FG hands over operation of skill acquisition centre to Borno Govt

The Federal Government has handed over the operation of its skills acquisition centre, located at Konduga, to the Borno government.

The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Labour and Employment, Dr Yerima Tarfa, said this at the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the ministry and the Borno government on Wednesday, in Abuja.

This is contained in a statement by Ms Patience Onuobia, Head, Press and Public Relations unit, in the ministry.

Onuobia quoted Tarfa as saying that the handing over the Centre to the state government was informed by the need to circumvent the security challenges posed by insurgency in the North-East region of the country.

The permanent secretary said that insecurity had stalled the operation and upgrading of the Vocational Training Skills Centre.

He said the Ministry of Labour and Employment and the Borno State government agreed to put the Centre into use, by the State taking over its operation.

Tarfa said that insurgency across the North-East region led to the decision by the Federal Government to collaborate with the end users of the Skills Acquisition Centre -the government and people of Borno State.

According to him, the Ministry of Labour and Employment decided to hand over its Skills Centre in Konduga, to the Borno State government to utilise, maintain, and put it to good use for the betterment of the state and Nigeria at large.

Tarfa said that the action served as part of the process of actualising the resolution of the Buhari’s administration.

“That is by curbing unemployment and youth restiveness through the establishment of skills centres nationwide.

“It will also encourage the acceptance of blue-collar jobs against the insistence of white-collar jobs, which are highly favoured by the youth,’’ he said.

He noted that the Federal Government would possibly sign MOU with other states, where its skills acquisition centres were located.

He stated that the overall intention of the exercise was to bring knowledge and capacity-building of Nigerian youths to the doorsteps of state governments.

The permanent secretary added that the skills acquisition centres would also help to unite the youths and make them more productive.

He also said that the Federal Government had procured pieces of equipment for the running of the Konduga Centre.

Tarfa assured the delegation from Borno that the Federal Government would continue to collaborate with the state, and give it the necessary support to make the centre a success.

Dr Babagana Mustapha, Borno State Commissioner for Higher Education, Science, Technology and Innovation, who signed for the state commended the Federal Government for the opportunity.

Mustapha, who led the delegation, said that the skills acquisition centre would help keep the youth of the state out of insurgency.

He sought Federal Government’s continued assistance, especially technical advice, in driving the project.


Ramadan: Pastor mobilises 50 Imans to preach to marketers against hike in price of commodities

As Ramadan approaches, Pastor Yohana Buru, the General Overseer of Christ Evengelica and life intervention Ministry, on Tuesday led 50 Imans to preach to marketers in Kaduna to bring down prices of commodities.

Buru said the campaign would assist in making some of the marketers to reduce price of the commodities and its will enable fasting Muslims buy its at affordable price.

According to him, every year ahead of Ramadan period, he normally kicks off this campaign in which he visits markets in Kaduna and talk to the marketers to help towards reducing the price of food stuff and other commodities.

He said the preaching is even more appropriate this year as Ramadan is coming amidst the general insecurity challenges, including banditry, kidnappings and the high cost of food stuff.

Pastor Buru said this is his 10th time of visiting many markets in Kaduna ahead of Ramadan in order to stress the need to cut down prices of goods to enable Muslims have access to them at affordable prices.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that some of the markets visited include, Sheik Gumi Central Market, Railway market, and Barnawa market, among others.


NUGA 2022 Match Day 3: Team UNIPORT ahead in Swimming

Team University of Port Harcourt (UNIPORT) led other institutions on Match Day Three of the swimming event in the ongoing 26th NUGA Games in Lagos.

It recorded eight gold, three silver and six bronze medals in the event held at the University of Lagos (UNILAG) Olympic Swimming Pool.

UNIPORT added another four gold, a silver and three bronze to the four gold, two silver and three bronze medals it won at the end of the Match Day Two in the event.

Nile University came second with six gold, five silver and five bronze medals while Ignatius Ajuru University of Education came third with two gold and two silver medals.

The hosts, University of Lagos, came fourth with four silver while the University of Ibadan occupied the fifth position with two silver.

Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, came sixth, with Benson Idahosa University, Benin, occupied the seventh position with one bronze.

A member of the victorious Team Port Harcourt, Ifeakachukwu Nmor, who won six gold to the admiration of the spectators, told NAN that he was far ahead of other swimmers in the Games.

“I had been a professional swimmer before I gained admission to UNIPORT, so, the competition here is just for me to enjoy myself.

“I have participated severally in many championships both in Nigeria and outside, so, the performance here is to warm myself up for a bigger challenge.

“I hope to step up my game for other challenge, but this NUGA has been a good show for me,” Nmor said.


Ikole-Ekiti youths send SOS to govt, as gunmen kidnap hotel manager

Youths in Ikole-Ekiti, Ikole Local Government Area of Ekiti on Tuesday charged the State Government for protection against kidnappers in their communities.

The youths made the appeal in a statement signed by Mr Toba Fatunla, the Coordinating President of Youth Associations in all the 25 communities in Ikole Local Government area.

Fatunla noted that the appeal was sequel to the alleged abduction of Mr Idowu Ajayi, the Manager of Downtown Lounge and Bar, Ikole-Ekiti, by gunmen on Monday night.

“Today again, another vibrant Ikole youth by name Idowu Ajayi was kidnapped at gun point along Ado-Ekiti-Ijesa-Isu-Ikole-Ekiti axis of the state.

“The spate of kidnapping in Ikole Local Government area is now very alarming and disheartening.

“We frown at this level of insecurity and we are calling on the state government to rise up to secure the lives of Ikole people.

“No meaningful development can be achieved in an unsecured environment.

“It is very condemnable that our communities are no longer safe and we are not happy with this development.

“We call on both the state and local governments to urgently swing into action and help us find our brother that was kidnapped.

“We equally urge the security agencies to be proactive in securing our lives,” he said.

Fatunla lamented that kidnapping of residents and indigenes of Ikole Local Government Area was on the increase.

He appealed to the government for urgent attention, noting that residents of the communities were having sleepless nights over activities of kidnappers.

According to him, the hotel manager was travelling from Ado-Ekiti to Ikole-Ekiti when he was allegedly stopped and pulled out of his vehicle to an unknown destination.

The state Police Public Relations Officer, Mr Sunday Abutu, did not answer calls nor respond to text messages sent to his mobile phone by NAN correspondent.

