Subsidy Removal: ‘I Will Make Consultation,’ Lai Mohammed Reacts To Lawan’s Comment

 

The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, has promised to consult with relevant departments and ministries for clarity on the controversy over the removal of fuel subsidy.

This comes against the backdrop of an announcement by the President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, informing Nigerians that President Muhammadu Buhari never directed petroleum subsidy removal.

Mohammed made the remark on Wednesday in Abuja while briefing State House correspondents at the end of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting.

READ ALSO: Buhari Never Directed Removal Of Petrol Subsidy, Says Lawan

The Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, presided over the meeting in the absence of President Buhari who travelled to the Gambia to attend the inauguration of the country’s president, Adama Barrow.

After requesting some time to examine the issues around the fuel subsidy removal, the minister promised to revert afterwards.

A file photo of the Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed.

 

Last year, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, disclosed that the 2022 budget would make provision for petrol subsidy for the first six months alone.

According to her, this will be effective for the period after which it is expected that the sector would have been completely deregulated.

Meanwhile, the Council has approved contract awards for various projects in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

It also approved contract awards on flood control in the six geo-political zones, as well as for the Ministry of Transportation, with all the projects totalling N76.78 billion.

The Minister of FCT, Mohammed Bello, who also briefed State House correspondents on what was discussed at the meeting, confirmed that the FCT got the largest share of the contracts approved.

According to him, two projects approved for the construction of Kuje 105 Highway, as well as access road and car park for Abuja Light Rail station, cost about N56.2 billion.

Lai Mohammed Seeks Implementation Of MoUs With Namibia On Culture, Tourism

L-R: The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, and the Namibian High Commissioner to Nigeria, Mr. Humphrey Geiseb, when the High Commissioner paid a courtesy visit to the Minister in Abuja on January 13, 2022.
L-R: The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, and the Namibian High Commissioner to Nigeria, Mr. Humphrey Geiseb, when the High Commissioner paid a courtesy visit to the Minister in Abuja on January 13, 2022.

 

The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, has
called for the implementation of the various MoUs between Nigeria and
Namibia, especially in the areas of culture and tourism, to ensure
that they translate into economic benefits for the two countries.

The Minister made the call in Abuja on Thursday when he received the
Namibian High Commissioner to Nigeria, Mr. Humphrey Geiseb, on a
courtesy visit, a statement signed by Ministry spokesperson Segun Adeyemi said.

He observed that the bilateral cooperation between the two nations,
which dates back to 1992 on the platform of the 1st Nigeria-Namibia
Joint Commission, expired without implementation, and expressed the
hope that the MoUs will be revived for implementation this time
around.

READ ALSO: 5,000 Out Of 1.4m Shortlisted For Recruitment Into NSCDC

“Because the agreement on tourism cooperation between both countries
suffered from lack of follow-up, a separate MOU on tourism cooperation
was decided upon during the 3rd session of the Joint Commission in
2008, and signed six years later, in 2014.

“Unfortunately, the MOU, which had a lifespan of five years, has
expired and, until then, nothing was done by our two countries. I am
aware that efforts are on to renew the MoU for another five years.
Hopefully, this time, we will act to implement the MoU,” Mr
Mohammed said.

He promised to encourage a working relationship between Nollywood and
the Namibian Film Industry, against the background of the interest
expressed by a talented Namibian actress to feature in Nollywood
movies as a way of further honing her professional skills.

The Minister, who welcomed the support offered by Namibia to help
improve Elephant conservation in Nigeria,
stressed that with global warming and poaching, African wildlife is in
danger of extinction.

He thanked the Namibian Government for supporting Nigeria with 279
wildlife animals in line with the signed MoU on Cooperation in the
area of wildlife with the Government of Bauchi State.

“The animals, which comprised of 10 Giraffes, 53 Burchell’s Zebras, 14
Elands, 23 Blue Wildebeests, 21 Red Hartebeests, 24 Oryx, 26 Kudus, 52
Springboks and 56 Common Impalas, were placed at the Sumu Wildlife
Sanctuary, which is located in Ganjuwa Local Government Area of Bauchi
State. We remain grateful to the Government and people of Namibia for
this,” Mr Mohammed said.

In his remarks, the High Commissioner went down memory lane to recount
the support which Namibia received from Nigeria in its struggle for
independence, and said the Namibia-Nigeria Joint Commission, which
last met in 2010, will meet next month to consider all the various
areas of cooperation between the two countries.

He listed additional areas of cooperation to include creative
industries, beef infrastructure, animal conservation, tourism and oil
and gas sector.

NNPC Transformation, PIA Passage, Economic Recovery – Lai Lists Buhari’s 2021 Achievements

FILE PHOTO: Minister of Information and Culture, Mr Lai Mohammed.

 

Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, has listed some of the achievements of the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration to include the transformation of NNPC, passage of the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA), economic recovery among others.

The Minister gave the list of achievements on Thursday during a press conference in Lagos.

Mohammed said despite challenges that came with 2021, the administration made “tremendous” progress in fighting insecurity and growing the economy.

The minister said, “For the outgoing year in particular, the major challenge has been that of insecurity. In spite of this and the usual economic challenges, especially the dwindling resources available to the government, the Administration has availed itself creditably, as we will be demonstrating shortly.”

 

Find below the Minister’s full statement…

Gentlemen, good morning, and thanks for honouring our invitation to this press conference which, in line with our tradition, we have called to brief you on the achievements of the Buhari Administration in 2021.

In view of the long list of achievements and time constraints, we will go straight into the highlights and then provide you with a fuller list. Let me admit straightaway that the year has not been devoid of challenges. For the outgoing year in particular, the major challenge has been that of insecurity. In spite of this and the usual economic challenges, especially the dwindling resources available to the government, the Administration has availed itself creditably, as we will be demonstrating shortly.

  1. As I said in my introductory remarks, our biggest challenge in the outgoing year is in the area of security. Despite the enormity of the challenge, our military has continued to live up to their billing. We owe them a debt of gratitude for their patriotism and sacrifice. We just can’t appreciate them enough, as you will soon see when I break down their achievements in the year under review.
  2. To keep our country safe, the Armed Forces of Nigeria (AFN) has set up various operations across the country. These include the Joint Task Force (JTF) North East, tagged Operation HADIN KAI covering the North East region; the JTF SS, tagged Operation DELTA SAFE covering the South South region; the JTF NW, known as Operation HADARIN DAJI covering the North West region; Operation SAFE HAVEN covering Plateau, parts of Kaduna and Bauchi States; Operation WHIRL STROKE covering Benue, Nasarawa and Taraba States; JTF SW, referred to as Operation AWATSE and covering Lagos and Ogun States; Operation THUNDER STRIKE covering Abuja-Kaduna Highway and Operation WHIRL PUNCH covering parts of Kaduna State.
  3. Gentlemen, in the North East Zone under Operation HADIN KAI, a combination of kinetic and non-kinetic operations, coupled with a review of strategies, led to the neutralization of over 1000 terrorists, rescue of 2000 civilians and the surrender of over 22,000 terrorists including their families. Many arms and ammunition were also recovered. This is in addition to destruction of several IED/bomb making factories of the ISWAP/BHT.

Under Operation HADARIN DAJI in the North West, the conduct of offensive clearance operations, raids and air operations resulted in the neutralization of about 427 bandits, arrest of 257 bandits, rescue of 897 civilians and recovery of 3,087 livestock. Similarly, Operation WHIRL PUNCH covering parts of Kaduna neutralized about 215 bandits, arrested 133 bandits, rescued 296 civilians and recovered 136 livestock, while Operation THUNDER STRIKE neutralized 36 bandits, arrested 74, rescued 296 civilians and recovered 136 livestock. In the North Central, raids and clearance operations conducted by Operation SAFE HAVEN neutralized 91 criminal elements, arrested 155 suspects, rescued 159 civilians and recovered 3,259 livestock.

For its part, Operation WHIRL STROKE neutralized 158 criminals, arrested 151 suspects and rescued 183 civilians. Operation DELTA SAFE in the South-South destroyed about 1,520 illegal refineries, confiscated 5,315 storage facilities and impounded 617 boats, amongst other items. Additionally, about 74,297,425 litres of Dual Purpose Kerosene (DPK), 41,971,693 litres of crude oil and 88,350 litres of PMS were recovered. Furthermore, 174 trucks and 13 vessels were impounded while 755 illegal oil bunkerers were arrested and 153 assorted weapons recovered.

