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Gusau Varsity abduction : Senate calls for immediate rescue of victims

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Iyojo Ameh

The Senate has called for immediate rescue of abducted female students of Federal University , Gusau , Zamfara State on Friday by yet to be identified bandits .

In a statement signed by its Chairman , Committee on Army , Senator Abdulaziz Yar’ Adua ( APC Katsina Central) , rescuing the innocent female students from captivity of the bandits , must be the topmost priority of the country now .

Senator Yar’Adua in the statement issued on Sunday night lamented that the scourge of banditry and insurgency by criminal elements in the country with attendant abduction of law abiding citizens , is a serious dent on the image of the country and blow to collective conscience of Nigerians .

“This is a moment that demands swift and decisive action. We cannot underestimate the trauma and anguish that these young girls and their families are experiencing right now.

” It is our duty as leaders to prioritize their safety and well-being above all else”, he stressed .

He added that the Nigerian Army and other security agencies , must be well equipped and positioned , to stop the menace already threatening the Nation’s unity , peace and progress .

The statement reads in part : ” The recent kidnapping of more than 24 innocent school students of Federal University of Gusau, Nigeria, particularly the young girls, is not just another unfortunate incident but a clear indication that the insecurity plaguing our country has reached alarming levels.

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“We can no longer stand idle and allow our nation’s future to be continually threatened.
I call upon all stakeholders in government, from the executive to the legislative, and the judiciary, to immediately divert our attention to this heinous attack and ensure the safe rescue of our young daughters.

” Furthermore, let us use this unfortunate incident as a wake-up call. The Nigerian government must intensify its efforts in curbing the escalating insecurity that has permeated our land.

“We cannot continue to allow bandits, insurgents, and criminal elements to terrorize our communities, disrupt the educations of our children, and instil fear in the hearts of law-abiding citizens.

As the head of the committee on the Nigerian Army in the National Assembly, I pledge to lend my unwavering voice, support, and resources to this cause.

“We must bolster our security forces, equip them with the necessary tools, provide adequate training, and enhance intelligence gathering mechanisms to counter these threats effectively.

“We must ensure that the Nigerian Army and other security agencies have the capabilities to rescue these kidnapped students without delay”.

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Crime

Shitile Integrity Group Condemns Attacks on Harga, urges Govt.to Improve security in Sankara

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Shitile Integrity Group (SIG),a social -cultural group of Shitile sons in diaspora have condemned in strongest term, the incessant attacks on Harga, a community in Katsina -Ala Local Government Area of Benue State where several innocent residents have been killed, including the recent attack which about 18 defenceless citizens were gruesomely murdered in cold blood ,at the early hours of Saturday, 20th July 2024.

In a statement made available to the Citypost, Hon. Ben Ukeji
Ivaan I Ayange Tsanyi,
President, SIG group says the continuous tergeted attacks on Harga ,and other places in Shitile land is an indication of a complete breakdown of law and order, and urges government at all levels to step up security around Shitile, and indeed Sankera axis to protect lives and property .

Jeremy Bentham, says the essence of government is utilitarianism .

SIG bemoans the manner where lives of their kinsmen are brazenly wasted in a horrendous manner and called on the government to ensure that perpetrators of the heinous crime are made to face the full wrath of the law.

The statement reads in parts: “We condemned in its enterity ,this act of barbarism where innocent people are slaughtered, murdered like animals within Shitile land . This shameful, inhumane , criminal behavior
have continued unabated for some years leading to herriofic deaths as well as the destruction of socioeconomic and educational activities.”

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“We also want to state emphatically that, such acts are inhumane , ungodly, and must stop now!

SIG, note with utmost dismay, the violation of all international protocols and municipal law, especially the fourth (4 ) Geneva convention of 1949 which protects Civilians and civil objects from harm even in a war situation, talkeless of peace time .

“It is therefore, surprising to us that innocent blood of peaceful citizens is being wasted without adequate machinery on ground to contend the renigants .
We use this midum to appeal to those behind this murderous activities to eschew violence and embrace peace for the growth and development of Shitile nation both in Taraba and Benue States respectively.
It’s very important for the youth to understand that, issues are resolved through dialogue”

“SIG wishes to commend His Excellency, the Governor of Benue State, Rev. fr. Hyacinth Iormen Alia, for his efforts towards ending the menace and urge him not to relent on his oars.

