Category: Technology

Navy accuse NNPC of insincerity, exaggeration over oil theft figures

The Nigerian Navy has accused the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation Limited of not revealing the true cause(s) of crude oil theft in the country but instead reeling out exaggerated figures to save its face.

This disclosure was made to the Senate Committee on Economic and Financial Crimes by the Navy Chief of Training and Operations, Rear Admiral Solomon Agada, during an interactive briefing of the relevant agencies implementing the Proceeds of Crime (Recovery and Management) Act, 2022, at the National Assembly. Our correspondent exclusively observed the proceedings.

Agada revealed that, at several interactions with the NNPC, the Navy had explained the causes of fuel scarcity to the company, saying there was no way anyone would steal 100,000 barrels of oil in a day, but the NNPC had deliberately continued to mislead Nigerians.

He made the disclosure when the Chairman of the Committee, Senator Suleiman Kwari, questioned him on why the country continued to experience cases of oil theft if the waterways were secured as Agada posited.

Kwari queried, “The oil theft issue has been a very worrisome one to every Nigerian, and more importantly, it has negatively impacted our economy.” “How come the Navy hasn’t been able to solve the issue of oil theft, and if the Navy is claiming that the waterways are secured, why are there still cases of oil theft?”

Agada explained in his responses, “The challenge is that because of the criminal activity inshore by the illegal refiners in tapping into the export lines, those export lines have not been in operation since early this year.”

“The major terminals have not been able to process fuel for export since around February/March and instead of the NNPC telling the Federal Government that this product is not brought out to be able to process as export, they say the oil was stolen.”

He explained that the argument of the Navy had been that the NNPC should tell people the difference between the oil that they have shut in and not brought out and what is being stolen.

He added, “The stolen produce that we have been dealing with among illegal refineries is nothing compared to what the NNPC is declaring as being stolen.”

“If you’re talking about stealing 100,000 barrels a day, you need to transport about five-ton batches 20 times a day from the creek to the high seas, which is very unrealistic.” I told them at the NNPC that if that were to be the case, even a blind man would observe that something was happening in Nigeria’s waters, and we are there on patrol and not seeing this.

“The only reasonable explanation why the fuels are not coming out is because the Shell platform on Bonny Island is not exporting and the Chevron terminal in Escravos is also not exporting.” All these things are very clear, but because it is easier to say that these things are stolen, then they just come up with that.

“Let’s get someone who can do proper analysis of these figures, and we’ll find out that these claims are just bogus; there is nothing substantive about them.” “We have communicated appropriately with the NNPC; even at our last interface with them, they agreed with us; but when they come to the public, they say oil theft, hiding the fact from the public.”

Senator Yusuf Yusuf noted that at an oversight function, the NNPC said crude pipelines were being tapped from the pressure pipe under the sea, and crude oil was usually transferred from there into vessels, and this had been happening for nine years.

“Is the Navy aware or not of the taping going on under the sea?” Yusuf asked.

Agada responded, “On the tapping of the vessel, I also visited that location with the Chief of Defence Staff, and there is a directive by the President from the office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation to set up a committee on that particular incident.”

“We are not indicting the NNPCL; we are just saying that let matters be presented correctly so that people can make informed decisions.” The Navy has no hand in any theft of oil in this country. “I have no ship or vessel, nor do I know anyone who has; you can investigate me.”

The Navy boss further explained that the increase in diesel price was because of the operation in stopping illegal bunkering on the waters.

He said, “People who have been doing this illegal business will confirm to you that since we started this special task force operation in April, their business has gone sour.”

“This is also responsible for the increase in diesel prices in the country.” Since we stopped the illegal diesel from coming to the market, the price has gone up because once there is high demand and the supply is low, the price will go up.

“People who ought to import will cut corners and buy the illegal products, but now that they can’t import and the illegal ones are not coming, this has reduced the quantity in the country.” But somehow, nobody is coming to share this information with the people.”

He added that the Federal Government had invested in infrastructure through the Maritime Domain Awareness Infrastructure, which had assisted the Navy in detecting and arresting illegal refiners and vessels that were usually handed over to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission for prosecution.

