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UNILAG postpones convocation ceremonies, describes union’s activities as ‘nefarious’

By Zulaykha Abodunrin,

The management of the University of Lagos has postponed the convocation ceremonies earlier scheduled to hold from February 19 to February 22 due to the nationwide strike action by the Joint Action Committee.

In a statement released on Tuesday, the management said it was imperative to shift the date due to the current situations in the school caused by the ongoing JAC strike action which has in part, amounted to the inability to supply electricity in the school.

 

Details soon…

Update: Two bodies discovered at Russian plane crash site

By Newsdesk, 

An official at the Russian Emergency Situations Ministry has revealed that two bodies have been found at the site of a Russian plane crash on Sunday.

The Russian authorities have since reported that about 71 people on board and all of them feared dead when a plane operated by Russia’s Saratov Airlines crashed near Moscow on Sunday.

 

 

 

Human right group faults Lekki toll fares increment, pushes for reversal

By NewsDesk,

An active human right group, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), has faulted increment of Lagos State Lekki toll fares which has continue generating resistance by residents leaving within the axis after management of the facilities announced the changes.

The group, in its effort to push for reversal of the decision,  urged the state Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, to immediately look into the toll charges affecting Lekki-Epe Expressway and Lekki-Ikoyi Link Bridge toll gates been implemented by Lekki Concession Company.

In a statement issued by SERAP on Sunday in Lagos, the rights group stated that there was need for Ambode to reverse the decision since the state government was not to run risk of undermining public interests, democratic values and accountability, and opportunities for participation.

“It’s time for Ambode to ensure and maintain a balance between the needs of the citizens and residents of Lagos State and the Lekki Concession Company.

“The authorities should respect and protect the right of protesters to demonstrate against the hike in toll charges and to voice their opinion. International human rights treaties ratified by Nigeria and the country’s own constitution obligate the government to safeguard the rights of freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly,” SERAP’s executive director, Adetokunbo Mumuni said.

The new rates for the toll charges at the Lekki-Epe Expressway and Lekki-Ikoyi Link Bridge toll gates were implemented February 1 by the Lekki Concession Company (LCC), managers of the road.

At the Admiralty Circle Plaza (Lekki-Epe expressway), cars now pay N200 from N120; sports utility vehicles (SUV) now pay N250 from N150; while commercial buses now pay N150 from N80. Motorcycles now pay N100.

At the Lekki-Ikoyi Link Bridge, saloon cars now pay N300 from N250; sports utility vehicles (SUV), mini vans, and light trucks now pay N400 from N300. Motorcycles will now pay N200. But SERAP described the charges as unacceptable.

This latest increase in toll charges at the Lekki-Epe Expressway and Lekki-Ikoyi Link Bridge toll gates is unacceptable, as it conflicts with the goals and commitment of the Lagos State government to provide basic public services to citizens and residents. It seems the agreement between the Lagos State government and the Lekki Concession Company is no longer serving the needs of citizens and residents.”

It further said, “in the face of rising poverty and economic inequalities across the country, the Lagos State government should be considering eliminating toll charges rather than allowing the Lekki Concession Company to get away with overcharging citizens and residents and prioritising profits over the public interests. Unless the situation is satisfactorily resolved in the public interests, the government runs the risk of being viewed as beholden to special interests and out of touch with the public good.”

“The hike shows how profit motive can conflict with public motive.  Accountability principles require the government to ensure that the activities of the Lekki Concession Company align with the policies and activities of governance, and that the Company is not allowed to exploit its monopoly position to charge excessive rates.”

“It is the duty of the Lagos State government as custodian of the public trust, to take the public interests into account in assessing the activities of the Lekki Concession Company. The government is further obligated to prevent unnecessary and unjustified harm to the public trust and interests.”

“Both ‘pre-decision accountability’ in the form of consultation with citizens, residents and other stakeholders, and ‘post-decision accountability’ in the form of taking corrective measures to redress the apparent injustice to those that might be affected by the hike are key democratic and governance values.”

“Citizens cannot be mere recipients or purchasers of government services; they must also participate in the act of governance itself. The shift from a participatory role to a consumer role changes the role of individuals vis-a-vis their government from one of citizens to one of consumers. This itself erodes the ideals of a democratic society.”

“States contravene their human rights obligations when they fail to take appropriate measures or to exercise due diligence to prevent, punish, investigate or redress the harm caused by acts by private persons or entities.”

