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Monday, July 15, 2024

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PMB Fumes, Says Killers Of Aid Workers ‘ll Face The Law [Leadership]

President Muhammadu Buhari has condemned the recent murder of five staff of humanitarian agencies in Borno State, who were kidnapped by Boko Haram Terrorists a month ago, insisting that killers will face the wrath of the law.

President Buhari in a statement by his media aide, Garba Shehu sympathized with the families of the five aid workers, while praying that God will comfort them for their irreplaceable loss.

He assured them that his government will continue to do all it can to ensure that every remaining vestige of Boko Haram is wiped out completely from northeastern Nigeria and that the perpetrators of this atrocity face the law.


Reps Begin Debate On 50% Derivation Amid NDDC Probe [Leadership]

Despite the allegation of financial malfeasance rocking the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), the House of Representatives will today begin debate on a bill seeking the upward review of the derivation fund accrued to the oil producing states and other states with natural resources from 13 per cent to 50 per cent.

The bill is seeking to alter section 162(2) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 by increasing the percentage of derivation fund of the revenue accrued to the Federation Account directly from any natural resources to not less than 50 per cent.

The bill, which is co- sponsored by Hon. Awaji-Inombek D. Abiante (PDP, Rivers) and 13 others, was stood down at Tuesday’s plenary by Speaker Femi Gbajabimila to enable members study it for a robust debate the next legislative day, which is today.

In a brief to the House, the principal sponsor, Abiante stated that revenue agreements and conditions were not static and could change over time depending on the prevailing concerns of changing times.

The bill is aimed at getting diverse funds for the nation and ensuring local participation in mining so that the commonwealth of the nation can get to duly licensed and registered miners.

He argued that, “Even in the intent and desire to ensure the rehabilitation and development of the damaged environment where mineral resources are derived for the sustenance and development of the whole country does not also seem achievable with the current practice of 13 per cent”

The lawmaker submitted that in order to ensure justice and equity in the polity and also fast track the development and protection of the region and any part of the Federation where mineral resources or any revenue is gotten for the running of the business of governance, there is the urgent need to increase the derivation fund from ‘not less than 13 percent’ to ‘not less than 50 percent.

He insisted that, “tThe pooling of our commonwealth at the centre and its administration is mired with corruption and misappropriation of funds meant for the development of Nigeria’s economy.


Tenants now to pay six per cent stamp duty, says FIRS [Nation]

THE Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) has directed landlords and property agents to charge six percent Stamp Duty on all tenancy and lease agreements.

The landlords/ property agents are   to remit such collections     to FIRS “so that they do not run foul of the Stamp Duty Act.”

The tax agency gave the directive through a statement on Wednesday by Director, Communications and Liaison Department Abdullahi Ahmad.

He said: “Property-related transactions like tenancy or lease agreement fall under the Ad Valorem category of the stamp duty which attracts six per cent duty payable in percentage of the total value or sum of the tenancy or lease,” Ahmad explained in the statement.

According to him, the burden of payment of the six per cent “lies on the beneficiary of the tenancy or lease agreement, whom the Stamp Duty Act identified as the tenant or renter.”

He added that “the responsibility of collection and remittance fall on the landlord or agent in charge of the property for lease or rent. The party making the payment shall have the obligation to account for the applicable stamp duties.”

Some other Stamp Duty types and their rates, according to the statement , are; Appraisement or Valuation of Property , .5 per cent; Certificate of Occupancy and Partnership, N1,000 flat rate; Gift of Land, 1.5 per cent and Legal Mortgage, 0.375 per cent.

Others are Legal Mortgage (Upstamping), 0.375 per cent; Deed of Conveyance or Transfer on Sale of Property, 1.5 per cent; Memorandum of Understanding (Related to Land, Sales, Joint Venture, Surrender, Subdivision Agreements, 1.5 per cent; Power of Attorney (Irrevocable/Land Related), 1.5 per cent   and Sales Agreement, 1.5 per cent.