Agada stated, “And right from Abuja here, we have the capacity to see the entire Nigeria Exclusive Economic Zone.” We have a 24-hour watch on the exclusive economic zone. Any vessel that enters Nigerian waters that is not permitted to be there is immediately arrested because we see their movement.

“Any vessel in the international waters is expected to have their automatic identification system on and that shows that you’re transparently operating; so, any vessel that switches off its identification system automatically becomes a vessel for the Nigeria Navy and we will immediately arrest them and thereafter investigate.

“So, as of today, there is no tanker that can enter Nigerian waters to carry anything without being noticed.” “All these things that have happened now have sent a very strong signal to the international communities that Nigeria is now a place where illegal activities can’t take place anymore.”

Earlier in his speech, the chairman of the committee noted that the session was an oversight function of the Senate to oversee the agencies and check on their revenue generation.

Kwari said, “As part of our oversight duties, it has become imperative to ascertain your organization’s level of compliance with the specific provisions of this Act with due respect to the actual laid down procedures on how you are to handle and dispose of forfeited assets.”

“A cursory look at the submissions so far indicated a wide gap between the reserved prices and competitive bid offers if the items were exposed to the general public through licensed auctioneers. “This disposal process is meant to generate revenue for the government and should be seen as such.”

The Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division, NNPC, Garba-Deen Mohammad, could not be reached for comment.

He did not take calls placed to his phone and had not replied to a text message sent to him on the matter as of the time of filing this report.

The NNPC has 21 depots, which are meant for the storage of petroleum products, particularly Premium Motor Spirit, popularly called “petrol,” but all of them are not functioning.

It was gathered that the facilities had been redundant, just like the four refineries also under the management of the NNPC.

Oil marketers told our correspondent that the pipelines that were also used to supply or evacuate products to the depots were either vandalized or obsolete, stressing that this was why the NNPC had been employing the services of private depot owners.

The NNPC is the sole importer of petrol into the country, a task it has shouldered for more than four years now. Other marketers stopped importing the commodity due to the difficulty in accessing foreign exchange.

The secretary of the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, Abuja-Suleja, Mohammed Shuaibu, described the situation as precarious.

He said, “We are in a very precarious situation.” The government has to wake up to its duties because, as you know, none of the four refineries is productive. They are more or less obsolete.

“We also have 21 depots across the country, nine in the North and 12 in the South.” But these depots, which are supposed to be storage facilities, are not productive because the pipelines that supply products to them are old or are vandalized.

“So, the only way to get petroleum products into Nigeria today is through imports.” That is only done by the NNPC, and when it imports the product, it dumps it in private depots, which now take charge of the product.

“But right now, the private depots have raised the price of the product.” This is making everyone apprehensive. Those who paid the government-approved price may wake up to find out that they can no longer buy the product.

“As it is now, all the northern parts of Nigeria have been affected, and the depots that are supposed to be the storage facilities do not have the product.” Everybody now relies on going down south to bring in the product.

“And when you go there, you are not even sure of getting it.” Some tankers spend weeks on roads before they arrive at their destinations due to the bad road network in Nigeria.”

He said a lot of retail outlets owned by independent marketers had been shut down due to a lack of PMS to sell, giving rise to the activities of black marketers of petrol.

“Many petrol stations have been closed.” These outlets were built to sell petroleum products, but when you don’t have the products, what do you do? “This is why you see black marketers selling gasoline in jerry cans everywhere,” Shuaibu stated.

On his part, the National Public Relations Officer, IPMAN, Chief Ukadike Chinedu, said the dysfunctional nature of the NNPC depots had caused private depots to raise the cost of PMS stored in their facilities.

He said some private depots were selling the commodity at N210 per litre, whereas the approved NNPC rate was N147 per litre.

Ukadike, however, explained that the charges incurred by the private depots, such as paying rent for vessels in dollars, among others, were factors that led to the hike in the cost of petrol at the depots.

“This is why we are pleading with the government to bring back the depots under the management of the NNPC, so that we can access the product at the approved rate,” he stated.

Industry sources stated that the concerns in the downstream oil sector had led some people in the industry to profit from the lapses as they urged the NNPC to address the challenges fast.

Meanwhile, officials of the NNPC stated that the vandalism of pipelines that transport and evacuate PMS from depots was the major obstacle to the functionality of the facilities.

