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NIMC registers 1.7 m in Kaduna state

By News Desk,

The National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) has so far registered 1.7 million people in Kaduna State, the commission’s coordinator in the state, Abubakar Hassan, has said.

Hassan who made this known in an interview on Friday in Kaduna said the figure was however far below the eight million residents eligible for registration.

According to him, the commission has 62 enrollment centres across the state for the registration of all residents for the issuance of the National Identity Number (NIN).

The coordinator attributed the low figure to poor turnout of eligible residents for the registration.

He however disclosed that the commission had partnered the National orientation Agency (NOA) to sensitize the public on the importance of obtaining the National Identification Number, as part of measures to address the problem of low turnout.

” With the recent collaboration we have with NOA in sensitizing people on the importance of enrolling into the National Identity Management System, we hope to see an increased turnout of people in our enrollment centres.

“More centres are coming to ensure that all citizens and legal residents are registered,” he stated.

Hassan who explained that the NIN was mandatory for all citizens and legal residents of the country, and implored those who have not registered to do so as soon as possible.

He added that the slip given to those who were enrolled contains an Identification number which would enable the user to make any legal transaction.

Samuel Ogundipe regains freedom

By News Desk,

Premium Times journalist, Samuel Ogundipe, who was detained on Tuesday has been released on bail by the Kubwa Grade 1 Magistrates’ Court, Abuja.

He was granted the bail in the sum of N500,000 and a surety who must be resident within the court’s jurisdiction.

Ogundipe, who was represented in court by Mr. Jide Ogunye, met the bail conditions, had been released.

The Nigeria Police Force had said Ogundipe was being investigated and prosecuted for theft and unlawful possession of restricted and classified documents.

Ogundipe was arrested on Aug. 14 for alleged publication of the Inspector-General of police interim report on the investigation on the former Director-General of DSS, Lawal Daura.

Daura had authourised operatives of the DSS to lay siege to the National Assembly.

The Force Public Relations Officer, Jimoh Moshood, said on Thursday in Abuja that the documents were inimical to state and national security.

He added that the documents could jeopardise peace, breakdown of law and order capable of causing crisis in the country.

Moshood said that Ogundipe was also being investigated and prosecuted under other offences which violate Official Secret Act, Cyber Crime Act, and the Penal Code Law for which he has volunteered statements and standing trial.

He said that he was arrested on completion of preliminary investigation and promised that he would be arraigned in a court of competent jurisdiction in the FCT in less than 24 hours.

The spokesman said that he was remanded in police custody and the case was adjourned to Aug. 20.

“The Nigeria Police force as a law abiding organisation will continue to ensure that the Rule of Law and its supremacy which are essentials of democracy prevails at all times,” he said.

He said that individual or group of persons who violate the law must be brought to justice.

Moshood added that the force would also ensure that all Nigerians irrespective of profession, practice or carrier are subject to the same Law.

Court exonerates 10 Top PDP members for murder

By News Desk,

Nine out of the 10 bigwigs of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) charged with murder of one of their party men have been released by the Ebute Meta Chief Magistrates’ Court.

They were discharged on Friday after arraigned for alleged murder of the Apapa local government PDP chairman, Adeniyi Aborisade.

But one of the party men, Kehinde Fasasi, 61, was not as lucky as the magistrate’s refused to discharge him but granted bail in the sum of N400,000.

Chief Magistrate Alex Komolafe, dismissed the murder charges against Rotimi Kujore, 44; Fatai Adele, 62; Ismaila Abiola, 50; Amos Fawole, 65; Victoria Falowo, 42.

Others include Mukaila Odukoya, 54; Isaac Oropo, 55; Muhammed Babangida, 37; and Ugochukwu Nwoke, 50.

The accused were arraigned alongside Moshood Salvador, chairman of the Lagos State Chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) who has
since been discharged of the crime levelled against him.

Chief Magistrate Komolafe, in the ruling, held that in view of the advice from the office of the Directorate of Public Prosecution, the court exonerated the accused persons.

Komolafe also ordered that the nine accused be released from Ikoyi Prison.

The offences contravened Sections 223 and 233 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2015.

139 aid workers killed in line of duty

By News Desk, with Agency Report,

United Nation has renewed its call for civilians and aid workers everywhere to be better protected following the killing of 139 of them and 72 kidnapped in 2017.