Business & Economy

Mines ministry contributes N7.8bn to GDP

The Ministry of Mines and Steel Development (MMSD) said on Monday that it contributed N7.8 billion to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2021.

The Director of Artisanal and Small Scale Mining (ASM) Department in the ministry, Mr Patrick Ojeka, made the disclosure in Abuja.

Ojeka said the N7.8 billion was realised by the ministry through its agencies and departments.

According to him, the Mining Cadastra Office (MCO), an agencies of the ministry, contributed substantially to the amount.

N recalls that MCO, at a news conference recently, revealed that it made N4.3 billion as revenue in 2021.

MCO is an autonomous agency of government saddled with the responsibility of managing and administering mineral titles.

Ojeka said that the ministry’s contribution to the GDP in 2021 was unprecedented compared to its past contributions.

“The ministry in its effort to put the sector in its rightful place came up with a Road Map, inaugurated by the former minister and incumbent Governor of Ekiti State, Dr Kayode Fayemi.

“The road map made the sector attractive to investors and has placed the sector on the path of growth and development.

“Fayemi also accessed N30 billion for the ministry. It was a great achievement; the fund helped to upscale the performance of the sector to a higher level,” he said.

The director said that the current ministers in the MMSD had also done well since they assumed duty, adding that the ministry had never contributed up to the amount to the GDP in the past.

According to him, the ministry will soon begin to capture the biometrics of more 2000 artisanal miners that registered in cooperatives across the country.

He said the essence of the biometrics capturing was to know their locations and monitor their operations.

“The biometrics will help to locate and apprehend artisanal miner that commit offence; it will help in locating where they are conducting mining operations.

“Currently, the ministry has formalised the operations of over 2000 artisanal miners that registered into different cooperatives. We want to go beyond formalisation; we want to have their biometrics.

“We have procured biometric equipment that will soon be deployed to the field for the exercise and we will issue them Identity Cards.

“We noticed that some artisanal miners have been formalised several times due to their movement from one field to another, but the biometrics will henforth prevent double formalisation.

“The Federal Government do not call artisanal miners ‘illegal miners;’ they are miners that are scratching the surface of the land to earn their living. We call them artisanal miners.

“As far as they have been formalised into cooperatives, they can access small scale mining licences from the MCO to conduct full mining operation,” he said.

Ojeka said that agreement had been reached with artisanal miners operating on tenament (land) that belong to mining investors to sell minerals mined on the tenament to the investors. (NAN)

Breaking news

OAU V-C: Ife indigenes protest, block major roads

All gates leading to the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife, are blocked by the protesting Ife indigenes over the appointment of the new Vice-Chancellor of the institution, Prof. Adebayo Bamire.

FELLOW PRESS reports that there was total vehicular obstruction as all roads leading to the university such as Sabo, Lagere, Enuwa, Sabo and Mayfair are blocked on Monday.

Ife indigenes expressed their displeasure over the new appointment, saying that an indigene of the ancient town could have been appointed instead.

They argued that it was unfair that none of their sons had been a substantive head of the institution since over 60 years of its establishment.

The protests broke out since March 17, when the Professor of Agricultural Economics, Bamire was announced as by the institution’s Governing Council.

Speaking on the issue, the President, Ife Development Board (IDB), Comrade Lawrence Awowoyin, appealed to Federal Government to intervene on the appointment of the new vice-chancellor for OAU, Ile-Ife.

Awowoyin said that appointing another non-Ife indigene as the V-C was an unfair act against the ancient town and its adjourning communities.

“Ife has competent and qualified candidate that can be appointed for the post, so we Ife community are not agreeing with the announcement at all.’’

The IDB president said that what happened during the appointment of Vice-Chancellor of University of Ibadan, Oyo State, “is repeating itself in Obafemi Awolowo University’’.

“It is an insult on us that after 61 years of OAU, they dimmed it unfit to appoint or to elect any of our sons. We are not particular about Ife, Ipetumodu, Origbo, Modakeke, but anywhere in the land.

“So, what I believe is that the selection was manipulated, it’s not the actual performance of the candidates they use to choose the right person.’’

The protesters stormed Enuwa, Sabo, Lagere, Mayfair and stopped at Campus gate with their placards inscribed as “No Ife, No VC in OAU’’, “Ife candidate merits it’’, “Give us OAU VC’’, among others.

The Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of Council, Chief Owelle Udoji, while announcing the new VC at a news conference had, however, maintained that the council had followed due process in the selection.

When contacted for reaction, the Public Relations Officer of the university, Mr Abiodun Olarewaju, declined comments.

As at the time of filing this report, all commercial buses in the ancient city of Ile-Ife are not working, while all markets are shut.

latest news Metro

Kaduna Govt declares 24-hour curfew in Jema’a, Kaura LGAs

The Kaduna State Government on Monday declared 24-hour curfew in Jema’a and Kaura Local Government Areas of Kaduna State.

The Commissioner for Internal Security and Home Affairs, Mr Samuel Aruwan, made the announcement in a statement issued in Kaduna.

Aruwan said following advice from security agencies, the Kaduna State Government declared the curfew in Jema’a and Kaura Local Government Areas with immediate effect.

“This is to assist the security agencies to stabilise the situation in the areas, save lives and property and enable the restoration of law and order,’’ he said.

He added that security agencies have full authorisation to enforce the curfew.

“Government appeals to all residents of Jema’a and Kaura LGAs to cooperate with the security agencies in the urgent task of restoring peace and upholding law and order.

“Government condemns the violence and all acts of lawlessness that have occurred in the area, “he said.

The commissioner said further updates would be issued when necessary.


Sen. Balogun reiterates support for gender bill

Senator Kola Balogun, representing Oyo South Senatorial District in the National Assembly, on Sunday, reiterated his support for the gender bill which recently suffered defeat at the National Assembly.

Balogun, who is the younger brother of the Olubadan of Ibadanland, Oba Lekan Balogun, reiterated his support for the gender bill while responding to a request made by Dupe Sobukola, the Chairperson of National Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ), Ogun State chapter, at the Alarere residence of the new Olubadan.

FELLOW PRESS reports that Sobukola had accompanied the Iyalode of Yorubaland, Chief Alaba Lawson, and other female chiefs across Yorubaland on a courtesy visit to the new Olubadan.

The NAWOJ boss used the opportunity of the visit to request the lawmaker to prevail on his colleagues to revisit the gender bill.

She described the gender bill as a product of intensive research on how there could be growth and development through women participation in politics.