FG files suit against Melaye 2017 false threat to life claim

By NewsDesk,

The Federal Government has allegedly filed a two-count charge against Kogi West Senator, Dino Melaye, for allegedly giving false information to police in relation to a claim he made in 2017 on an attempt on his life.

The charge marked which was CR/106/18 was filed on January 31, 2018 before the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory in Maitama by the office of the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF).

According to the charge, Melaye is accused of falsely incriminating the Chief of Staff to Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State, Edward Onoja David, in his assassination attempt claim.

He was accused of deliberately giving false information to the police to frame Governor Bello’s Chief of Staff as the mastermind of the assassination attempt on him at his hometown in Ayetoro-Gbede in Kogi State in April last year.

The police had discovered the alleged falsehood in Melaye’s claim while investigating the Senator’s allegation that some individuals attempted to assassinate him.

In the second count, Melaye was accused of making false statement of facts in a phone conversation with Mohammed Abudu Abubakar, a son of the late former governor of Kogi State Abubakar Audu, with the intention of harming the reputation of David.

In the charge, Melaye’s alleged offences are said to be punishable under sections 140 and 393 of the Peal Code Law, Cap. 89, Laws of Northern Nigeria, 1963.

The first of the two counts read, “That you, Senator Dino Melaye, male, of the Senate, National Assembly, Three Arms Zone, Abuja, on or about the month of April 2017 at the Police Force Headquarters, Abuja, within the jurisdiction of this honourable court in the cause of an investigation into the alleged assassination attempt on you, sometimes in April 2017, you gave information to the police stating that one Mr. Edward Onoja David (Chief of Staff to the Governor of Kogi State) did mastermind the attack with intent to convict him for the offence which statement you either knew or believe to be false and you thereby committed an offence punishable under section 140 of the Penal Code Law, Cap. 89, Laws of Northern Nigeria, 1963.”

Melaye was also said to have told Abubakar, son of a former Kogi State Governor, in a telephone conversation how he framed Edward Onoja David in the assassination attempt.

He was also said to have made the claim in the statement he made to the police on April 17, 2017 during police’s investigation into the alleged attempt to assassinate him. No date has been set for his arraignment.

Nigerian Army kills fleeing Boko Haram members in Yobe

By Agency Report,

The Nigerian Army has said that its troops Friday killed several Boko Haram terrorists at on Friday Goniri community in Gubio Local Government Area of Yobe.

In a statement, Assistant Director, Army Public Relations, 27 Task Force Brigade, Nureni Alimi, stated that the insurgents escaped their enclaves in Sambisa Forest and tried to infiltrate the community.

Alimi disclosed that the troops engaged and killed many insurgents and wounded several others in the attack, while high calibre ammunition was recovered from the fleeing terrorists.

He noted that the insurgents fled their enclaves in view of the ongoing clearance operation under Operation DEEDP PUNCH II, and attempted to infiltrate the community.

“Some desperate Boko Haram terrorists attempting to escape the theatre through one of the formidable blocking positions in Goniri, Gujba Local Government Area of Yobe State, had been severely dealt with on Friday, 9th February, 2018.

“The troops destroyed their Improvised Explosive Devices (IED) borne-vehicle, neutralised quite a number of them and wounded several others.

‘‘The troops recovered one Anti-aircraft Gun with long belt of ammunitions, one AK-47 Rifle and other items”.

Alimi expressed regret that preliminary investigations indicated that some unscrupulous elements in the society provided information to the insurgents on troops’ movement in the area.

He revealed that the insurgents utilised the information and made concerted attempt to infiltrate the community, adding that the gallant troops repelled the attack and crushed them.

Alimi disclosed that two soldiers who sustained injuries in the attack were currently receiving treatment in the Brigade Field Ambulance.

Russian jet crashes shortly after taken off from Moscow, 71 die

By NewsDesk, with Agency report,

At least no fewer than 71 people were reported to have died after a Russian passenger plane crashed shortly after taking off from Moscow’s Domodedovo airport.

It was reported that the plane, belonging to Saratov Airlines, vanished minutes after take-off and crashed near village of Argunovo, about 80km (50 miles) south-east of Moscow.

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Officials confirmed that 71 on board of the plane, comprising 65 passengers and six crew, died after the An-148 en routing city of Orsk in the Urals, near Russia’s border with Kazakhstan, and that it crashed early in the afternoon local time.

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shortly after the incident was reported, the Russian President, Vladimir Putin, sent condolences to victims’ families and announced an investigation into cause of the crash.

