Another 257 Nigerians Return From Libya

The number of stranded Nigerians that are voluntarily returning from Libya has risen to 401 after the arrival of 257 persons.

They arrived at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport in Lagos at about 1:30 am on Wednesday, following the arrival of the first batch of 144 Nigerians.

The first set of returnees, who arrived at the cargo area of the airport aboard a Boeing 737 aircraft on Tuesday night, consists of 39 female, 97 male, two children and six infants.

READ ALSO: 144 Nigerians Return From Libya

The voluntary repatriation of the 401 persons was facilitated by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) and the European Union with help of the Nigerian Embassy in Libya.

They were received by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Foreign Affairs and Diaspora, Mrs Abike Dabiri, as well as officials of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) among others.

Their repartition followed reports of slave trading of Africans in Libya which sparked criticism from several African leaders and the international community.

According to the reports, the migrants who attempt to cross the Mediterranean Sea to the European shores are placed in detention centers across Tripoli, leaving most of them with the option of returning to their home countries.

About 600,000 migrants have reached Italy by sea from North Africa since 2014 while more than 12,000 have died in the process.

Aviation Minister Names Airport Concession As Next Big Thing

The Minister of State for Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, has identified the concession of the Murtala Mohammed International Airport and three others, as the next big project, after the successful rehabilitation work on the runway of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.

Senator Sirika, disclosed this to Channels Television’s correspondent in Benue state, during the induction of mi-35m gunships by President Muhammadu Buhari, as the Ministry of Aviation partners the Nigerian Airforce on airport security, research and training programmes.

The minister urged Nigerians to trust the Federal Government in protecting their interest, as was the case with the Abuja Airport runway project. He also stressed that four airports;  that of Lagos, Abuja, Port-Harcourt and Kano, are not up for sale but concession.

READ: Passengers Applaud Timely Rehabilitation Of Abuja Airport

He said this days after domestic flights resumed operations at the Abuja Airport, following the re-opening of the runway to traffic.

Passengers aboard a domestic flight expressed delight at being able to fly directly into the capital city, and applauded the timely rehabilitation of the facility.

Fashola Denies Frustrating Reconstruction Of Road

fasholaThe Minister of Works, Power and Housing, Babatunde Fashola has debunked claims by the Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, that the ministry is frustrating plans to reconstruct the road leading to the Murtala Mohammed International Airport.

Mr. Fashola said that the correct position on the airport road and presidential lodge issues, is that the process that would lead to their approval by the Federal Executive Council has not been completed.

Governor Ambode, during a press briefing, alleged that he approached the Ministry of Works on the matter but had not received permission to go ahead with the project.

He added that he had also been denied access to the Presidential Lodge in Lagos after President Muhammadu Buhari approved its handover to the state.

The Ministry of Works has also accused the Lagos state government of refusing to approve the ministry’s request for land, for the National Housing programme in the state.

Togolese President Visits Dangote Refinery

Togo_presidentTogo’s President, Faure Gnassingbe, is in Lagos for a visit to the Dangote Refinery at the Lekki Trade Zone.

President Gnassingbe on Tuesday arrived the Presidential Wing of the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos.

The President and his entourage were received by the Governor of Lagos State, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode, the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Okechukwu Enalemah, President of Dangote Group, Alhaji Alinko Dangote and some members of the business community.

President Gnassingbe’s visit to the refinery is premised on a possible business partnership between Dangote Group and the West African country.

The Togolee President also met with President Muhammadu Buhari. Both presidents met for about an hour in the President’s office.

While President Buhari commended Mr Aliko Dangote for his effort in the building of the refinery, the visiting president said that the refinery would go a long way to promote trade and contribute to reduce import from non-African countries.

Stabilise Niger Delta

President Buhari also promised that the Nigerian government would do all in its powers to stabilise the Niger Delta region to make the pumping of gas to other West African countries easy.