An official said, “You can’t be battling with crude oil theft as a result of pipeline sabotage, and you now add that of PMS theft through vandalism of pipelines.”

“You know that this will be very dangerous because PMS is highly flammable, and vandalizing a pipeline that conveys such a product may cause severe damage to the host communities.”

The NNPC spokesman, Muhammad, did not respond to inquiries.

The inadequate supply of daughter vessels required for evacuating Premium Motor Spirit, popularly called “petrol,” from mother vessels on the high seas to depots is another reason for the fuel shortage currently being witnessed across the country.

It was gathered on Saturday that the inadequate supply of the daughter vessels had further triggered the increase in the amount paid as rent by oil marketers for the services of the few available vessels.

Oil marketers told one of our correspondents that the cost of renting daughter vessels rose by 163 percent within a short period, stressing that this reduced the purchasing power of many dealers.

“Therefore there must be a review of all the rates.” It is not the making of ship owners or the making of ships. “It is what the world is demanding.”

He said the smaller vessels that collect the cargoes could not take more than 15,000t.

This, he noted, was “because there are restrictions in some of our ports or depots, such as in Calabar, Oghara, Warri, etc., which are all very shallow-draft ports with not more than six or 6.5 meters of draft.”

Speaking further on pricing, Onyung argued that shipping was an export product, stressing that most exports were priced in dollars.

The SOAN president added, “Shipping is an international business that is priced in dollars; if you want to dry-dock a ship, you are going to pay dollars in a shipyard.”

“If you want to buy a ship or its spare parts, you pay in dollars.” If you go to ports, you also pay in foreign currency. So, shipping is priced in US dollars.

Meanwhile, a source close to the Nigerian Ports Authority denied the allegation that Apapa ports could not accommodate bigger vessels.

“They can’t tell us that Apapa ports can’t take bigger vessels; the largest vessel in West Africa came to Apapa ports a few years ago.” So the story that the Apapa ports can’t take bigger vessels is not correct. “If it is Calabar ports, yes, everyone knows the story of Calabar ports,” the source stated.

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Terrorism a threat to 2023

The Tony Blair Institute of Global Change has called on Nigerian authorities to take seriously the dangers that the Indigenous People of Biafra, bandits, and Boko Haram/Islamic State pose to the 2023 general elections in West African Province.

The organisation warned that these groups are more likely to step up their attacks to scupper the 2023 elections.

The group explicitly cautioned that the one million INEC employees, observers, and journalists run the risk of being targeted by IPOB, bandits, and terrorists in a report released on Thursday.

The report partly read, “Three of the most active violent groups in Nigeria – Boko Haram, bandits and IPOB – threaten the 2023 election in different ways. Boko Haram’s factions will try to endanger the election because this is one of the group’s publicly declared ideological objectives.

“They will do so by stepping up attacks, including bombings in major cities while displacing some communities and ensuring remote ones are inaccessible for campaigning or holding elections. While bandits are not purposely anti-democratic, their attacks on villages and displacement of more than a million people are set to disenfranchise many Nigerians.

 “Meanwhile, IPOB targets critical election infrastructure and threatens candidates and voters while attacking northern residents of the South-East region. Additionally, all three will actively target the one million election workers who will be transported across Nigeria as well as the thousands of journalists and observers who will monitor the election.

“Boko Haram will attack on ideological basis, bandits will carry out kidnaps-for-ransom, and IPOB will seek out journalists and observers to send its separatist message while demonstrating its control over the South-East.

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Abuja-Kaduna Rail Operations to Resume Monday

 

The Nigeria Railway Corporation (NRC) will resume the Abuja-Kaduna passenger train service on Monday, with only two return services.

The announcement is contained in a statement sent to local media on Saturday by the Managing Director of the NRC, Fidet Okhiria.

The statement shows the first train will depart Rigasa train station in Kaduna state for Abuja by 8:00 in the morning, while from Abuja, the first train will depart Idu train station for Kaduna state by 9:45 in the morning.

The NRC management also revealed that, as part of the new security measures, it is now mandatory for passengers to present their National Identity Number and valid boarding ticket before they will be allowed to board.

It also says the purchase of tickets by proxy is only limited to minors and a specified number of adult passengers.