Image result for 71 people confirmed dead as Russia jet crashes after Moscow

However, officials stated that pictures from the site where the plan had crashed  show pieces of wreckage in a snow-covered field and that bodies were found.

Flight-tracking site Flightradar24 tweets that the aircraft was descending at 1,000m (3,300ft) per minute (60km/h, 38mph) five minutes after taking off.

 

Airline operators accuse Sirika over N516bn debt

By NewsDesk,

Nigerian airline operators have reacted angrily to the position of Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika on their N516 billion indebtedness to firms and agencies in the aviation sector.

The Chairman of Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON), Nogie Meggisson, who briefed newsmen in Lagos on Sunday, faulted the minister’s claims describing it as unverified.

Sirika reportedly said that Nigerian airlines were ridden with debts, weak and unable to compete and take advantage of the newly inaugurated Single Africa Air Transport Market (SAATM).

Meggison, however, said that the minister was reeling out figures offhand, stressing that he could not prove any of the debts he mentioned.

The AON chairman said that Nigerian aviation agencies lacked the ability to transparently record their revenues and document accurately the debts owed them by the airlines.

Meggisson said:“We have always asked them to list the debts. It is easy to call numbers. Let those we owe bring their bills and explain the debts.

“Although government cannot be held responsible for the operation of privately owned airlines, but the Asset Management Company of Nigeria (AMCON) is competing with airlines, running two airlines with tax payers’ funds.

“So we don’t have a level playing ground because AMCON is a competitor, using the taxes we pay to compete with us. When are they going to leave the airline industry?”

He said accruing debts was normal in the aviation industry because airline operations was a continuous business and the debts were usually settled between airlines and service providers from time to time.

“Talking about debts, airline business is not a cash business. ‎You accrue the charges, you are presented a bill and you pay.

“There is no airline in this world that does not owe,” Meggison said.

On SAATM, the AON chairman urged the Africa Civil Aviation Commission (AFCAC) to provide a level playing field by ensuring uniform charges by signatory countries.

According to him, an airline in Nigeria borrows money at 24 per cent interest rate, pay five per cent to the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), and also five per cent Value Added Tax (VAT).

He said these charges are however, waived by government of other countries for their own airlines.

Supreme Court orders Olisa Metuh to face trial over N400 million

By Agency Report,

The Supreme Court has affirmed the decision of the Court of Appeal, Abuja, which dismissed the appeal on no-case submission filed by Olisa Metuh, former National Publicity Secretary of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).

Metuh is standing trial for allegedly receiving N400 million from the office of the former National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki.

Delivering the judgment on the consolidated appeal filed by Metuh and his company, Destra Investments Limited, Justice Ejembi Eko held that the appeal was incompetent.

The judge held that the appellants failed to obtain leave of the court as specified by Section 233 (2) of the 1999 Constitution before filing the notice of appeals.

This section of the constitution compels a would-be appellant to seek leave of the court when filing an appeal against an interlocutory decision, on the grounds of mixed law and facts.

“The appellants have failed to adhere to this portion of the constitution.

“Therefore, we have no reason not to affirm the May 25, 2016, judgment of the Court of Appeal in Abuja. This consolidated appeal is hereby dismissed for being incompetent, ’’ he said.

The Court of Appeal had earlier dismissed the appeal for being incompetent, thereby upholding the March 9, 2016 ruling of the trial court dismissing the appellants’ no-case submission.

Metuh, who had been complaining of ill health as he continued his defence at the Federal High Court Abuja, was on Feb.5 brought to court on a stretcher.

It would be recalled that the trial judge, Justice Okon Abang, adjourned Metuh’s trial until March 14. on the grounds of his ill health.

Austria to train 1,000 Nigerians facing deportation

By Agency Report,

Austria has completed the process of organising skills acquisition programmes for at least 1000 Nigerian irregular migrants in Austria before their repatriation.

The country’s Director-General, International Centre for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD), Michael Spindelegger, said in Abuja at a meeting with Foreign Affairs Minister Geoffrey Onyeama.

Spindelegger said that ICMPD, with its headquarters in Austria, would start the programme with Nigeria as a pilot scheme before extending to others.

He said that the programme was to prepare the migrants for gainful employment which some Austrian companies were to set up later in Nigeria.

The Centre’s Director-General said that the proposed programme would facilitate reversed migration of the irregular migrants, who had no likelihood of being given legal residents in Austria.