In the South West, patrols and clearance operations by troops of Operation AWATSE led to the arrest of 46 persons for various forms of criminalities while several vehicles, jerricans, motorcycles and electricity generators used for illegal bunkering were seized.

  1. The effectiveness of the military was enhanced by the leadership provided by President Muhammadu Buhari and the unwavering commitment of the armed forces and its leadership. The procurement of modern platforms for the armed forces has also gone a long way in raising the level of their operational readiness and efficiency, in addition to boosting their capabilities. During the period under review, the Nigerian Army procured 160 MRAPS, 150 trucks and 60 APCs to improve its equipment holding. Various kits were equally provided for troops. This is in addition to the provision of accommodation for troops and the recruitment of over 10,000 personnel into the Army. The Nigerian Navy (NN), for its part, commissioned the FALCON EYE Maritime Domain Awareness Capability, the third locally-built Seaward Defense Boat, one helicopter, 4 inshore patrol boats and 90 Rigid Hull Inflatable Boats. Over 1,500 personnel were recruited into the Navy during the year. The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) took delivery of 12 Super Tucanos and 3 JF-17 Thunder Fighter Aircraft and other platforms with which it has conducted several Air interdictions, provided close air support to ground troops and destroyed several illegal structures and equipment belonging to terrorists, bandits and other criminal elements.
  2. The Armed Forces of Nigeria has also contributed immensely to International peace and security efforts with its robust participation in the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) and the regional initiative, the ECOWAS Military Intervention in Gambia (ECOMIG). The Nigerian military’s continued participation in these Missions has ensured their viability and sustenance towards achieving their military and political goals.

Overall, the good news is that the military, in spite of its achievements, is not resting on its oars. The Military has assured that it is also poised, in fulfillment of its constitutional duties, to address the myriad of evolving contemporary threats, particularly as the 2023 elections draw nearer.

  1. Still on the fight against insecurity, the implementation of the community policing initiative of the current administration has led to the training of 25,000 constabularies in several police colleges across the country. The successful officers who were trained on basic police duties, modern intelligence gathering techniques, rule of law, etc. were deployed to their Local Governments of Origin to aid in intelligence gathering and improve police visibility in their communities.

Also, to improve the police/citizens ratio, 418 Cadet officers of regular course 3 were successfully graduated in June 2021 and deployed into the operational asset of the Nigeria Police Force. Through the Police Trust Fund, 200 Buffalo branded vehicles, bulletproof vest, protective helmets, drugs, and medical equipment as well as arms and ammunition, riot control equipment, and combat equipment were procured for the Police Special Weapon and Tactical Squad (SWAT). The Ministry of Police Affairs has also entered into a contract agreement for the supply of police Anti Riot Equipment with Poly Technology of China through a Government-to-Government arrangement at a cost of 44 million U.S. Dollars. These equipment will go a long way in boosting the capacity of the police to control civil unrest in the most efficient and civil manner.

  1. The recovery of the economy remained on a steady path throughout the year 2021. As you are aware, gentlemen, many countries around the world face unprecedented challenges, starting from 2020, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and Nigeria is no exception. The Nigerian economy was hit by the pandemic in mid- 2020, and the economic disruptions led to a recession. The poor performance of the economy during the COVID-19 era affected output growth, trade, household welfare and livelihood.

However, this led to a quick response by the Federal Government with the rolling out of effective fiscal and monetary policies as well as health-related policies intended to curb the spread of the pandemic and mitigate the negative impact of the pandemic on the economy. This has yielded considerable results. For example, the country’s domestic growth in the first three quarters of 2021 was positive, recording real GDP of 0.51 percent in Q1, 5.01 percent in Q2 and 4.03 percent in Q3 2021, this was an improvement from a declining performance in the first three quarters of 2020 (which led to economic recession) put at 1.87 percent in Q1, -6.10 percent in Q2 and -3.62 percent in Q3 2020.

Nevertheless, the fourth quarter 2020 recorded a slight improvement of 0.11 percent, ushering in positive growth rates in the three quarters of 2021. This economic performance in 2021 shows a steady improvement in growth over the last three quarters of 2020, and this can be attributed to government policies and strategies such as the Economic Sustainability Plan; the N500 billion COVID 19 Crisis Intervention Fund etc.

  1. In the oil sector, real growth shows poorer performance in 2021, recording 2.21% (year-on-year) in Q1 2021, -12.65% in Q2 2021 and –10.73% in Q3 2021, from stronger growth of 5.06% in Q1 2020, -6.63% in Q2 2020, and -13.89% in Q3 2020. However, oil production in million barrel per day continued to decline in 2021, from 2.07mbpd in Q1 2020,1.81mbpd in Q2 2020, 1.67mbpd in Q3 2020 to 1.72mbpd in Q1 2021, 1.61mbpd in Q2 2021 and 1.57mbpd in Q3 2021. Non-oil sector indicated better performance of 0.79% in Q1 2021, 6.74% in Q2 2021 and 5.44% in Q3 2021, compared to 1.55% in Q1 2020, -6.05% in Q2 2020, and -2.51% in Q3 2020. In Foreign Trade, Nigeria witnessed dwindling performance in 2020, arising from trade restrictions on accounts of COVID-19 pandemic. Disruptions of trading activities driven by the pandemic further weakened the balance of trade witnessed in Q4 2019 in the subsequent quarters. Consequently, total imports in the first three quarters of 2021 rose by 57.13%, from N13.97 in the corresponding quarters of 2020 to N21.95 trillion.

Similarly, total exports grew by 40.62%, which was N13.12 trillion in the first three quarters of 2021, compared to N9.33trillion in the corresponding period, an indication of improved trading activities although with a deficit position. Over the same period crude oil export improved considerably at N10.03 trillion, compared to N6.92 trillion, showing a growth rate of 44.93%, while Non-oil exports grew by 21.17% – from N1.19trillion to N1.44trillion over the same period.

Inflation rate has continued to decline on a year-on-year basis since April 2021 when 18.12% was recorded. Looking at the trend, a declining rate was recorded from 17.93% in May to 17.01% in August, 15.99% in October and 15.40% November 2021. It is projected that proper implementation of the proposed 2022 project of N17.13trillion, and Medium-Term Expenditure Framework & Fiscal Strategy Paper 2022-2024 are likely to improve the performance of the economy.

Also, judicious implementation of the Petroleum Industry Act will likely improve oil production/sales stability; relatively high oil prices will enhance revenue performance and budget implementation, while strengthening security will improve output growth of the economy.

  1. Undoubtedly one of the greatest achievements of the Administration in 2021, and indeed in the past several decades, was recorded in the oil and gas sector, a sector very critical to the nation’s economic well-being.

The passage and signing into law of the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) is a landmark achievement. Many have described it as the most profound event in the Nigerian oil and gas space in the last 20 years. The PIA is envisaged to foster investment in the industry and delineate responsibilities to the various institutions. Its key objectives are:-  to establish a commercialized National Oil Company (NNPC Ltd.) – to entrench accountability and good governance�-  to promote the exploration and exploitation of the petroleum resources in Nigeria for the benefit of all Nigerians as well as foster the sustainable development of the host communities.

  1. Overall, the PIA serves to ensure the efficient and effective technical and operational regulation of the upstream, midstream and downstream sectors of the oil industry through the formation of the Nigerian Upstream Regulatory Commission and the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Regulatory Authority, among others.
  2. Also worthy of note is the transformation of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC). The nation’s national oil entity has witnessed many changes and transformation through the decades. From its take-off on 1st April 1977 as a merger of the Nigerian National Oil Corporation (NNOC) and the Federal Ministry of Petroleum and Energy Resources, the NNPC – now re-christened NNPC Limited – has been undergoing the kind of transformation designed to re-invent the entity for greater efficiency and value creation. Yet, the changes and the unprecedented deluge of reformations in 2021 eclipse previous attempts to restructure the oil company.

The tempo created with the passage and eventual presidential assent of the PIA was sustained with the quick activation of Part V of the new law which requires the incorporation of a commercial and profit-focused National Oil Company (NOC) within six (6) months of the passage into law. Thus, the NNPC Management – on behalf of the Federal Government – incorporated the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) Limited under the Companies and Allied Matters Act. Under the new arrangement, NNPC Ltd will, on behalf of the Federation, take over assets, interests and liabilities of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).

  1. Another major achievement in the sector is the posting of a N287 billion profit, after tax, by the NNPC. It was the first time in 44 years that the Corporation has recorded such profit, which the NNPC attributed to aggressive cost cutting measures, cost savings through renegotiation of contracts by up to 30%, improved efficiency through business automation, emphasis on commercially-focused investment and non-interference in the management of the corporation’s affairs, among other factors. The construction/rehabilitation of 21 Roads under the Federal Government’s Road Infrastructure Development and Refurbishment Investment Tax Credit Scheme is also a major achievement.