Stamp Duties payment is enabled by the Stamp Duties Act (SDA) 1939, as amended by numerous Acts and various resolutions contained in the Laws of the Federation of Nigeria. The SDA also provides a list of documents in its schedule and the duty payable on each.

The Finance Act 2019 states that: “the Federal Inland Revenue Service shall be the only competent authority to impose, charge and collect duties upon instruments specified in the Schedule to this Act if such instrument relates to matters executed between a company and an individual, group or body of individuals.”

The total Stamp Duty collection for 2019 was N18 billion.


Magu to open defence before Salami panel today [Nation]

AFTER waiting for a copy of the allegations against him, the Presidential Investigation Committee on the activities of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), on Wednesday agreed to give the suspended Acting Chairman of the agency Mr. Ibrahim Magu a report to enter his Defence.

The report is that of the Presidential Committee on Audit of Recovered Assets( PCARA), which contains all allegations against Magu.

But the Chairman of the panel, Justice Isa Ayo Salami extracted a commitment from the counsel to Magu, Barrister Wahab Shittu that PCARA’s report will not be leaked to the press.

Magu, who said all the allegations against him were false, is expected to open his defence today.

The suspended EFCC chairman was at the panel’s venue for about eight hours but he had a brief encounter with the team

Wearing a white Kaftan with a white cap to match, the suspended EFCC chairman took a 78-page response to the committee, bordering on a query by the AGF, PCARA’s report and other allegations in public domain.

The committee however said it may accept Magu’s response only after serving him the issues in PCARA’s report.

A top source said: “After waiting for hours, the panel met with Magu for a few minutes. The committee later decided to make a copy of the PCARA report available to Magu to enable him to address all the allegations against him.

“It however gave a condition that PCARA report must not be leaked in any manner to the press to avoid distraction of its activities.

“With the concession by the panel, Magu will now open his Defence from Thursday or thereabout. He will be able to tender his defence which has not been accepted by the panel because the allegations were yet to be served on him. This is a good dimension.”

A letter written to Salami’s panel by Magu’s counsel, Wahab Shittu however pledged that the suspended acting EFCC chairman will cooperate with the panel.

In the letter, Shittu said Magu had not at any time challenged the mandate of the panel or engaged in any boast or queried the panel.

The letter, which was submitted yesterday, reads in part:”We state for the records that we are not in a position to query the Honourable panel and certainly will never set out doing so.

“Rather, our intention was to draw the attention of the Honourable panel to persistent falsehood publications concerning our client being orchestrated consistently in the public space in a manner that could prejudice the proceedings of this Honourable panel.

“We apologize if any contrary interpretation of our intention is conveyed by the context in which the questions were raised in the referred letter. We hold the panel in the highest esteem.

“Our client wishes to place on record his appreciation to the chairman members of the panel for ordering his release from custody on the 15th day of July 2020 without any conditionalities.

“Our client appreciates this gesture given the fact that the panel has repeatedly stated that it did not order the detention of our client in the first place. Our client is grateful for the gesture.

“Our client while appreciating the panel offers full cooperation to the panel in the discharge of its assignment.

“Our client believes in the work of the committee because of his commitment to ridding the country of corruption.”


Boko Haram executes five humanitarian workers [Nation]

  • Buhari condemns killing

BOKO HARAM terrorists on Wednesday released a video showing the execution of five humanitarian workers that they earlier abducted.

The Nation gathered that the insurgents had made contact, demanding about $500,000, which was not paid.

It was indicated in the video released on Wednesday that insurgents ran out of patience and executed the aid workers.

In the video, the insurgents said the humanitarian workers were “working for unbelievers who don’t care about you.”

Their message read: “We are sending this as a very strong message to you unbelievers and infidels. And to those of you that are being used by these infidels to repent.

“You are working for them but they do not have any concern about you.

“You worked for them to achieve their goals but they are very far from your plight. They do not show you any care. Look at you now. When we kidnap you they don’t care. They show no concern.

