Category: Departments

Lagos govt, stakeholders meet over Fourth Mainland Bridge

The Lagos State Government on Thursday met with stakeholders to assess the possible environmental and social impact of constructing the Fourth Mainland Bridge.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the meeting focused on how the project may impact the lives of the surrounding communities.

The Special Adviser to Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu on Works and Infrastructure, Mrs Aramide Adeyoye, while speaking at the meeting, said the governor would announce the preferred handlers “before the end of 2022.”

Adeyoye, who was represented by the project director for the 4th mainland bridge, Tokunbo Ajanaku, said the essence of the stakeholders meeting was to get feedback from the communities.

“At this point in time in the life of the fourth mainland bridge, we are closing out on the environmental and social impact assessment stage.”

“This is the 14th meeting we are having with the stakeholders.

“This meeting is for us to get a clear understanding; we want feedback that will help us make the project better.”

“It has been a very good meeting because we have feedback.”

“There are recordings of all of the proceedings, and we took more than 40 questions, and none of them said anything rejecting the project.”

“What the people actually stated was that the government was in delay, and they wanted the project to happen immediately.”

“There is no delay; we are following due process. We are stating emphatically here that the process is on schedule.”

“It has not derailed, and we are assuring you that in a very short while, according to the schedule, Governor Sanwo-Olu will be announcing the preferred bidder.

“When the fourth mainland bridge comes on, it will make businesses begin to flourish.

“We are looking at a business boom. Because of constraints on infrastructure, especially road infrastructure, several businesses are migrating or thinking of migrating.

“In terms of employees and employers, we are looking at a business that will be employing at least 10,000 people, which benefits the economy.”

“We are looking at new communities being opened up,“ he said.

An Environmental and Social Safeguard Consultant to the 4th Mainland Bridge Project, Mr. Kayode Oluwagbuyi, said in his remarks that the journey from the island to the mainland would no longer be three to four hours.

“We expect that the journey will be just 30 minutes.”

“It’s been a continuous process; this is the 14th of the stakeholder interventions and consultations.”

“This is going to be a continuous stakeholder meeting, even after the project has been commissioned.”

“By God’s grace, the governor is likely going to announce the preferred bidder on December 24.

“We expect that by April, they will move to the site and commence construction.”

“The new fourth mainland bridge is at the centre of the synergy of traffic. There are eight roads aligned to the bridge.”

“This bridge will make it easy and convenient for people to connect,” he said.

The Chairman, Infrastructure Committee, for Lekki Estate Residents and Stakeholders Association, Sulieman Bello, expressed pleasure with the new development.

“We are happy and excited,” he said.


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Igbo elders criticize five-day sit-at-home

Residents of the South-East should reject the five-day sit-at-home declared by Simon Ekpa, a Finland-based protégé of the detained leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu, the Igbo Elders Consultative Forum led by a former Governor of Anambra State, Dr. Chukwuemeka Ezeife, has said.

The pan-Igbo socio-political organization also described the order as draconian and epitomizing insensitivity to the plight of the people.

Ezeife told journalists in Abuja on Thursday night that it must never be observed or allowed to stand.

According to him, the IECF met, discussed, and made a critical analysis of some national issues and questions that had far-reaching consequences on the peace, unity, stability, and corporate existence of Nigeria in general and Igbo land, including Elpa’s sit-at-home order in the South East.

He said, “The Igbo Elders Consultative Forum has always believed that some faceless individuals in government and other unpatriotic elements who do not wish Ndigbo well and have been working hard with collaborators to truncate the scheduled 2023 general election in the South-East are behind the purported sit-at-home order in the zone.

“The scheduled February 2023 presidential election will be historic in Nigeria because we are optimistic that patriotic and progressive Nigerians will elect Peter Obi of the Labour Party as the next President of this country in a free, fair, and credible election. Hence, elements must never be allowed to use the purported sit-at-home order to truncate next year’s general election.”