Recall, gentlemen, that the Federal Executive Council (FEC) approved N621.2 billion for the NNPC to take over the reconstruction of 21 federal roads across the six geopolitical zones of the country. The construction and rehabilitation of the selected roads are meant as strategic intervention under the Federal Government Road Infrastructure and Refreshment Tax Credit Scheme.

  1. Without question, an area in which the present Administration has distinguished itself is in the provision of key infrastructures, which is important to the growth and development of any economy. In its efforts to provide basic infrastructure, especially roads and housing, the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing carried out the following projects in 2021. (I) Nnewi-Uduma Road, Sections I and II (26.27km) in Enugu and Ebonyi States (II)  Kano-Maiduguri Road Section II (100.08KM), (Shuwarin-Azare) in Jigawa and Bauchi States (III)  Kano-Maiduguri Road Section III (Azare-Potiskum) 106.34km in Bauchi and Yobe States (IV)  Vandeikya-Obudu Cattle Ranch Road Phase I and II (24km) in Benue and Cross River States (V) Sokoto-Tambuwal-Jega-Kontagora-Makera Road (304km).
  2. Also, various highway and bridge projects at various stages of completion are ongoing across the six-geopolitical zones of the country. The bridges include the much-talked-about 2nd Niger Bridge, which is currently at 78% completion and is expected to be ready by November 2022. Ongoing work on the bridge consists of the construction of a 1.59km long bridge and 10.3km length of approach roads. The total length of the Main Work is 11.90km. The bridge and approach roads are 2×3 lane expressways. Other ancillary works include the construction of two secondary bridges at Oko Amakun (21.70m) and Atani Road (21.70m). Also to be constructed is a new cloverleaf interchange at Onitsha-Owerri Road. Several culverts and drainage structures will also be constructed. There is also the 360-meter bridge at Ikom in Cross River State, which was completed in 2021 and awaiting commissioning; the 400-meter border bridge between Nigeria and Cameroon at Mfum and Ekok, which was also completed in 2021 and is now awaiting commissioning.
  3. In order to ensure that the private sector participates in and contributes to the implementation of Federal Government Programmes, the Federal Ministry of works and Housing is developing a Highway Development and Management Initiative (HDMI), a framework for the private sector participation in road development. HDMI was created by the Ministry to manage and develop the Federal Road network, with the aim of attracting sustainable investment and funding in the development of road infrastructure and maximizing the use of assets along the right of way.

The rationale behind the private sector engagement under the HDMI is to provide an alternative avenue of financing road construction, management and maintenance. Out of the total length of the Federal road network of about 35,000km, the first phase of the proposed project will cover a total length of about 1,963.24km. Most of the ongoing projects of the Ministry, especially the Highways Development and Management Initiative (HDMI), are already attracting massive infrastructural investment. It is envisaged that over a trillion-naira direct investment will be mobilized in the first phase of the HDMI.

  1. It is imperative to state that the policies, programmes and projects of the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing have contributed to stabilizing the macro-economic situation of the country, particularly in job creation. The activities of the Ministry have further contributed to the growth of other sectors of the economy such as the Mining sector through the supply of aggregates, laterite, limestone and other building materials; Cement manufacturing, Bitumen (Importation) and steel production to support construction needs; the fact that property values are reportedly appreciating by 30%-40% as a result of road transport infrastructure and the growing demand for petroleum products like diesel, petrol, lubricants and tyres as a result of construction activities and the need to operate machines.
  2. Key achievements recorded in the Aviation sector include the construction and installation of Boeing 737 full motion flight Simulator at the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology (NCAT) in Zaria, a development that will save Nigeria millions of dollars spent in the retraining of pilots in other countries; the installation of fully-automated Aircraft Firefighter Training Simulator also at NCAT, the first of its kind in Africa; Re-fleeting of Trainer Aircraft in NCAT with six aircraft so far; installation of novel Cat III ILS/DME at Lagos and Abuja airports, instruments that will allow flights to land at low visibility; Procurement of two mobile control towers in Lagos and Abuja and the designation of four International Airports in Abuja, Kano, Lagos and Port Harcourt as Special Economic Zones, aimed at encouraging business/investment. Investors in Aviation, under this project, are to have pioneer industry status so as to have tax breaks.
  3. Definitely the most outstanding achievement in the transportation sector in 2021 is the flag-off of the commercial operation of the Lagos-Ibadan standard gauge rail line in June 2021 by President Muhammadu Buhari. The trains are currently conveying goods and services and reducing traffic and human pressure on infrastructural facilities on the Lagos-Ibadan highway. Then there was the ground-breaking ceremony for the rehabilitation and reconstruction of Port-Harcourt-Maiduguri Eastern Narrow Gauge Railway project and the Bonny Deep Sea and Railway Industrial Park. The 2,044-km Port Harcourt-Maiduguri rail line cuts across Rivers, Imo, Anambra, Benue, Enugu, Ebonyi, Gombe, Yobe, Adamawa and Borno. President Buhari also performed the ground-breaking ceremony of the Kano-Kaduna standard gauge rail line modernization project in July 2021.

The Project is a continuation of the Lagos-Kano rail plan. It is the third segment, with Lagos-Ibadan as well as Ibadan-Kano as the 1st and 2nd segments, respectively. Then, the MOU for the construction of the US$1.959 billion Kano-Maradi standard gauge line was signed with the Portugues firm Mota-Engil Group. This is part of on-going Federal Government’s initiative to provide inter-modal means of transportation across the country as well as enhance trade between Nigeria and some African countries. President Buhari subsequently performed the ground breaking of the project, which traverses the major commercial centre of Kano and passes through other economic hubs of the country, including Kazaure, Daura, Katsina and up to the border town of Jibiya and the city of Maradi in Niger Republic.

On completion, the project would promote import and export of goods from the Niger Republic and other countries in the sub-region through Nigerian ports. The country would earn revenue through expansion of trade and commerce, while the people of Niger Republic will benefit from the ease of transportation logistics at an affordable cost in their import and export business. The Federal Ministry of Transportation also launched the Integrated National Security and Waterways Protection Infrastructure (also known as Deep Blue Asset). This is aimed at managing, controlling and protecting Nigerian waterways towards the advancement of coastal prosperity, as the Gulf of Guinea in recent times has become a hotbed for piracy.

  1. Some 159 Rural Water Supply Schemes were constructed in the North-East, IDP camps and some Federal Institutions and Establishments by the Federal Ministry of Water Resources in the year under review. In addition to the completion of 12 dams, the Ministry also embarked on the implementation of the Partnership for Expanded Water Sanitation and Hygiene (PEWASH) programmes with the construction of 926 rural water supply schemes in 12 States of Imo, Katsina, Jigawa, Plateau, Zamfara, Sokoto, Ondo, Osun, Delta, Bauchi, Kaduna and Gombe States.

Also, the Clean Nigeria Campaign has yielded the following results in the last 12 months, with 71 LGAs now Open Defecation Free. In the area of irrigation, 96,000 hectares of irrigation have been developed as of 2021. In line with the plan to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in the next ten years, the Ministry has ensured that both direct and indirect jobs are created in the implementation of its programmes/projects. A total of 57,261 direct jobs and 11,588 indirect jobs have been created through the various dam, irrigation and water supply projects completed within the reporting period.

  1. The Federal Government has continued to implement the National Social Investment Programmes. On the directive of Mr. President, the N-Power has been expanded from 500,000 to 1 million beneficiaries. The Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme (GEEP) has been restructured to GEEP 2.0. The revamped GEEP 2.0 was officially launched on 24 August 2021 and has successfully registered over 600,000 potential beneficiaries in all the 774 LGAs nationwide through collaborative partnership with the National Orientation Agency. The National Home Grown School Feeding Programme (NHGSFP) is also growing strong. As you know, the programme is designed as an incentive to boost school enrolment and improve nutrition of primary school pupils while sustaining the impact of agricultural and women entrepreneurs in communities to produce and provide a quality meal daily to pupils at the basic education level. The NHGSFP aims to provide free school meals to 25 million children in the country by 2030.