“We are calling on all you unbelievers to repent and turn to Allah.

“We will continue to abduct you people at every road that we see you if you don’t repent to work for them. It is a warning to all of you.”

President Muhmmadu Buhari reiterated his administration’s determination to wipe out the vestiges of the terror group, Boko Haram.

The President stated this in his reaction to the murder of the five humanitarian aides by the terror group in Borno State on Wednesday.

“President Muhammadu Buhari condemns the recent murder of five staff of humanitarian agencies in Borno State, who were kidnapped by Boko Haram terrorists a month ago,” a statement by the President’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu said.

“President Buhari sympathises with the families of the five aid workers, while praying that God will comfort them for their irreplaceable loss.

“He assures them that his government will continue to do all it can to ensure that every remaining vestiges of Boko Haram is wiped out completely from northeastern Nigeria and that the perpetrators of this atrocity face the law.”


774,000 jobs: Keyamo will supervise recruitment, labour ministry replies National Assembly [Punch]

  • NDE must report to minister of state, says ministry spokesman
  • N52bn public works fund for NDE, not ministry, Senate insists

The Ministry of Labour, Employment and Productivity on Wednesday rejected resolutions of both chambers of the National Assembly calling for the removal of the Minister of State, Festus Keyamo, from supervising recruitment of 774,000 Nigerians for the Special Public Works programme.

The ministry’s Deputy Director, Press and Public Relations, Mr Charles Akpan, in an interview with one of our correspondents in Abuja, said “nothing has changed.”

The Senate and the House of Representatives, had at their separate sessions on Tuesday, asked the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), to stop Keyamo from supervising the recruitment of 774,000 Nigerians.

Recall that the lawmakers and Keyamo last month clashed when the minister was ordered out of the sitting of the Senate committee investigating the special works programme. The senators accused him of raising his voice against them.

On July 1, the National Assembly said it had stopped the planned recruitment on the grounds that Keyamo had hijacked it from the National Directorate of Employment.

But despite the National Assembly’s directive, Keyamo, on July 14, said he had got the approval of the President to supervise the recruitment.

The Senate President, Ahmed Lawan, and the Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, subsequently met the President over the issue.

After the meeting, Buhari’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, in a statement titled, “President Buhari reads riot act to ministers, MDAs, chief executives on relationship with NASS,” said the President had warned his appointees that he would not accept any act of disrespect to the National Assembly.

On Tuesday, the National Assembly said the Minister of Labour, Employment and Productivity, Senator Chris Ngige, should supervise the programme.

In the Senate, the Chairman of the Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, Opeyemi Bamidele, brought the motion through a point of order.

He said Keyamo erred in law by taking over an assignment which was constitutionally assigned to the NDE through the Revised 2020 Appropriation Act.

He said the Federal parliament approved N52bn for the NDE to execute the exercise but lamented that the labour ministry, through Keyamo, had hijacked it.

But Akpan told The PUNCH that the exercise would be supervised by Keyamo, under whose office the NDE operates.

Akpan stated, “The special works programme is with the NDE, but our ministry is the supervising ministry for NDE and because of that, we monitor their activities and the ministry of labour was given the responsibility to handle that assignment, and it is under the supervision of the minister of state. So, whatever the directorate does, it would report to the minister of state; so nothing has changed.”

N52bn public works fund for NDE, not labour ministry, Senate insists

When asked to react to the Ministry of Labour’s statement, the spokesperson for the Senate, Senator Ajibola Basiru, said the position of the red chamber on the 774,000 job recruitment issue had not changed.

The senator told one of our correspondents that the copy of the Appropriation Act signed by the President by virtue of Section 82 recognises the National Directorate on Employment as the agency saddled with the responsibilities of implementing the Federal Works Programme.

He said, “The Appropriation Act in making provision for N52b for the public works had the NDE in mind. There is a difference between the agency and the Ministry of Labour.

