5.5 Million People Cleared To Vote In Benin Republic Election

Benin Republic’s President Patrice Talon


More than 5.5 million people are eligible to vote in presidential elections in Benin scheduled for April 11, the agency in charge of modifying the country’s electoral roll said Wednesday.

Many Benin opposition figures are in exile with critics saying the West African state long seen as a model of democracy has veered into authoritarianism under President Patrice Talon, who was elected in 2016.

According to the permanent computerised electoral list submitted to the National Autonomous Electoral Commission Wednesday, 5,523,524 people will be able to vote across 7,860 polling stations.

This includes 45,543 in the diaspora with 11 polling stations abroad.

“This list submitted today is the result of modifications, corrections and updates of the national electoral roll,” said Gilbert Bangana, parliamentarian and president of the agency supervising the revisions.

Members of the opposition on Tuesday warned a United Nations envoy that conditions imposed by Talon’s government could undermine the credibility of the election.

An electoral law reform has imposed that each candidate be formally sponsored by 16 mayors or members of parliament.

Talon’s backers have rejected accusations the election will be fixed, saying all the conditions are there for a fair vote.

During parliamentary elections in 2019, no opposition parties were allowed to present lists of candidates for the vote.

A year later, only six opposition challengers to sitting mayors won in municipal elections that were boycotted by some opponents.

Part of the divided opposition has since founded a coalition, the Front for the Restoration of Democracy, to join forces against Talon.

The final list of presidential candidates is due to be published by February 15.

Nigeria-Benin Republic Ties Exemplary – President Buhari

Muhammadu Buhari, Nigeria, Benin RepublicPresident Muhammadu Buhari has described the security and economic cooperation between Nigeria and the Republic of Benin as very beneficial to both countries.

The President on Thursday in Abuja noted that it should serve as a model for other countries.

He made the remarks when he received the outgoing Ambassador of Benin to Nigeria, Mr Mouftaou Laleye, at the State House in the Federal Capital Territory.

President Buhari promised to improve the historic relations between both countries on other key strategic areas for the benefit of their citizens.

He said that he was very pleased with people-to-people integration between Nigeria and Benin, adding that his administration would continue to pursue and promote friendly relations with neighbouring countries.

“I don’t take neighbourliness lightly, to promote mutual interests, both strategic and tactical, you have no option but to cultivate good relations with your neighbours.

“Our countries and our two peoples have no alternative but to remain close,” the President said.

He commended the outgoing ambassador for working hard to improve relations between both countries in the past eight years.

He described Mr Laleye’s long period of service in Nigeria as a mark of the confidence reposed on him by his country’s leaders.

In his remarks, the Ambassador attributed his success to the strong support he got from Nigeria’s past and present leaders.

He commended President Buhari for stabilising relations between Nigeria and Benin, a relationship he described as brotherly.

Customs Allege Plot To Massively Smuggle Rice Into Nigeria

Hameed Ali, Customs, RiceThe Nigeria Customs Service has raised alarm over a plot to illegally import 1.5 million metric tonnes of rice.

The Comptroller General of Customs, Colonel Hameed Ali (rtd), made the allegation during a media briefing on Wednesday in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital.

He revealed that at least 117,000 bags of illegally imported rice have been seized by the Customs since January 2016.

Reps summon finance and agric ministers
Impounded bags of rice

The Acting Director-General of the National Agency for Food, Drugs Administration and Control, Mrs Yetunde Oni, also corroborated the claims.

She said that the activities of smugglers were affecting Nigeria’s revenue generation, despite its economic recession.

Prior to the development, Customs authority in Ogun State Command decried the increase in the activities of smugglers.

Addressing reporters after vehicles loaded with bags of rice were seized at Idiroko border, the Ogun State Area Comptroller of Customs, Mr Multafu Waindu, paraded 18 vehicles loaded with bags of rice which were being smuggled into Nigeria from the Republic of Benin.

According to him, the vehicles and the grains were impounded around 3:00am at the porous Alari and Ifoyintedo bush paths, in Ipokia Local Government Area of the state where the smuggled bags of rice and the vehicles were abandoned by the smugglers.

Economy In Recession

Meanwhile, Nigerians have lamented the upsurge in the cost of rice from 12,000 Naira to over 20,000 Naira in some parts of the country, a fall out of the economic recession.

Economic analysts have said that more persons could go into smuggling of rice due to the increase in price, with most of them opting for Benin Republic where they could get rice for as low as 12,000 Naira.