Sen. Balogun urged the women folk to remain focused and use their numerical strength to bring about whatever change they desire in the polity.

The Senator said he believed in women and support whatever that would give them their dues in the polity.

“Some of us appreciate your roles in the polity and what your dues should be, but, we need the number to push through and that’s where the job comes back to you to scrutinize and push forward those that share your vision and mission.

Earlier, the Iyalode of Yorubaland, Chief Lawson, said the purpose of the visit was to felicitate the new Olubadan, whose emergence at this particular point in time is significant in the history of Ibadanland and Yorubaland in general.

She stressed that unity among the traditional rulers in Yorubaland should be encouraged.

Lawson, who doubles as the Iyalode of Egbaland, maintained that the team she led to the Olubadan was to show the oneness of all the women in Yorubaland.

Responding on behalf of Olubadan, Chief Amidu Ajibola commended the Iyalodes for the visit and promised that the Olubadan palace would be ever ready to respond to whatever request the women folk may bring towards the growth and development of the country.


Correctional centre promotes made-in-Nigeria goods – Official

The Nigerian Correctional Service says it is promoting made-in-Nigeria goods, produced by inmates in Lagos State to boost their income.

Chief Superintendent Rotimi Oladokun, the Service Public Relations Officer, Lagos command, made the disclosure in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos on Sunday.

Oladokun spoke on the sidelines of the third anniversary of Headford Foundation.

According to him, inmates undergo formal and informal trainings to enable them integrate properly into the society when they regain their freedom.

”This is where they make money to support their families and dependants outside.

”We have vocational skills where inmates learn tailoring, carpentry and masonary

“The uniform I am wearing was sown by an inmate for a fee because they earn income too.

“We also have over 800 inmates undergoing undergraduate studies, few are studying for PhD, some studying for Masters Degree Programmes and many others WAEC and JAMB,” he said.

The spokesperson said that the service created the waste to wealth initiatives for inmates to recycle waste and make money.

He said that inmates were also taught how to produce paints, adding that the centre could boast of an industry where its products are used locally to promote the country’s image.

He, however, congratulated Headfort Foundation for the Pro Bono services offered to indigent inmates which led to the release of over 150 of them.

On decongestion, Oladokun said that a multifaceted approach is being deployed to effect the change in the centre.

”From the correctional service, we are pushing for the non-custodial aspect where inmates do not neccessarilly have to come into the centre. You can give them community service.

”You can give parole, probation, restorative justice and other measures to prevent them from even coming in, in the first place,” he said.

The spokesperson added that the service had very good relationship with the Lagos State Ministry of Justice.


Dominant Chelsea ease into FA Cup last four

Chelsea secured their place in the English FA Cup semi-finals with a comfortable 2-0 victory at Middlesbrough on Saturday.

Boro overcame Manchester United and Tottenham to reach the last eight, but Thomas Tuchel’s Premier League side did not have such difficulties at the Riverside Stadium.

This was in spite of the chaos around the Russian-owned club with a quickfire sale due.

Romelu Lukaku needed just 15 minutes to open the scoring before Hakim Ziyech added a second in the first half.

Boro managed only one shot on target, which came in the 85th minute, in response.

Chelsea will now wait to find out the identity of their semi-final opponents in Sunday’s last-four draw.

The ties are set to take place across April 16 and 17 at Wembley Stadium.

The rest of the round’s fixtures are on Sunday.

Mason Mount’s early cross just escaped the despairing dive of Christian Pulisic at the back post, but Chelsea were ahead shortly after.

A sweeping move out from defence offered space down the right for Mount, who whipped across for Lukaku to tap in.

Ziyech doubled the lead 16 minutes later when he finished into the bottom-left corner from outside the area following an offload from Mount.

Mount’s second assist of the game took him to 50 goal involvements for Chelsea across all competitions, while Anfernee Dijksteel cleared off the line from Lukaku before the break.

Folarin Balogun wastefully curled over and Duncan Watmore missed the target in similar fashion as Chris Wilder’s side ramped up the intensity early in the second half.

Joe Lumley then denied a flicked Timo Werner header from Mount’s in-swinging free-kick and Edouard Mendy turned away from Watmore as Chelsea eased to victory.


Inter Milan hand Serie A title rivals further impetus

Inter Milan’s hopes of a second straight Scudetto took another hit as they were held 1-1 by Fiorentina in Milan.

The reigning Serie A champions have now won just two of their past nine league matches after their stuttering form continued on Saturday.

Coach Simone Inzaghi had suggested Inter Milan have deserved more from recent performances.

But he may struggle to argue his case following a match in which Fiorentina initially lacked cutting edge but merited their lead through Lucas Torreira.

Although Denzel Dumfries soon responded with a leveller, it was not followed by a winner.

It means Inter Milan have taken just four points from their past four games at San Siro.

The Nerazzurri knew they needed a result after Napoli’s win earlier in the day, yet they were on the back foot until late in the first half.

That was when Pietro Terracciano had to be sharp off his line to block from Edin Dzeko.

Terracciano was grateful for an offside flag against Lautaro Martinez after Dumfries’ deflected shot gave the forward a simple finish.

An incisive move early in the second half saw Fiorentina in front instead.

Gaetano Castrovilli fizzed a pass into the feet of Nico Gonzalez, who skipped past Ivan Perisic and squared for Torreira to score his second goal in as many matches.

Inter Milan were behind for just over five minutes before Perisic floated a cross towards the back post, where Dumfries arrived to nod in.

A penalty kick awarded in Martinez’s favour was overturned following a VAR check as the hosts were frustrated again.

Inter Milan ultimately needed Samir Handanovic to produce a vital stoppage-time save from Jonathan Ikone to preserve a point.


Nigeria must promote its national interest to be globally accepted – Gambari

Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari, says Nigeria must promote its national interest positively to be accepted globally.

Gambari made the call on Saturday in Abuja at the book launch of a Nigerian Former Ambassador, Mohammed Ibrahim titled “With Heart and Might: 33 Years In the Nigerian Diplomatic Service.”

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the book, a memoir of Ibrahim’s life as a Foreign Service Officer highlights some of the challenges in the Foreign Service, Nigeria’s Foreign policies with recommendations for improvements.

Gambari commended the author for the initiative, urging Foreign Policy experts to articulate Nigeria’s Foreign Policy to promote the country’s interests, stands on global issues which must be interdream with national policies.