“The NDE is not the same as the ministry of labour, employment and productivity and they are not at par.

“What the Senate is insisting is that it is not by accident that the budget was domiciled in the NDE and not the main ministry.

“In carrying out the budget in order not to breach the law, the executive must comply with the terms of this.

“The budget is not just the amount that has been earmarked, it is also earmarked for whom that amount of money should be spent, and also the agency saddled with that responsibility.

“The budget is specific as to the agency in which the budget is domiciled, it is the NDE, No minister can assume a power that is not vested in terms of expending money that has been appropriated.

“It is clear in our resolution. We are not doubting the fact that the agency in which the minister is the chairman has power of supervision but power of supervision is different from power for implementation and our power of oversight under the constitution is not only about corruption it is also about exposing inefficiency.

“We are insisting that the legality and the constitutionality of the programme must be followed to the letter.

“The Appropriation Act is a legal instrument that must be followed.

“We have sounded a note of warning to anybody that the budget (N52bn) must be implemented according to the letter.”


Jegede wins Ondo PDP ticket, battles Akeredolu in Oct poll [Punch]

A former Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice in Ondo State, Mr Eyitayo Jegede, has been elected the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party for the October 10 governorship election in the state.

Jegede defeated other contestants having polled 888 votes, while the deputy governor of the state, Mr Agboola Ajayi, polled 657 votes; and the PDP National Vice Chairman, Dr Eddy Olafeso, came third with 175 votes.

Also, Dr Bode Ayorinde scored 95 votes, Mr Banji Okunomo polled 90, Senator Boluwaji Kunlere got 33, Sola Ebiseni scored 29 and Godday Erewa polled 13 votes.

The election was keenly contested among the eight aspirants, and no fewer than 2,122, delegates from the 18 local government areas of the state participated in the election.

The accreditation of the delegates commenced around 10am while the delegates started to cast their votes around 2pm at the main, auditorium of the International Event Centre, Akure, the Ondo State capital

The exercise was conducted in line with COVID-19 protocols as any delegate or stakeholder without tag or face mask on was not allowed into the arena.

There was heavy presence of armed security men from the state police command, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, Department of State Services and the Federal Road Safety Corps at the venue.

The officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission were also present to monitor the process.

Earlier, supporters of some of the aspirants sang songs outside the venue to show support for their favourite aspirants.

However, few hours before the commencement of the primary, two members of the party were mobbed outside the venue of the exercise for allegedly being in possession of some thumb-printed ballot papers.

The chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party Primary and Governor of Enugu State, Mr Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, while speaking with journalists promised to conduct free, free and credible exercise.

Ugwuanyi, who entered into the venue of the primary around 1.40pm expressed satisfaction with the process

He said, “We are building a nation and I promise to conduct a free and fair primary. I want to assure you that a credible candidate will emerge through this process.

However, after the voting ended at 7.30pm, the process was halted for almost two hours following an argument among the aspirants and the members of the primary election committee over certain list of delegates.

But the matter was resolved and 11 former members of the state House of Assembly were allowed to cast their votes.


UNIBEN lecturer killed as bribe-seeking policeman drags steering with driver [Punch]

A lecturer at the Faculty of Education, University of Benin, Stella Okotie, has been killed by a commercial driver, Anu Adisa, around the institution located on the Benin-Lagos Expressway, Edo State.

The deceased’s sales boy identified simply as Amos, who was also knocked down by Adisa when he reportedly lost control of the vehicle, was rescued and rushed to hospital for treatment.

PUNCH Metro was given two accounts of the circumstances surrounding Stella’s death on Monday.

Eyewitnesses at the scene of the crash, who were seen in a video, blamed a yet-to-be-identified policeman for the accident, adding that Adisa lost control of the vehicle as the cop was dragging the steering wheel with him because of N100 bribe.

“Can you see what the police is doing in Benin, he was dragging the key with the driver, they have killed a innocent person but the guy is still breathing and has never died. Policeman was dragging the steering with the driver because of N100. How do you feel now? See what you have caused,” the recorder said in the footage posted by Instablog9ja.