Online and mobile app ticketing will be available from 8:00 in the morning on Sunday, December the 4th, 2022 while the ticket offices at the train stations will open from 6:30 in the morning on Monday, December the 5th.

Recall that the NRC suspended train service along the route after Boko Haram terrorists attacked a moving passenger train in Kaduna on March 28, 2022.

The insurgents had blown up the rail track and bombed the moving train, killing some and abducting more than 60 passengers. The unprecedented attack attracted international and national outrage.

The terrorists who attacked the Kaduna-bound train released hostages in tranches, with the last release coming on October 5, 2022.

Before the hostages were completely released, distraught family members had protested several times to demand the release of their loved ones.

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Osinbajo Travels to Vietnam For Bilateral Talks

 

The Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, is scheduled to depart from Abuja on Saturday for the Socialist Republic of Vietnam to engage in high-level bilateral activities in the Southeast Asian nation.

The engagements will include meetings with the President of Vietnam, President Nguyn Xuân Phc; Vice President Vo Thi Aah Xuan; Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh; other government officials; and the business community.

This was contained in a statement by the Senior Special Assistant to the Vice President on Media and Publicity, Laolu Akande.

According to the statement, the Vice President’s five-day visit comes after former Deputy Prime Minister of Vietnam Vuong Hue visited Nigeria in October 2019 in view of the trade and bilateral relations between both countries.

During the visit, Hue was said to have met with Osinbajo and other senior Nigerian government officials and interacted with the Nigerian-Vietnam Business Association.

“The VP’s reciprocal visit to Vietnam will further strengthen trade and bilateral relations between both countries,” the statement added.

“Although Nigeria and Vietnam have maintained long-standing diplomatic relations since 1976, Vice President Osinbajo will be the second Nigerian high-ranking incumbent government official to visit the Southeast Asian country after President Olusegun Obasanjo, who visited in 2005.”

“While in the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, the Vice President is expected to witness the signing of Memorandums of Understanding (MoU) and Agreements on Investment between Nigeria and Vietnam.”

Osinbajo is also expected to hold high-level diplomatic discussions with his Vietnamese counterpart, Vice President Vo Thi Aah Xuan, and the Prime Minister on issues of trade, commerce, agriculture, technology, and innovation, among others.

He will later participate in a business forum with the Vietnamese Chamber of Commerce, with representatives from both countries.

Read the full statement below:

IN HIGH LEVEL VISIT TO VIETNAM, OSINBAJO TO MEET PRESIDENT, VP, PRIME MINISTER, OTHERS

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, departs Abuja today for the Socialist Republic of Vietnam for high-level bilateral engagements in the Southeast Asian nation, including meetings with the President of Vietnam, President Nguyn Xuân Phc; Vice President Vo Thi Aah Xuan; Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh; other government officials; and the business community.

The VP’s reciprocal visit to Vietnam will further strengthen trade and bilateral relations between both countries.

Recall that in view of the trade and bilateral relations between both countries, the then Deputy Prime Minister of Vietnam, Vuong Hue, visited Nigeria in October 2019 and met with Prof. Osinbajo and other senior Nigerian government officials, as well as interacted with the Nigerian-Vietnam Business Association.

As the then Deputy Prime Minister, who was accompanied to Nigeria by senior Vietnamese government officials and businessmen, noted, Nigeria is Vietnam’s largest trading partner in Africa. Indeed, trade between both countries stood at US$280 million in 2014 and increased to over US$500 million in 2019.

Although Nigeria and Vietnam have maintained long-standing diplomatic relations since 1976, Vice President Osinbajo will be the second Nigerian high-ranking incumbent government official to visit the Southeast Asian country after President Olusegun Obasanjo, who visited in 2005.

While in the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, the Vice President is expected to witness the signing of memoranda of understanding (MoU) and agreements on investment between Nigeria and Vietnam. He will also hold high-level diplomatic discussions with his Vietnamese counterpart, Vice President Vo Thi Aah Xuan, and the Prime Minister on issues of trade, commerce, agriculture, technology, and innovation, among others.

Prof. Osinbajo will later participate in a business forum with the Vietnamese Chamber of Commerce with representatives from both countries.

