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New Naira Crisis: ICPC Arrests More Bank Managers

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The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission, ICPC, has busted more banks and arrested their managers in the ongoing efforts at ensuring that commercial banks comply with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)’s directive on the distribution of the redesigned Naira notes

The Operatives of the Commission also discovered the sum of Two Hundred and Fifty-Eight Million Naira (N258m) stashed in the vault at the head office of Sterling Bank in Abuja. It’s Regional and Service managers were promptly arrested.

At Keystone Bank, Mararaba, in Nasarawa State, its Head of Operations was also arrested for frustrating bank’s customers at getting the new naira notes.

At FCMB, Ogo-Oluwa, Osogbo, Osun State, two officials of the bank were taken into custody for assaulting and holding hostage ICPC and CBN officers on Cash Swap Monitoring Team.

Recall that in a statement on Tuesday night, February 7, by the ICPC Spokesperson, Mrs. Azuka Ogugua, she said the discoveries followed the Commission’s operations at ensuring that commercial banks and other interest groups do not flout the apex bank’s directive.

“When the ICPC monitoring team visited the Sterling Bank and discovered the stashed new naira notes in the bank’s vault, it was informed that the cash was the remnant of what the CBN had given it for onward distribution to its branches,” said Ogugua, who confirmed the operation took place on Friday, last weekend.

“The team, however, found out that only the sum of Five Million Naira (N5m) each was distributed to their various branches.

“Both the Regional and Service Managers were arrested and later granted administrative bail while investigation continues,” she noted.

In a similar vein, the Commission has also affected the arrest of the Head of Operations, Keystone Bank, Mararaba, in Nasarawa State, for frustrating its customers at getting the new naira notes.

“The ICPC team, while on its routine operation, found out that the Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) at the branch were not dispensing to its customers, while other bank customers were accessing only One Thousand naira each.

Continuing, she said: “It was only after the arrest was made and clarification received from CBN that the position of the officers of the bank was not correct, that the ATMs started dispensing Five Thousand Naira to non-customers and Ten Thousand Naira to its customers.

“The team also arrested one Abdulkareem Shaibu, a Security Guard with Zenith Bank, 3rd Avenue Gwarimpa, as well as Ali Adam and Shafiu Umar.

“While Shaibu, the Security Guard was arrested for being in possession of five ATM cards which he was using to collect money for different unknown persons who were not within the bank premises at that time, Adam and Umar were arrested in front of Zenith Bank, 1st Avenue Gwarimpa, for selling the new naira notes,” she revealed, adding that “in another development, two officials of FCMB Ogo-Oluwa, Osogbo have been taken into custody for assault of officers of ICPC and CBN Cash Swap Monitoring Team.”

The State Online recalls that last week, the said Osogbo branch was caught twice for loading wrapped bank notes inside its ATMs.

“The team, on a follow up visit to ascertain the bank’s compliance level, was assaulted right inside the Branch Manager’s office by the bank officials who vehemently refused to allow ICPC carry out its lawful duty, and then held hostage for about two hours,” she further revealed, adding that “by the time the reinforcement of Police and NSCDC officers arrived the scene of the incident, the masterminds of the assaults had gone into hiding, leading to the arrest of two bank officers who were also complicit.”

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NSCDC Under Audi: CWAI Highlights Achievements and Paradigm Shift

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A civil society and pressure group, non-profit and anti-corruption organization has stated that the crackdown on illegal miners has saved the economy huge financial revenue loss as a result of securing the mining sector which is a vital component of Nigeria’s economy. The CSO further observed that this destruction of over 350 illegal refineries has also assisted to reduce the menace of oil theft in the Niger Delta region as well as the arrest and recovery of critical assets and railway materials worth over 5 billion Naira.

It is instructive that the creation of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, NSCDC’s Special Mines Marshals to combat the menace of illegal mining has also enabled the reduction of mining theft, oil and gas sector of the country as the present management of the NSCDC under the leadership of Dr Abubakar Audi is determined to nip in the bud these challenges once and for all.

Howbeit, the creation of the Civil Defence Academy in Jos, Plateau State, for career development and progression; the creation of NSCDC Arms Squad Training School at Ugede Development Area in Nasarawa LGA of Nasarawa State is very instructive; the massive acquisition of mini fire fighter tankers for disaster management in case of emergencies are worthy of note and big morale booster for the corps and the procurement of Armoured Personnel Carrier (APC) vehicles for the NSCDC to use in fighting criminalities across the country is a welcome development under the present administration.