“Foreign policy is not just about theories but an external projection of the values we have as a nation, it is also a promotion of our national interest and our world views.

“Therefore, we need to continue to struggle to build a national consensus behind the articulation design, defense of our national interest in the new millennium.

“Which is based on the promotion of peace and security, sustainable development as well as the development and democratization at home and abroad.

“In this regards, Nigeria must continue to establish both in principle and in practice that it is no longer enough to see what the country can do for others.

“But what we can do together with others in the pursuit of our common interest.

“It is our duty at the diplomacy to persuade others that it is in their own interest to try to support us with what we promote and propose as our national interest.

“If you do not agree with this, just look at what Israel has managed to do with the United States, they made their interest the interest of the United States in the articulation and promotion.

“Because you are adding to your prestige when other countries adopt as their interest what you decide.

“And, that is why you have to recruit the best and the brightest to not only define your interest but let other people define their interest in your own interest,” Gambari,” said.

He said that building African Institutions like the Lake Chad Basin Commission, ECOWAS, the African Union, African Development Bank had become a distinct feature of the Buhari’s Administration’s Foreign Policy and our Country’s diplomacy.

“The biggest asset we have as a nation today is the credit and credibility that President Muhammadu Buhari enjoys in our subregion, in Africa, the middle East, and the world at large.

“So, how do we take advantage and try to institutionalize that credit and credibility which he has brought to our nation even beyond his tenure.

“Because he has warned that come 2023 after may he is going to lead by example.

“So, when he frowns at extension of term limits, when he frowns at amendments of the constitution to suit particular persons in office, he is leading by example,” Gambari said.

Gov. Babagana Zulum of Borno said that all great nations have clearly defined foreign policies, which entail the Defence of the territorial integrity of the nation.

Zulum who was represented by his Chief of Staff, Isa Marte said that defined Foreign policies also entails the protection of the interests of her citizens both within and outside the country.

He, however, lamented the lack of national passion and commitment in the Countries Foreign Policy Foray in present days.

This he noted were some of the challenges highlighted by the writer which should be urgently addressed as a nation.

“For the first three decades of her independence, apart from the protection of Nigeria’s territorial integrity, there was no foreign policy issue that Nigeria had pursued with unrelenting commitment.

“As the fight against colonialism in Africa and ending Apartheid in South Africa.

“Since successfully bringing these inhuman vices against Africa and the Blackman to an end, Nigeria has not taken up any foreign policy foray with the same national passion and commitment.

“This continues to be one of the major challenges of our foreign policy,” Zulum said.

Ibrahim told NAN that the book sought to spur young Foreign Service Officer to use their position to take Nigeria back to its place of prestige in the Sub-region, continental and global pedestal.

NAN reports that also present at the event was the Emir of Kano, Ado Bayero, Minister of State, Foreign Affairs, Amb. Zubairu Dada, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Gabriel Aduda, retired Ambassadors, amongst others.


Messi hit by flu and must miss PSG trip to Monaco

Lionel Messi’s stop-start Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) career has stalled again, with the superstar forward ruled out of Sunday’s game at Monaco by illness.

The Argentinian was absent from training on Saturday due to flu, and PSG have confirmed he is out of their plans for the fixture.

PSG came into the weekend with a 15-point lead over nearest rivals Marseille and Nice at the top of Ligue 1.

Already this means Messi remains on course to land a major trophy in his first season at the Parc des Princes.

However, the former FC Barcelona captain, who scored a record 672 goals for the Catalan giants, has struggled to make the impact he would have wanted in the French capital.

To date, he has only two Ligue 1 goals from 18 appearances, although he has managed 10 assists and hit the woodwork eight times in the competition.

Injuries and illness have hampered Messi’s progress, and now PSG will hope his latest absence is a short one.

Without Messi, PSG still have a substantial attacking threat.

Kylian Mbappe, who began his career at Monaco, has scored nine goals in eight games against his former employers in Ligue 1, netting more only against Dijon (11).

Indeed, Mbappe has scored PSG’s last five goals against Monaco in the competition.

Head coach Mauricio Pochettino is set to take charge of his 50th game as a coach in Ligue 1.

He averages 2.29 points per game in the French top-flight.

Only his two predecessors at PSG, Unai Emery and Thomas Tuchel, have a better points-per-game record in the history of the league.

This is based on a win being worth three points, and both are with 2.37 points per game.


FG gives $1m to WFP for victims of humanitarian crisis

The Federal Government has donated one million dollars through the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to the World Food Programme (WFP).

The donation was to address various forms of humanitarian crises in the country in 2021.

This is contained in a statement on Saturday in Abuja, jointly signed by Halima Oyelade of the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Godfrey Alozie of ECOWAS and Kelechi Onyemaobi of WFP.

The WFP received the sum of one million dollars in 2021 from the government of Nigeria as part of an ECOWAS humanitarian assistance for victims of violent conflicts in North-West and North-East Region of Nigeria.

The Federal Government accordingly, sought the collaboration of WFP in Nigeria to apply the fund for alleviating food and nutrition needs in Katsina, Zamfara and Borno.

“The programme targeted 840 food insecure households (some 4,196 persons) in Zamfara, Katsina and Borno with food assistance.

“The target beneficiaries receive an average cash transfer of NGN 27,000 in their prepaid bank cards or WFP SCOPE cards every month, to buy their preferred food from local markets.

“Beneficiaries are encouraged to buy a wide range of local nutritious foods from their preferred shops. Cash transfers have an additional advantage of stimulating local markets and agricultural production.

“These are done to prevent acute malnutrition in children in the first 1,000 days of their lives; the programme also provides nutrition assistance to children 6-23 months old and to pregnant and breastfeeding women from vulnerable and food insecure households.

“Some 14,070 children and 1,932 pregnant/breastfeeding women receive specialised nutritious food in the three project states,’’ they said.

In addition to providing life-saving food and nutrition assistance to vulnerable families, WFP is also using the donation to build the resilience of the households in the conflict-affected states of Borno, Adamawa, Yobe and Katsina.

The project would provide milling machines and training support to 603 returnees from Cameroon and displaced rural women to support them in generating some income to sustain their livelihoods.

The statement quoted Hajiya Sadiya Umar Farouq, the Minister of humanitarian affairs, disaster management and social development as saying: “This project has provided my ministry the unique opportunity of showcasing best practices of partnership and collaboration in delivering humanitarian interventions.

