of repatriation unless by way of an international agreement such as in the Kazakhstan case which led to the establishment of the BOTA Foundation.”

“It is our understanding that at this juncture, the Department faces the challenging responsibility of establishing a method of disbursement of the funds that indeed meets the objectives of the Kleptocracy Initiative for approval by Order of Court.”

“SERAP notes that there is a lot at stake for the Nigerian Nation and Her people in the event that the forfeited fund are repatriated without pragmatic controls established by a formal arrangement. Nigeria’s development and security hinges on the ultimate fight against corruption, and as the Secretary of States John Kerry has repeatedly emphasized, the U. S. shares this concern. We therefore hold that meticulous consideration of thorough proposals in form of comments and suggestions made by the public is apposite in the circumstance.”

Chelsea Wins Capital One Cup

chelseaJose Mourinho has claimed his first trophy since returning for his second spell as Chelsea manager, as Chelsea emerged winner of the Capital One Cup over Tottenham at Wembley.

Jose Mourinho was delighted after seeing his side crowned Capital One Cup kings, the club’s fifth success in the competition’s history.

Mourinho’s mastery of the big selection decision was also demonstrated again by his deployment of Kurt Zouma, a central defender by trade, in midfield to fulfill the role left behind by the suspended Nemanja Matic to outstanding effect.

John Terry, Man of the Match striked with a goal on the stroke of half-time.

Eleven minutes into the second half, Diego Costa, scored with an assist pass from Cesc Fabregas which deflected off the leg of Kyle Walker.

Speaking to the media after the game, Mourinho started by praising the opposition saying, ”First of all I want to say that in the middle of my happiness is space to think about Mauricio Pochettino, his staff and Tottenham as a team and a club, I met him in Spain many years ago as a player and then when he was a young manager when I was at Real Madrid. He came to England, proved himself, nobody gave him anything for free.”

The Chelsea’s boss added:  ”The second thing I want to say is that now I don’t think about John Terry, Azpilicueta or Diego Costa; I think about Courtois, because without him there would have been no final, we would have lost against Liverpool. I think about Matic, Filipe Luis and Oscar, the guys who didn’t have a chance to play. I think about Schwarzer, Salah, Schurrle, all the guys that started the season with us, they are all winners.”

Despite a career laden with trophies, Mourinho claimed this was the most important final of his time in the game and Chelsea were never seriously troubled once Christian Eriksen’s early free-kick rebounded to safety off the woodwork.

Mourinho also spoke about Diego Costa saying ”He needs the team, without them it’s difficult to do anything. He needs to keep his nature as a person and a player. He played a final at the top of his motivation, there was no yellow card because he did nothing to deserve a yellow card.

Australia Beat England At Cricket World Cup

australiaAaron Finch smashed a sparkling century as Australia gave England a 111-run humiliation in their opener at the Melbourne Cricket Ground at the ongoing Cricket World Cup.

The batsman blasted 135 at his home ground to lay the platform for victory as the co-hosts piled on 342 to two runs shy of the venue’s one-day international record.

For Australia, the only blot in a dominant display was Watson’s failure to score or take a wicket and a dropped catch by Finch when Taylor was on 20.

Captain Michael Clarke is expected to return for the second match against Bangladesh after undergoing a hamstring surgery.

When Finch and Bailey fell, England looked like they might check Australia’s progress, but Maxwell provided the late carnage. The final 10 overs yielded 105 runs, including 76 off the last six.

An expected defeat by the tournament favourites, however, does little damage to England’s hopes of reaching the quarter-finals.

What should provide cause for concern is the manner of the defeat. They were adjudged to be substandard in the field, lacked control at the end of the Australia innings and were only saved from their heaviest World Cup defeat by Taylor.

The most costly mistake was made by Woakes, dropping a simple chance above his head at square leg off James Anderson to reprieve Finch from only the fifth delivery.

Steven Finn claimed the first World Cup hat-trick by an England bowler from the final three balls of the innings, all skied catches.