Stella was said to be standing with her husband, Williams, and their son, Ochuko, when the tragedy struck around 7pm.

However, another account had it that Adisa attempted to evade a stop-and-search operation by policemen attached to the Ugbowo Division, and in the process, rammed into Stella and the other victim.

Stella’s son, Tega, told PUNCH Metro that his mother and her sales boy, Amos, were knocked down by the vehicle, adding he wanted justice.

He stated, “My mother was a lecturer at UNIBEN and was doing business on the side. She was facing the bus, which she used to supply water and was counting money, when Adisa’s bus ran into her and her sales boy, Amos.

“The police were dragging the steering wheel with the driver because of the N100 bribe that they wanted to collect from him, while the bus was in motion. Amos is recovering but my mother was killed and we want justice for her death.”

When contacted, the state Police Public Relations Officer, Chidi Nwabuzor, said Adisa was driving recklessly and tried to evade a stop-and-search operation when the tragedy struck, adding that the police rushed the victims to the University of Benin Teaching Hospital, where a doctor pronounced Stella dead on arrival.

Nwabuzor stated, “On Monday, July 20, 2020, around 7pm, the command received a distress call about an accident around the University of Benin on the Benin-Lagos Expressway. While operatives of the Ugbowo Police Divisional were conducting stop-and-search, the team sighted a Suzuki bus with number plate TEN 461 ZY, being driven dangerously towards the point of the stop-and-search and the policemen flagged down the driver, but he refused and unfortunately hit one Mrs Stella Okotie, a table water seller and another person by the roadside.

“Mrs Stella Okotie was the one, who suffered the major impact and the police rushed the victims to the University of Benin Teaching Hospital for treatment, but on arrival, the medical doctor certified Mrs Stella Okotie dead.

“In reaction to this, miscreants took to the major highway, barricaded the road and stopped the movement of vehicle and pedestrians, and descended on the team leader, Inspector David Uwagboi, beat and inflicted injuries on him and held him hostage.

“It took the intervention of the inspector’s wife, who ran to the scene on receiving information and laid down her life for the mob to take instead of that of her husband. While on this, we mobilised operatives, in collaboration with military personnel, to the scene to remedy the situation.”

When asked about the N100 bribe allegation against the policeman, who allegedly dragged the steering wheel with Adisa, the PPRO stated, “In a scene, several videos may have been taken and people will always like to post the one of interest that will suit their purpose. The issue of asking for money, that I don’t know, but I know too well that when a motorist is flagged down to stop, the police have the right to do that.”


Senate targets Osibanjo, Fashola, others over multimillion dollar power deal [Sun]

  • Nigeria risks $1.2bn fine, legal experts, lawmakers to explore legal options

The Senate, yesterday, initiated moves to reverse the multimillion power sector deal spearheaded by the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari in 2016.

Vice President Yemi Osibanjo, Babatunde Fashola and others who were part of the team are believed to have erroneously signed an agreement that was not in favour of Nigeria.

The Presidential Power Reform Transaction, which was headed by Osibanjo when the deal was struck obligated Nigeria to pay between $30 million and $33 million monthly to Azura for power for powers generated, even if not “dispatched.”

The power generated is expected to be transmitted through the national grid — by the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN).

The Senate at its plenary, yesterday, said Nigeria stands to lose about $1.2 billion if the country defaults or revokes the current agreement with power generation companies.

Chairman of the Senate committee on Power, Gabriel Suswam, while briefing the Senate on the existing agreement, said part of the deal the Federal Government had during the power sector reforms was that the investors will have the legitimacy to pull about $1.2 billion from the country’s foreign reserve.

The revelations were made during the consideration of a report on addressing Nigeria’s power sector problems.’

Senators who spent over two hours debating the issue agreed that in order to have constant power supply, the existing power sector agreements on two power plants carried out by the administration of President Buhari must be reviewed.