The Igbo elders also called on the Independent Electoral Commission to take necessary measures to provide a level playing field for all the political parties and their candidates, as well as conduct a free, fair, and credible election in 2023.

“The people of the South-East, both at home and in diaspora, should all collect their Permanent Voters’ Cards and ensure effective participation in the electoral process next year,” the IECF said.

The Secretary of the Forum, Prof. Charles Nwekeaku, maintained that it was the firm belief of Igbo elders that the release of Kanu was central to peace process initiatives in the South-East, as well as the conduct of a free, fair, and credible election in the zone next year.

He said, “The moment Kanu is released, no person will hide under IPOB and similar organizations to impose any draconian sit-at-home order on our people. We still ask the Federal Government to obey the unanimous and laudable ruling of the Court of Appeal and release our son, Nnamdi Kanu. The Court of Appeal had in a unanimous and historic judgment cleared Kanu of the remaining seven of the original 15 terrorism charges against him.

“Justice Binta Nyako of the Federal High Court, FCT, Abuja, had earlier quashed eight of the original 15 charges against Mr. Kanu. The honourable thing for the Federal Government to do now is to release Kanu and stop this wide goose appeal at the Supreme Court.”

The Ezeigbo of Abuja, HRH Igwe Ibe Nwosu, said now that IPOB has publicly condemned and distanced its members from Ekpa’s sit-at-home order, the state governors as the chief security officers of the various states in the South-East must rise to their responsibility of ensuring effective protection of lives and property of the citizenry, as well as freedom of movement of people and goods in the zone.

“The governors should empower and sustain vigilante groups in the state to assist in the internal security maintenance in the South-East. We also call on the traditional rulers, community and town union leaders, the clergy, youth organisations and other peace-loving institutions and individuals to rise to the challenge of ensuring not just free movement of people, goods, and services in the South-East, but also immediate casting of this draconian sit-at-home order permanently to the dustbin of history. The sit-at-home order must never be allowed to come back to the South-East,” he said


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We’re tortured to implicate Saraki –Robbery suspect

A witness, Shamsudeen Bada, narrated on Thursday at the Kwara State High Court in Ilorin how men of the Intelligence Response Team of the Inspector General of Police, led by suspended Deputy Commissioner of Police, Abba Kyari, tortured him to implicate former President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, in the April 5, 2018 Offa robbery.

Led in evidence by the defence counsel, Mathias Emeribe, Bada, who is a former Vice Chairman of Irepodun Local Government Area of Kwara State, recounted his experience to the court at the resumed trial of the suspects in the robbery at the Kwara State High Court.

Five suspects—Ayoade Akinnibosun, Ibikunle Ogunleye, Adeola Abraham, and two others—were charged to court by the police for criminal conspiracy to rob the banks, the murder of nine policemen and other citizens, and illegal possession of firearms.

The five accused persons were standing trial for alleged conspiracy, armed robbery, murder, culpable homicide, and illegal possession of firearms.

Bada said when the families of the detained suspects threatened the police with court action, the IRT operatives said they were taking instructions directly from the IGP and there was no court in Kwara that could stop their operation.

During cross examination by Mr. Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), who is prosecuting the case, the witness said that while they were in detention, the IRT operatives promised that they would free them “if we can name Saraki as our sponsor,” adding, “Ayo Akinnibosun was shot in the leg when he declined to indict Saraki.”

“After he was shot, my health started deteriorating. DCP Abba Kyari brought some nurses to treat me. Before I was eventually released, the police officers gave me conditions before I was released that I must not grant any press interviews, I must not go to court, and I should quit politics.”

The prosecuting counsel was unable to conclude his cross-examination of the witness because a particular document was not properly placed to be tendered before the Court. Hence, they sought an adjournment to obtain the said document.

The trial judge, Justice Halimat Salman, subsequently adjourned the case to January 16, 17, and 18, 2023, for the continuation of cross-examination.


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Obi to speak at Chatham House Jan 16

The presidential candidate of the Labour Party, Peter Obi, has been invited to speak at Chatham House to discuss his plans of the 2023 general election.

