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Kwara cassava farmers accuse governor over N1bn agric loan

By Abolaji Adebayo

Cassava farmers in Kwara State have accused the Governor of the State, Abdulfatah Ahmed of partiality in the disbursement of the N1billion Federal Government Agriculture Loan Scheme released to the state government.

The farmers, under the umbrella of Cassava Growers Association of Nigeria, complained that they had been excluded from benefiting from the loan unlike other farmers despite the fact that their association was included in the scheme.

While addressing the press on Friday in Ilorin, the Secretary of the association, Sunday Moses, lamented that the state government had disbursed the N1billion to other farmers including 500 small scale farmers and 40 commercial farmers leaving the cassava farmers out of the benefit.

He said his members had acquired lands to cultivate cassava in large quantities and opened bank accounts in hoping for the loans only for the their hope to be dashed by the state government.

The Secretary alleged that the agriculture loan was received by the state government from the federal government on behalf of 2000 farmers which included 500 cassava growers.

He expressed regret that none of his members benefited from the loan scheme.

Moses said that about 500 members of the association had opened accounts with the Union Bank in line with the state government’s directive.

He said that his members had been in the process of securing the loan for about one and half years now, but nothing had been forthcoming.

“Five hundred members of our association have done the necessary things and submitted necessary documents, but it is surprising when the commissioner for agriculture said there was no provision for them,” he complained.

He appealed to the state government to consider the interest of his members as they were part of the 2000 farmers that the loan scheme was meant for.

Reacting to the allegation, the Special Adviser to the state governor on Agriculture, Anu Ibiwoye, said that the state was yet to receive the N1billion loan meant for cassava farmers in the state.

He said the opening of account with the Union Bank was just one of the conditions of taking the loan, adding that the cassava growers in the state were yet to meet other conditions to access the loan.

Ibiwoye gave an assurance that the state government would disburse the fund to the farmers as soon as the Central Bank of Nigeria CBN released it to the state.

Saraki bows to pressure, refunds pension money to Kwara govt.

By Jide Ajia

The President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, said he has stopped collecting pension in Kwara as a former governor of the state after serial pressure that brought his personality under attacks by a civil society organisation .

According to him, the move was sequel to complaints from some quarters that former governors who were currently senators or ministers were receiving pension and salary in their new jobs, all from the government.

Saraki, who disclosed the refund at a news forum in Abuja on Wednesday, hinted that he had written a letter to the state government to stop payment of his pension.

The President of the Senate’s action was sequel to a civil society organisation, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), accusation that the former governors was receiving double payment from the government, alleging it was illegal.

Meanwhile, the Secretary to Kwara State Government (SSG), Isiaka Gold, said Senate President, Bukola Saraki, has returned all monies paid to him as pension back to the coffers of the state government.

The SSG made this known on Wednesday in Ilorin in a press statement issued to clarify the issue of Saraki’s pension being paid by the state government.

According to him, Saraki, who was a two-term governor of the state, has stopped receiving pension from the state since August 2015.

Although, the SSG did not state how much was returned to government coffers, but said a letter dated Aug 20, 2015 by the Senate President also directed that money credited to his account for pension be refunded to the government.

“Dr Saraki requested that the payment of pension to his account be stopped and the amount already credited to the account be refunded to the government, the State Government promptly complied. The Government not only stopped the payment of the said pension, the amount already paid into Saraki’s account since he left office was deducted from the money owed to him as well as his other outstanding lawful entitlements,” Gold added.

According to him, Saraki is entitled to the money he returned as provided in the third schedule, Paragraph D (i) of the Governor and Deputy Governor ((payment of pension) Law, No. 12 of 2010 of Kwara State.

He said that apart from Saraki, other former governors and their deputies were entitled to pension as provided by the law, adding that neither the Kwara State government nor Saraki violated the state pension law or any other law for that matter.

“The State Pension Law empowers the State Government to pay pension to former Governors of the State,” Gold stressed.

The SSG said the Senate President should be commended for his decision to abandon his legal entitlements, saying, it is the hope of the state government that this clarification will end all the controversy about this issue,”

 

NYSC deploys 1,900 corps members to Kwara

By Peter Moses, Ilorin

No fewer than 1,900 corps members have been deployed to Kwara State for 2017 Batch A, Stream 2 three weeks orientation exercise by the National Youths Service Corps (NYSC).

The Spokesman, NYSC, Kwara state, Oladipo Morakinyo, said that the three weeks orientation course will end by mid Aug. 15 and  300 camp officials have already arrived at the camp for the commencement of the orientation.