Currently, the programme is providing meals to nearly 10,000,000 school children nationwide. The programme has further empowered over 100,000 cooks and over 100,000 small holder farmers in the local areas where the schools are located, while creating employment opportunities across sectors such as transportation and manufacturing. The programme is being extended to children in non-conventional educational settings so that they may access its benefits. The Household Uplifting Programme (HUP), which has the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) as its flagship intervention, is designed to provide targeted financial transfers to poor and vulnerable households under an expanded national social safety nets system. Those enrolled in the programme benefit from monthly grants of N5,000 to smoothen consumption, stimulate demand and ensure survival directly in the household. Since inception, a total of 1,676,799 eligible households across the country are benefiting from monthly N5,000 grant, as of March 2021. This is in addition to the 1 million Urban Poor who are benefitting from the Conditional Cash Transfers, under the directive of Mr. President to further expand the programme due to the Covid-19 Pandemic.

  1. The Digital Economy sector was highly instrumental in lifting the Nigerian economy out of recession. According to the Q4 2020 Report on�Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector recorded the highest growth rate of all the sectors of the Nigerian economy. The breakdown of the different sectors shows that the 14.7% growth rate of the ICT sector was greater than the combined 14.21% growth of the 2nd to 7th fastest growing sectors in 2020. The telecommunications sector alone recorded a growth rate of 15.90%, representing its highest growth rate in the last 10 years. In the NBS report for the Q1 2021, the ICT sector maintained its position as the fastest growing sector of the economy. This therefore indicates that the Digital Economy sector has proven to be vital for the diversification of the Nigerian economy.

The National Digital Economy Policy for a Digital Nigeria reflects the focus of the Federal Government with respect to Nigeria’s Digital Economy, which was hinged on 8 strategic pillars. And as part of the efforts aimed at implementing the Policy, some of the projects implemented nationwide include: – ICT Innovation Hubs- Digital Skills for Entrepreneurs and Innovators – Community IT Training Centers – Tertiary Institution Knowledge Centers (TIKC) – School Knowledge Centers (SKC), Digital Economy Centers, and Emergency Communication Centers (ECC), to mention but a few. Over 300 of these centers have been established all over the Country.

  1. During the period under review, the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy – in order to ensure increased capacity download speed by up to 20 times and decrease latency – conducted a transparent bidding process for the provision of the 5G Network Service. Mafab Communications Ltd and MTN Nigeria Plc emerged the winners of the 3.5 gigahertz (GHz) spectrum auction.
  2. Gentlemen, as you can see, this Administration, in spite of daunting challenges, made tremendous progress in 2021 in fighting insecurity, growing the economy, reforming the oil sector to spur more investments, emplacing world class infrastructure, providing social safety net for the poor and most vulnerable in the society and also taking advantage of the huge opportunities offered by the Information and Communications Technology Sector. What we have done here is to highlight the major achievements, hence this is by no means exhaustive. That’s why we are also giving you a list of 100 achievements of the Buhari Administration in 2021, Success is not measured by the number of challenges you face, but by how you tackle the challenges. This is what the Administration has demonstrated by tackling insecurity headlong while also growing and diversifying the economy. We want to most sincerely thank all Nigerians for their support and perseverance. We want to reassure the nation that President Muhammadu Buhari is determined to leave a legacy of a safe, secure and prosperous nation. We urge Nigerians not to relent in supporting our security forces, who continue to make sacrifices to keep our country safe.

Finally, We thank you, gentlemen of the press for always honouring our invitation. Best wishes for a better year for all in 2022.

I Don’t Have COVID-19, Says Lai Mohammed

A file photo of the Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed.

 

The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, has dismissed the claim that he has tested positive for COVID-19.

Amid reports that some presidential aides have contracted the virus, the minister stated that he was neither in isolation nor received treatment for the disease.

“For the record, the minister does not have COVID-19, hence he is neither in isolation nor receiving treatment anywhere,” his media aide, Segun Adeyemi, said in a statement on Sunday.

“That report, which was first published by an online newspaper and then latched on to by some mainstream lapdog media, once again highlights the uphill task we face in our campaign to stamp out fake news and misinformation.

“A journalism mantra says, ‘when in doubt, leave it out’. Also embedded in the code of ethics for journalists are the basic principles of truthfulness and accuracy, among others. The report in question did not meet those standards.”

READ ALSOWhat Presidency Said About Buhari’s Aides Contracting COVID-19

 

Empathy, Not Stigmatisation

According to Adeyemi, Mohammed attended the Federal Executive Council meeting on Wednesday, an extraordinary FEC meeting on Thursday, and the swearing-in of the Minister of State for Works and Housing on Friday.

He explained that his principal coordinated the post-FEC press briefing on Wednesday and Thursday, wondering how he could have performed such a task from an isolation centre.

The minister’s spokesman said as a member of the Presidential Steering Committee on COVID-19, Mohammed would not have hesitated to publicly announce his COVID-19 status if he was infected.

“After all, he is not only fully vaccinated, he has also taken the booster shot, a situation that offers him different layers of protection even if he contracts the virus,” Adeyemi said. “For those who contract the virus, they deserve our empathy and prayers, not stigmatisation.

“In the best tradition of journalism, we expect the online newspaper behind this fake news not only to retract the publication but also to apologise to the minister for causing him such embarrassment, especially in a season of joy.”

Insecurity: Buhari Has Done A Lot, Has More To Offer, Lai Mohammed Replies Critics

 

Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, has faulted criticism that President Muhammadu Buhari has nothing more to offer in tackling insecurity, saying it is untrue and smacks of dirty politicking

The Minister, while addressing a press conference on Wednesday in Abuja, said the reaction was necessary because the polity has recently been awash with heightened commentary on the security situation in the country.

“President Buhari has done so much, under very difficult economic and social conditions, to tackle insecurity in our country. Not only has he done so much. President Buhari continues to do much more to keep Nigerians safe. To say he has nothing more to offer is untrue, fallacious, and smacks of dirty politicking.

“By boosting the number and capacity of our fighting forces, Mr. President is putting them in good stead to tackle insecurity not just during the life of his Administration but long after he would have left office,” he said.

Read Also: Police Arraign 15 Suspects Over Siege On Justice Odili’s Residence

Lai Mohammed added that “no Administration in Nigeria’s recent history has provided the security agencies with the hardware needed to tackle insecurity as that of President Buhari.”

According to him, President Buhari has raised the morale of security agents and also recently commissioned naval boats and ships in the latest effort to enhance the nation’s maritime security.

“The army, the air force, and the police, among others, have also been receiving modern hardware to strengthen their arsenal,” he added.

He said President Buhari has continued to make the issue of security a major plank of his administration’s policy since its assumption in 2015.

“This is not a surprise, considering the fact that the fight against insecurity is one of the three priority areas of the APC-led Federal Government.

“Yes, the security situation has continued to pose a great challenge, but amidst the cacophony of voices – some genuinely concerned about the situation and others ready to exploit it for selfish ends – it is easy to forget where we are coming from. Today, we only look at the current situation, without wondering what would have been had this President not taken the bull by the horns, as far as security is concerned.

“With the way, the insurgents were going before this Administration came into office, with their control of a vast swath of land the size of Belgium, with their freewheeling attacks in almost a dozen states, including the Federal Capital Territory which was hit at least five times, perhaps they could have achieved their aim of declaring an Islamic State in Nigeria if President Buhari had not acted decisively. After all, in 2014, Boko Haram declared a Caliphate in Gwoza after capturing Bama and Gamboru as well as other towns and villages in Borno, Yobe, and Adamawa. They installed their own Emirs, collected taxes, and flew their flag before the military dislodged them.

“Yes, banditry and kidnapping have added to the state of insecurity, President Buhari has also continued to provide quality leadership in order to ensure that our security agencies decisively tackle the cankerworm of insecurity of any hue.”

Buhari’s administration, according to the Minister, has not concentrated on the kinetic measures alone. Non-kinetic measures have also been strengthened, he said.

“The establishment of the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development to coordinate all humanitarian affairs in Nigeria is a major effort at tackling poverty and shrinking the pool of those being targeted for recruitment by insurgents and bandits,” the minister added.

“Of course, the Federal Government’s unprecedented and massive investment in infrastructure is also aimed at boosting socio-economic well-being of the nation and further reducing poverty, which is a major cause of insecurity.”

He stressed that President Buhari has not relented, constantly presiding over meetings of security chiefs to get an update and also issue necessary directives, and not missing any opportunity to offer succour to his countrymen and women, when necessary.

The President, he argued, has also continued to work with neighboring countries and Western partners to tackle insecurity, especially terrorism. With the entire Sahelian region experiencing a devastating surge in terrorist attacks, more so in the wake of the Libyan crisis, it has become even more imperative for Nigeria to step up regional cooperation to more effectively tackle insecurity – and that is what Mr. President has been doing.