However, some lawmakers, who were predominantly lawyers warned that there could be severe sanctions if the documents were not properly studied before an action is taken.

Deputy President of the Senate, Ovie Omo-Agege, Ajibola Basiru, Chukwuka Utazi and other lawyers in the chamber, suggested that a high-powered committee made up of legal practitioners in the upper legislative chamber and senior lawyers outside should be set up to review the agreements.

They are expected to specifically examine the agreement on Azura and Aku Gas Plants, as well as power purchase contracts.

Giving more insights into the agreement, Suswam said the agreement involves a monthly payment of $30 million by the Federal Government to the two power generating companies, despite their inability to produce the required units.

They said since the government and power companies have defaulted, loopholes should be explored to protect Nigeria from paying huge fines.

While Suswam in his committee’s report suggested that a loan should be given to generation and distribution companies, Lawan suggested that senators who are lawyers should study the various agreements signed by the government and explore ways of getting Nigeria out of the dilemma.

Suswam said: “The power sector is not liquid. We must realise that despite the privatisation of the power sector, government still have a stake of 40 percent. There are about 10 millions homes connected to the national grid. Out of that figure, only four million are metred. Government needs to come in and help the sector. There was a time the CBN gave a loan to the power sector to stabilise it. They’re paying back. Government can do the same thing. Let them give them money to bring in metres and then recover the money gradually.

“If the sector isn’t liquid, investors will not come in and put their money. Before power companies implement the new tariff next year, we need to have every family metred. Estimated billing is fraudulent and we need to do away with it.

“The privatisation was faulty from the beginning. We can’t completely blame them. There’s nothing wrong if we give subsidy to the power sector until they become stable and liquid.”

Senate Chief Whip, Orji Uzor Kalu, questioned the continuous subsidy paid by government to power companies. He said if the current status quo is maintained, Nigeria will never get it right.

He further argued that the power sector agreement should be revoked to offer opportunities to multinationals to bring in their funds and invest in sector, while lowering the interest rates.

“The sector is not viable. Even if the government puts N600 billion, nothing will change. We need to bring in multinationals to bring in their money. Are we really that stupid? Why did we privatise if we still needed to give them subsidy? Any power company that can’t do its job should give it back to the government. Government has no business giving subsidies to the sector. That can’t work. We need to stop this madness.”

Sam Egwu said: “The privatisation process was fraudulent. I was a board member. Even if we put all the money in the sector, nothing will happen. The privatisation was done in a hurry and we need to ensure we give it to capable hands who can provide electricity.


FEC approves N75bn youth investment fund [Sun]

The Federal Executive Council (FEC) presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the establishment of a Nigerian youth investment fund for N75 billion.

It was created to support enterprise among Nigeria’s 68 million youths between ages of 18 and 35.

Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare, disclosed this to State House Correspondents, yesterday.

According to him, youth within the age group with genuine business ideas are to pitch their ideas in any of the 125 micro-credit banks across the country and qualified candidates will have access to the funds.

Dare assured that like the N-power programme, the process is digital and will be fair to all youths aged 18 – 35 regardless of their ethnicity or social status.

“For the first time in the history of Nigeria, the Federal Executive Council today (yesterday) approved the establishment of the Nigerian Youth Investment Fund (NYIF) to the tune of N75 billion. This fund is meant to create a special window for accessing credit facilities and financing on the part of our youths that will help to fund their ideas, innovations and also support their enterprise.

“The best way to call it is that for the first time the country will have a youth bank. A fund that will cater specifically for our youth within the stipulated age band, which is going to be between 18 and 35 years.

“The second approval that secured was for the Ministry of Youth and Sports Development to play a lead role in working on necessary steps that need to be taken in terms of legislation, organisation and other aspects of financing.