With the opportunities existing in agriculture and technology in Nigeria and Vietnam, discussions would focus on the mutual benefits of effective collaboration in particular economic sectors so as to deepen the friendly and trade relations of both countries.

The VP will conclude the visit to Vietnam on Wednesday.

Laolu Akande

Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media & Publicity

Office of the Vice President

3rd December 2022

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Athletes lament poor conditions at sports festival

Some athletes partaking in the 21st National Sports Festival, dubbed “Nigeria’s Olympics,” have voiced worries about the accommodations, electricity, and transportation plans with over 14,000 of them in attendance.

There were worries that Delta wouldn’t be able to accommodate the largest number of competitors ever at the national event on the scheduled date, but the state finished building the facilities for the event in record time, to the admiration of Nigerians who love sports and sports minister Sunday Dare.

However, in a separate conversation with our correspondent, some of the participants rued the poor arrangement on ground for their contingents.

Team Osun Para-table tennis coach Adigun Mutiu said he had high expectations ahead of the trip to Asaba, but confessed he was now disappointed on his arrival.

“Our expectation is that Asaba will give us the best festival experience, but accommodation has posed a great challenge since we arrived. Can you imagine that we don’t have light and water (in our camp)?

“For some of us from Osun, we feel really bad about that. We aren’t supposed to lack these basic amenities for a day. So far too, we haven’t seen shuttle buses for easy transportation,” he said.

Margaret Chidi from Imo State, a Para-athlete, reiterated Mutiu’s concerns.

“The festival has been okay but the only challenge we have is that the special athletes were not given friendly facilities,” she said.

A female Taekwondo athlete, who spoke on condition of anonymity, also told our correspondent about the discomfort at the Old National Youth Service Corps camp.

“There is no electricity and there are no sockets in the rooms where we are camped,” she said.

“The bathrooms are unisex and the male athletes have been entering the bath place without caution, which is embarrassing. There is also not enough water for all of us to take our bathe. Again, those who get to the bathroom late can’t shower.”

However, another Para-table tennis coach Ilesanmi Olatunji from Ondo State said they were happy with the facilities in their camp.

“The accommodation is okay and the organisation has been fantastic. My personal target here is to win gold for my state in Para-table tennis,” he said.

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INEC announces PVC collection date

The Independent National Electoral Commission has said that the collection of permanent voter cards will be decentralized to various wards from January 6, 2023.

The commission also said that PVC collection would commence at its offices in each of the 774 local government areas across the country on Monday, December 12, 2022.

INEC, in a statement on Friday, said the decision was reached at its recent retreat in Lagos, where the procedure as well as the timetable for the collection of PVCs were finalized.

The statement, which was signed by the National Commissioner and Chairman Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, indicated that the collection would be moved to the 8,809 Registration Area/Wards from January. Duties -Ondo Female Regents

The statement read in part, “The commission has fixed Monday, December 12, 2022, to Sunday, January 22, 2023, as the dates for the collection of PVCs in all 774 local government offices of the commission throughout the Federation.

“The Commission also resolved to devolve PVC collection to the 8,809 Registration Areas/Wards from Friday 6th to Sunday 15th January 2023. Those that are unable to collect their PVCs at the local government offices of the commission can do so at the registration areas or electoral wards. After January 15, 2023, the exercise will revert to the Local Government Offices of the Commission until January 22, 2023.

“All eligible and valid registrants can collect their PVCs from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. daily, including Saturdays and Sundays.

“All the RECs and Electoral Officers have been directed to convene a meeting with the critical stakeholders in their states and local government areas, including traditional and religious leaders, civil society groups, community-based organizations, and the media, to brief them on the modalities for the collection of the PVCs in order to sensitize the public and ensure a seamless exercise.”

“Similarly, RECs and EOs have also been directed to set up help desks to assist registrants with complaints about their PVCs or with the PVC collection procedure for immediate redress.”

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Trading platform developed for power firms and consumers

Power generation, distribution, and transmission companies, gas suppliers, and consumers, among others, will conduct electricity transactions through an automated energy trading platform in 2023, the Federal Government has said.

The government said the platform would facilitate an automated and transparent marketplace and would serve as a system for the consummation of bilateral contracts for energy using standard template contracts.