“President Buhari is leaving a legacy of security, infrastructural development, economic prosperity, and social cohesion for Nigeria,” Lai Mohammed said.

“This may not seem obvious today, amidst daunting challenges, but posterity will be kind to this President.”

FG Condemns Murder Of Policemen, Says Perpetrators Will Face Justice

File photo of the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed.

 

The Federal Government has condemned the recent murder of two policemen in the South-East, warning that those who carried out the killings will be apprehended and brought to justice.

Lai Mohammed, the Minister of Information and Culture, gave the assurance during a press conference in Lagos on Monday.

Although the Anambra State Police Command had said two officers were attacked in the state over the weekend and their bodies burnt afterward, Mohammed, however, was not specific if the November 27 attack was the same as that which took place in Anambra.

In a statement issued by his spokesman, Segun Adeyemi, the Minister described the abduction of three policemen and the killing of two of them as the most horrific and barbaric, saying it was an unacceptable attack against the state.

READ ALSO: Subsidy Removal Has To Happen For Nigeria’s Economy To Stand – Muda Yusuf

“We have credible information that ASP Francis Idoko (AP No. 154945); Inspector Emmanuel Akubo (AP No. 222336) and Inspector Rufai Adamu (AP. No. 285009), all serving officers of the Nigeria Police, were abducted by members of the Eastern Security Network (ESN), acting on the instructions of their leader, Chinonso Okafor, aka TEMPLE, on 27 November 2021,” the Minister said.

“Two of the officers, Inspectors Akubo and Adamu, were killed in the most gruesome manner and their decapitated bodies videotaped and circulated widely. The leader of the ESN team that killed the two officers is one ‘GENTLE’.

“Chinonso Okafor, the most influential commander of ESN in charge of Imo and Anambra States, as well as ‘Gentle’ and all those who perpetrated the abhorrent act will be made to face swift and sure justice.”

He noted that the targeting and killing of security agents, under any guise, is a direct attack on the state and will not be tolerated.

The Minister wondered why those calling for a political solution to the IPOB issue have yet to condemn the appalling murder of serving police officers.

He equally paid tribute to the officers, who made the supreme sacrifice in the service of their fatherland, as well as all security agents who are serving the nation to the best of their abilities in a most difficult moment.

Mohammed condoled with the families of the slain officers, praying that God will comfort and strengthen them.

#EndSARS Report: Call Lai Mohammed To Order, Falana Tells Buhari

Femi Falana                                                                                                                    Lai Mohammed

 

Human rights lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Femi Falana, has asked President Muhammadu Buhari to call the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed.

He stated this in a statement on Wednesday in reaction to the remarks of the minister on the report of the Lagos State Judicial Panel of Inquiry on Restitution for Victims of SARS Related Abuses and other matters.

Falana noted that President Buhari had told United States Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, during a meeting recently that state governments would have to take steps on the reports of their panels before the Federal Government would act on the recommendations.

He stressed that by his action, Mohammed has overruled the President by rejecting the report of the panel in Lagos on behalf of the Federal Government.

READ ALSO: Lagos #EndSARS Report Riddled With Errors, Inconsistencies – Lai Mohammed

The senior advocate also accused the minister of insulting the Governor of Lagos State, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, by rejecting the report of the panel instituted by him under the Tribunal of Enquiry Law of the state.

Governor Sanwo-Olu, according to him, has been presented with a fait accompli by the minister despite that he is still studying the report.

Falana faulted Mohammed, saying the action of the minister undermined the rule of law and social justice in the land.

He, therefore, urged the Lagos State government to ignore the rejection of the report by the minister, stressing that the Federal Government’s name was not clothed with any power under the Tribunal of Enquiry Law.

Read the full statement by the lawyer below:

FG Is Not Competent To Reject The Report Of Okuwobi Judicial Commission Of Inquiry

On November 18, 2021, President Muhammadu Buhari held a meeting in Abuja with Mr. Anthony Blinken, the United States Secretary of State. During the meeting, President Buhari said that the state governments in the country would have to take steps on the reports of their panels before the Federal Government acts on the recommendations.

In particular, the President said, “We at the federal have to wait for the steps taken by the states, and we have to allow the system to work. We can’t impose ideas on them. Federal Government has to wait for the reaction of the states.”

But in an utter display of executive rascality, Mr Lai Mohammed, the Minister of Information has overruled the President by rejecting the report of the Lagos Panel on behalf of the Federal Government.

By not waiting “for the reaction of the states,” the Minister has overruled the President of the Republic. As if that was not enough, the Minister decided to insult the Governor of Lagos State, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu by rejecting the report of the Judicial Commission instituted by him under the Tribunal of Enquiry Law of Lagos State. Thus, the Governor who is currently studying the report has been presented with a fait accompli by the Minister. As far as Mr. Mohammed is concerned, the Governor must toe his line since the Lagos.

Mr. Mohammed has described the 309-page report of a Judicial tribunal as “fake news”. As a lawyer of many years standing, the Minister ought to have known that it is the height of arrogant contempt to describe the report of a Judicial Commission of Enquiry constituted under the Tribunal of Enquiry Law as “fake”.

It is regrettable to note that the Minister has failed to realise that the Lagos State Government is not an extension of the Federal Government but a sovereign entity under the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Since the name of the Federal Government is not clothed with any power under the Tribunal of Enquiry Law, the purported rejection of the report by the Minister ought to be treated with disdain by the Lagos State Government.

In a press conference held on October 20, 2021, Mr. Mohammed had recalled that the National Economic Council had “directed State Governors to immediately forward copies of final reports of the panels to their Attorneys-General for prompt arraignment and prosecution of all indicted persons. Where incidents in the reports relate to matters of discipline, in addition to prosecution, NEC urged the Nigeria Police Force to take disciplinary action on the affected officers in line with the provisions of the Police Act 2020.” Has Mr. Mohammed overruled the collective decision of the National Economic Council?

However, it is pertinent to point out that Mr. Mohammed’s comment on the report lacks originality as it is a mere regurgitation of the jaundiced views of a couple of aggrieved individuals. The two individuals have tried, albeit unsuccessfully, to discredit the findings and recommendations of the body.

In a desperate attempt to mislead the Governor, both aggrieved persons have been campaigning for the total rejection of the report because of the so-called discrepancies and inconsistencies contained in the document. No doubt, these individuals are entitled to express their opinions on the report of the Commission. But the call for the rejection of the report is illegal in every material.

In December 2015, the Nigerian Army massacred hundreds of Shiites in Zaria and hurriedly buried their bodies in a mass grave at Mango in Kaduna State on the orders of the then Chief of Army Staff. Even though Mr. Mohammed said that the report of the genocidal attack was a hoax, the Justice Garba Judicial Commission of Enquiry instituted by the Kaduna State Government confirmed a casualty figure of 348 Shiites.

Six years thereafter, the authorities have ignored the recommendation of the Judicial Commission that the culprits be prosecuted. The Lagos Judicial Commission of Enquiry accepted the evidence of forensic experts to the effect that 99 dead bodies were dumped in the various mortuaries in Lagos State during the protests. Mr. Mohammed has described the massacre as “fake news”.

Finally, Mr. Mohammed’s callous comment on the cold murder of unarmed citizens at the Lekki Toll Gate is a sad reminder of his own experience under the same forces of brutalisation. On August 8, 2014, Mr. Mohammed, the then Publicity Secretary of the APC had left Lagos for Osogbo, Osun State in support of Governor Rauf Aregbesola’s re-election bid.

Later that night, it was reported that he had been kidnapped by a team of hooded operatives of the State Security Service. I was aroused from my sleep by Governor Aregbesola who requested me to assist in searching for Mr. Mohammed. However, a couple of hours later, I was relieved when it was reported that he had regained his freedom.

But the PDP dismissed the kidnap story as a hoax emanating from the fecund imagination of Mr. Mohammed. Having completely crossed to the other side of the political divide, Mr. Mohammed conveniently regards news of the tragic massacre of unarmed citizens as fake.

Mr. Mohammed’s steps undermine the rule of law and social justice in the land. President Buhari should call him to order.

Femi Falana SAN

EndSARS Report: Lawyer Slams Lai Mohammed, Terms Him A Bully

 

Lawyer to the #EndSARS campaigners who participated in the Okwuobi panel, Adesina Ogunlana, has accused Lai Mohammed, the Minister of Information and Culture, of bullying the Lagos State Government.

Ogunlana who was reacting to Mr Mohammed’s take on the #EndSARS report, said a lot of things were wrong with the minister’s position.