Obi is the second presidential candidate to be invited to address the global forum.

In a tweet on Thursday, Chatham House Africa announced the development, saying, “Nigeria’s 2023 Elections: In conversation with @PeterObi.

“The second of our events examining #Nigeria’s 2023 elections and political developments will take place on January 16, 2023.”

The presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Bola Tinubu, appeared at Chatham House in London, where he revealed some of his plans for major sectors like defence, economy, education, and technology.


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Emefiele insists on cash withdrawal limits as Reps demand suspension

The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele, said on Thursday that the Nigerian economy was overdue to go cashless as the Federal Government had sufficiently invested in the required payment system infrastructure to make the transition seamless.

Emefiele said this shortly after meeting President Muhammadu Buhari in his native hometown of Daura, Katsina State.

Controversies have trailed the CBN’s latest policy, which limits daily cash withdrawals to N20,000 and weekly withdrawals of N100,000 for individuals.

But defending the CBN’s directive, Emefiele said, “I think it’s important for me to say that the cashless policy started in 2012. But on almost three to four occasions, we had to step down the policy because we felt that there was a need for us to prepare ourselves and deepen our payment system infrastructure in Nigeria.

“Between 2012 and 2022, or almost 10 years, we believe that a lot of electronic channels have been put in place that will aid people in conducting banking and financial service transactions in Nigeria.

“And we think Nigeria, as the biggest economy in Africa, needs to leapfrog into the cashless economy. We cannot continue to allow a situation where over 85 percent of the cash that is in circulation is outside the bank. More and more countries that are embracing digitisation have gone cashless.”

Responding to the National Assembly’s rebuttal of the policy, Emefiele said the withdrawal limits were not set in stone but would be reviewed upward with time.

He argued that the CBN did not wish to make life difficult for Nigerians but only sought to improve the economy.

“We will be reviewing from time to time how this is working because I cannot say that we are going to be rigid. But it is not to say that we will reverse, it is not to say that we will change the timing, but whether it is about tweaking some amount to be a little bit higher or a little bit lower, and all the rest of them.”

He added that the CBN would publish the names of all its 1.4 million super agents to ease the return of old money in unbanked communities.

On the amount of the old notes that had been returned to vaults, he said, “We have taken more than a trillion, and in the bank, we also have close to a trillion.”

Meanwhile, the House of Representatives summoned Emefiele to come and explain the policy to the parliament. He is to appear before the lawmakers on Thursday.

However, the House is considering a joint session with the Senate to grill Emefiele on Tuesday.

The resolutions were based on a motion of urgent public importance moved by a member of the House, Aliyu Magaji, at the plenary on Thursday.

Speaker of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila, noted that it was “a topical issue that everybody is concerned about,” asking the mover of the motion to explain why the policy was bad.

Magaji said, “This issue on which I have moved this motion bothers whoever is sitting in this place because most of them are from rural areas where everything is done in cash. Then, somebody will wake up like they own this country and make a policy that will start tomorrow—no consultation. People have forgotten that 80 to 90 percent of the people are in rural areas. We must do something to save the situation. If there was enough time, enough banks, and enough facilities, why not?”

Most of the lawmakers condemned the policy, with Gbajabiamila noting that he would meet with the President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, to see if the chambers could have a joint session to grill Emefiele.

The Speaker said, “If we want to comply with the Act, he should be appearing before the whole National Assembly. I think you will allow me to speak to the Senate president and see whether, in compliance with the Act, we can have a joint session. This is important enough for him to brief the National Assembly jointly.

“If that fails, appearing before the National Assembly does not necessarily mean a joint session. If you appear before the Senate and he appears before the House separately, you have appeared before the National Assembly. But at the same time, I will ask if that is possible.”

Tentatively, the House resolved that Emefiele appear in the chamber at 11 a.m. on Thursday.

However, a member of the House, Ibrahim Olanrewaju, raised a point of order after the motion to summon Emefiele had been unanimously adopted, urging the chamber to demand suspension of the policy until the lawmakers concluded their investigation.