It said 102 of those aid workers have been wounded also in the line of duty.

UN Emergency Relief Coordinator and Humanitarian Affairs chief, Mark Lowcock,  stated this while remembering all the humanitarians killed in the line of duty, just ahead of World Humanitarian Day.

In 2008, the General Assembly designated Aug. 19 as World Humanitarian Day to raise awareness of humanitarian assistance and pay tribute to the people who risk their lives to provide it.

Marking the fifth consecutive year in which more than 100 aid workers lost their lives on the job, the UN said 2017 was the highest recorded annual death toll since 2013, when 156 humanitarians were killed.

In March, three aid workers were killed in Rann town in Borno, following an attack by suspected Boko Haram insurgents, while at least one other aid worker was critically injured and another three were missing.

Also in 2017, of the 42,972 people reportedly killed or injured by explosive weapons, three out of every four victims were civilians – a 38 per cent increase on 2017.

Lowcock said: “It is unconscionable that civilians and the aid workers who are trying to help them are killed and maimed in conflict zones with utter impunity.

“We need this to end. It is imperative that we hold men with guns and power accountable when civilians and aid workers are illegally targeted”.

Each year on Aug. 19, the world pays tribute to the humanitarians who deliver aid to vulnerable communities in some of the most dangerous crises on the planet; some of whom make the ultimate sacrifice.

The 2018 World Humanitarian Day also marks the 15th anniversary of the bombing of the UN headquarters in Baghdad, which took the lives of 22 staff and other civilians.

The August 2011 bombing of the UN building in Abuja by the Boko Haram terrorists, also killed at least 21 and wounded 60.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres noted in his Protection of Civilians report published in May, that attacks in just six conflict-affected countries were responsible for more than 26,000 civilian deaths or injuries.

The UN chief emphasized that to reverse such high numbers of civilian casualties required sustained advocacy.

In addition to ensuring safe, unimpeded passage of supplies, Governments and non-State military groups are legally obligated to protect civilians and aid workers in armed conflicts.

“It is imperative that we hold men with guns and power accountable when civilians and aid workers are illegally targeted,” Lowcock argued.

The UN and humanitarian partners have launched a ‘living petition’ as the theme for the 2018 Day, calling on world leaders to better protect civilians and aid workers.

I want Buhari’s job – Saraki

By News Desk,

Senate President Bukola Saraki has confirmed he has been consulting and he is considering running against President Muhammadu Buhari in the February 2019 election.

He made the confirmation in a wide-ranging interview with Bloomberg in Abuja.

Saraki who had evaded the question on his interest in the country’s number one position at a press conference last week, was more forthcoming in the interview:

“I am consulting and actively considering it,” Saraki, 56, said in the interview held at his residence in the Nigerian capital, Abuja.

“I believe I can make the change,”  he added.

Since last week, the Senate President had visited two former Nigerian leaders, General Ibrahim Babangida and Chief Olusegun Obasanjo at their hilltop homes in Minna and Abeokuta. But he had been coy about his missions to the homes of the two former leaders, who are also opposed to President Muhammadu Buhari and had issued statements, asking him not to run next year.

After meeting Babangida, Saraki  tweeted that he only “dropped in” to pay his respects to “General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida. Always happy to be with a father and leader”. In Abeokuta, he said he came to have a look at the monumental Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library, which was formally opened in April 2017, the event which he said, he missed.

Saraki who switched from the ruling All Progressives Congress to his old party, the Peoples Democratic Party along with a dozen renegade senators in July, will need to secure the PDP nomination. And he has at least six aspirants to contend with.

Among them are Atiku Abubakar, a former vice-president, who quit the ruling party much earlier to the PDP; Ibrahim Dankwambo, governor of Gombe State, Ahmad Makarfi, a former senator and former governor of Kaduna State. There are also Sule Lamido, a former governor of Jigawa State; Aminu Tambuwal, governor of Sokoto state, who is yet to make a formal declaration of intent and Attahiru Bafarawa, also former governor of Sokoto state.

The party’s primary election is due between 5 October  and 6 October. Political pundits are predicting  a bruising contest among the aspirants.

Saraki had been at odds with Buhari and the APC leaders, since he emerged  as senate president in June 2015. He got the post by playing out many members of his party who were gathered elsewhere for a meeting with Buhari. He struck an alliance with the PDP to claim the position. In return, he traded the senate vice-presidency to the opposition senator, Ike Ekweremadu.