“What Lai Mohammed has done, politically if you are conscious, is bullying Lagos State,” Ogunlana declared.

The minister in his reaction to the leaked #EndSARS report said the panel’s proceedings was a waste of time, and a misuse of the taxpayers’ money, a statement which has not gone down well with many Nigerians.

Responding to Mr Mohammed, Ogunlana who on Wednesday was a guest on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily, said it is sad that the report should be greeted with such repugnance.

He feared that there was a possibility for the Federal Government to bully the Lagos white paper panel.

“Before the verdict came out, the position was that we are waiting for the panel, we are waiting for the verdict, now the verdict has come out, it’s now getting difficult for some people to accept the fact.

“Many of these people were either members or supporters of what we call the ruling party. Instead of just being decent, they are trying to look for flaws… trying to save themselves.

“One ordinarily ought not to be so highly celebratory of this report assuming it is a normal country, a normal system; if things have been going on normally, then it should just have been the norm that when a panel duly constituted and filled with competent people, do their work, they are expected to come out with the truth.

“The Federal Government did not set up the panel, the panel did not submit the report to the federal government, and here you see a minister of the federal government dismissing the panel, tearing the report apart and already selling an agenda for Lagos State,” Mr Ogunlana asserted.

While affirming that the leaked report was indeed official, Mr Ogunlana stated that it has only come as a shock because the antecedent in Nigeria is that government instituted panels do not come out with the truth.

“Government in Nigeria must have been badly hit because you are being indicted by the panel you setup yourself,” Ogunlana buttressed.

He resolved that Lai Mohammed like other politicians in Nigeria do not accept verdicts of panels, once it does not favour them.

The counsel to the EndSARS Campaigners in the Okwuobi-led panel stressed that from a radical perspective, “bourgeois law is not meant for the upliftment of the masses.

On this premise, he noted that his position and that of his clients is that justice must be done, and those found guilty must be held accountable.

#EndSARS Panel Report A Waste Of Time, Taxpayers Money – Lai Mohammed

 

The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has said that the #EndSARS panel report submitted by the Lagos State Judicial Panel of Inquiry was a waste of time and taxpayers’ money.

“Instead of sitting for all of one year, the panel could have just compiled social media ‘tales by the moonlight’ on the incident and submitted, saving taxpayers’ funds and everyone’s time,” Mr Mohammed said on Tuesday while addressing a news conference in Abuja.

“That report is nothing but the triumph of fake news and the intimidation of a silent majority by a vociferous lynch mob,” he added.

This comes a week after the judicial panel probing allegations of police brutality in Lagos State submitted its findings to Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu.

One of the reports was on claims of police brutality while the other was on the shooting in the Lekki area of Lagos State said to have killed and injured several protesters.

The Nigerian army had, however, denied shooting live rounds at protesters, telling the judicial panel that only blanks were used.

Reacting to the panel’s report, the minister also maintained that the notion that soldiers and policemen massacred innocent Nigerians at the Lekki Tollgate was false.

He, therefore, asked relatives of the victims to come forward with evidence, saying that “any parent who is afraid to testify about the death of his or her child is not worthy to be called a parent”.


Below is the full text of his speech.

TEXT OF THE PRESS CONFERENCE ADDRESSED BY THE HON. MINISTER OF
INFORMATION AND CULTURE, ALHAJI LAI MOHAMMED, IN ABUJA ON TUESDAY NOV. 23RD 2021 ON THE REPORT OF THE LAGOS STATE JUDICIAL PANEL OF INQUIRY AND RESTITUTION TO INVESTIGATE CASES OF POLICE BRUTALITY AND THE INCIDENT OF OCT. 20TH 2020 AT LEKKI TOLL GATE

Good morning gentlemen,

2. It’s no longer news that the Lagos State Judicial Panel of Inquiry that investigated cases of police brutality as well as the incident of Oct. 20th, 2020, at Lekki Toll Gate in Lagos has submitted its report. The submission happened while I was out of the country on national assignment. Unlike many commentators and analysts, we took our time to read and digest the report, and we are now well placed to respond.

3. Without mincing words, let me say that never in the history of any Judicial Panel in this country has its report been riddled with so many errors, inconsistencies, discrepancies, speculations, innuendoes, omissions and conclusions that are not supported by evidence. What is circulating in public space is simply a rehash of the unverified fake news that has been playing on social media since the incident of Oct.
20th 2020. It is simply incredible that a Judicial Panel set up to investigate an incident has submitted a report laden with allegations, the same allegations it was set up to investigate in the first instance. Instead of sitting for all of one year, the panel could have just compiled social media ‘tales by the moonlight’ on the incident and submitted, saving taxpayers’ funds and everyone’s time. That report is nothing but the triumph of fake news and the intimidation of a silent majority by a vociferous lynch mob.

4. Gentlemen, we have read some critical analysis of the report by a courageous few. One commentator, a lawyer, said it raised more questions than answers. Another commentator, a journalist, called it a ‘disgraceful report by a disgraceful panel’, saying it reported allegations instead of investigating the allegations. Yet another wondered how a Judicial Panel could use the words ‘massacre in context’ and equate such to a massacre. All these and many more have raised valid questions on that report. We salute their courage and refusal to be cowed by the rampaging lynch mob that has been screaming blue murder since the report was released.

5. We do not intend to bore you by rehashing details of the discrepancies, innuendoes, inconsistencies and errors in that report. They are already in the public space. Let us, however, point out some key highlights of such discrepancies, errors, omissions, etc.

i) – The report threw away the testimony of ballistic experts who testified before it. The experts said, inter alia, in their testimony:

”The Team finds that from the medical data examined, including the
timeline of arrival at medical facility and the nature of the injuries
sustained by the Victims, who were taken to the 5 medical facilities,
that no military grade live ammunition (high-velocity) was fired at
the protesters at Lekki Tollgate on 20th October 2020, within the
timeframe of reference (18.30- 20.34hrs). That the GSW (Gun Shot
Wounds) injuries (4 in number between 19:05 and 19:45 hrs), which were
examined by the Team, can be safely identified as being discharged by
either low velocity caliber and/or artisanal/12-gauge firearms
(artisanal firearms are locally-fabricated weapons). What is however
certain is that had the military personnel deliberately fired military
grade live ammunition directly at the protesters; there would have
been significantly more fatalities and catastrophic injuries
recorded. This was clearly not the case.’’

ii) – The same panel that said it deemed as credible the evidence of the Forensic Pathologist, Prof. John Obafunwa, that only three of the bodies on which post mortem were conducted were from Lekki and only one had gunshot injury went on to contradict itself by saying nine persons died of gunshot wounds at Lekki!

iii) – The man whose evidence (that he counted 11 bodies in a military van where he was left for dead before he escaped) was found to be crucial by the panel never testified in person. Rather, the video of his ‘testimony’ was played by someone else. It did not occur to the panel to query the veracity of the testimony of a man who said he was shot and presumed dead but still had time to count dead bodies inside a supposedly dark van at night!

iv) – The panel said trucks with brushes underneath were brought to the Lekki Toll Gate in the morning of Oct. 21 2020 to clean up bloodstains and other evidence, but still found bullet casings at the same site when it visited on Oct. 30th 2020. It said soldiers picked up bullet casings from Lekki Toll Gate on the night of Oct. 20th 2020, yet claimed that policemen came to the same spot to pick the same bullet casings on Oct. 21st 2020!

v) – The panel was silent on the family members of those reportedly killed, merely insinuating they were afraid to testify. Even goats have owners who will look for them if they do not return home, not to talk of human beings. Where are the family members of those who were reportedly killed at Lekki Toll Gate? If the panel is recommending compensation for the families, what are their identities and addresses? Who will receive the compensations when no family members have shown up to date?

vi) – How did a man who reported seeing the lifeless body of his brother himself ended up being on the list of the panel’s deceased persons?

vii) – How can a Judicial Panel convince anyone that the names of some casualties of the Lekki Toll Gate incident listed as numbers 3 (Jide), 42 (Tola) and 43 (Wisdom) are not fictitious names.

viii) – Why did the Judicial Panel feel compelled to concoct a ”massacre in context” as a euphemism for ”massacre”? A massacre is a massacre. What is ”massacre in context?”

ix) – The report never mentioned cases of police personnel who were brutally murdered or the massive destruction of police stations, vehicles, e.t c during the Endsars protest. Does this mean that the panel didn’t consider policemen and women as human beings?

x) – The report didn’t make any recommendation on the innocent people whose businesses were attacked and destroyed during the protest in Lagos. I think it was too busy looking for evidence to support its conclusion of ‘massacre in context’.