Olanrewaju noted that Emefiele’s appearance on Thursday next week might fail, and the lawmakers were billed to go on break while enforcement of the CBN policy was to commence on January 9, 2023.

“The implication, therefore, is that they will go ahead to implement this policy and will gradually crumble our economy. I therefore pray for us to rescind that decision (of only inviting Emefiele) and ask the Central Bank governor to stop, for now, until we meet with him in this hallowed chamber and make a firm decision. It is only on that basis that all of us, both parliament and executive, can be on the same page,” he stated.

Gbajabiamila put the prayers to a vote, and they were unanimously adopted by the lawmakers.

Earlier, Aminu Suleiman had stated that his constituency in Kano would be “terribly affected” by the policy. He added, “As a matter of fact, this could be an exit strategy for many of us if we allow this radical decision to succeed. Therefore, my voice must be heard on this.”

Suleiman noted that there were several chief executive officers in the government that had “outlived the essence of their positions, because I cannot simply understand how we will wake up one day and introduce this draconian approach to businesses, giving Nigerians one month notice to adjust their belts.”

Suleiman asked how Nigerians would be able to manage their cash-based businesses with a withdrawal of N100,000 per day.

“To allow this means every other chief executive is independent, and they will just go and brief and debrief Mr. President, and he will give them a fiat. We must arrest these things and ensure that it is not done.”

Also, Nnolim Nnaji said, “This decision is totally against commerce. In the economic situation we are in now, we need more spending than saving. The only way to drive an economy in this situation is for people to be spending money—not saving money—for businesses to be moving.

Another member, Mark Gbillah, raised a point of order, of privilege, to state that the CBN had breached the Act establishing the apex bank by failing to brief the National Assembly before rolling out policies.

Gbillah read out Section 8(4) of the CBN Act, which prescribes that “the governor shall appear before the National Assembly at semi-annual hearings, as specified in Subsection 1, regarding efforts, activities, objectives, and plans of the board with respect to monetary policy, economic development, and prospects for the future.”

Also commenting, Prof. Julius Ihonvbere stated that there were no banks in his constituency while most of the inhabitants were farmers who depended on cash transactions.

Meanwhile, the Minority Leader, Ndudi Elumelu, however, said the policy would check crimes as funds would now be tracked through the banking system. He said that though the timing might be wrong, the country would benefit more from it.

“If you want to stop banditry, make it impossible for them to have cash. There should not be available cash for them,” he stated, adding that the CBN had had the law but was only enforcing it.”

Meanwhile, the Arewa Consultative Youth Movement and Middle Belt Youth Forum said the policy would help guarantee a credible election in 2023, economic growth, and aid the anti-corruption crusade of the Federal Government.

They commended president Muhammadu Buhari and the governor of CBN, Godwin Emefiele, for the policy, saying it would fight vote-buying and money laundering.

The Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry also kicked against the policy by the CBN, arguing that the initiative would further increase the cost of doing business in Nigeria.

ACCI’s President, Al-Mutjaba Abubakar, said though the intention of the apex bank was to address growing inflationary pressure and stabilize the value of the naira, the timing of the announcement was worrisome.

Director-General of the Nigeria Employers Consultative Association, Adewale Oyerinde, said: “As usual with the CBN, the bank announced a new naira withdrawal policy without extensive consultation with organized businesses and those that will be directly impacted by the policy. This new policy is diversionary and a mere distraction from the critical issues that are affecting the nation.”

Commenting on the recent withdrawal policy by the Central Bank of Nigeria, the National President, Association of Mobile Money and Bank Agents in Nigeria, Victor Olojo, noted that the association had written to the CBN appealing for a review of the policy.

In an eight-paragraph letter titled “Letter of Appeal or Protest,” available to The PUNCH on Thursday, the association appealed to the CBN governor to review the policy.

Meanwhile, cashless transactions in Nigeria rose by 41.75 percent to N318.66tn in the first 11 months of 2022, according to data from the Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System.