In a press release signed in Warri, Delta State by the Executive Secretary of Citizens Watch Advocacy Initiative (CWAI), Omoba Kenneth Aigbegbele on Tuesday, the CSO identified bad governance, abject poverty and unemployment as some of the root causes of attacks on our critical oil and gas assets including the mining sector in the country. He stated that poverty and hunger have contributed to the damages being recorded in the oil and gas facilities and that the degradation of the environment due to exploration and oil spills has not helped matters as it has deprived communities’ access to their traditional methods of livelihoods.

The organization observed that: “There is therefore the need to confront and tackle poverty and other issues, so as to reduce the menace.” That government should deploy special equipment, create forums to engage the various communities, collaborate and partner with private security guards, armed forces and intelligence services to stem the tide of oil theft and mining plundering.

In an effort to curb Illegal mining and create safe mining environment recently, the Federal Government commissioned 350 additional operatives of the NSCDC as mining marshals. This is happening barely few months after the first batch of 2,220 mining marshals were inaugurated. This is as the marshals underscore the Federal Government’s commitment to reforming the unlicensed operators across the country. According to reports, since the inauguration, over 200 illegal mining suspects have been arrested, 133 prosecutions underway and confiscated illegally mined minerals forfeited to the Federal Government. CWAI gathered that as part of its efforts to strengthen, protect and safeguard schools across the country, the Save School Initiative was launched for the protection of vulnerable schools and to reduce the menace of kidnapping in schools and the creation of the NSCDC Female Squad to aid in tackling kidnappings and other restiveness in schools which has yielded enormous dividends by the reduction of this heinous crime.

CWAI noted the various institutional nationwide reformations presently taking place across the corps as well as the new sense of belonging, increase in welfare packages for the corps, prompt payment of emoluments, allowances including the zero tolerance for corruption initiated by the new management. This, without doubt, has given the corps a pride of place in the paramilitary organizations in the country and has raised the ‘esprit-de-corps’ of the men and officers like never before seen. The robust welfare, motivated packages through massive promotions, conversion, upgrading and other benefits-in-kind are really commendable and not to mention the construction of official and residential buildings within and outside the NSCDC headquarters, including the procurement of operational and office equipment and the purchase of over 200 operation vehicles are also worthy of note.

The arrest of students for acts unbecoming of them across institutions of learning in the country; arrest of practitioners of same sex marriages is a major milestone; the commendations given by governors of Zamfara, Gombe, Ogun, Jigawa and Katsina states recently are also worth mentioning; the reduction of the incessant herders’ and farmers’ clashes and cattle rustling; the deployment of undercover corps officers to schools;  the collaboration with the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) to reduce criminal activities across the country with the toga ‘See Something, Say Something;” the robust relationships of inter-agency corporations and partnerships with sister agencies such as the Navy, Army, Customs, Immigration, NNPC, and civil society organizations, is a major achievement that must be applauded; the consistent advocacies carried out by the CG to intimate and assure Nigerians to believe in the corps’ operations to engender faith in security agencies, are all worthy of note.

The continued fight against cyber-crimes, child abuse and the flushing out of illegal guard private operators; the arrest of smugglers, vandals and pipeline/oil thieves in the Niger Delta region have become an Herculean task that must be achieved, according to the CG, saying that the Service “is presently doing all it can to curb the proliferation of small arms across the length and breadth of the country.” He also read the Riot Act to the Corps’ commandants in the Niger Delta states, assuring them that President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has a zero-tolerance to civil theft. He asked them to do all they can to nib crimes in the bud in line with a presidential order to rid the nation’s oil sector of economic saboteurs, vandals, criminals, oil thieves and other nefarious activities inimical to the growth of the sector.

CWAI can attest to the fact that the giant strides achieved so far by the current leadership are as a result of the strategic directions taken on the commissioning of the Standard Curriculum for NSCDC for entrenching career progression, effective supervision and transparent regulation of the Private Guard Companies in Nigeria which has reduced insecurity across the country. CWAI asserts that this is connected to a new reinvigorated legal department, successes in anti-vandalism, protection of farmers’ physical security at mining sites and the establishment of Special Female Squad (SFS) targeted at boosting the fight against insecurity and the location of the squad in all Commands across the country. This has also enhanced the safe school response coordination and the protection of schools in remote areas and border communities, which is done in collaboration with other security agencies of the Army and the Department of State Services (DSS) to foil attempts to attack schools. This is endorsed by all stakeholders.