President Buhari had made a similar promise to the new President of Benin Republic, Mr Patrice Talon who also visited Nigeria for bilateral talks.

The discussion between the two leaders at the Presidential Villa centred on security, power and trade relations.

President Buhari thanked Benin Republic for contributing to the effort to check the Boko Haram insurgency and called on the West African nations to beware of restrictions on trade relations.

President Talon described Nigeria as a big brother who is needed at all times for his country to stabilise, especially in the power sector.

Terror War: Police Deploy Sniffer-Dogs To Nigerian Airports

The Inspector-General of Police, IGP Mohammed Abubakar, has ordered the immediate deployment of sniffer dogs to the Airports in Nigeria.

This, according to a statement signed by Force Public Relations Officer, CSP Frank Mba, is in line with international best practice.

The statement also stated that the directive was made in line with the IGP’s sworn resolve to drastically reduce crime, provide and maintain safety and security of persons, protect vulnerable and critical government infrastructures, reduce possibility of arms smuggling through the airports and generally bolster the war against terror.

At the official flag off ceremony which took place on Thursday, February 20 at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, the IGP, who was represented by the Deputy Inspector-General of Police in charge of Operations, DIG Zuokumor Michael, stated that the sniffer-dogs would, among other things, be used for detecting explosives, rescue operations, perimeter patrols, patrols of parking lots and the apprehension of offenders resisting or attempting to evade arrest.

He charged the dog handlers to respect the fundamental rights of the citizens and also work in collaboration with other security agencies towards providing effective security at the airports.

The IGP also called for the cooperation of the general public, assuring them that his administration would do all that was necessary to provide them with optimum security.

Meanwhile, the first phase of the deployment of the sniffer-dogs has commenced with the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, Murtala Mohammed International Airport I and II, Lagos and Port-Harcourt International Airport, Omagwa.

Others are Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport, Kano, Jos Airport, as well as Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu.

This development is in line with the IGP’s New Year message to Nigerians, in which he promised more proactive and extensive security measures to avert any threats or potentially dangerous situations from arising or entering into the country.

Briton Kidnapped In Lagos Released

A British national kidnapped last week shortly after arriving at Murtala Mohammed International Airport in Lagos has been released.

The man was kidnapped on the 16th of July by gunmen who attacked his four-wheel-drive car after it left the airport’s international terminal heading for a residential area of Lagos.

Reports say that a combined team of operatives from the Special Intelligence Bureau, SIB, and their counterpart from Special Anti-robbery Squad, SARS, stormed an uncompleted two storey building at Okota, Isolo area of Lagos state, rescuing the British national and arresting a suspect.

Earlier in March, a British businessman was kidnapped in an upmarket district of Lagos but was released four days later.

It is not clear if a ransom was paid.

Police Confirm Kidnap Of British Man In Lagos

The police in Lagos have confirmed the kidnap of a British national in Lagos.

Although, police spokesperson Frank Mba, could not give details of the kidnap, he told Channels Television that security operatives are aware of the matter and are working to uncover those behind the kidnap.

It was gathered that the victim was abducted shortly after arriving at the Murtala Mohammed international Airport in Lagos.

Gunmen reportedly attacked a four-wheel drive car conveying the Briton around 8.30 p.m. on Tuesday after it left the airport’s international terminal, kidnapping the man who was returning to a residential area of Lagos.

The driver of the vehicle was also reported to have been shot but survived.

“The BHM is working closely with others to secure the release of the hostage,” the British High Commission said in a statement. “Because of the nature of this incident, the BHM is not going into further detail about it.”

Court orders man caught with $7million at airport to forfeit 25 per cent of sum to FG

A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has ordered Tijjani Sherif, the man caught at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos, while traveling with $7 million (about N1.1 billion) to forfeit 25 percent of the undeclared cash to the Federal Government.