The N318.66tn was the total amount processed on the Nigeria Instant Payment System and Point of Sales terminals monitored on the NIBSS. In the corresponding period of 2021, the figure was N224.79tn.


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Senate grills CBN chiefs over cash withdrawal limits

The Senate will grill two deputy governors of the Central Bank of Nigeria on Friday over the cash withdrawal limit policy unveiled by the apex bank on Tuesday.

The red chamber planned to seek clarifications on the new directive, which restricts over-the-counter cash withdrawals by individuals and organizations to N100,000 and N500,000, respectively, per week.

It also limits cash withdrawals via point-of-sale machines and automated teller machines to N20,000 daily and N100,000 weekly, respectively.

According to a memo signed Tuesday by the CBN’s Director of Banking Supervision, Haruna Mustafa, withdrawals above the thresholds would attract processing fees of five percent and 10 percent, respectively, for individuals and corporate entities going forward.

In addition, third-party checks above N50,000 shall not be eligible for OTC payment while the existing limits of N10m on clearing checks remain.

The circular also directed banks to load only N200 and lower denominations into their ATMs and restricted withdrawals to N20,000 per day from ATMs.

The policy, which will become effective on January 9, 2023, generated criticism, but the CBN clarified on Wednesday that PoS operators could apply for waivers.

Deliberating on the policy on the floor of the Senate on Wednesday, senators said there was a need to debate the policy on the floor of the red chamber.

However, the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, directed the Senate Committee on Banking to grill the two re-appointed deputy governors of the CBN, Aisha Ahmad and Edward Adamu, who will be screened on Friday, on the new cash withdrawal policy.

The resolution on the new CBN policy followed a move by Senator Philip Aduda (PDP-FCT) to move a motion on the development.

Aduda had sought to rally other senators to deliberate on the policy, but the Senate President, Lawan, interrupted him, saying it was too early to debate the circular.

Also, Senator Gabriel Suswam (PDP Benue North-East) supported his colleague and pushed that the motion should be allowed to fly considering the innocent Nigerians that would be affected by the CBN policy.

Addressing Lawan, he said, “I think you should have allowed us to discuss this motion for the sake of Nigerians.”

But Lawan, who appeared not to favour the move, stopped Aduda and Suswam, saying, “No, distinguished senators, there is a misunderstanding here.” I told you what my opinion is. My opinion is that this weekend is off. Maybe, but we have an opportunity; the Committee on Banking will be screening two deputy governors of the CBN. This is one major issue they should raise with them.

“As good as the cashless policy may be, it shouldn’t be jumped on at once. The way the CBN is going about the policy, many Nigerians would be cut off, and that won’t be accepted. “A motion on the policy will be thoroughly debated in the Senate on Tuesday next week after adequate information has been gotten on it.”

Lawan noted that the newly re-appointed deputy CBN governors would be screened between Thursday and Monday so that by Tuesday, they would have been equipped with enough information to raise a motion in support of or shoot down the policy.

He said, “Before Tuesday next week, our committee on banking, insurance, and other financial institutions mandated to screen the re-appointed deputy governors of the Central Bank should focus its questions on the planned policy.”

“The CBN deputy governors must be thoroughly grilled on the policy after which extensive debate on it will be made by Senators on Tuesday next week.”

However, the lawmaker representing Kaduna Central and Chairman, Senate Committee on Banking, Insurance and other Financial Instructions, Senator Uba Sani confirmed to our source that the CBN deputy governors would be screened on Friday.

He said, “We are working on their letters; the letters will be served tomorrow (today), and the deputy governors of the CBN will be screened on Friday.”

President Muhammadu Buhari had on Tuesday, sent for screening and approval the names of the two CBN deputy governors.

The Director of Corporate Communications of the Central Bank, Mr. Osita Nwanisobi, has said that point-of-sale operators can take advantage of an exemption to request more cash beyond the new limit.