“All necessary arrangements have been put in place for the successful orientation course that will last three weeks,” Morakinyo said.

He disclosed that all the corps members that register for the orientation course will be sworn in on Friday by the chief judge of Kwara.

Kwara gets N2.48bn as allocation for June

By NewsDesk

The Kwara State Government has received a sum of N2.48 billion as federal allocation for month of June, the state share of 2016 budget that was said to have been shared among Local Government Areas.

According to the state government, of the released allocation, six local government areas in the state got a total of N1.82 billion as shares.

The Commisioner,  Kwara State Ministry of Finance, Demola Banu, who disclosed the development in a statement made available to newsmen on Saturday in Ilorin, hinted that the state got the sum of N2.48 billion as federal allocation for June and had shared it according to constitution.

Banu, while giving the details, said that the sum was made up of statutory allocation of N1.38 billion, Value Added Tax (VAT) of N740 million and Exchange Difference of N366 million.

Giving a breakdown of the allocation figures, the commissioner added that the local councils received statutory allocation of N1.16 billion, Value Added Tax (VAT) of N420million and Exchange Difference of N241million, totaling N1.82billion.

EFCC investigates meter manufacturers, residents, electric supply staff over energy theft

By Olawale Abdul-fatah

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has commenced investigation into alleged energy theft by meter manufacturers, residents of seven states under Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company (IBEDC) jurisdiction and staff of Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry (NESI).

The EFCC is investigation alleged collusion by some staff of NESI, customers and meter manufacturers to bypass meters under areas covered by IBEDC.

The residents of the states to be investigated by the anti-graft agency were: Oyo, Ogun, Osun, Kwara, Niger, Ekiti and Kogi states.

The ongoing probe by the Commission was disclosed in the communiqué issued at the end of 15th Monthly Meeting of the Power Sector Operators presided over by the Minister of Power Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, at the NIPP Injection Substation, Lamingo, Jos.

According to the Communiqué, ”IBEDC noted that collusion by some of its staff, customers and meter manufacturers to bypass meters has been reported to Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and is under investigation.”

In the statement signed by the minister’s Special Adviser on Communications, Hakeem Bello, and made available to the Guild, it was further disclosed that liquidity in the power sector rose after Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trader (NBET) received $159 million from Republic of Niger (NIGELEC) and Republic of Benin (CEB), with an outstanding balance of $92 million.

NBET noted that the fund has been remitted to the generating companies and service providers who provided the energy.

According to the Communiqué, the Governor of Plateau State, Simon Lalong, highlighted the work being done in various areas of Plateau State to supply power using solar, wind and other renewable resources saying they were complimentary to the Federal Government’s projects.

The Governor acknowledged, with gratitude, the importance of the Federal Government projects in the state, particularly the 132kV line from Makeri to Pankshin and their potential to boost tourism, agriculture and power to rural communities, as well as various rural electrification projects being undertaken by the Rural Electrification Agency.

Kwara Deputy Governor tasks NRC on improve service

By Peter Moses, Ilorin

The Kwara State Deputy Governor, Peter Kisira, has urged the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) to improve in service delivery in order to meet the transportation needs of Nigerians.

Kisira made the call on improved service when he received the Managing Director of the Railway Property Management Company Limited, Abubakar Labaran, in Ilorin, the state capital.

The Deputy Governor recalled how effective rail transport was in the sixties and seventies and called on the NRC to provide better service for the people.

‎He described railway as a reliable means of public transportation that should be readily available to the people considering its effectiveness.

Earlier, Labaran said the team was in Kwara on routine inspection of land and landed property of the NRC in the state.

He said that some foreign investors had indicated interest to invest in the development of the country’s railways to standard gauge system.

Kwara Governor approves N143m for vocational college’s equipment

Peter Moses, Ilorin

The Kwara State Governor, Abdulfatah Ahmed, has approved release of N143 million for purchase of modern equipment for International Vocational, Training and Technical College (IVTEC), Ajase-Ipo in Irepodun local government area of the State.

The State Commissioner for Finance, Demola Banu, made this disclosure in a statement issued in Ilorin on Monday that the funds release follows Governor Ahmed’s signing of the State’s 2017 budget into law last Wednesday.

Also speaking on this development, the State Commissioner for Education and Human Capital Development, Musa Yeketi, noted that the equipment are for the five departments of the College, which are Automative, Masonry and Carpentry, Electrical and Electronics, Welding, as well as Heating, Ventilation and Air-Conditioning.