Managing Director, Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading Plc, Nnaemeka Ewelukwa, disclosed this in a presentation titled, ‘Actualising Enhanced Electricity Supply and Commercial/Industrial Decarbonisation in Nigeria.’

In the document, which was obtained by our correspondent in Abuja on Wednesday, Ewelukwa stated that the platform would also serve as a spot market for real-time energy trading as the market developed further.

He said, “IPPs (independent power plants) wishing to sell power can register on the platform and immediately have access to a comprehensive database of commercial and industrial customers across the country and their energy requirements.”

“A comprehensive interactive map will be developed, showing the geo-locations of the following facilities within Nigeria and the ECOWAS region (existing, on-going, and proposed).”

“The entities include commercial and industrial customers and industrial clusters; generation plants; transmission and distribution networks; gas pipeline networks; and energy locations, including solar irradiation, wind, and mini-hydro potentials.”

Ewelukwa said the interactive map would facilitate transaction structuring by willing buyers and sellers.

It would also boost network investment coordination and guide investment decision-making while facilitating greater policy planning and efficient resource planning.

“It will ensure the efficient linking of sufficient numbers of buyers and sellers, thus facilitating price discovery,” he said.

He added, “With price discovery, energy buyers and sellers have the assurance that they are purchasing these commodities at fair prices in a reliable marketplace.”

“Ultimately, it will enhance overall visibility of tariffs, capacity availability, costs, and prices along the energy value chain, which will aid buyers and sellers in undertaking transactions.”

Ewelukwa said the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, and the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority were being engaged by NBET on the new initiative.

He further noted that the Federal Ministries of Power, Finance, Budget, and National Planning, Industry, Trade, and Investment, as well as the media and CSOs, were being engaged.

On industry groups that the NBET was interacting with, Ewelukwa outlined them to include: the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (3064 members); the Nigeria Employers Consultative Association (332 members); the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines, and Agriculture (64 member chambers; 401 corporate members); the Nigeria Association of Small-Scale Industrialists; and the Nigeria Association of Small and Medium Enterprises.

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INEC deploys BVAS in two Geo-political zones

The Independent National Electoral Commission has finally begun the distribution of Bimodal Voter Accreditation System facilities to the remaining parts of the country, including the north-east and south-east states, which hitherto had yet to get the vital election equipment.

It was learned on Wednesday that the agency had resumed the airlift of BVAS to states amid security concerns over the safety of the electoral equipment.

On the social media handles of INEC, it was reported that the chairman of INEC, Mahmood Yakubu, supervised the airlift at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, on Wednesday.

INEC had confirmed in early November that the North-East and South-East zones were yet to receive BVAS.

The North-East states affected include Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Taraba, and Yobe, while the states in the South-East are Imo, Anambra, Abia, Enugu, and Ebonyi.

The Punch had reported in October that the electoral commission had distributed BVAS to over 23 states across the federation.

An online report blamed insecurity for the delay in the deployment of BVAS in the South-East.

Responding exclusively to local media, the National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee (INEC, Festus Okoye, explained in November that the non-delivery and non-receipt of the BVAS by the two zones had nothing to do with insecurity.

He explained, “The commission has planned and will continue to plan all the activities relating to the conduct of the 2023 general election.” The procurement of sensitive and non-sensitive materials, their delivery, and their deployment have been carefully designed and planned by the commission.

“The Bimodal Voter Accreditation System was designed in-house by the commission’s engineers and is being fabricated outside the country.” The manufacturers have kept faith with the timelines and schedules of production and delivery as handed over to them by the commission. The commission has started receiving deliveries from the designated airports and from designated states, and these have equally been delivered to some of the states of the federation.

“Presently, the consignments meant for the North and East have not been received by the commission and could not have been delivered to the states.”

He added, “The manufacturers are following the timelines and schedules given by the Commission.” The non-delivery and non-receipt of the BVAS by the states in the Northeast and Southeast has absolutely nothing to do with insecurity or the activities of gunmen or bandits.

“The commission is following its timeline, and all the consignments meant for all the states of the federation will be delivered in 2022.” The commission will carry out mock accreditation in all the states of the federation, and this will take place simultaneously in all the states of the federation.