Justice C.J Aneke gave the order after the 25-year-old man pleaded guilty to a charge of non-disclosure of the total sum of money in his possession, during checks at the airport.

The court also ordered the seizure of all travelling documents of the accused person.

It will be recalled that Tijani a Dubai bound traveler, and an international business tycoon, was arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), for being in possession of the total sum of $7.5 Million.

After he pleaded guilty, the EFCC tendered documents related to the arrest of the accused as well as traveling documents which shows that about 20 traders contributed the said sum for the accused to make some purchases in Dubai

Counsel to the EFCC, Mohammed Yusuf had informed the court that the accused was arrested by the police on Sept. 27 at the international wing of the Murtala Mohammed Airport, Lagos.

The lawyer maintained that the accused who claimed to have collected various sums of money from different traders in Lagos, had failed to make a disclosure of the total sum of money he was conveying.

According to Yusuf, at the Customs check point of the airport, the accused had alleged that he had only $4.5 Million in his suit case.

He said that after a thorough search, the officers discovered that what the accused actually had in his possession was $7.5 Million contrary to his initial claim.

The lawyer further told the court that on the whole, a total sum of $8.3 Million had been recovered from the accused, which money was now deposited at the Guarantee Trust Bank Plc (GTB).

According to him the offence contravened section 12 of the Foreign Exchange Monitoring and Miscellanous Act, 2004.

Meanwhile, Counsel to the accused Mr Obafemi Ogundare, during allocutus (plea for leniency), urged the court to tamper justice with mercy, and be reluctant in confining the accused to prison since he is a first offender.

Ogundare pointed out that it would be a shame on the family of the accused, if their son was committed to prison, more so as he was a youngster.

In his judgment, Justice Aneke held that he has taken into the consideration the fact that the accused is a first offender and a very young man.

The judge observed that the accused did not benefit from the money directly and that the court case is an eye opener for the accused as he should have learnt his lesson by now.

MMIA’s new aviation terminal to be opened on Monday

The Minister of Aviation, Mrs Stella Odua, has announced that the General Aviation Terminal (GAT) of the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos will be opened on Monday.

Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos

The Minister revealed this at the 6th meeting of the D-8 working group on civil aviation, where she also gave the assurance that all the nation’s airports that are undergoing renovations will soon be commissioned.

The federal government commenced the renovation of major airports to improve the obsolete structures and improve the airports to international standards.

Aviation experts from the group of eight developing countries comprising Nigeria, Bangladesh, Egypt, Turkey, Indonesia, Malaysia, Iran and Pakistan make up the D-8 working group and they met in Abuja on how to share resources and expertise in aviation safety, security and financing.

With a collective population of the D-8 placed at one billion, a strong partnership amongst the group members is expected to open up opportunities for investment and improve service delivery in the aviation sectors of these countries.

Some of the experts suggested that privatization of the airports in Nigeria will be the key to a viable sector

The Minister observed that only five per cent of Nigerians travel by air and just about one-third of cities in the country are serviced by airlines.

But it is not clear as to how this will work bearing in mind the face-off between the federal government and the Bi-Courtney group who sued the government for breach of agreement in the concessioning of the Murtala Mohammed Airport 2 by planning to re-open the General Aviation Terminal.

FAAN on passengers’ safety  

Meanwhile, as part of efforts to ensure the safety, security and comfort of all airline passengers, the head of communications and public affairs of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria [FAAN], Mr Yakubu Dati, has also confirmed that the remodeling and reconstruction work going on in some of the nation’s airports will be completed by December, 2012

Speaking to Channels Television in Abuja, Mr Yakubu said the federal government is determined to ensure that the inconveniences being experienced by passengers patronizing the airports are quickly brought to an end in order to attract increased patronage.

He added that new security measures have also been put in place by the Ministry of Aviation to guarantee the security of all passengers.