We are aware of the government approval for the deployment of a Police Mobile Force to Harga to quell the crises

While we acknowledge the many initiatives of the governor in this regard,we most respectfully request the government to seek for a wholeistic approach to end this wanton killings and distraction of lives and property.

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“We equally call on the” traditional institutions in Shitile and Sankera intermediate area to take necessary measures in conjunction with the political class, and other stakeholders towards bringing this sad narrative to an end.
We sincerely commiserate with the families of victims of the attacks , the Mbacher community, Shitile nation and indeed Katina-Ala LGA.
May the good lord in his infinity mercy ,restore peace to Shitile land “

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Crime

Navy , NIMASA disagree over proposed law on Maritime Security

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By Iyojo Ameh

Serious disagreement has ensued between the Nigerian Navy and the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency ( NIMASA) over proposed law on Maritime security by the Senate .

The Senate had in a bid to strengthen maritime security, drafted a bill to repeal and amend the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) Act of 2007, which when passed into law , would empower NIMASA to impose fines on Maritime security offenders without taking them to court .

During public hearing on the bill organized by the Senate Committee on Marine Transport on Friday , the Director General of NIMASA , Dayo Mobereola , commended the Senate for coming up with the proposed legislation which according to him, was in line with international best practices .

” The proposed amendments would empower us at NIMASA to impose fines on offenders without needing court actions, thus streamlining enforcement processes which are clearly in line with international best practices “, he said .

However, Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Emmanuel Ogalla, represented by a senior officer, raised concerns on behalf of the Nigerian Navy.

While supporting the some of the proposed amendments , he noted that a section of the proposed law mandating NIMASA to provide security could lead to conflicts on responsibilities between NIMASA and the Navy.

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” Maritime security is largely ensured by the Nigerian Navy while other relevant agencies like NIMASA , complement.

“Therefore as observed in a section of the proposed amendment , given Maritime security to NIMASA is wrong because the Nigerian Navy fundamentally defends the territoral water space of Nigeria “, he said .

In his remarks , the Chairman of the Committee, Senator Wasiu Eshinlokun ( APC Lagos Central), said the proposed amendments , were not targeted at Nigerian Navy’s fundamental mandate of territorial water protection but empower NIMASA to be more effective on its own mandate .

“The proposed amendments to the NIMASA Act , aim to bolster Nigeria’s maritime security framework, ensuring safer and more efficient maritime operations in the country”, he said .

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Business and Economy

For Dangote, it is no longer business as usual

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By Ilyasu Awada

In March, the US Justice Department, in a suit joined by 16 state district attorneys general, announced a historic anti-trust lawsuit against Apple, alleging the tech company “relies on exclusionary anti-competitive conduct” to unlawfully maintain its smartphone market dominance.

The move has not spooked the markets because at the heart of the markets is consumer protection, which can only be engendered by competitiveness.

However, the case has been different in Nigeria until recently. Though there is the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Act (FCCPA), 2018 whose core function is to regulate competition and protection of consumers in Nigeria, the role of the regulator was surrendered to powerful entities who ride roughshod over Nigerians.

One such company that has dominated the consumer segment of the Nigerian market is Dangote Industries. Its ubiquitous presence is hardly missing in any home. From salt, sugar, noodles, seasonings, cement, car manufacturing and now petrol chemicals the Dangote Group looms large.

For those who have keenly followed the evolution of the company, it is no secret that it is predatory and brokers less or no competition, hence, its dominance.
If in doubt, ask Ibeto Industries and Bua in the fight to monopolise the lucrative cement market.

For years, the Dangote Group was locked in a battle of attrition with Ibeto Cement even when the federal government said the former had no business as a competitor dragging Ibeto Cement to court over its import licence of cement.