Similarly, the Commandant-General has continuously urged security agencies/operatives to shun inter-agency rivalry to foster national security. The CG gave this charge at a recent security seminar tagged “Promoting Inter-Agency Collaboration Among Security Agencies.” He noted that “the rivalry was capable of eroding relationships building over time between security agencies and consequently rubbed off negatively on the provision of adequate security.”  

CWAI also endorsed the amicable settlement of conflicts and dispute resolutions between herdsmen, farmers, cattle rustlers and villagers, community leaders and bandits – all championed by the current management of the NSCDC. The pressure group also applauded the vision, mission and the ability to implement its mandate as regards the settlement of disputes through Alternative Dispute Resolute (ADR) between warring parties.

CWAI recognizes the importance of conflict and dispute resolution mechanism in today’s contemporary issues and conflict management, and commended the leadership for thinking out of the box and finding lasting solutions in today’s crises-prone society, where conflicts have become the order of the day with the support of the proactive Minister of Interior, Olubunmi Ojo.

CWAI emphasized a renewed vigour for the increment of national budget allocated to the NSCDC in view of the pivotal role it plays in the reduction of criminal elements in the protection of critical national assets and the reduction of kidnapping in our schools as a result of the school initiative, which if properly funded will give the NSCDC the impetus to do more for the nation and its workforce.

We are encouraged to commend the public procurement and contract approvals, accountability in procurement process and payments. We also applaud the transformation, vision and forthrightness of the leadership in changing the narrative to make the Corps the cynosure of all eyes through discipline, promotion of officers when due and capacity building of officers and men, including building strategic alliances with various ivory towers across the land, to upgrade the service institutions to meet with what is attainable globally and build robust sister inter-agency collaborations.

CWAI, therefore, has no hesitation in passing a vote of confidence on the Dr. Abubakar Audi-led management and calls on the international community and well-meaning Nigerians to support the NSCDC management and allow them to concentrate on their mandate and continuously support the proactive leadership to enable it further its commitment and efforts to the general wellbeing of the nation.

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Groups Back Federal Govt’s Initiatives, Laud Agric Minister For Generating Over 60,000 Jobs

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Over 1000 bloggers under the aegis of the Bloggers and Vloggers Content Creators Association in Nigeria (BAVCCA) and Tinubu -Shettima Support Group have lauded the creation of 60,000 jobs in various rural economies across the country under the leadership of the Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, Senator Abubakar Kyari.

The bloggers and Tinubu-Shettima Support Group in a joint statement on Sunday signed by the Vice President of BAVCCA, Dr. Adebayo Olugbenga, National Coordinator of Tinubu-Shettima Support Group Alhaji Shehu Mohammed and the Secretary, Hon Uche Okafor respectively expressed their unwavering support for Kyari’s transformative leadership and the significant progress made in the agricultural sector under his stewardship in the last one year.

The State reads in part, “It is with great pride and enthusiasm that we, the members of the Bloggers and Vloggers, Content Creators Association in Nigeria, and the Tinubu-Shettima Support Group gathered here today to pass a vote of confidence in the Honourable Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, Senator Abubakar Kyari.

“In the past one year, Senator Kyari has demonstrated an unparalleled commitment to revolutionizing agriculture in Nigeria, and we are here to applaud his remarkable achievements and unwavering dedication to this crucial sector of our economy.”

They pointed out that the agricultural sector under the watch of Kyari, has injected an estimated value of N309 billion into the Nigerian economy in the last one year, as the money was injected through the harvest of agricultural produce.

And commended the minister for the provision of rural infrastructure, such as the construction of 77.8km of asphalt roads; construction of 130.9 km of earthen roads; provision of 102 motorized and solar-powered boreholes and installation of 6,504 solar street lights, as well as generating over 60,000 jobs in various rural economies.

Enumerating some of the Minister’s achievements, they said the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security had launched dry season farming with cultivation of 118,657 hectares of wheat in 15 states in the acceleration of all-year-round farming in a bid to ensure food and nutrition security.

They noted that at the end of dry season farming, that one of the participating States, Jigawa, had produced 55,000 metric tonnes of wheat.

The Vice President of BAVCCA disclosed that the Federal Government has also supported 107,429 wheat farmers with inputs such as fertilizers, seeds, and pesticides, resulting in an output of 474,628 metric tonnes.