Saraki claimed in the interview with Bloomberg that investors and citizens have lost confidence in President Buhari. The latter claim has been punctured by the wave of victories recorded by the APC in governorship and senatorial bye elections in recent times.

Pundits also believed that investors could not have lost confidence in  Buhari’s administration, if it was able to raise record amounts of money in oversubscribed Eurobond sales and it is attracting foreign loans to rebuild rail, ports and power infrastructure, which the PDP abandoned in 16 years of running the country.

The Senate president in the interview said the blockade of the National Assembly gates by hooded DSS operatives on August 7,  was contrived by the executive  to impeach him, despite the prompt denial by Acting President Yemi Osinbajo, the APC and and the sacking of DSS boss, Lawal Daura.

“If a government can go and lock up an arm of government — and it’s never happened in our history — we should all be very concerned,” Saraki said.

“We should not be surprised that they would use security agencies for elections.”

Saraki, who is now the national leader of the PDP, believes the party has learnt its lesson from the loss in 2015. And conversely, he  thinks the APC has  not learnt from its victory.

“While negotiating with the PDP “we listed a number of issues. We talked about how to sustain and improve the fight against corruption; the issue of providing more powers to the states; inclusion and having a more nationalistic approach on things we do; to continue to improve the environment that will ensure investments. We listed a number of items during the discussions with the PDP, and there is a written agreement to that. We trust that we can hold them to that.

“We would ensure that the party is strong on security. The APC too have not done well on the issue of security. We have the opportunity with the right kind of presidential candidate and president to provide the leadership for the party. The party has a good opportunity to lead the country in the right direction.”

Bafarawa backs calls for restructuring

By News Desk,

Attahiru Bafarawa, former Governor of Sokoto State, has thrown his weight behind the calls for the restructuring of the country.

Yusuf Abubakar, Director, Media and Publicity, Bafarawa Campaign Organisation, in a statement on Thursday in Abuja, quoted Bafarawa as saying that restructuring would enhance Nigeria’s unity and progress.

Bafarawa said that the agitation for restructuring was born out of dissatisfaction with the current structure of the country.

“I support the call for restructuring in totality; a lot of Nigerians are divided by the way the country is being run by the present administration.

“We need to be more united than divided,’’ the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential aspirant said.

On his presidential aspiration, the former governor said that he believed he was the most qualified person to fly the PDP flag in 2019 presidential election going by his credentials.

He said that he had being in politics for 40 years.

According to Bafarawa, his entry into the presidential race is not a do-or-die affair.

The presidential hopeful said that he was in the race to tackle insecurity and restore confidence in governance.

He called on Nigerians to support one another by bringing unity and political cohesion toward ensuring a political stability in the country.

Bafarawa said that issues of security should be treated collectively instead of being left for the government alone.

UniAbuja breathing `fresh air’ under new SSANU leadership–VC

By News Desk,

The Vice chancellor of University of Abuja (UniAbuja), Prof. Michael Adikwu, has commended the cordial relationship existing between the university and the local chapter of the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU).

Adikwu, who expressed his delight while receiving the outgoing and newly sworn in executive members of SSANU, said the varsity had experienced progressive academic activities and peaceful learning environment with Hassan Shallangwa led SSANU.

“The varsity has been breathing a fresh air with the present leadership of SSANU which is a clear departure from the acrimonies of the past, when the union was purely confrontational and crisis ridden.

“The desire of the university community is for a continuous harmonious relationship with SSANU and the opportunity for them to contribute to the growth and development of the university,’’ he said.

Earlier, the outgoing interim leader of the union, Hassan  Shalangwa, told the vice-chancellor  that the union has successfully conducted a free and fair election that led to the emergence of a new executive who would carry the union to the next level.

He thanked Adikwu for the opportunity given to the outgoing executive members to re-invent the union and rescue it from those who do not mean well for the institution

“We have been able to stabilise the union; and the governing council of the university has recognised this effort by inviting us to meetings, our union is more focus and united to contribute their quota to the growth and development of the university

‘`I believe the newly constituted executive members will keep the flag flying while we sit back and purposefully guide them through objective advice and counseling,’’ he said.

UniAbuja conducted election late July to replace the former interim executive committee members, in which comrade Khadijat Umar emerged the new SSANU Chairman.