“The commission is meticulously following its own timelines, and we have procured enough BVAS to service the 176,846 polling units in the country, and there will be sufficient redundancies for the 8,809 registration areas.” “We have also procured additional ones for purposes of training our registration area technical support staff.”

Meanwhile, the Nigerian Air Force has also confirmed that it has begun the airlift of election materials for INEC ahead of the 2023 polls.

A NAF spokesperson, Air Commodore Edward Gabkwet, said, “We are assisting INEC in the airlifting of electoral materials for now.” However, we can’t provide aerial support to all INEC offices nationwide at the same time.

The Director, Defence Information, Maj. Gen. Jimmy Akpor, has said the military will ensure support for the police and other civil authorities whenever it is called upon especially during the elections

In an interview with our correspondent, Akpor said, “The military would do everything to support the civil authority in ensuring that the country’s political and social space is protected for socioeconomic activities and the forthcoming elections can go on peacefully.”

“However, it should be noted that election security is the duty of the Nigeria Police Force.” It is the job of the police, and we’ll support the police as a civil authority on election matters and internal security whenever we’re called upon.

“We’ll support the police.” We’ll not hold back any support whenever we’re called upon. However, the current situation is not beyond the police’s control, and contingencies are being updated to improve the situation, and we’ll give them whatever support they need.

Meanwhile, findings by a source on Wednesday showed some of the North-East and South-East states received some batches of their BVAS a few weeks ago.

The Borno State office of INEC confirmed receipt of the BVAS on Wednesday.

“We received BVAS about a month ago,” the Head of Voter Education and Publicity of the office, Shuaibu Ibrahim, affirmed in a telephone interview. “These are sensitive materials, so we are not supposed to speak to the public about them,” he concluded, declining to respond to further questions.

Checks also revealed that 2,988 BVAS had been shipped to Gombe State. A source explained that 2,988 is the exact number of polling units in the state.

She said, “We have received 2,988 BVAS at the moment; backup will arrive later.”

The new resident electoral commissioner for Adamawa State, Mr. Hudu Ari, said the state had taken delivery of 4,104 BVAS, which would be deployed for election in all 40 constituencies in the state.

Ari said, “In terms of our preparedness, we had engagements with a good number of stakeholders in the state, and we are still engaging with more.” Among the groups we engaged are the political parties, security agencies, civil society organizations, media, PWDs, faith-based organizations, community-based organizations, youth organizations, women’s groups, MDAs, etc. We also intend to engage with traditional rulers and other critical stakeholders in the coming weeks.

Similarly, the INEC Public Relations Officer in Kaduna State, Mrs. Rukaya Lamam, disclosed that they received the BVAS about a month ago.

But the INEC spokesman in Anambra State, Dr. Kingsley Agwu, said the office had yet to receive the BVAS machines in the state.

However, checks indicate that the BVAS would soon be dispatched to the states in the South-East region in the coming weeks.

In a related development, no fewer than 1,993 ballot boxes, 399 voting cubicles, 22 electric power generators, and thousands of uncollected PVCs had been destroyed in various attacks carried out on INEC facilities across the states.

The INEC Chairman, Yakubu, disclosed this at the induction retreat for new Resident Electoral Commissioners in Lagos.

Yakubu said the attacks were carried out in four months on offices of the Commission in five local government areas by unknown people.

He said, “I wish to once again touch on the troubling issue of attacks on our facilities and the destruction of critical electoral assets in the country.” In the last four months, five local government area offices of the commission were attacked by yet unknown persons.

“In these mindless attacks, a total of 1,993 ballot boxes, 399 voting cubicles, 22 electric power generators, and thousands of uncollected PVCs were, among other materials, destroyed.” “These attacks must stop, and the perpetrators must be apprehended and prosecuted.”

Furthermore, the House resolved to set up an ad hoc committee to “investigate the remote and immediate causes of the incessant inferno at INEC offices in different parts of the country and report back within three weeks for further legislative action.”

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Aisha Buhari’s Twitter troll remanded in Suleja prison

A 500-level student of the Federal University, Dutse, Aminu Muhammad, accused of criticizing the wife of the president, Aisha Buhari, has been remanded in a custodial center.

Local media reported that the 24-year-old was remanded after his arraignment at the FCT High Court on Tuesday.