“It has equally advanced the efforts of the Nigerian government in touching the lives of a critical mass of Nigerians in vulnerable situations,’’ Sadiya said.

Similarly, Dr Siga Fatima Jagne, Commissioner for Social Affairs and Gender, ECOWAS commission, said the commission in strong collaboration with the government of Nigeria and the WFP was providing humanitarian support to Nigerians in need.

“We will continue to build the resilience of our people to bridge the humanitarian-development nexus across the West African region for a prosperous ECOWAS community.”

In same vein, Mr Ronald Sibanda, WFP Representative and Country Director, said the contribution of the government of Nigeria, through ECOWAS, came at a very critical point as conflict and impact of climate change continued to drive hunger in the country.

“In these affected states, persistent conflict, climate shocks, high food prices and reduced household purchasing power undermine people’s ability to feed themselves.

“WFP welcomes this contribution which underpins efforts to continue providing life-saving food and nutrition support and livelihoods assistance to those most in need in the conflict-affected states,’’ Sibanda said.


Communal crisis: 8 die, thousands displaced in C/River – NEMA

The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) has confirmed that eight persons died in a communal clash between Alesi community in Ikom local government area and their neighbours, Ochon community in Obubra local government area.

Mr Godwin Tepikor, South-South Zonal Coordinator of NEMA, made the confirmation during an on-the-spot assessment of the communal crisis in both communities on Saturday.

Tepikor said that the crisis which occurred on March 7, 2022, broke out as a result of a land dispute between the two neighbouring communities.

He told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on the sideline of the assessment that no fewer than 2,008 persons were affected and had been displaced from their ancestral homes.

“The crisis that erupted between Ochon and Alesi communities in Obubra and Ikom local government areas claimed the lives of eight persons, four were injured on both sides and over 2,008 displaced.

“Several buildings and household property were destroyed in the process.

“The affected persons were scattered amongst neighbouring communities within the local government areas of the state,” he said.

NAN reports that officials from the Nigerian Army and members of the affected communities were also in the team during the assessment.


Workers’ strike paralyses Niger healthcare delivery system

The ongoing industrial action embarked upon by Niger State and local government staffs, has paralysed healthcare delivery system of the State.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) correspondent who monitor the situation in the Minna, Suleja, and Kontagora general hospitals, reports that patients at the hospitals in Minna and the neonatal maternal hospital were evicted from the hospitals due to the biting effect of the strike.

Relations of patients who could afford the cost have transferred them to private hospitals who are currently making brisk businesses over the strike that entered the second week.

For Families who could not afford the exorbitant medical bills charge by private hospitals, some have moved their sick relations to Federal medical centre, Bida, for medical attention.

For those who could not afford the cost of moving their sick ones to the only available Federal medical facility in the state or afford the cost of seeking medical attention at the private hospital, they have decided to patronise the traditional healing home or herbal centres.

Speaking on the difficulty the ongoing strike is inflicting on residents of Minna and other major towns in the state, a senior Healthcare provider at Minna General Hospital, who asked not to be named, said the skeletal services provides by Management staff is not impacting on the need of patients and their relations.

According to her, “patients are suffering especially those who cannot afford the services of private practitioners.

“The government should do the needful in other to restore normal health services across the State in Government hospitals.

The Source further noted that some health officials will not want the strike to end soon because they are smiling to the banks.

“Some of colleagues will not want this strike to end soon because the fact remains that some of them are the proprietors of some of the Private hospitals currently making brisk business.

Meanwhile, organised Labour in Niger has transmitted its two-week warning strike to an indefinite strike action following the breakdown of negotiations with government officials.

The State government last week shifted ground by ceding to some of the demand like the refund of the 30 per cent salary deductions in 2020.

Gov. Abubakar Bello had agreed to commence the payment of the suspended retired Civil Servants gratuities by accepting to set aside N200 million Monthly to liquidate the outstanding arrears.

However, the major area of contention is the percentage payment of Local government workers salaries which Labour insisted must be restored.

However, the situation took a new dimension on Wednesday when organised labour issued a statement calling on workers to immediately embark on an indefinite strike action following reports that local government areas are still paying percentage salaries to their workers.

In a statement, signed by Comrade Yakubu Garba, Chairman, Nigeria Labour congress, Niger state council, labour ordered workers to commence the indefinite strike action.

He said the directive is sequel to the observation that Local government Areas of Niger state are adamant to meet Labour’s demand.

“It has come to the notice of organised labour that 70 per cent of February, 2022, salary was paid to workers of Rafi local government Areas of Niger on March 15th, 2022.

“The percentage payment was neither consented to by civil servants in Rafi LGA nor representative of the union”.

According to him, the action of the council negates the progress made in the ongoing negotiations between the organised labour and representatives of Niger state Government headed by the Deputy Governor.

Organized labour said the strike will remain in force until salaries of workers in the 25 Local government Areas are paid in 100 per cent gross component.


Jigawa: Police decry incessant car theft, urge owners to be cautious

The Police Command in Jigawa has advised car owners to be cautious following the incessant cases of car theft in the state.

The Spokesman of the Command, ASP Lawan Shiisu, gave the advice in Dutse on Saturday, warning residents who own cars, particularly in Dutse, the state capital, that some unscrupulous elements have devised means of stealing cars in the state.

“The Jigawa State Police Command wishes to draw the attention of members of the public on the recent rise in theft of motor vehicles by a group of unidentified miscreants within Dutse metropolis and other places.

“People who own motor vehicles are advised to be cautious as these unscrupulous elements have deviced ways to dispossess people of their motor vehicles sometimes from their residential apartments where vehicles are parked,” Shiisu said.

He explained that the command, as one of its cardinal duties of protecting lives and property, would continue to remind the general public, especially car owners, to act with keen interest, device strategies of securing their vehicles.

This, the spokesperson said will include installing tracking devices, parking vehicles in a secured environment, using commercial parking spaces by those with no adequate space to park their vehicles.

Others are using improvised locally-made padlocks, automatic sensor keys, among other means, to secure heir vehicles.

According to him, the command would continue to finetune its crime fighting strategies with a view to maintaining relative peace and security in the state.

“The command, under the able leadership of Commissioner of Police Aliyu Sale, is doing everything possible to clamp down on those undesirable elements and ensure that those arrested face the full wrath of the law,” Shiisu added.