300,000 PVCs yet to be collected – INEC

By News Desk,

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said that no fewer than 300,000 eligible voters in Kwara are yet to collect their Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs).

Garba Madami, Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), in the state disclosed this on Thursday in Ilorin.

He said that Kwara has a voting pollution of more than one million two hundred thousand, out of which 300,000 are yet to collect their PVCs.

Madami noted that his main objective was to conduct free, fair and acceptable elections to Nigerians and the international communities.

He described as worrisome, failure of the residents to pick their PVCs, adding that Kwara is among states with highest number of uncollected PVCs.

He explained that his team had mapped out strategies to use bulk Short Message Services (SMS) to inform registered voters to come for the cards.

He said that no fewer than 70,000 voters registered in 2017, while only 40,000 of them had come for collection.

The new REC also promised to embark on aggressive advocacy to overcome the challenge.

He urged the people of the state to see life beyond election, saying “election is not a do or die affair.”

U.S. votes $12.5m for food security in Nigeria

By News Desk,

The Feed the Future, a U.S. government global hunger and food security initiative, has earmarked 12.5 million dollars for food security in Nigeria.

Dr George Mavrotas, Head of IFPRI Nigeria office, said this in an interview on Thursday in Abuja.

Mavrotas, who is also the Chief of the Project, The Feed the Future Nigeria Agricultural Policy Project, said that the fund which has been released since 2016 would cover various agricultural and food security programmes in Nigeria for the next five years.

Nigeria Agricultural Policy Project is designed to address the need for policy research and capacity building and to ensure that Nigeria institutions are equipped to respond effectively to increase capacity, knowledge and information needs of the policy makers.

He explained that the initiative was a joint effort between the Michigan State University (MSU), International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), and Nigeria Strategy Support Programme (NSSP) funded by USAID-Nigeria.

Mavrotas said that the initiative has three main objectives, which includes strengthening of the National capacity for greater evidence based policy process in agriculture.

Others are to promote and foster informed policy dialogue among stakeholders and support government efforts to improve their capacities to plan and implement effective research and policy analyses.

He noted that the project would undertake three components that would enhance Nigeria’s policy capacity; fill the knowledge gaps in the policy process and improve policy dialogue process to achieve its objectives.

The Chief of the Project said that the project is taking a robust approach to enhance skills, training and institutional capacities for meeting the demands for policy analysis by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD), IFPRI and MSU.

He added that the components would also include policy driven collaborative research analysis to strengthen local capacities and dialogue by undertaking policy research and analysis.

Mavrotas, however, added that the component would ensure that the project address policy impact through increased and targeted policy communications.

He said the move has become imperative because Nigeria agriculture policy making has evolved and the capacity to make and implement policy has improved overtime.

Mavrotas, however, noted that the shortfalls in human and institutional capacity remain and this has limited the potential to support the efforts of the FMARD in policies and programme implementations.

Police should respect press freedom – Olaniyonu

By News Desk,

Yusuph Olaniyonu, Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to the President of the Senate, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, has has called on the Nigerian Police Force to respect the freedom of speech and due process.

This is even as he condemned the continued illegal detention of Samuel Ogundipe, a Premium Times journalist, describing it as an affront on the fourth estate of the realm and an assault on freedom of the press, freedom of speech and due process.

In a statement issued by him on Thursday, Olaniyonu, a former Editor and Editorial Board Chairman with THISDAY Newspaper, reiterated that freedom of speech and due process must be adhered to in Ogundipe’s case, stating that journalists must be free to practice their profession without fear of intimidation by security forces.

“As a journalist and media professional, I find it preposterous that Ogundipe has been held without recourse to due process for more than 48hours,” Olaniyonu said, “This is a democracy and even when it hurts, journalists must be free to write their truthful stories and protect their sources without the fear of being picked up and tried secretly.

“It is a settled issue in our jurisprudence that a journalist cannot be compelled to disclose the source of his or her information. In cases like Tony Momoh versus Senate, Ray Ekpu Vs IGP and many others, our courts have decided that the journalist cannot be compelled to reveal the source of his story.

“I want the world to know that I, and my colleagues in this profession will continue to stand alongside Samuel Ogundipe. We will continue to speak up for him and demand his immediate and unconditional release. We will also continue to demand that due process must be followed and freedom of speech and that of the press must be protected,” the journalist said.