The leadership of BAVCCA and the Tinubu-Shettima supporters observed that in response to the Presidential directive, the Ministry of Agriculture had released 42,000metric tonnes of assorted food commodities made up of maize, millet, sorghum, and garri, from the National Strategic Food Reserve to National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) for onward distribution to vulnerable Nigerians.

As part of measures to reduce escalating prices of food items in the markets, they expressed joy that the Federal Government procured and distributed 58,500 metric tonnes of milled rice to all States of the Federation and Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.

According to the statement, “To reduce malnutrition and stunted growth among children, the Federal Government had embarked on fortification of crops with Vitamin A micro-nutrient to enrich nutrition content and health value of food commodities.

“In response to persistent food inflation, the Federal Government has distributed 60,432metric tons of improved seeds, 887,255mt seedlings, 138numbers of value kits, 501,726 litres of agrochemicals, 62,328.5 metric tonnes of inorganic fertilizers, 1,000kg fungicide, and 33,200 equipment to farmers across different value chains to enhance production.

“The Ministry also received 2.15 million bags of fertilizer from the Central Bank of Nigeria(CBN) for distribution to farmers free of charge, adding that the distribution of the farm input has begun across the States.

“As part of measures to guarantee the protection and safety of farmers in their farmlands, there has been an improvement of farmland security with the provision of additional resources to Agro Rangers and other security agencies.

“On livestock production and animal health, the Federal Government had in the last one year procured and distributed 14,056,467 doses of anthrax spore, foot, and mouth diseases vaccines for risk-based vaccination exercise in 22 high-risk states across Nigeria.”

The groups further noted with satisfaction the establishment of animal health centres and veterinary hospitals, six micro earth dams and eight boreholes, 164 milk collection centres, eight cottage feed mills, and seven livestock centres in the country.

On Mechanisation, BAVCCA explained that the Ministry had signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with John Deere and Tata Africa to assemble in-country and supply 10,000 tractors with implements and accessories at 2,000 units yearly, as well as 100 units of combine harvesters to support production.

The groups explained that the Federal Government had partnered with the Brazilian government for the sum 995,000 Euros to provide mechanisation hubs across the Federation.

They are confident that under the continued stewardship of Kyari, the agricultural sector will thrive, contributing to the country’s food security, economic prosperity, and sustainable development.

“Kyari’s dedication, innovation, and tireless efforts have truly set a new standard for agricultural leadership in Nigeria.

“We, the members of BAVCCA and Tinubu-Shettima Support Group, pledge our unwavering support and commitment to working alongside the Minister to further strengthen the agricultural sector and realise our collective vision of a prosperous, food-secure, and environmentally sustainable Nigeria,” the statement assured.

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Coalition lauds NCC’s commitment to telecoms’ sector increase in contributions to nation’s GDP

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The Coalition on Transparency and Rule of Law (CTRL) has commended theGo Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) for its commitment to the nation’s telecoms sector which has led to an increase in its contribution to Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

 

The coalition also praised the leadership of Dr. Aminu Maida, the Executive Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of NCC, for his vision and strategic goal alignment.

 

In a statement signed by Sunday Thomas, the coalition said: “We are thrilled to acknowledge the recent remarks made by Dr. Aminu Maida, reaffirming the commission’s commitment to significantly enhancing the telecoms sector’s contribution to Nigeria’s GDP.

 

“Dr. Maida’s leadership and creative vision are commendable, demonstrating the NCC’s dedication to driving economic growth and development.”

 

The coalition further praised Dr. Maida’s ambitious target of achieving a 25% increase in the telecoms sector’s contribution to Nigeria’s GDP, noting that it showcases the commission’s proactive stance in harnessing the potential of the telecommunications industry.

 

The group also acknowledged Dr. Maida’s leadership style, which has fostered an open-door policy, encouraging industry stakeholders to engage in constructive dialogue with the commission.

 

“We extend our heartfelt commendation to Dr. Maida and the NCC for their dedication to driving sustainable economic growth and development in the telecoms sector,” Thomas added.

 

“Their commitment is aligned with our mission to champion policies and practices that uphold transparency, accountability, and sustainable economic growth.”

 

The coalition expressed its support for the NCC’s endeavours, acknowledging the imperative need for synergistic collaboration between the public and private sectors.

 

They believe that the NCC’s commitment will catalyze other sectors to strive for similar growth and contribution to Nigeria’s GDP.

 

“We believe that Dr. Maida’s 25% target is feasible, and we look forward to seeing the positive impact of this initiative on our economy and the lives of Nigerians,” Thomas concluded.

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