Speaking with one of our correspondents on the phone, he noted that there is an exemption stipulated in the newly released circular, which PoS operators can take advantage of, based on the requirements and in line with the number of transactions they process.

He said, “The circular is very clear.” If you are doing POS, it is an online and mobile transaction. Whenever cash is involved, there is a limit. However, there is an exemption in the circular, which point-of-sale operators can apply for based on the volume of their transactions.

Following the new directive, the National President of the Association of Mobile Money and Bank Agents of Nigeria, Victor Olojo, had said that PoS operators would protest the policy, which he said was targeted at killing their livelihood.

Olojo argued that the cash limit would harm their business as it translated to shutting down PoS terminals.

However, there is an exemption that allows up to N5 million for individuals and N10 million for corporate organizations once a month, but with certain requirements.

To enjoy the exemption, banks were required to obtain some information from the depository and upload the same on the CBN portal created for the purpose.

The requirements include a valid means of identification such as the National Identity Card, an international passport, or a driving license; the Bank Verification Number of the payee; a notarized customer declaration of the purpose of the cash withdrawal; senior management approval for the withdrawal by the managing director of the payee, where applicable; and approval in writing by the MD or CEO of the bank authorizing the withdrawal.

According to the guidelines, monthly returns on cash withdrawal transactions above the specified limits will be rendered to the banking supervision department.

Also, compliance with extant anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism regulations relating to know your customer, ongoing customer due diligence, and suspicious transaction reporting is required in all circumstances.

On the likely effect of the policy on the people in the rural areas who regularly deal with cash, Nwanisobi said, “The policy only states that you cannot go beyond a particular limit.” It doesn’t stop anyone from using cash. So, those in the rural area can still transact with the available cash.

Meanwhile, the South-South Agenda for Tinubu and Shettima Support Groups has condemned the CBN policy in strong terms, describing it as a plot to pit the poor masses against the president.

In a statement on Wednesday signed by the National Coordinator of the group, Mr. Bitrus Oliver, it argued that Nigeria is one of the top three unbanked countries in the world with more than 60 percent of its adult population still unbanked.

The group stated, “This policy will clearly undermine the efforts of the Federal Government in sustaining micro- and small-scale enterprises across the country as it will limit the funds in circulation due to the non-availability of cash and may totally asphyxiate small and struggling businesses before the policy is stabilized.”

“When people find it difficult to withdraw enough money they need from the bank and are repeatedly unable to complete transactions due to a lack of funds, there may be public outrage and a massive backlash against the president for allowing the policy.”

“The new withdrawal policy will be able to put money politics in check within the (election) period, but it also has the capacity to wreck many local economies across the country due to the paucity of cash it will create.”

Oliver argued that in almost all the rural markets across the country, 90 percent of transactions are done by cash and not by mobile transfer, noting that pegging ATM withdrawal to N20,000 would stall many transactions and may even trigger chaos in the commercial sector.


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Second Niger Bridge to open for 30 days

The Federal Controller of Works in Delta State, Mr. Jimoh Olawale, says the Second Niger Bridge will be opened to traffic on December 15.

Olawale, who spoke in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria on Wednesday in Asaba, however, said the bridge would be opened for only 30 days.

He noted that the Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, ordered the opening of the bridge, which is 95 percent complete, to ease traffic during the Yuletide.

He said, “As we know, during the Christmas celebration, commuters suffer hardship accessing the old Niger Bridge due to traffic, but with this arrangement, traffic congestion on the Asaba-Benin Expressway will ease.”

“We have notified the state government of this arrangement, and we are working with the Federal Road Safety Corps to ensure hitch-free vehicular movement.”

“Motorists going in the direction of Owerri would divert through the access road near the old Niger Bridge to the new bridge.”

Olawale, however, debunked claims by a group alleging that the Federal Government had abandoned the payment of compensation to property owners along the access road to the second Niger Bridge.

On Yuletide, the controller advised motorists to stick to a speed limit of 100 km per hour to arrive safely at their destinations.