While the government is making effort to address the economic challenges, a World Economic Outlook report released by the International Monetary Fund had predicted that the Nigerian economy would grow by 0.6% in 2017.

The report revealed that Nigeria’s real Gross Domestic Product was expected to increase marginally by 0.6% with Consumer Prices rising by 17.1%, effectively lifting the country out of an officially declared recession.

Attacks On Oil Facilities

The recession was a result of the drop in the price of crude oil and the attacks on the nation’s oil facilities by some militant groups in the Niger Delta region.gas-pipeline-vandalisation

Some militants under the umbrella of the Niger Delta Avengers have claimed responsibility for most of the attacks which have drawn the attention of the Nigerian Government and some other foreign governments.

Disturbed by the spate of the militants’ activities, the Nigerian Army launched a special team code named “Operation Crocodile Smile”, as the government agreed to dialogue with the militants after a ceasefire agreement from both sides.

In spite of the development, both military and militants have continued to point accusing fingers, alleging a breach of agreements as the military said it would not hesitate to repel militants’ attack in the region.


Customs Bemoan Increase In Rice Smuggling Into Nigeria

Customs rice smugglingThe Nigeria Customs Service says there is alarming increase in the activities of rice smugglers, despite the ban on importation of the grain through land borders.

Addressing reporters after vehicles loaded with bags of rice were seized at idiroko border, the Ogun State Command of the Nigeria Customs decried the increase in the activities.

The Ogun State Area Comptroller of Customs, Mr Multafu Waindu, paraded 18 vehicles loaded with bags of  rice which were being smuggled into Nigeria from the Republic of Benin.

According to him, the vehicles and the grains were impounded around 3:00am at the porous Alari and Ifoyintedo bush paths, in Ipokia Local Government Area of the state where  the smuggled bags of rice and the vehicles were abandoned by the smugglers.

Mr Waindu further explained that the command’s patrol team also intercepted 410 motorcycles being used as means of conveyance with each having a carrying capacity of eight bags of rice per trip.

While warning smugglers to desist from the illegal business, Mr Waindu maintained that the law banning rice importation through the land border was still in force.

West African Petroleum Ministers Decry Attacks On Gas Pipelines

Petroleum, GasThe Committee of Petroleum Ministers from Nigeria, Ghana, Togo and the Republic of Benin says the activities of vandals in the Niger Delta have cut down the volume of gas supplies in the West African sub-region.

The oil ministers made the remarks on Tuesday at a regional meeting in Abuja to discuss recent developments that have affected the implementation of the West African Gas Pipeline Project.

According to them, attacks on oil installations have impacted negatively on the objectives for embarking on the project.

fuel scarcity
Nigeria’s Minister of State for Petroleum, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu

Nigeria’s Minister of State for Petroleum, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, lamented that the activities of vandals in the southern region constituted part of the problems that need to be addressed, as it has affected gas supply to members in recent times.

Other members of the committee who spoke in French language also identified non-payment of bills for gas supplied as another challenge to be addressed.

Meanwhile, the Ghanaian Minister of Petroleum, Mr Armah-Koffi Buah, told journalists after the meeting that the recent cut in gas supply has led to loss of jobs among members.

Nigeria is the major supplier of gas in the project which was established during the military era in Nigeria to provide gas to member states including Ghana, Togo and Benin Republic.

The meeting of petroleum ministers from the region was organised to discuss solutions to problems that have affected the implementation of the project.

Amosun Seeks Protection Of Oil Rich Tongeji Island

amosunThe Governor of Ogun State, Ibikunle Amosun, is seeking adequate protection of the oil rich Tongeji Island, lying between Ogun State in Southwest Nigeria and the Republic of Benin.

Governor Amosun said he made the demand to ensure that the Island would not go the way of Bakassi Peninsula, which was seeded to the Republic of Cameroon.

He made the call while in a meeting with the newly appointed General Officer Commanding, 81 division of the Nigerian Army, Major General Henry Edet, at the Governor’s Office in Oke Mosan, Abeokuta, the state’s capital.

While reiterating that his administration would continue to support security agencies in the state, the Governor also commended them for the relative peace in the state which he said had contributed in no small measure to the socio-economic and political development of the state.

Air Force Modifies Unmanned Bomb Detector

Unmanned-Bomb-DetectorThe Nigerian Air force has unveiled unmanned bomb detector and a Light Surveillance Aircraft developed by the Nigerian Air Force Institute of Technology (AFIT), Kaduna, north-west Nigeria.

The development is part of the force’s contribution to the fight against insurgency in the troubled north-eastern region.

