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S/Court judgement: Speak to your conscience over Nasarawa Guber’ship judgement — protesting women tell Panel **advise against Succumbing to pressure

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By David Okpashi

AHEAD of Tuesday hearing and subsequent supreme court judgement on the Nasarawa Guber’ship case , protesting women for justice in Nasarawa state have appealed to the Supreme Court Justices assigned to preside on the Nasarawa Guber case to speak to their conscience while deciding the fate of the state.

The protesting women also begged the justices not to Succumb to pressure by those who believed in acquiring or purchasing powers rather than earning the people’s mandate.

The women who embarked on a peaceful protest to demand for justice in Nasarawa state ahead of the hearing and judgement said as mothers who have denied themselves of all comfort to seek justice in Nasarawa state over the March 18, 2023 governorship election, decided to remind the assigned jurists to deliver judgement with the fear of the Almighty creator.

“We mothers are on the street of Lafia to remind our justices that it has been done in Kano and other states, , Nasarawa should not be an exception. Justice are not only delivered on earth, so we should be conscious of the judgement on our last day on earth”.

“As confidence we’re build last week in other governorship, we wish to appeal that such confidence be extended to Nasarawa state inspite of the mounting pressure from those who have forgotten that power is given and not bught or seized”.

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Addressing newsmen shortly after the peaceful protest, leaders of the justice and peace group, Mrs Hanatu John said the protest was in continuation of the agitation for justice since March 18 when the governorship election result was announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

According to the leader of the group, “we believed that justice would be delivered in the governorship dispute of Nasarawa State considering the heart warming and courageous judgments in the cases of Kano and other states last week”.

“We are appealing to judges not to succumb to pressure by anybody, because doing so will destroy the name and reputation you people build for yourselves over the years,” she added.

She however lauded the judges over their landmark judgments in Kano, Plateau and other states and admonished the jurists to apply the same principle in Nasarawa State.

On her part, one of the leadership of the group, Jemilatu Hussaini observed that the Supreme Court judgement has moved the country many years ahead in terms of peace unity as well as reducing the growing insecurity adding that Nasarawa state should be part of that peace, unity institutionalized by the recent judgments that has equally proven that judiciary remained the hope of a common man.

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“The court should review the BVAS records of Gayam and Ciroma Electoral Wards of Lafia Local Government Area and other places where rigging was alleged to have taken place during the March 18 election before passing their judgment.

“Doing so will ensure that justice is properly ensued and would also restore the confidence of the people in the electoral process,” she added.

“We are trusting God that the justice will be served to the people of Nasarawa as done in other states. We are confident that the judges will place the unity, peace and the general interest of the citizenry above individual interest”.

It would be recalled that the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) David Emmanuel Ombugadu, had challenged and won at the tribunal as winner of the March 18 governorship election.

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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