Nigeria Signs Gas Pipeline Agreement With Morocco

Nigeria Signs Gas Pipeline Agreement With MoroccoAn agreement to construct a regional gas pipeline connecting Nigeria and the Kingdom of Morocco has been signed by the two countries.

This was the high point of a two-day working visit of King Muhammad (VI) of Morocco to Nigeria.

For two days President Muhammadu Buhari and the visiting King of Morocco engaged in bilateral talks that centered on how to cement relations between Nigeria and Morocco.

With businessmen from Nigeria on one end and those from Morocco on the other, the discussions culminated to the signing of several agreements aimed at galvanizing development between them.

Government’s effort towards diversifying the economy away from oil led to the signing of the agreement on fertilizer production.

Briefing State House correspondents after the meetings, the Senior Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, described the agreement on fertilizer as one that would boost agricultural production in the country.

For the gas pipeline agreement, the ministers of foreign affairs of the two countries, said that the agreement is aimed at accelerating electricity development in the region.

They also spoke on the multiple industrial opportunities for the two countries as part of the strategic vision of the two leaders.

Agreements were also signed on promotion and protection of investments, agriculture, banking, science and technology, and sustainable development.

Foreign observers have said that Nigeria and Morocco have a lot to benefit from the collaboration following the King’s visit.

King Mohammad arrived Nigeria on Thursday night and was received by Vice-President, Yemi Osinbajo, at the Presidential Wing of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.

He arrived the Presidential Villa at about 1.30 pm Friday, and was received by the President and some top government officials.

European Union To Expand Cooperation With Nigeria

European Union, Ogbonnaya Onu, Science and technology
Nigeria’s Minister of Science and Technology, Ogbonnaya Onu

The European Union has announced plans to expand its partnership with Nigeria beyond the traditional field of aids and donations to mutually beneficial cooperation.

The head of the European Union delegation to Nigeria and ECOWAS Ambassador, Michel Arrion, told the Minister of Science and Technology, Ogbonnaya Onu, that the EU is looking at new areas and sectors that will ensure relevant contribution to the partnership between the regional block and Nigeria.

The new areas include energy, transport, science and technology and climate change.

The Minister of Science and Technology welcomed the expanded ties and requested that the extended cooperation include training and research, to help Nigeria move away from a resource based and commodities dependent economy.

The Minister also hosted the Portuguese Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Teresa Ribeiro and her delegation whose interest also lies within the expansion of economic and cultural ties with Nigeria, as well as on a convention that will eliminate double taxation in the area of business and investment between both countries.

The visit to the Minster was the second time Ambassador Arrion would officially visit the ministry and the Minister considered it a welcome development especially as Nigeria diversifies its economy.

FG Says Relocating IDPs To Their Ancestral Homes Is Priority

IDPsThe Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Khadija Bukar Ibrahim says the current priority of the Federal Government is to ensure that all the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) across the country are relocated to their ancestral homes.

The Minister was speaking on Sunday in Damaturu the Yobe State capital when she led the Egyptian Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr Ashraf Salama, to deliver food and non-food items to victims of Boko Haram insurgency in the state.

The materials were sent to the displaced persons in the state by a renowned Egyptian Islamic Scholar, Sheik Ahmed Altayyid.

The Minister said that with the return of peace, the federal government is working hard to ensure that the displaced are relocated to their various homes.

She said that the priority of government was to reconstruct the destroyed private and public buildings as well as replace infrastructure vandalized by the insurgents to make life more meaningful to the people who will be returning to the regained territories.

Mrs Bukar Ibrahim praised the state government’s efforts toward making life comfortable for the displaced persons and called on other philanthropists to come to the aid of IDPs.

She also commended security operatives in regaining the earlier captured territories and called on the people to partner them in their efforts to return peace across the northeast and the entire country.

The Egyptian Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr Ashraf Salama, expressed sadness with the security situation that submerged the northeast and wondered how the insurgents would wrongly use Islam to pursue their selfish ambitions.

He said that no religion would justify the ungodly and senseless killings and destruction caused to the people of the zone, adding that Sheik Ahmed Altayyid who sent the items to the IDPs has continued to offer prayers for the return of peace in the northeast, the country and Africa as a whole.