6. It is clear, from the ongoing, that the report of the panel in circulation cannot be relied upon because its authenticity is in doubt. Besides, the Lagos State Government, being the convening authority, has yet to release any official report to the public.

Neither has the panel done so. The cowardly leakage of an unsigned report to the public is not enough. Assuming the report in circulation bears any iota of genuineness, it is basic knowledge that the report of such a panel is of no force until the convening authority issues a White Paper and Gazette on it. It is therefore too premature for any person or entity to seek to castigate the Federal Government and its agencies or officials based on such an unofficial and unvalidated report.

7. CNN AND OTHERS

The CNN has been celebrating the leaked report of the Lagos State Judicial Panel of Inquiry. In its rush to claim vindication, CNN apparently didn’t even read the report before rolling out the drums in celebration. By that action, CNN has celebrated prematurely and has now committed a double faux pas: First, by relying on unverified social media stories and videos to carry out an investigation of the Oct. 20th 2020 incident at Lekki, where it did not have a correspondent on ground.

CNN goofed in its report on the findings of the panel, which fell below the main standards of journalism. Secondly, CNN rushed to the air to celebrate an unsigned and unverified report that is riddled with inconsistencies, errors, discrepancies, innuendoes. That’s double faux pas by a news organization that is eager and willing to compromise standards just to claim vindication.

8. Sadly, a section of the Nigerian media has also joined the lynch mob. Honestly, in an attempt to vilify government at all costs, they have done themselves a great disservice. How can any news organization worth its salt write an Editorial validating this kind of report? Are they not seeing what others, including journalists and lawyers, are seeing? In a shocking twist, a Nigerian newspaper chose to hail what it calls “detailed investigative report’’ by CNN, even when the news channel did not even cover the incident of Oct. 20th 2020! It’s a classic case of cutting your nose to spite your face.

9 CONCLUSIONS
i) – Gentlemen, there is absolutely nothing in the report that is circulating to make us change our stand that there was no massacre at Lekki on Oct. 20th 2020. For us to change our stand, a well-investigated report of the incident that meets all required standards and will withstand every scrutiny must be produced and presented to the public. The report in circulation does not meet those requirements.

We also appeal to the families of those allegedly killed in Lekki to speak out. It’s untenable to say that some families did not come out because they are afraid. Any parent who is afraid to testify about the death of his or her child is not worth to be called a parent.

ii) – We reject the notion that our soldiers and policemen massacred innocent Nigerians at Lekki on Oct. 20th 2020. That conclusion is not supported by the weight of available evidence. Indictment for murder is a very serious issue that cannot be done on the basis of allegations and corroborations, as the panel did.

Such allegations must be proved beyond a reasonable doubt. The report in circulation is calculated to embarrass the Federal Government and its agencies without foolproof evidence. The Federal Government has never condoned the abuse of the rights of Nigerians by security agencies under any guise, hence it disbanded SARS and encouraged states to set up the panels to investigate reports of human rights abuses allegedly committed by the disbanded SARS personnel

iii) – The 37 policemen and six soldiers who died across the country during the Endsars protest are also Nigerians and should not be forgotten.

iv) – Those who have engaged in premature celebration of the report in circulation should now go back and read it thoroughly and tell Nigerians whether it can pass any serious scrutiny.

v) – We are saddened that anyone died at all during the Endsars protest as the life of every Nigerian and indeed every human is sacrosanct. As we have disclosed many times, 57 civilians, 37 policemen and six soldiers were killed across the country during the protest, and we commiserate with their families.

10) Gentlemen, I thank you for your kind attention. I will now take your questions

Lagos #EndSARS Report Riddled With Errors, Inconsistencies – Lai Mohammed

 

The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has said that the #EndSARS report by the Lagos State Judicial Panel of Inquiry was riddled with so many errors and inconsistencies.

Mr Mohammed said this on Tuesday while addressing a news conference in Abuja. He also described the report circulating online as fake.

His comments come a week after the judicial panel probing allegations of police brutality in Lagos State submitted its findings to Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu.

One of the reports was on claims of police brutality while the other was on the shooting in the Lekki area of Lagos State on October 20, 2020, said to have killed and injured several protesters.

Read Also: #EndSARS Panel Report A Waste Of Time, Taxpayers Money – Lai Mohammed

Reacting to the shooting at the Lekki Toll Gate, the minister said: “We reject the notion that our soldiers and policemen massacred innocent Nigerians at the Lekki Tollgate”.

He also asked relatives of the victims to come forward with evidence, saying that “any parent who is afraid to testify about the death of his or her child is not worthy to be called a parent”.


Below is the full text of his speech.

TEXT OF THE PRESS CONFERENCE ADDRESSED BY THE HON. MINISTER OF
INFORMATION AND CULTURE, ALHAJI LAI MOHAMMED, IN ABUJA ON TUESDAY NOV. 23RD 2021 ON THE REPORT OF THE LAGOS STATE JUDICIAL PANEL OF INQUIRY AND RESTITUTION TO INVESTIGATE CASES OF POLICE BRUTALITY AND THE INCIDENT OF OCT. 20TH 2020 AT LEKKI TOLL GATE

Good morning gentlemen,

2. It’s no longer news that the Lagos State Judicial Panel of Inquiry that investigated cases of police brutality as well as the incident of Oct. 20th, 2020, at Lekki Toll Gate in Lagos has submitted its report. The submission happened while I was out of the country on national assignment. Unlike many commentators and analysts, we took our time to read and digest the report, and we are now well placed to respond.

3. Without mincing words, let me say that never in the history of any Judicial Panel in this country has its report been riddled with so many errors, inconsistencies, discrepancies, speculations, innuendoes, omissions and conclusions that are not supported by evidence. What is circulating in public space is simply a rehash of the unverified fake news that has been playing on social media since the incident of Oct.
20th 2020. It is simply incredible that a Judicial Panel set up to investigate an incident has submitted a report laden with allegations, the same allegations it was set up to investigate in the first instance. Instead of sitting for all of one year, the panel could have just compiled social media ‘tales by the moonlight’ on the incident and submitted, saving taxpayers’ funds and everyone’s time. That report is nothing but the triumph of fake news and the intimidation of a silent majority by a vociferous lynch mob.

4. Gentlemen, we have read some critical analysis of the report by a courageous few. One commentator, a lawyer, said it raised more questions than answers. Another commentator, a journalist, called it a ‘disgraceful report by a disgraceful panel’, saying it reported allegations instead of investigating the allegations. Yet another wondered how a Judicial Panel could use the words ‘massacre in context’ and equate such to a massacre. All these and many more have raised valid questions on that report. We salute their courage and refusal to be cowed by the rampaging lynch mob that has been screaming blue murder since the report was released.

5. We do not intend to bore you by rehashing details of the discrepancies, innuendoes, inconsistencies and errors in that report. They are already in the public space. Let us, however, point out some key highlights of such discrepancies, errors, omissions, etc.

i) – The report threw away the testimony of ballistic experts who testified before it. The experts said, inter alia, in their testimony:

”The Team finds that from the medical data examined, including the
timeline of arrival at medical facility and the nature of the injuries
sustained by the Victims, who were taken to the 5 medical facilities,
that no military grade live ammunition (high-velocity) was fired at
the protesters at Lekki Tollgate on 20th October 2020, within the
timeframe of reference (18.30- 20.34hrs). That the GSW (Gun Shot
Wounds) injuries (4 in number between 19:05 and 19:45 hrs), which were
examined by the Team, can be safely identified as being discharged by
either low velocity caliber and/or artisanal/12-gauge firearms
(artisanal firearms are locally-fabricated weapons). What is however
certain is that had the military personnel deliberately fired military
grade live ammunition directly at the protesters; there would have
been significantly more fatalities and catastrophic injuries
recorded. This was clearly not the case.’’

ii) – The same panel that said it deemed as credible the evidence of the Forensic Pathologist, Prof. John Obafunwa, that only three of the bodies on which post mortem were conducted were from Lekki and only one had gunshot injury went on to contradict itself by saying nine persons died of gunshot wounds at Lekki!

iii) – The man whose evidence (that he counted 11 bodies in a military van where he was left for dead before he escaped) was found to be crucial by the panel never testified in person. Rather, the video of his ‘testimony’ was played by someone else. It did not occur to the panel to query the veracity of the testimony of a man who said he was shot and presumed dead but still had time to count dead bodies inside a supposedly dark van at night!