Nigeria news

FG to delete electoral act section barring political appointees from contesting elections

Malami makes further clarifications on DCP Abba Kyari
The Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami, has said that the federal government will effect a judgment which ordered the removal of section 84 (12) of the amended Electoral Act, 2022.

A Federal High Court sitting in Umuahia, Abia State, on Friday March 18, nullified the Section, saying it is a violation of the provisions of the Constitution.

Speaking on the development, Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), said the section will be deleted.

A statement released by his media aide Dr. Umar Jibrilu Gwandu, reads; “The Office of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice will accordingly give effect to the court judgement in line with the dictates of the law and the spirit of the judgement.

“The judgement of the court will be recognized by the Government printers in printing the Electoral Act.

“The Act will be gazetted factoring the effect of the judgement into consideration and deleting the constitutionally offensive provision accordingly.

“The provision of Section 84(12) of the Electoral Act 2022 is not part of our law and will be so treated accordingly.

“This is in line with the dictates of chapter 7, Part 4, Section 287 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) on enforcement of decisions that makes it a point of duty and obligation on all authorities and persons to have the judgment of the federal High Court, among others, to be enforced.”


I’ll be APC transformational leader – Sen. Musa

An APC National Chairmanship aspirant, Sen. Sani Musa, has declared his readiness to be a transformational leader if elected at the party’s forthcoming national convention on March 26.

A statement from his Media Aide, Nasir Mohammed, said in Abuja on Saturday that Musa made the assertion while submitting his completed nomination and expression of interest forms at the headquarters of the party in Abuja, on Friday.

Musa, one of the aspirants for the top party job is the incumbent senator representing Niger East Senatorial District.

Answering questions from reporters at the event, the frontline chairmanship aspirant espoused the need for a generational shift in the leadership trajectory of the party, as well as in key areas of governance .

He said the larger section of the leadership ecosystem requires injection of a new vision, new ideas and new strategies.

“Nigeria is at crossroads of delayed progress in our race to greatness as a nation because there are yawning gaps in areas needing transformation,” Musa said.

According to Mohammed, the aspirant spoke with conviction and confidence that he will become the next APC chair.

“Sen. Sani Musa believes that providing APC transformational leadership, if elected, will enhance the chances of the nation benefiting from such proposition and such an opportunity,” the media aide, pointed out.

It could be recalled that Musa is among the three aspirants who had submitted their forms for the March 26 convention.

Mohammed added that the huge crowd that accompanied Musa to submit his forms showed the optimism of the younger generation.

“They seemed to overwhelmingly support a young , intelligent and upwardly mobile aspirant and it would not be unusual to say the senator from Niger has the momentum in his favour,” he added.

“I am requesting for the endorsement of the 80 per cent youths that make up the 42 million registered members of the party.

“This is because you know I am one of you and will represent you well,” the aspirant appealed to the party members nationwide.

latest news

FG investing heavily on road construction, Health – Ministers

The Minister of State, Works and Housing, Mr Mu’azu Sambo, says the Federal Government is investing heavily on road construction and rehabilitation to curb Road Traffic Crashes (RTCs) across the country.

Sambo said this during the courtesy visit of the United Nations Secretary General’s Special Envoy for Road Safety to Nigeria, Mr Jean Todt on Friday in Abuja.

He said Nigeria is commited to the conventions signed, adding that safety on Nigeria roads would continue to be given utmost priority.

This he said would be achieved by ensuring that road signs are visible and symbols allocated clearly.

“The FG has made safety of lives and properties of the people major priority that is why road constructions and rehabilitation are ongoing.

“We will not relent in ensuring safety on our roads and also to urge motorists to drive carefully and safely to stay alive, ” he said.

Speaking, the Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire said that the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) recently signed with the private sector and other stakeholders would help Nigerians access care during emergencies at no cost.

FELLOW PRESS reports that the Ministry of Health signed a MoU for the operation of a National Emergency Medical Service and Ambulance System (NEMSAS).

NEMSAS is the operational arm of the third disbursement gateway, designated in the National Health Act with 5 per cent of the Basic Healthcare Provision Fund.

This is for emergency medical treatment and meant to provide urgent health service to citizens at the moment and place of great health distress.

Ehanire said that emergency medical service was delivered along three operational pathways namely coverage of highways and roads; coverage of emergency within states and Federal Capital Territory.

“Also working in collaboration with respective authorities and involving domestic, workplace-related, assault and sports incidents.”

Earlier, the Minister of Transportation, Mr Rotimi Amaechi, said that one of the topmost priority of the government was to keep the people alive, saying that this was to ensure the roads were safe always.

Amaechi said that the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) had been paying special attention to the people’s safety, adding that this led to the award presented in Ghana recently.

” I think the FRSC is doing their work and that is the reason they won the award for Nigeria in Accra and I want to congratulate them for the award.

“This award means they have to do more to reduce the number of carnages and keep Nigerians and get road users to behave properly,” he said.

The Corps Marshal, FRSC, Dr Boboye Oyeyemi, appreciated the UN for thier contribution to the issues related to crashes in Nigeria and for the award given to Nigeria for its efforts in curbing road carnage.

Oyeyemi acknowledged that the FRSC has been getting support from the United Nations Secretary-General Special Envoy in the areas of capacity development and the implementation of the conventions.

Also speaking, the UN Special Envoy emphasised the importance of road safety, especially in a populous country such as Nigeria.

Todt said that raising more awareness on the need to prevent roads accidents in Nigeria and Africa should be considered.

“I commend the work being done by the FRSC and the strong commitment of the Nigerian government towards improving road safety in the country, “he said.

Todt reiterated that the UN would continue to support such endeavours, urging FRSC not to give up on their hard work in saving lives and properties.

“Road safety is an important issue and it comes at a huge cost. We cannot accept fatalities and injuries. As an agency, you have strong responsibilities and should understand the needs of the people.

“If you need any help or support, it will be a privilege for us to help especially when I see your work and dedication, we believe this fatalities will be reduced drastically in Nigeria, “he said.


2022 NUGA: Team UniLag talks tough ahead of games

The University of Lagos (UniLag), the host institution for the 26th Nigeria University Games Association (NUGA), has reassured that Team UnILag would ‘host-to-win’ the games holding from March 19 to March 26.

The officials and athletes of Team UniLag, said on Friday that the hosts were well prepared for a `memorable’ NUGA games.

The Chairman, Local Organising Committee (LOC) NUGA 2022, Joseph Awoyinfa, told NAN in Lagos that the host university would feature 382-strong contingent for the all university games fiesta.