The relief materials were received at the Pompomari IDP camp in Damaturu the Yobe State capital by the Deputy Governor, Abubakar Aliyu, who ordered the usage of the materials in the host camp.

Earlier during a visit to the Government House, the Deputy Governor had appreciated the efforts of the Egyptian clergy and the Ambassador for the gesture.

He gave the assurance that the materials would be used in improving the lives of the IDPs.

Buhari Commends U.S’ Role In Deepening Nigeria’s Democracy

L-R: Deputy Ambassador, Mrs Maria Brewer; H.E. James F. Entwistle, President Buhari and Minister of State Foreign Affairs, Mrs Khadija Bukar Ibrahim.
L-R: Deputy Ambassador, Mrs Maria Brewer; H.E. James F. Entwistle, President Buhari and Minister of State Foreign Affairs, Mrs Khadija Bukar Ibrahim.

President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday in Abuja expressed appreciation for the important role the United States Government played in the success of the 2015 general elections in Nigeria.

Receiving the outgoing Ambassador of the U.S, Mr James Entwistle, at the State House, President Buhari said that the U.S’ insistence on free, fair and violent-free elections largely contributed to the deepening of democracy in the country.

“The U.S support before, during and after the 2015 elections was vital to Nigeria’s stability and I will never forget the role they played in the stability of Nigeria.

“We were lucky to have had an INEC Chairman who was competent and courageous.

“Mr Ambassador, you occupied a position at a very strategic time in Nigeria’s history and I hope our historians will record this because it meant so much for our stability.

“I hope you write a book on your experience in Nigeria. The commitment of U.S in supporting Nigeria has been unprecedented,” the President told the outgoing U.S envoy.

President Buhari also thanked the Americans for their military, intelligence and humanitarian support to Nigeria on the ongoing Boko Haram insurgency.

He said Nigeria also valued America’s contributions to promoting regional peace and stability through the instrumentality of the G7.

President Buhari recieves outgoing High Commissioner of Canada to Nigeria, Ambassador Perry Calderwood
President Buhari recieves outgoing High Commissioner of Canada to Nigeria, Ambassador Perry Calderwood

President Buhari also received in audience the outgoing High Commissioner of Canada to Nigeria, Ambassador Perry Calderwood.

The President commended the Government of Canada’s humanitarian assistance to Nigerians displaced by the insurgency in the North East, and their commitment to polio eradication in the country.

He highlighted the Federal Government’s effort to facilitate voluntary return of displaced persons in addition to ensuring that conditions in North-eastern Nigeria improve significantly before the next farming season.

In their separate remarks, Ambassadors Entwistle and Calderwood had expressed concern on the deteriorating humanitarian situation in the North East with looming reports of food crisis and malnutrition.

Entwistle said that the bilateral relationship between both countries had remained very vibrant and cordial.

“I had a marvellous three-and-half years in Nigeria and I am grateful to have been involved in the memorable elections in 2015,” he said.

On his part, Calderwood conveyed Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s desire to strengthen ties with Nigeria in Canada’s quest for partnership on international engagements, including its bid for a non-permanent seat in the UN Security Council, 2021-2022.

Minister Promises 1,350 Metric Tonnes Of Maize To IDPs

IDPsThe Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Khadijat Ibrahim, has promised to provide 1350 metric Tonnes of maize for newly situated IDPs in Yobe State.

The Minister made the promise during a visit to the troubled north eastern state.

She also gave assurance that more will be done to rehabilitate schools health facilities and other infrastructure, which were destroyed during Boko Haram occupation in the state.

Following the recovery of towns in north eastern states, previously occupied by the Boko Haram insurgents, many rejoiced to see the return of displaced persons to their ancestral homes from the camps where they received temporary succour.

Since then, different aid items have been donated to help their resettlement, but more needs to be done.

For the first time in a long while, normal activities have returned to Yobe State.

Channels Television’s Jonathan Gopep reports that Yobe State is gradually recovering, but it is evident that a lot of effort is needed to solve the problems of infrastructure, hunger and drought.

Another Nigerian Sentenced To Death In Indonesia For Drug Trafficking

drug traffickingThe media in Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia is reporting that another Nigerian, a certain Mr. Simon Ezeaputa, has been sentenced to death in Indonesia for drug trafficking.