EFCC arrests 24 year old cash smuggler with $7 million at MMIA

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, says it on Thursday arrested a bulk currency smuggler, one Abubakar Tijani Sheriff for attempting to smuggle $7million (about N1.101billion) out of the country.

A statement by the agency’s spokesperson, Wilson Uwujaren read. The 24-year-old was arrested at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport (MMIA) in Lagos en route Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

Mr. Uwujaren said the suspect had escaped security scrutiny from other agencies at the airport but was apprehended at the point of boarding the plane by operatives of the Commission.

“When he was arrested, he declared that he had a total sum of $4.5million on him but a thorough screening and search showed that he was actually carrying $7,049,444 (Seven million, Forty Nine Thousand, Four Hundred and Forty Four United States Dollars)”.

Sheriff reportedly confessed that he was a courier for twenty individuals who hired him to courier the money for them to Dubai.

Uwajuren said “Investigations by the EFCC showed that Mr. Sheriff is a regular traveller and one of several couriers of illegal cash suspected to be proceeds of crime. The Commission is still investigating his claims in respect of his accomplices”.

The commission said its experience had shown that bulk cash smuggling, the world over, are usually associated with proceeds of crime as legitimately earned funds are usually processed through the banking system.

“Our experience in the last few years indicates an emerging trend of bulk cash smuggling to Europe, Middle East and North America with the attendant consequence for capital flight. Some Nigerian citizens are routinely arrested at airports in Europe and North American for currency smuggling though no such arrests have been recorded in the Middle East,” the statement said.

“But in all cases, the money is lost as they are never repatriated back to the country.”

The commission therefore warned travellers who for any reason want to move bulk cash out of the country to do so through the banking system or be prepared to declare it and explain the source of the money.

Meanwhile, the suspect is being detained at the EFCC’s holding facility in Lagos pending his arraignment in court.

 

Triumphant Paralympic Team Nigeria returns

Team Nigeria athletes to the just concluded London Paralympic games are insisting on adequate reward from the government especially as they were able to achieve what their physically unchallenged colleagues could not, by putting the country on the medals table at the quadrennial games.

The 29-man contingent arrived the country yesterday as they were received by sports officials and relatives. On arrival at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport in Lagos.

The athletes, who were transported home by their various federation buses, said they should be accorded same respect and recognition as their able bodied counterparts.

Nigeria finished 22nd position in the overall medal table with a total of 13 medals comprising 6 gold, 5 silver and 2 bronze medals.

NDLEA intercepts N294 million worth of heroin in carpets

Operatives of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) have aborted an attempt by suspected drug syndicate to smuggle 24.5kg of heroin concealed inside carpets into Nigeria.

The consignment described in the airway bill as Pakistani hand-knotted new woollen carpets originated from Lahore, Pakistan. It left Karachi airport in an Emirate flight as unaccompanied cargo and taken to Nigeria Aviation Handling Company (NAHCO) Shed, at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport (MMIA) Lagos.

The estimated value of the drug is N294 million. It is the first discovery of drug inside carpets in the country.

The NDLEA airport Commander, Hamza Umar said the consignment was examined by the Agency when it was abandoned by the importers.

“The suspicious cargo was monitored by undercover operatives for a week after it arrived. We decided to conduct the search when nobody came to claim it. In all, there were twelve pieces of carpets but only six contained heroin. The heroin was prepared into tiny bits inside plastic hollow treads and weaved in a way that makes it difficult to detect unless it is unfastened” Mr Hamza said.

He added that the information on the airway bill was found to be incorrect by investigators.

The Chairman/Chief Executive of the NDLEA, Ahmadu Giade who described the seizure as breath-taking promised to unveil the importers.

“The drug syndicate did their best concealing the drug but it was not good enough to go undetected. If drug barons will not lack concealment methods, we also will not be tired in detecting narcotics. This seizure is unique because it is the least place anyone will go to in search for narcotics. We shall continue with investigation until those behind the illegal shipment are brought to book” Mr Giade said.