“The Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning will take the lead when it comes to the aspect of financing, working with the CBN, the Ministry of Youth and Sports Development and other relevant MDAs. A couple of other details will be released later, but I think the most important thing is that the N75 billion Nigerian Youth Investment Fund, to cater specifically for this target group, a population of over 68 million, got the attention and support of the Federal Executive Council today and this fund will be assessed by our youths, once they are able to present their ideas, they can assess this fund directly.”

Minister of Work and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, said council approved a memorandum on the initiative of the president to source bitumen locally for road construction.

“It was a policy memorandum which revealed that a significant amount of bitumen we used in road construction in Nigeria is imported, therefore creating jobs abroad and we recommended to council to approve a directive to the Ministry of Petroleum Resources and the Ministry of Mines and Steel to develop strategies to enhance, stimulate, and encourage local production of bitumen.

“Essentially, that policy recommendation was approved by the council today to encourage bitumen production locally in Nigeria. This will of course help to further diversify the economy and open another sub-sector of the extractive and hydro-carbon industry for local opportunities.

“We see a demand of 500,000 metric tonnes of bitumen locally per annum. So, we encourage those who can manufacture and produce bitumen locally to tap into this demand. We see the opportunity for thousands of jobs to be created directly if this is done. And government intends to give encouragement and support to all those who take up this opportunity.”

“We expect Kaduna Refinery to also raise its game by participating in this sub-sector of hydro-carbon industry.


COVID-19: Fear grips PTF members [Sun]

  • SGF, PTF members, ministers, WHO rep undergo tests after meeting with foreign minister

The Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 is in disarray as fear of contracting the novel Coronavirus grips members.

Multiple sources confirmed to Daily Sun last night that several members of the team who are also top government functionaries have besieged test centres in Abuja to ascertain their COVID-19 status, a development which has almost grounded government activities.

Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) and Chairman of PTF, Boss Mustapha, has already taken the test after coming in contact with Geofrey Onyeama, minister of foreign affairs who tested positive on Sunday.

Other members of the PTF including the national coordinator, Dr. Sani Aliyu, Ministers of Health, Osagie Ehanire; Aviation, Sirika Hadi; interior, Rauf Aregbesola; Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed and Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Services, Hajia Sadiya Farouq.

Others are the World Health Organisation acting Country Representative, Dr. Fiona Braka; Director-General, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu and Minister of Environment, Dr. Mohammad Abubakar.

Three journalists covering the PTF daily media briefings had earlier tested positive for the virus. Among the journalists are two reporters and an outside broadcast van engineer.

It was not immediately known if the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, would go for the test as he also came in contact with the SGF, who was at the Force headquarters where he participated in the decoration ceremony of some newly-promoted officers of the force.

Onyeama had on Sunday announced on his Twitter handle that he tested positive for the virus after his fourth test.

It was gathered that other members of the PTF, who had taken the tests.

The SGF was also said to have met with officials of the Central Bank of Nigeria at the CBN headquarters.

Spokesman in the SGF office, Mr. Willy Bassey, said he had no information on the PTF members’ testing.

However, Minister of Police Affairs, Muhammad Dingyadi, went into self isolation on Tuesday after coming in contact with the minister of foreign affairs.

Ekiti Governor, Kayode Fayemi, has also tested positive for the virus.

The governor disclosed this in his twitter handle, @kfayemi, yesterday, saying he had gone into self-isolation.

“I took my third COVID-19 test yesterday and it came back positive. I’m generally ok and I’m already self isolating at home and receiving the best of care from my medical team. I’m delegating critical tasks to my deputy, but will continue routine duty from home,” he said.

Fayemi, had on March 25, gone into self isolation after he came in contact with some persons found to be COVID-19 positive and offered himself to be tested by the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).

Fayemi, who then made the confirmation of his first isolation known in Ado Ekiti, through his Chief Press Secretary, Olayinka Oyebode, however, asked the people of the state not to be apprehensive about the development.

He said his going into self isolation, should not be misconstrued to mean that he already had the virus, saying it was just a precautionary measure. The result as at then came out negative.

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