The district court in Tangerang, near Jakarta on Wednesday found Mr. Ezeaputa guilty of controlling a drug transaction from his prison cell, where he was serving a 20-year jail term for drug offences.

The report says the transaction involved 350 grams of crystal methamphetamine.

Meanwhile, the Amnesty International says in its annual report on the death penalty worldwide released that “Indonesia stands out for all the wrong reasons”.

Head, Amnesty Researcher, Indonesia, Papang Hidayat, says that there are many issues in Indonesia, in particular fair trial concerns, that make death sentences more complicated.

The Nigerian Government, in March 2015, made frantic efforts to convince the Indonesian authorities to convert the death sentence of three Nigerians accused of drug trafficking to life sentence.

In a meeting between the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Danjuma Sheni and the Indonesian Ambassador to Nigeria, Ambassador Sheni also appealed that the negotiations on the exchange of prisoners between both countries should be hastened.

Indonesia, however, rejected one of the Nigerians’ plea for clemency with an Indonesian court’s rejection of the Nigerian death row inmate’s legal challenge.

Lawyers for the Nigerian, whose alias is Raheem Agbaje Salami, appealed against President Joko Widodo’s rejection of his clemency plea in the administrative court. The court, again dismissed his appeal on the grounds it did not have jurisdiction over presidential decisions.

Jonathan Did Not Travel With Ali Modu To Chad

JonathanThe Presidency has described as erroneous, the allegations by critics of the Jonathan administration and the All Progressives Congress party that President Jonathan is hobnobbing with former Governor of Borno State, Senator Ali Modu Sherrif.

Senator Sheriff was one of the two persons recently accused by the Australian, Stephen Davies, of being supporters of the terrorist group, Boko Haram, an allegation he has since denied, threatening to sue the Australian negotiator.

Speaking to State House correspondents, the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati, dismissed the claim that Senator Sherrif accompanied President Jonathan on his trip to N’Djemena as a member of his entourage, reiterating that the former Borno State Governor was not even a member of the delegation to Chad.

He listed those on the entourage to have included the National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki (Rtd.), the Minister of Communications Technology, Mrs Omobola Johnson, the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Dr. Nurudeen Mohammed and the Director-General of National Space Research and Development Agency, Prof. Seidu Mohammed, and other presidential aids and journalists.

He said that Ali Modu Sherif was seen at the N’Djemena Airport in Chad on his own volition and not at the instance of the President. He wondered why anyone would rush to condemn the President over it.

He said that President Jonathan was fully aware of the allegation made against Senator Sheriff by Stephen Davies and that the allegation was already being investigated by the security agencies who would make their findings known to the public in due course.

 

Constitution Amendment: Nigerians Must Watch Out For Legislative Dictatorship

A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mike Ahamba has asked Nigerians to be mindful of the on-going National Assembly’s Constitution amendment.

The lawyer warned of  a ‘legislative dictatorship’ tendency by the lawmakers in a bid to control the President.

Speaking on Sunrise Daily, he supported President Goodluck Jonathan’s refusal to sign the State of the Nation address bill which was passed by the body of lawmakers.

“I can see a bid by the National Assembly to empower itself beyond what the constitution allows them do,” Mr Ahamba warned.

He described as ‘improper’ the National Assembly’s move, adding that “any legislation that makes the President subservient to the National Assembly except on matters that are brought constitutionally before that body is not proper”.

The executive must be allowed to rule this country in accordance with the laws made by the National Assembly.

According to him, the bill proposed by the National Assembly is a device to “dictate to the President how to implement the laws of the country.”

He said amendment can obliterate laws that are already made.

“The constitution is not an act” that can be changed anytime and if care isn’t taken, “we would all pay for it in the future”.

The Senior Advocate of Nigeria advised the Presidency to seek a ruling from the court on whether the Parliament has the right to enact such laws if the National Assembly vetoes the bill President Jonathan has refused to sign into law.

£3000 Visa Bond: Nigerian’s Selfish Attitude Led To Unfair Policy

A legal practitioner and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mike Ahamba, has blamed Nigerians’ belief in ‘individual development’ and not ‘societal development’ for the recent United Kingdom immigration policy which proposes a £3, 0000 visa bond deposit for Nigerian visitors.

Speaking on Channels Television’s breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily, Mr Ahamba said the British government is doing what they think they should do but added that the policy is “not proper and is most unfair.”