iv) – The panel said trucks with brushes underneath were brought to the Lekki Toll Gate in the morning of Oct. 21 2020 to clean up bloodstains and other evidence, but still found bullet casings at the same site when it visited on Oct. 30th 2020. It said soldiers picked up bullet casings from Lekki Toll Gate on the night of Oct. 20th 2020, yet claimed that policemen came to the same spot to pick the same bullet casings on Oct. 21st 2020!

v) – The panel was silent on the family members of those reportedly killed, merely insinuating they were afraid to testify. Even goats have owners who will look for them if they do not return home, not to talk of human beings. Where are the family members of those who were reportedly killed at Lekki Toll Gate? If the panel is recommending compensation for the families, what are their identities and addresses? Who will receive the compensations when no family members have shown up to date?

vi) – How did a man who reported seeing the lifeless body of his brother himself ended up being on the list of the panel’s deceased persons?

vii) – How can a Judicial Panel convince anyone that the names of some casualties of the Lekki Toll Gate incident listed as numbers 3 (Jide), 42 (Tola) and 43 (Wisdom) are not fictitious names.

viii) – Why did the Judicial Panel feel compelled to concoct a ”massacre in context” as a euphemism for ”massacre”? A massacre is a massacre. What is ”massacre in context?”

ix) – The report never mentioned cases of police personnel who were brutally murdered or the massive destruction of police stations, vehicles, e.t c during the Endsars protest. Does this mean that the panel didn’t consider policemen and women as human beings?

x) – The report didn’t make any recommendation on the innocent people whose businesses were attacked and destroyed during the protest in Lagos. I think it was too busy looking for evidence to support its conclusion of ‘massacre in context’.

6. It is clear, from the ongoing, that the report of the panel in circulation cannot be relied upon because its authenticity is in doubt. Besides, the Lagos State Government, being the convening authority, has yet to release any official report to the public.

Neither has the panel done so. The cowardly leakage of an unsigned report to the public is not enough. Assuming the report in circulation bears any iota of genuineness, it is basic knowledge that the report of such a panel is of no force until the convening authority issues a White Paper and Gazette on it. It is therefore too premature for any person or entity to seek to castigate the Federal Government and its agencies or officials based on such an unofficial and unvalidated report.

7. CNN AND OTHERS

The CNN has been celebrating the leaked report of the Lagos State Judicial Panel of Inquiry. In its rush to claim vindication, CNN apparently didn’t even read the report before rolling out the drums in celebration. By that action, CNN has celebrated prematurely and has now committed a double faux pas: First, by relying on unverified social media stories and videos to carry out an investigation of the Oct. 20th 2020 incident at Lekki, where it did not have a correspondent on ground.

CNN goofed in its report on the findings of the panel, which fell below the main standards of journalism. Secondly, CNN rushed to the air to celebrate an unsigned and unverified report that is riddled with inconsistencies, errors, discrepancies, innuendoes. That’s double faux pas by a news organization that is eager and willing to compromise standards just to claim vindication.

8. Sadly, a section of the Nigerian media has also joined the lynch mob. Honestly, in an attempt to vilify government at all costs, they have done themselves a great disservice. How can any news organization worth its salt write an Editorial validating this kind of report? Are they not seeing what others, including journalists and lawyers, are seeing? In a shocking twist, a Nigerian newspaper chose to hail what it calls ‘’detailed investigative report’’ by CNN, even when the news channel did not even cover the incident of Oct. 20th 2020! It’s a classic case of cutting your nose to spite your face.

9 CONCLUSIONS
i) – Gentlemen, there is absolutely nothing in the report that is circulating to make us change our stand that there was no massacre at Lekki on Oct. 20th 2020. For us to change our stand, a well-investigated report of the incident that meets all required standards and will withstand every scrutiny must be produced and presented to the public. The report in circulation does not meet those requirements.

We also appeal to the families of those allegedly killed in Lekki to speak out. It’s untenable to say that some families did not come out because they are afraid. Any parent who is afraid to testify about the death of his or her child is not worth to be called a parent.

ii) – We reject the notion that our soldiers and policemen massacred innocent Nigerians at Lekki on Oct. 20th 2020. That conclusion is not supported by the weight of available evidence. Indictment for murder is a very serious issue that cannot be done on the basis of allegations and corroborations, as the panel did.

Such allegations must be proved beyond a reasonable doubt. The report in circulation is calculated to embarrass the Federal Government and its agencies without foolproof evidence. The Federal Government has never condoned the abuse of the rights of Nigerians by security agencies under any guise, hence it disbanded SARS and encouraged states to set up the panels to investigate reports of human rights abuses allegedly committed by the disbanded SARS personnel

iii) – The 37 policemen and six soldiers who died across the country during the Endsars protest are also Nigerians and should not be forgotten.

iv) – Those who have engaged in premature celebration of the report in circulation should now go back and read it thoroughly and tell Nigerians whether it can pass any serious scrutiny.

v) – We are saddened that anyone died at all during the Endsars protest as the life of every Nigerian and indeed every human is sacrosanct. As we have disclosed many times, 57 civilians, 37 policemen and six soldiers were killed across the country during the protest, and we commiserate with their families.

10) Gentlemen, I thank you for your kind attention. I will now take your questions.

#EndSARS: FG Prescribes Compulsory Psychiatric Test On All Security Agents

A file photo of security officials.

 

The Federal Government has directed the leadership of all security agencies in the country to conduct periodic psychiatric evaluations and drug tests on their men to forestall issues of human rights violations and extra-judicial killings by security operatives.

Lai Mohammed, the Minister of Information and Culture stated this while briefing journalists in Abuja.

He said the National Executive Council has mandated that all arms-bearing security agencies ensure they carry out the same test on anyone seeking to be enlisted.

“NEC called on the leadership of the security agencies to ensure that persons recruited into arms-bearing security agencies undergo psychiatric evaluations and drug tests before enlistment and periodically after enlistment to ensure that the personnel is psychologically fit to carry live weapons and to identify behavioural tendencies that may require psycho-social interventions,” he said.

READ ALSO: Ortom Asks Fulanis To Speak Out Against Foreign Invasion

The Minister also faulted the reports on the alleged Lekki tollgate shooting, particularly by the Cable News Network (CNN) and Amnesty International, describing them as fake.

According to him, one year down the line, no family members of those allegedly killed have come out to testify about their claims and that there have been inconsistencies in the report on the number of those said to have been killed.

He equally assured that compensations will be paid to victims of police brutality as recommended by the various panels set up across the country, adding that security agents also indicted during the panels’ investigations will be prosecuted.

The Minister’s remarks come on the heels of the one-year anniversary of the #EndSARS protest held across different parts of the country and in Abuja.

#EndSARS: No Evidence Of Killings At Lekki Tollgate – Lai Mohammed

A file photo of the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed

 

The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, on Wednesday, claimed that there is no evidence to show that any protester was killed at the Lekki tollgate on October 20, 2020.

He stated this during a press conference held in Abuja as young people took to the streets nationwide to mark the first anniversary of the #EndSARS protests.

Mohammed also faulted the claim by Amnesty International that no fewer than 12 protesters were killed in Lagos State by security operatives during the EndSARS protest.

He described the claim as a ‘phantom’.

He also asked the Cable News Network (CNN), DJ Switch among others to “apologize for misleading the world that there was a massacre at the Lekki Toll Gate and for portraying the Nigerian military, police and other security agencies in a bad light.”

According to the government’s spokesman, CNN acted unprofessionally by relying on unverified and possibly doctored social media videos, as well as other open-source information, to conclude that a massacre took place at the toll gate.

READ ALSO: #EndSARS Anniversary: Why Police Fired Tear Gas At Lekki Tollgate – Lagos CP

He said, “One year later, and despite ample opportunities for the families of those allegedly killed and those alleging a massacre to present evidence, there has been none: No bodies, no families, no convincing evidence, nothing. Where are the families of those who were reportedly killed at the toll gate? Did they show up at the Judicial Panel of Inquiry? If not, why?

“Recall, gentlemen, that after bandying different figures, Amnesty International finally settled at about 12 people killed. On its part, CNN went from 38 people killed to two to just one, after a supposed global exclusive even when the network had no reporter on the ground at the Lekki Toll Gate on Oct. 20th, 2020.”

Speaking further, Mohammed said the Federal Government is proud of the security agencies for acting professionally and showing utmost restraint all through the EndSARS protest and the ensuing violence, an action that saved lives and properties.

This is even as he accused CNN Human Rights Organizations for downplaying the deaths of six soldiers and 37 policemen who died during the protests.