Incensed by the federal government’s approval to Ibeto by the government of former President Olusegun Obasanjo and being close friends then, Dangote was able to get the government of the day to halt Ibeto’s importation of cement, while Dangote continued to import, leading to his near-sole ownership of the cement market for years until when late President Umaru Yar’ Adua reversed his predecessor’s moratorium on Ibeto in July 2007.

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Pricked by this, Dangote Cement PLC quickly filed a suit alleging that Ibeto Cement Company is gaining undue advantage by the federal government. However, the Federal Government and six of its agencies, argued that Dangote Cement PLC filed the suit with only one intention, to wipe out competition in cement business and become a monopoly.

The Federal Government also contended that Dangote cement has no locus in filing the suit as the matter didn’t concern them. It averred that the suit instituted by Ibeto Cement against the Federal Government was not fraudulent.

Furthermore, it argued that Dangote Cement was not a nominee or agent of government agencies, which are defendants in the suit, and is not acting on their behalf. It argued that that Dangote Cement Plc is not an agency of Federal Government with the statutory mandate of administering, managing or enforcing tax compliance, therefore lacking the locus standi to commence or maintain the legal action and seek the reliefs in the case.

This is just one of several instances that the company seeks to gain undue advantage, restrict competition and stifle the anti-trust provisions of the law.

Also, it emerged in 2022 that between 2019 and 2021, the Federal Government lost N16.76tn in revenue to tax reliefs, duty waivers, and concessions given to 46 large companies of which the Dangote Group featured prominently. While tax waivers in themselves are not bad as fiscal tools are used to stimulate economic activities or discourage certain harmful or inappropriate economic activities, the discriminatory practice has a telling effect on economic growth and inclusion.

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Without a doubt, having enjoyed prebendal perks for long, the owners of Dangote Refinery had hoped it will be the same anti-people’s waivers they will get in operating their refinery as it has emerged.

What the company and its owners started with was to vilify regulators such as the NNPC, NUPRC and international oil companies as to its inability to get crude at less competitive price and to shutdown other operators in the oil and gas sector.

Posturing as a proletariat at the Afreximbank Annual Meetings and AfriCaribbean Trade & Investment Forum in the Bahamas, Aliko Dangote, who is intent on his 650,000bl/d Dangote refinery being the sole provider of petrol chemicals in the country alleged that substandard fuel is rampant in Nigeria and across Africa, containing high levels of Sulphur and dirty.

Dangote has the opportunity to voice his concerns, if any, to the Nigerian authorities, no, he will rather posture as the untainted businessman who desires the best for his countrymen and women. If that were to be the case, the EFCC won’t have raided the headquarters of the company over opaque forex transactions in January this year. It is whispered in several quarters that a deal was made with the authorities owing to the adverse impact on foreign direct investment for the matter to be resolved back stage.

Now that it has emerged that the refinery is at the pre-commissioning stage and has not been licensed, one wonders why the shrill cries and sentiment whipping by the company.
For the avoidance of any ambiguity, it was Farouk Ahmed, the chief executive officer (CEO) of Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA) that made the startling revelation, which was yet to be debunked, almost 72 hours after.

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Ahmed said, “Well, just like you rightly asked, there are lots of concerns about the supply of petroleum products nationwide and the claims by some media houses that we were trying to scuttle Dangote refinery; that is not so.
“Dangote refinery is still in the pre-commissioning stage. It has not been licensed yet. We have not licensed them yet.

“I think they are at about 45 percent completion. So we cannot rely heavily on one refinery to feed the nation because Dangote is requesting that we should suspend or stop all importation of petroleum products, especially automotive gas oil (AGO) or jet kero and direct all marketers to the refinery.”

For a fact, it will be foolhardy for the country to rely on a single source for its petrol and allied matter needs with dire implications for national security and economic growth as was the case with cement at a time. Even now, the House of Reps is probing the two dominant companies over highly priced cement in the country.

For too long has Dangote taken more from the Nigerian government and this cannot be the norm. While his commitment to the Nigerian economy is worthy of note, it must not come at a steep price for other investors and businesses. In this wise, the Nigerian government should stick to the letters of the law and offer a level playing field to all and sundry.

Awada, a public commentator, writes from Lafia, Nasarawa State.

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