The charge read, “That you, Aminu Adamu, of Anguwar Sarakuna, Bauchi, Bauchi State, sometime between May and June 2022 within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, did intentionally open a Twitter handle with the name @aminullahie Catalyst and screenshot the image of Her Excellency, Hajia Aisha Buhari, and wrote on it in Hausa language ‘Su mama anchi kudi talakawa ankoshi’ roughly translated to English language to mean ‘Mama has embezzled monies meant for the poor to satisfaction’ and posted same on your above Twitter handle for the members of the public to read, knowing same to be false and capable of affecting her reputation. “You thereby committed an offense punishable under Section 391 of the Penal Code.”

The British Broadcasting Corporation’s Hausa Service reported on Wednesday that Aminu’s lawyer, CK Agu, said since November 25, 2022, he had demanded bail for the student without any result.

The lawyer stated, “Even during yesterday’s court sitting, we told the judge that we requested his release from the police on bail, but they did not respond whether they would release him or not.”

“Based on this, we applied to the court for his bail on health grounds and because he is about to write his exams on December 5.” The court ordered the security agents to release him on the exigency applied for to hear the application today or next.”

Aminu’s parents had told the BBC that their son would be taken to court on Wednesday before his lawyer confirmed that the sitting commenced on Tuesday.

When Aminu’s lawyer was asked about his whereabouts, he said he was detained at the Suleja Custodial Center pending the hearing on his bail application. The arrest of the Federal University of Dutse, Jigawa State’s student, generated debate, especially on social media, where many alleged that his arrest and detention were illegal.

GOGAN TV

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FG says regardless fuel scarcity, no planned price increment

For the first time in weeks since the scarcity of premium motor spirit, popularly known as “petrol, began, the Federal Government opened up and declared on Wednesday that there was no plan to increase the pump price of petrol, at least during the Yuletide season.

However, the government’s comments came amid a worsening and persistent fuel shortage, which spread further on Wednesday across the country. Also, the cost of the commodity rose to as high as N285 per liter in some filling stations in Abuja.

Oil marketers stated that the black-market cost of petrol in Lagos had risen to about N450 per liter, while it sold for more than that price in some other states.

But the government disclosed on Wednesday that there was fuel supply stock that could last the country for 34 days.

This came as a senior official of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited confided in our source that subsidy on the PMS was becoming unbearable for the oil firm, amid product diversion.

As concerns around fuel price and supply heightened, the government declared that it had no plan to increase the price of gasoline, describing comments on the price and availability of PMS as speculation.

However, the government, through its Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Regulatory Authority, did not state any approved pump price for petrol, nor did it condemn the hike in PMS prices by marketers nationwide.

GOGAN TV reported on Wednesday that the pump price of petrol could hit N400 per liter at most filling stations before the end of this year, going by the continued scarcity of the product, according to oil marketers.

The National Public Relations Officer of the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, Chief Ukadike Chinedu, told our correspondent that most IPMAN members, who owned the bulk of the filling stations across the country, were now subjected to purchasing PMS at about N220 per liter, which is why many outlets currently dispense at about N250 per liter and above.

He said the cost of the commodity had been rising due to its unavailability and other concerns in the sector, stressing that consumers should be ready to pay between N350 and N400 per liter before the end of this year.

Reacting to the concerns around PMS’ price and availability, in an advisory issued in Abuja on Wednesday, the NMDPRA said, “These advisory addresses speculations on the price and availability of Premium Motor Spirit.”

“The authority wishes to inform the general public that the Federal Government has no intention of increasing the price of PMS during this period.” The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation Limited has imported PMS, with current stock levels sufficient for 34 days.

“Consequently, marketers and the general public are advised to avoid panic buying, diversion of products, and hoarding.” In keeping with the authority’s responsibilities as outlined in the Petroleum Industry Act, the authority assures the public that it will continue to monitor the supply and distribution of all petroleum products nationwide, especially during this holiday season.

Oil marketers said PMS import charges were becoming unbearable for the sole importer of the commodity, NNPC, and disclosed that the oil firm had been subtly pushing these charges to depot owners.

It was learned that depot owners, on their part, were also passing the charges to filling stations, which in turn pushed them to the final consumers of the product, a development that has led to the increase in the pump price of the commodity.

GOGAN TV

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