“If they don’t want Nigerians in Britain, they should say so openly,” he said.

He explained Nigeria has been exposed to such treatment because “we don’t believe in ourselves, we don’t believe in what we have and we don’t want to improve on ourselves,” which is why many citizens travel to the UK.

Mr Ahamba said Nigerians have messed up our country and that is why we want to go to other people’s country. “That’s why they are treating us like rags”.

He noted that “in the 70’s and 80’s, they were begging us to come there”, as he advised Nigerians and the government to stand against the policy.

The Senior Advocate of Nigeria also warned the federal government not to do nothing to escalate the situation as the policy is only just a proposal.

“What will make them stop is to make our country better, for us to stay in it” he said.

Al Qaeda Commander Abou Zeid Killed In Mali

French forces have killed Abdelhamid Abou Zeid, one of the most feared commanders of al Qaeda’s north Africa wing, during an operation against Islamist fighters in mountainous northern Mali, Algeria’s Ennahar television said on Thursday.

Abou Zeid was among 40 militants killed three days ago in the foothills of the Adrar des Ifoghas mountains near the Algerian border, said Ennahar, which is well connected with Algeria’s security services.

French and Chadian troops have been hunting fighters there after a lightning campaign to dislodge them from northern Mali.

A spokesman for France’s Elysee presidential palace declined to comment. Algeria’s government, Malian and Chadian officials could not confirm Abou Zeid’s killing.

A U.S. official said the reports that Abou Zeid had been killed appeared to be credible and that Washington would view his death as a serious blow to al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).

A French army official, who would not comment on Abou Zeid, confirmed that about 40 Islamists had been killed in heavy fighting over the last week in the mountainous Tigargara region.

The official said 1,200 French troops, 800 Chadian soldiers and some elements of the Malian army were still in combat to the south of Tessalit in the Adrar mountain range.

Ten logistics sites and an explosives factory had been destroyed in the operation as well as 16 vehicles, she said.

France launched the assault on January 11 to retake Mali’s vast desert north from AQIM and other Islamist rebels after a plea from Mali’s government to halt the militants’ drive southward.

The intervention swiftly dislodged rebels from northern Mali’s main towns and drove them back into the surrounding desert and mountains, particularly the Adrar des Ifoghas.

Abou Zeid, regarded as one of AQIM’s most ruthless operators, is an Algerian former smuggler turned jihadist who is believed to be behind the kidnapping of more than 20 Westerners in the lawless Sahara over the last five years, earning AQIM tens of millions of dollars in ransom payments.

He is believed to have executed British national Edwin Dyer in 2009 and 78-year-old Frenchman, Michel Germaneau, in 2010.

FLED TIMBUKTU WITH HOSTAGES

Canadian diplomat Robert Fowler, in an account of his kidnapping by another Islamist cell in the Sahara, recounted how Abou Zeid refused to give medication to two hostages suffering from dysentery, one of whom had been stung by a scorpion.

After a loose alliance of Islamist groups seized northern Mali from April last year, Abou Zeid took control of the ancient desert trading town of Timbuktu, employing a violently extreme form of sharia, including amputations and the destruction of ancient Sufi shrines.

Timbuktu elders who dealt directly with him during the Islamist occupation described a short man with a grey beard and a quiet, severe manner who was never seen without an AK-47 rifle.

Locals said that when he fled Timbuktu, before the town fell to the French-led military advance, he took several blindfolded Western hostages in his convoy.

Born in 1965 in the Debdab region of Algeria’s Illizi province, close to the Libyan border, Abou Zeid joined the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC) during the 1990s civil war, which later transformed itself into AQIM.

Abou Zeid is regarded by some as one of AQIM’s radicals, unwilling to negotiate or make concessions, compared with the more diplomatic approach of his fellow Saharan commander Belmokhtar, the mastermind of the mass hostage taking at the In Amenas gas plant in Algeria last month.

Fowler, the Canadian diplomat who encountered them both while held hostage, told Reuters last month that Abou Zeid in person was more genial than the austere, “all-business” Belmokhtar.

The two very different men are reported to have a strong rivalry within AQIM, which some analysts have suggested was behind Belmokhtar’s decision to found his own brigade last year.