Obama Describes Ebola As Threat To Global Security

obama_ebolaUnited States President, Barack Obama, has described the Ebola outbreak in West Africa “a threat to global security”, as he announced a larger US role in fighting the virus.

The world was looking to the US, Mr Obama said, but added that the outbreak required a “global response”. The measures announced included ordering 3,000 US troops to the region and building new healthcare facilities.

Ebola has killed 2,461 people this year, about half of those infected, the World Health Organization (WHO) said.

The announcement came as UN officials called the outbreak a health crisis “unparalleled in modern times”. The funds needed to fight the outbreak have increased 10-fold in the past month and $1bn (£614m) was needed to fight the outbreak, the UN’s Ebola co-ordinator said.

Massive surge needed’

Mr Obama said that among other measures, the US would:

*Build 17 healthcare facilities, each with 100 beds and isolation spaces, in Liberia

*Train as many as 500 health care workers a week

*Develop an air bridge to get supplies into affected countries faster

*Provide home health care kits to hundreds of thousands of households, including 50,000 that the US Agency for International Development (USAID) will deliver to Liberia this week.

Mr Obama called on other countries to step up their response, as a worsening outbreak would lead to “profound political, economic and security implications for all of us”.

Ebola only spreads in close contact, and there is no cure and no vaccine. The outbreak began in Guinea last December before spreading to its neighbours Sierra Leone and Liberia.

Mr Obama said the outbreak had reached epidemic proportions in West Africa, as the disease “completely overwhelmed” hospitals and clinics and people were “literally dying on the streets”.

Meanwhile in Guinea, a team of health officials was attacked on Tuesday in a village they were visiting to raise awareness of the illness. People in Wamey, in the south of the country, threw stones at the team, which included WHO and Red Cross representatives. At least 10 officials were hurt, and several who escaped into the bush are still missing.

Also on Tuesday, a US congressional panel heard testimony from Dr Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, and Dr Kent Brantly, who recovered from an Ebola infection after receiving an experimental treatment for the disease.

Dr Fauci told the committee that 10 volunteers in a separate vaccine study had shown no ill effects from an early stage trial.

Earlier on Tuesday, the WHO welcomed China’s pledge to send a mobile laboratory team to Sierra Leone, which will include epidemiologists, clinicians and nurses.

WAEC Official Says No Mass Failure But Decline In Performance

WAECThe Head of National Office, West African Examination Council (WAEC), Charles Eguridu, has said that the results of the May/June 2014 WAEC examination only indicates a decline in performance and not a mass failure as reported by the media.

Speaking as a guest on Channels Television’s breakfast programme, ‘Sunrise Daily’, Mr Eguridu noted that Nigeria does not have a uniform standard for the secondary school education, compared to other countries and therefore, judging success based on English and Mathematics was unfair.

He stated that the government had redesigned the curriculum which envisages that “not every child that goes into primary school will end up in university profession” adding that about 39 new subjects have been added to the curriculum, like GSM Repairs, Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning amongst others.

Mr. Eguridu mentioned that it amounted to a misnomer for students to focus on passing English and Mathematics, leaving other subjects. He said that this was affecting the standard of education in the country.

He further noted that there were certain peculiar subjects in other member countries, different to Nigeria’s core subjects. Comparing Ghana to Nigeria, he said that Ghana’s core subjects were Integrated Science, Social Studies, English Language and Mathematics, while Nigeria’s core subjects are only English and Mathematics.

He maintained that the inability of a student to pass either of the subjects should not be seen as failure because these subjects do not determine success in some careers.

Mr. Eguridu also explained how WAEC develops its assessment of students. He noted that WAEC assesses students by the quality of teaching and learning that have taken place through questions developed by practitioners in the school system. “WAEC is to conduct exams in public interest, which is determined by the government”

He explained that a pool of examiners from WAEC member countries come together to develop the papers which are later given to candidates who are likely to write the exam – students in SS3.