He explained that based on need to patronize Nigerian companies, Ahmed has directed that the equipment should be sourced locally, but must be of the highest quality.

The Commissioner also emphasized that the departments at the College would be adequately equipped to train and produce skilled artisans and entrepreneurs that would contribute to the development of the State and ensure increase in national productivity.

He emphasized that while IVTEC would continue to provide market-relevant skills to middle level personnel, the government would soon renovate all technical colleges in the state to strengthen them for pre-tertiary technical education.

Vigilante group kills three armed robbers in Kogi

By Peter Moses, Ilorin

The Nigerian Police, Kogi State Command on Sunday confirmed the killing of three suspected members of an armed robbery gang during a gun duel between members of a vigilante group and the gang along Agbede -Oshokoso-Kabba road.

The command’s spokesman, DSP William Aya told newsmen in Lokoja that the suspected armed robbers were killed by members of a Vigilante Group patrolling the area to ensure life and property were protected.

Aya said that the suspects, who were fully armed and masked, were robbing innocent Nigerians of their belongings when members of a nearby vigilante group met them on the scene.

He explained that the suspects engaged the vigilante men in a gun duel and it was in the process that a police detachment came to assist them.

“On sighting the police, the suspects who were about 10 in number fled into the bush and it was when combing the bush that three dead bodies were recovered by the police,’’ he said.

Aya said that police came to the scene after the the Kabba Police Division received a distress call from the vigilante group.

He said that the corpses of the suspected armed robbers were delivered to the Police Area Command Office at Kabba.

Kwara Speaker canvasses adequate funding for NOA

Peter Moses, Ilorin

The Speaker, Kwara State House of Assembly, Dr. Ali Ahmad has urged the Federal Government to ensure adequate funding of the National Orientation Agency (NOA), saying that it is the only way the agency could perform its statutory functions of informing the public about government policies.

Ahmad, in a statement signed by his Media Aide, Shuaib Abdulkadir, made the appeal when the agency’s top officials paid a courtesy visit to his office in Ilorin.

Abdulkadir added that proper funding of the agency would undoubtedly further enhance its performances and serve the country better.

The lawmaker ,who emphasised the power of information, stressed that it depends on how it is been managed and used as government tool and no administration could be successful without proper dissemination of its policies and programmes.

This, the speaker said would make such government a participatory one and improve governance as the citizens would always be in tune of every developments in the country.

Ahmad also tasked the agency to further sensitise the citizens about Nigerian culture, tradition, uses and values, stressing that doing so would continue to have positive impact on people and improve Nigeria as a nation.

Earlier, the State Director, National Orientation Agency, Olusegun Adeyemi had lauded the leadership of Ahmad for steering and guiding the House towards ensuring cordial relationship with the Executive, adding that the legislators have not disappointed their people by being good representatives of their constituents.

Noting that in spite of the fact that the 8th Assembly in Kwara State does not have any opposition member from other political parties, its deliberations have always been robust and based on improving the quality of life of Kwarans, he, however, enjoined the legislators to sustain the tempo.

The Director maintained that the agency has been following the 8th Assembly with keen interest since it was inaugurated about two years ago, challenging them to further raise the bar for their successors in the next Assembly.

Adeyemi assured the House of the agency’s support and maximum cooperation while further pledging that NOA would not relent in enlightening and informing Kwarans about the activities of the State Government and House of Assembly.

Police warns against new internet bank fraud

Peter Moses, Ilorin

The Nigerian Police raised the alarm over the new strategy adopted by internet fraudsters to swindle unsuspecting members of the public through their bank accounts.

The force disclosed that intelligence reports at its disposal indicated that fraudsters have developed new software cloaked as email services from bank to their customers on deduction of N7,000 from their accounts as monthly subscription fee for bank’s digest magazine.

A statement issued by Public Relations Officer of the Kwara State Police Command, Ajayi Okasanmi, on behalf of the Commissioner of Police, Emmanuel Amore, noted that with the new trick, an email will be sent to the bank customers as if it genuinely emanated from the bank email services.

The statement explained that a link had been developed along with the software where the unsuspecting bank customer will be requested to click if he wishes to unsubscribe to the deduction for digest magazine.

It added that a page will pop-up once the link is clicked where the victim would be instructed to provide bank details and as well as information on his Automation Teller Machine (ATM) card.

It noted that the new scam was a fallout of the earlier text messages used by the scammers on the purported de-activation of bank customers Bank Verification Number (BVN), which was no longer yielding positive result.

The command warned Nigerians to be wary of the men of the underworld to avoid falling victim of their fraudulent activities.