“It is a new idea of how to combine future investment in Nigeria with the return of irregular migrants. A lot of companies are interested in investing in Nigeria because of its market.

“The idea is to train these irregular migrants before repatriating them so that when they come back, they will have something to do instead of becoming liabilities. The idea is also to encourage more Austrian companies to come and invest in Nigeria so that they also can contribute to solving the problem of unemployment and irregular migration,” he said.

According to him, there is provision for asylum in Europe, but in a situation where an emigrant fails to secure asylum, the person will be deported at the long run.

“For them, there is no chance of remaining in the country, because once they are picked, they will not be allowed to take anything, but would be brought back to their country empty.

“There are no fewer than 1,000 Nigerians that are not granted refugees status living in Austria. The programme is starting with Nigeria as a pilot, then, we will see what the experience is before extending it to other countries,” he said.

Spindelegger said, “though, only few Austrian companies are currently in Nigeria, efforts are being made to convince companies involved in the programme to come and invest in Nigeria.

“It is also part of the programme. They can get benefits from the European Union for the investment, which serves as more business security for them,” he said.

In his remarks, Onyeama said that the initiative would not only have Nigerians coming back home to contribute to national development, but also stood to benefit from foreign investors.

“It can be companies in Austria that are interested in investing in any sector of Nigerian economy.

“They will be selecting from Nigerian irregular migrants in Austria, train them and send them down to work with their companies in Nigeria,” he said.

The minister, however, dismissed the fears of likely ploy to deport Nigerians in the country through the process.

“Remember that those Nigerians are in that country illegally, and do not have any prospect of regularising their stay. As such, they would be deported in any case.

“So, instead of being deported with the shame that comes with it, they would be given training and guaranteed employment with the companies that would be coming to invest in Nigeria,” he said.

Onyeama said that the present administration had already put in place mechanism to address irregular migration and promote the concept of reverse migration.

He said Nigeria was in full support of the scheme and would ensure its success, adding that government had made huge investment on social intervention programmes and was having such similar scheme partnership with Germany.

Nigerian shines at Pyeongchang Olympics

By Agency Report, 

Nigeria’s contingent was on parade as the 2018 Winter Games kicked off on Friday in the alpine town of PyeongChang, South Korea.

As spectators at the opening ceremony fortified themselves against the cold of the mountainous region with thick coats and blankets, the Nigerian team was simply dazzling in the national colours of green and white.

It was the first time Nigeria will feature in a Winter Olympic.

US-based trio Seun Adigun, Akuoma Omeoga and Ngozi Onwumere make up Nigeria’s bobsleigh team at the Games, while Simidele Adeagbo will compete in the women’s skeleton. They were all on parade, along with a Nigerian official.

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Pyeonchang Olympic is also witnessing a record African attendance.

Kenya, Morocco, Ghana, Madagascar, South Africa, Togo, Eritrea have sent nine athletes to compete and become the first African to win a medal, since 1994.

Delegations from USA, Norway also participated at the opening, with the Russians marching under the Olympic flag.

North Korean cheerleaders also joined the opening ceremony, shouting slogans to overcome the chilly wind.

The PyeongChang Winter Olympics will run through Feb. 25 under the slogan, “Passion. Connected.”

South Korea’s state weather agency said temperatures reached minus 2.7 Celsius during the opening ceremony in PyeongChang, located 180 kilometers east of Seoul, which was on par or above what is normal for this time of year. Wind chill hit below minus 8.7 C.

Amid the higher-than-expected temperature, spectators started to fill in the stadium hours before the opening of the show, with the excitement for the country’s first Winter Games overwhelming the chilly weather.

Organizers provided visitors with a package of six items to cope with the freezing weather: a rain coat, a small blanket, a winter cap, heating packs for hands and feet and a heating pad that visitors can sit on. They have also prepared 18 heat shelters and 40 large heaters.

“It is really cold outside here, but it is better than I thought,” said Byeon Da-sol, a 19-year-old who visited the stadium. “I think athletes are going through more harsh weather conditions. I hope they do well in their competitions.”

After the 1994 Winter Games, held in Lillehammer, Norway, considered one of the coldest competitions ever by dropping below minus 10 C, organizers for more recent competitions were concerned about the weather not being cold enough.

The 2010 Winter Games held in Vancouver, Canada, earned a nickname as the first Spring Games due to continuous rain and mild temperatures. The Sochi Winter Olympics, held four years later, was also recorded as one of warmest competitions, with temperatures even reaching 20 C during the day.