“We are fired up to win the games and not just to host alone. We have 382 strong squad who have been training hard to bring glory to the university.

“We are on the path to host and win the NUGA 2022 because other universities will be presenting lower number of athletes compared to our numbers, so our numerical strength should be to our advantage,” he said.

The Chief Coach of Athletics, Team UniLag, Funmi Otegbeye, also said that the athletes were going for the gold in all the categories as soon as the games gets under way.

“The athletes are good to go, given the number of trainings and efforts we have put in place, we have an advantage because our squad is made up of young talented individuals.

“Among the Team UniLag, we also have a national champion in the 110 hurdles, Oyeniyi Abejoye, he is a quality addition to the team as well.

“We also expect other athletes in various track and field events to go for nothing but the gold in their respective categories,” she said.

For National record holder in 110 hurdles, Oyeniyi Abejoye, “it is gold or nothing as the games beckons”.

“I am presently running a Masters programme in Business Education at UNILAG and at the same time participating in the NUGA.

“Sure, I have an edge over other athletes being the national champion, but that does not mean that I have not been training well as well.

“For the 110 hurdles, it is gold medal because I am also setting my eyes on other targets aside the NUGA games,” he said.

Yewande Johnson, a 100m, 200m and 4×100m athlete, also told NAN that the spirit in the camp was “high enough to sweep the medals table”.

“We are encouraged to do our best during the games and our spirit is high. Everyone has a target which is gold medal.

“The game has suffered many postponements, and now, it’s time to show the world what we are made of, we really appreciate the support from the management and we expect more as well,” she said.

The Chief Coach of the Football team, Dare Semore, said that the male soccer team had prepared well ahead of the games.

“We have had series of friendly games and we won most of our games including the one we played against a league playing side Maryland FC.

“We won the game by 2-0, while we have also won six out of our seven friendly matches. It is a plus for us as we expect to play against other teams

“Our football team is ready to defeat others and importantly we want to have a gold medal in the football event of the NUGA 2022,” he said.

NAN reports that team UniLag came fourth with nine gold medals at the 25th edition of the games hosted by the University of Agriculture, Makurdi.

The University of Port Harcourt, which won the 2017 edition with 70 gold medals are the defending champions.

The Ahmadu Bello University came second with 11 gold, while Benson Idahosa University came third with 10 gold medals at the 25th edition of the games.

According to the organisers, about 10,000 student-athletes and officials from 136 universities across the country are expected to participate in 17 different events during the competition.

The events for the 2022 NUGA are football; athletics; badminton; hockey; cricket; chess; judo; swimming; karate; squash; handball; taekwondo; tennis; table tennis; volleyball; basketball; and boxing.

Breaking news

Obiano undergoing interrogation in Abuja – EFCC

Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) says former Gov. Willie Obiano of Anambra is currently in its custody undergoing interrogation after his arrest on Thursday.

Head of Media and Publicity of EFFC, Mr Wilson Uwujaren, said this in on Friday in Abuja.

He said that Obiano, who was arrested on Thursday at Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos, was brought to Abuja on Friday morning.

The EFCC spokesman said that the former governor had not been released, as being speculated in some sections of the media.

“The former governor is currently in our custody undergoing interrogation, and I cannot say exactly when he will be released. I don’t know how long the exercise will take.

“All I can tell you now is that he is still in EFCC’s custody in Abuja,” he said.

Uwujaren, however, said that he was not aware of the arrest of the wife of the former governor, Mrs Ebelechukwu Obiano, as being speculated in some sections of the media.

NAN recalls that Obiano was arrested by EFCC on Thursday night, hours after handing over to the new Anambra Governor, Prof. Chukwuma Soludo.


ASUU strike: BUK directs students to vacate hostels

Authorities of the Bayero University Kano (BUK) have directed all students residing in its campuses to vacate their hostels on or before March 20 for their own security.

The directive is contained in an official bulletin issued in Kano by the Information and Publication Secretary of the institution, Mr Bala Abdullahi, addressed to the students.

Abdullahi said that the decision followed the extension of the ongoing warning strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) by another two months.

“The meeting of the principal officers of the university held on March 14 directed that all students residing in the campuses vacate the hostels.

“The students should equally note that the management will as from the said date, suspend the provision of all municipal services in the hostels.

“That is, in order to forestall any unforeseen act of criminality, as well as, its attendant consequences,” he said.

Abdullahi also said that the management had also suspended the students’ on-campus job scheme until the resumption of full academic activities.


CAAF to propel African clubs to retain world cup — Official

The Confederation of African Amputee Football (CAAF) has said that it would collaborate with the four African representatives at the forthcoming World Amputee Football, to ensure that an African club-side retained the cup.

Mr Suleiman Isah, second vice president, CAAF disclosed this on Friday in Minna.

Isah said that Angola, Liberia, Morocco and Tanzania would represent Africa at the tournament scheduled for October 1 to 9, 2022 in Turkey.

“The CAAF is doing everything possible to ensure that the World Amputee Football tournament coming up this year in Turkey would be impactful to African clubs representing us.

“The current champion is Angola, but we want to create an enabling environment for any of the African countries to retain the world cup.

He said that CAAF would provide every necessary assistance to the clubs to ensure that they achieved success during the tournament.

World News

U.S. sanctions Belgian trader for illicit Congo gold exports

The United States imposed sanctions on Belgian trader, Alain Goetz and several companies, for illegally exporting gold from the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Goetz and his company African Gold Refinery (AGR), a major metals processor on the continent, illicitly exported gold worth hundreds of millions of dollars from Congo.

The U.S. Treasury Department said in a statement late on Thursday.

It said, the illicit gold trade financed numerous armed groups in the region and undermined Congo’s stability, noting that gold was the largest source of income for armed militias in eastern Congo.

More than 90 per cent of Congo’s gold was smuggled to neighbouring countries such as Uganda and Rwanda, where it was processed and exported, mainly to the United Arab Emirates, the statement said.

Goetz and his main Uganda-based company AGR, along with eight other business entities linked to him, were accused of contributing to the conflict in the region by not questioning the origin of the gold shipments.

The U.S. said about 130 different armed groups were active in eastern Congo, involved in the illegal gold trade through smuggling, exploitation of miners and extortion.

“Treasury has been very clear: global gold markets, at every step of the supply chain, must engage in responsible sourcing and conduct supply-chain due diligence,” said the statement.