Commandant of the AFIT, Air Vice Marshal Toni Adokwe, introduced the device at a gathering ahead of the institute’s 44th Convocation Ceremony coming up on Friday.

The Commandant demonstrated how the device could dictate and pick up Impoverished Explosive Device to safer locations for disposal.

The device has a frequency jammer to distort GSM signals and also has a time run of four hours.

He said it was produced by students of the Armament Engineering Department in 2012 and was later modified to a higher level called Unmanned Ground Vehicle type two.

Adokwe affirmed that with effective innovative approach to technology, Nigeria would be able to tackle the current security challenge in the North-east.

He emphasised that the growing wave of bombings by the Boko Haram sect required more researches and innovations of modern equipment and technologies to tackle the challenge.

The Commandant further explained that the institute had equally commenced research into the development of a Light Surveillance Aircraft that would be in conformity with the climatic temperature of Nigeria and the West African sub-region.

Since inception, the AFIT has graduated about 5,000 persons, including personnel of the Nigerian Army, Air force, Navy and civilians, as well as foreign students from the Armed Forces of the Republic of Benin, Zimbabwe, Niger, Ghana and Sierra Leone.

It is structured into three schools which are the School of Air Engineering, School of Ground Engineering and Management Studies, as well as the School of Postgraduate Studies, which coordinates the various postgraduate programmes in the other schools.

NUC Asks Students To Clarify Status Of West African Universities

NUC The National Universities Commission (NUC) has called on Nigerian students to get clarification from the commission before applying for admission in tertiary institutions in other West African countries.

The directive came after the National Accreditation Board of Ghana banned 53 tertiary institutions in Ghana from advertising and admitting students from anywhere in the world.

The Director of Information and Publications of the NUC, Mr Ibrahim Yakasai, commended the decision by the Ghanaian board on Thursday, at a news conference in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital.

Mr Yakasai emphasised that the NUC had warned students on some of the universities, especially on the West African Coast, Republic of Benin, Togo, Uganda and some other countries.

The commission then reiterated its call to students to clarify the status of foreign universities from the NUC, before applying to such institutions.

Nigerian Embassies Abroad Are Doing Well At Protecting Nigerians – Amb. Adeyemi

Sunrise Amb. AdeyemiFormer Nigerian Ambassador to the United Nations, Ambassador Kunle Adeyemi, believes that many Nigerian embassies abroad are doing a good job of protecting Nigerians abroad to the extent that they are allowed by the laws of the host countries.

Sunrise on Channels Television hosted Amb. Adeyemi and presented him with statistics showing that as at December 2013, no fewer than 15,300 Nigerians were in various prisons abroad, with the largest number of about 750 in the UK alone.

On the reasons why Nigerians usually experience hostility in many countries, Adeyemi said that steps had been taken to fight such treatments making reference to the deportation of some South Africans as retaliation to an earlier treatment meted out to Nigerians.

He, however, noted that it has been discovered that many African countries were only jealous of Nigeria, citing events during the voting of Nigeria into the UN Security Council. He recounted how African countries adamantly voted against Nigeria and it took votes from outside the continent to give Nigeria victory.

He also cited the attitude of Nigerians in foreign lands as a major source of resentment against Nigerians. He condemned the domineering attitude of Nigerians in the business setting as one which locals in host countries would never be happy with, as he advised that “elbowing out” hosts is not a right attitude.

Ambassador Adeyemi admitted that indeed Nigeria has not been strong in forcing other countries as it was not in the culture of the country to engage in retaliatory actions against governments to drive its foreign policy. He attributed this to the “big brother” position of the country among other African countries.

He cited the instance of the presidential election in the Republic of Benin, and the role of the Nigerian Government in averting a planned annulment of the polls as an example of forms in which the country flexes its muscles positively.

He advised Nigerians planning to live abroad to start by getting proper information about their host countries right from the point where they pick up their visas at the embassy in Nigeria, as information was the best way to avoid being in trouble.

Customs seize Indian hemp worth N3.2 million, stashed in a car’s engine

A couple has been arrested by the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) for smuggling 30 kilograms of Cannabis Sativa, locally known as Indian hemp in the Gbaji-seme area of Lagos.

The machine compressed hard drugs valued at N3.2 million was concealed in the engine compartment of a Kia- salon car from the Republic of Benin.

Handing over the suspects and exhibits to the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) official, the Comptroller of the Seme Area command of the NCS, Mr Othman Salleh warned smugglers to steer clear of the border post.