“When an exam is too simple it is isolated, when an exam is too difficult it is isolated, so we have to be on an average level”, he added.



Judiciary Workers Call Off Strike

courtThree weeks ago, the judiciary workers commenced an industrial action which effectively paralyzed activities in the state courts across the country.

Across the country, the workers stayed away and the courts remained under lock and key.

Their grouse was the refusal of the state governments to implement an order of the Federal High Court, Abuja, delivered on January 13 and which directed them to ensure that all allocations meant for the state judiciary should be paid directly to the heads of state courts.

With all the complaints trailing this industrial action, the Minister of Labour and Productivity, Chief Emeka Wogu, intervened and at a meeting that lasted several hours on Friday, a truce was reached after a Memorandum of Understanding, MoU, was signed between the Minister and the leadership of the Union in Abuja.

The MoU states that all governments are obliged to respect the provision of the 1999 Constitution as amended and comply with the judgment of the court.

The agreement also indicates that the demands of the judiciary workers union would be met within the next 45 working days.

With this development, the courts across the country would now resume work on Monday, August 4, with the caveat that no Judiciary Staff Union member would be victimized as a result of participating in the strike.

Bill To Establish National Child Protection Agency Passes 2nd Reading

A bill seeking to establish the National Child Protection and Enforcement Agency on Tuesday passed through its second reading in the House of Representatives.

The proposed bill seeks to oversee the implementation of the Child Rights Act.

The bill, if passed will also be responsible for the rehabilitation of children and victims of child and drug abuse.

The proposed legislation would also regulate, and monitor the activities of any organisation running a children’s home.

Leading debate on the general principles of the bill, Rep. Beni Lar (PDP- Plateau) said that the bill, if passed, would take care of children suffering from any form of abuse.

She argued that the essence of the bill was to create an agency that would ensure that the Child Rights Act was enforced.

“The bill, my dear colleagues if passed, will enforce the right of children and any other law that has to do with children,” she said.

She urged his colleagues to support the bill saying that it is for the protection of the child.

In their contributions to the debate, Rep. Nnenna Elendu- Ukeje (PDP-Abia), Rep. Robinson Uwak (PDP-Akwa/Ibom), Rep. Emmanuel Jime (APC-Benue) agreed that the bill was important to the Nigerian child.

They said that issue of the protection of children could not be overemphasised.

Fulani Herdsmen Seek Collaboration With Government To Tackle Menace

Fulani fightsFulani cattle herdsmen across the country have resolved to work closely with the Federal Government and other relevant authorities in finding solutions to the incessant cattle rustling and killings in the northern part of Nigeria, at the same time preaching message of peace in their localities.

The resolution was reached on Saturday after a meeting in Kaduna on Saturday.

Their resolve stems from continuous cattle rustlings and gruesome killing of innocent people by gunmen and alleged involvement of Fulani herdsmen in deadly attacks in some states like Benue, Taraba and Kaduna, amongst others where many lives and property worth millions of Naira have been lost.

Cattle herdsmen have been in the news for the wrong reasons, with several accusing fingers pointed in their direction as being responsible for causing mayhem in different communities across the country.

Uncomfortable with the development they said had marred their image, they have called for the meeting. To ensure that no form of casualty was recorded in this gathering, routine searches were carried out on the members before the meeting commenced to ensure they were not in possession of dangerous weapons

Although they insist they are peace loving and law abiding people, the cattle herdsmen say they are fully prepared to partner with the government in tackling the menace of cattle rustling and deadly attacks on rural communities across the country.

This position of theirs is supported by natives of Southern Kaduna who have at different times had altercations with them.

The essence is to make sure that they first of all purge themselves of all the allegations levelled against them over the years, and at the same time come up with practicable recommendations that will assist the government in tackling the menace of cattle rustling and deadly attacks allegedly perpetrated by cattle herdsmen.

Therefore, with their readiness to partner with the government to find a lasting solution to the problem, many believe such decision will go a long way in stemming the tide.