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Secret mass abortion programme run by Nigerian army – Reuters


An international news agency, Reuters, has accused the Nigerian Army of running a program where forceful abortions were carried out on female victims of Boko Haram/Islamic State in West Africa.

The report claimed that the Army carried out the abortions without the persons’ consent and that at least 10,000 pregnancies had been illegally terminated.

These were contained in an investigation published on Wednesday.

The probe, according to Reuters, was based on the accounts of 33 victims, hospital staff, and security officials, as well as documents gathered.

The report partly read, “Since at least 2013, the Nigerian Army has run a secret, systematic, and illegal abortion program in the country’s northeast, terminating at least 10,000 pregnancies among women and girls, many of whom had been kidnapped and raped by Islamist militants, according to dozens of witness accounts and documentation reviewed by Reuters.”

“The abortions were mostly carried out without the person’s consent—and often without their prior knowledge, according to the witness accounts.” The women and girls ranged in age from a few weeks to eight months pregnant, and some were as young as 12 years old, interviews and records showed.

“This investigation is based on interviews with 33 women and girls who say they underwent abortions while in the custody of the Nigerian Army. Only one person stated that she freely consented. Reporters also interviewed five civilian healthcare workers and nine security personnel involved in the program, including soldiers and other government employees such as armed guards engaged in escorting pregnant women to abortion sites. In addition, Reuters reviewed copies of military documents and civilian hospital records describing or tallying thousands of abortion procedures.

The report quoted a guard and a health worker as saying women who resisted were beaten, caned, held at gunpoint, or drugged into compliance.

The investigation linked the abortion program to a belief widely held within the military and among some civilians in the northeast that the children of insurgents are predestined, by the blood in their veins, to one day take up arms against the Nigerian government and society.

However, the military denied infanticide allegations, days before it was published, and accused the news agency of ‘wickedness.’

The Defense Headquarters described the report as false and concocted by Reuters in a statement issued by the Director of Defense Information, Major General Jimmy Akpor, adding that the news agency team behind the story is “cruel.”

He stated that children were among the 82,064 Boko Haram terrorists that surrendered to troops, adding that none of them was eliminated.

The statement partly read, “It took Reuters 13 solid years to craft an allegation of infanticide against the Nigerian military and the Nigerian nation.” This shows that a news agency as “renowned” as Reuters is itself complicit in failing in its mandate to draw attention to and inform the public about supposed occurrences that violate not only the laws of armed conflict but also international humanitarian law.

“Let us analyze the period from July 2021 to November 2022.” A total of 82,064 Boko Haram fighters and family members have surrendered to Operation Hadin Kai troops. Out of this number, 16,553 were active male fighters, 24,446 were women, and 41,065 were children. The Borno State Government is camping and accommodating them family-by-family, as per households, without having to separate the children from their parents.

“In the same camp are thousands of pregnant women and nursing mothers. A total of 262 babies were born within 4 months (94 in July, 98 in August, 60 in September, and 11 in October 2022). This figure comprises 150 female and 112 male children. The children were neither aborted nor yanked from their mothers.

“Hmmm! “Wickedness really runs in the veins of some people, and it surely runs deep in the veins of the Reuters team that concocted such evil for interrogation.”

Also, a civil society organization, North East Advocacy for Peace, accused Reuters of trying to truncate the newly found peace in the region.

The group attributed the return of peace to ongoing military operations in the region and described as an unethical and failed mission the attempt by Reuters to use its medium to undermine national security.

The president of the group, Abdul Monguno, in a statement on Wednesday, said “Reuters is going petty in a concocted plot to smear the image of the Armed Forces of Nigeria with fake propaganda and unsubstantiated claims.”


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EFCC auctions seized cars

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has commenced the auctioning of 435 cars, which are subjects of final forfeiture orders in Lagos, in line with the EFCC (Establishment) Act 2004; the Public Procurement Act 2007; and the Proceeds of Crime (Recovery and Management) Act 2022.

The exercise, scheduled to take place across all the commission’s zonal commands, started on Tuesday in Lagos with an inspection of items by members of the public, while the auction started on Wednesday and will continue Thursday (today).

In Lagos, the items are available in four locations: 40 Bourdillon Road, Ikoyi, Lagos; 15A Awolowo Road, Ikoyi, Lagos; 14 Cameroon Road, Ikoyi, Lagos; and CVU Obalende, Ikoyi, Lagos.

Speaking during the opening on Tuesday, Secretary to the Commission and Chairman, EFCC Asset Disposal Committee, Dr George Ekpungu, said, “The exercise, which is the first of the planned auction of forfeited properties across EFCC Zonal Commands and EFCC Headquarters, is being carried out in accordance with the (Establishment) Act, 2004, Public Procurement Act, 2007 and Proceeds of Crimes (Recovery and Management) Act, 2022.

“It is being conducted in conjunction with the Bureau of Public Procurement to ensure compliance with all extant laws.”

Ekpungu appealed to those present at the auction to listen carefully to the auctioneers and comply with all stipulated guidelines.

The cars, whose pictures were conspicuously displayed with allocated lot numbers for public inspection, were allocated to auctioneers based on assessed values and an open ballot system.


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“Circumstances beyond my control” can make me president again – Jonathan

Former President Goodluck Jonathan has said he will never contest for the presidency of the country again.

He said he would be diminishing himself if he should decide to begin to lobby people and campaign for election again.

Jonathan said this in an interview published in a book, “My Time as Chaplain in Aso Rock,” presented to the public on Tuesday.

The book written by Nathaniel Bivan contains the accounts of the chaplain of the Aso Rock Villa Chapel during the Jonathan administration, Obioma Onwuzurumba.

“If you wake up tomorrow and see that I am President again, that means there may have been circumstances beyond my control.” But not to go and pick one form and go and start lobbying people and running for campaigns; I can’t do that again. “If I do that, I will diminish myself,” the former President said.

Jonathan said he enjoyed the drama that characterized the rumour earlier in the year that he had purchased a nomination form from the All Progressives Congress to enable him to contest for the party’s presidential ticket.

Ahead of the June 2022 APC presidential primary, a group, the Nomadic Pastoralists and Almajirai Community, led by Ibrahim Abdullahi, purchased the N100 million nomination and filled out expressions of interest in Jonathan’s name.

Speaking on the controversy that trailed the group’s decision, Jonathan said, “I was enjoying the drama.” At least they are not insulting me. After all, I was chased out of the office because I was not good enough. So, if now Nigerians are saying, “Oh, this man should come,” that means they are cleaning me up. So, let me enjoy the drama.

“I was not disturbed.” I know I cannot go and start struggling to be president again. It wasn’t only Nigerians who were asking me such questions; even most of the top ambassadors—the American ambassador, the UK High Commissioner, France, and all of them—were asking me such questions. They came to ask me whether I would contest. I don’t think I would contest any election.

He added that the only roles acceptable to him now involve stabilizing democracy in troubled African states.

He added, “Assuming there’s some confusion, and sometimes things like that happen in countries. So they tell me to come and play a role in stabilizing things; a stable democracy where one leader hands over to another is what we all want.

“Let us go through that process and not interrupt the democratic processes.” We pray that such things should not happen. Otherwise, to go and say I’m contesting on the platform of any party at all No!”

Jonathan argued that the APC’s same-faith ticket would eventually lead to a lapse in the representation of Nigeria’s religious diversity.

He said, “When I took over as the vice president, the tradition then was that if the president were a Christian, the vice president would be a Muslim, and vice versa.” We have religious festivals in Nigeria and, of course, National Day, where there will be Jummah prayers and Christian prayers.

“Nigerians are religious people; this is why I get worried about the issues of Muslim-Muslim or Christian-Christian tickets.” Yes, Muslim-Muslim or Christian-Christian can run the state. But I always ask, “Who will represent this other bloc whenever we come to the national days that we celebrate?”


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