This occurred under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, Brian E Nelson said.

The sanctions block all property and interests in property in the United States.

U.S. individuals and entities were also prohibited from doing business with Goetz and the companies.


Osinbajo tasks stakeholders on collaborative border governance

Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, Nigeria’s Vice President, has tasked border managers to imbibe the mentality of collective responsibility to enhance effective border governance in West Africa and Africa in general.

Osinbajo, who is also the Chairman of the National Boundary Commission (NBC), gave the charge in a speech to the National Workshop on the African Union Integrated Border Governance Strategy (AUBGS) and the African Union Convention on Cross Border Cooperation on Thursday, in Abuja.

The Workshop with the theme, “Towards a secured, prosperous and integrated borders’’ was organised by the NBC, with the support of the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ), ECOWAS and AU.

He said that the ECOWAS was considered one of the most advanced regional economic community in Africa and it had put in place a wide range of mechanisms for securing the region and fostering economic cooperation.

Osinbajo emphasized that in this regard, ECOWAS established a cross border support programme, adding that Nigeria was the first country to inaugurate its national platform for ECOWAS cross border cooperation.

“The newly adopted cross border cooperation support programme would cut across the 15 member states of ECOWAS with new trans boundary corridors to include among others Ghana, Togo, Benin, Nigeria, Niger and others.

“The construction of a multinational highway from Enugu to Bamenda in Cameroon, through a border crossing in Cross River is a link between Nigeria and the Central African sub-region and this is a clear demonstration of Nigeria’s commitment to improve trade and investment in Africa.

“The corridor would link up to Mombasa in Kenya covering the East African sub-region thereby connecting three out of the five African sub-regions.

“It is imperative to stress that the work of securing our territorial borders is a collective responsibility; all hands must be on deck accordingly.

“However, we will continue to emphasize our gate way states in the promotion of peace and security,’’ Osinbajo said.

According to the Vice president, it was equally important to engage the border communities and the traditional local authorities at the grassroots level in the translation of governance into complete actions.

“ Border land development and community engagement is considered as the fifth pillar of African border strategy’’.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Osinbajo was represented at the event by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Geoffrey Onyeama.

Meanwhile, Surv. Adamu Adaji, Director General of NBC, in his address of welcome, said Nigeria shared both land and maritime boundaries with Benin, Chad, Niger, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Sao Tome and Principe and Ghana.

Adaji stressed that borders played a central role in economic development and the national security of a nation.

“While borders are considered as peripheral from a national perspective they are, however, the point of contact between contiguous nations from an international standpoint.

“Nigeria’s foreign relation is centred on national interest and the focus of this interest is security, broadly defined to include, among other things, the challenges of nation-building and economic progress,’ Adaji said.

He appreciated the German government and other stakeholders for all their support to NBC to deliver on its mandate.

Also speaking, Mr Ludwig Kirchner, the GIZ’ s ECOWAS Cluster Coordinator, said it was an honour for the Germany government to assist in border development in Africa by bringing Africa’s national policy to the local level.

According to him, the 13 years of supporting AU and member states has taught the GIZ that the resilience of border communities was important for sustainability.

“Strengthening border communities would also strengthen border security.’’

Also, Noimot Salako-Oyedele, Deputy Governor of Ogun, who spoke on behalf of all the Deputy governors from states with international borders, said the challenges of border communities were not normally brought to the front burner.

“The policies which affect the micro economy of the country sometimes have devastating effects on these border communities and leave them at a loss. Sometimes, they feel they are in a no man’s land.

“We, the deputy governors of border states in Nigeria want to call on the security agencies and the agencies that manage the borders to look at these communities as their project and partners.

“They should not look at them as people that are necessarily working against the interest of government. But to have an understanding of the challenges that these community faced,’’ Salako-Oyedele said

NAN reports that the workshop attracted officials from the Presidency, SGF’s office, Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Investment, Justice among others.

World News

Zelensky says Ukraine still holds key areas

Ukraine still holds key areas of the country which Russian forces are trying to take, President Volodymyr Zelensky asserted, weeks into Russia’s sustained assault.

Ukrainian troops responded to every attack by Russian units, said Zelensky in a video message published on Telegram on Friday.

Zelensky said residents in cities like Mariupol in the south, Kharkiv in the east and Chernihiv in the north, which are besieged by Russian troops, would not be left in the lurch.

“From the army to the church, everyone was doing everything they can for the Ukrainian people.

“You will be free,” the president said.

He also thanked U.S. President, Joe Biden, for his new and effective help.

Zelensky promised entrepreneurs relief such as less red tape and interest-free loans during the armed conflict.

Meanwhile, there were indications that the bombed theatre in the besieged Ukrainian city of Mariupol may have contained even more people than previously thought.

Serhiy Taruta, Ukrainian member of parliament, said at least 1,300 people may have been sheltering in the building when it was bombed on Wednesday.

Taruta said the claim was based on the accounts of people who had been inside and had since left Mairupol.

Until now, city authorities had assumed that around 1,000 people had sought protection there.

According to Olga Stefanishyna, Ukrainian parliamentarian, around 130 civilians were rescued from the theatre on Thursday.

The exact number of people killed and injured remains unclear, she said.

According to Ukrainian sources, the building was largely destroyed by a targeted Russian bombing on Wednesday.

Russia, in turn, blamed the Ukrainian nationalist Azov regiment for the heavy explosion.


Police nab woman, 38, over arms, ammunition smuggling

The Police on Thursday said they have arrested a 38-year-old female suspect over arms and ammunition smuggling from Plateau to different terrorists’ camps in Kaduna, Katsina, Zamfara and other parts of the country.

The Acting Force Public Relations Officer (FPRO), CSP Olumuyiwa Adejobi, said this during a media briefing in Abuja.

He said the suspect was arrested in January at Saminaka, along Jos Expressway by operatives attached to the Police Command in the state.

Adejobi said the suspect was intercepted while conveying the items in a white Toyota Car with Registration number APP 970 XE from plateau to Kaduna State for delivery.

The Police spokesman said items recovered from the suspect were eight locally-made AK-revolver guns, SMG riffles and 400 rounds of AK-47 live ammunition.

He said another suspect had also been arrested by the police over transportation of AK-47 rifles and live ammunition from Kaduna State to Taraba.

Adejobi said the suspect had confessed to getting the arms and ammunition from a fabricator, currently at large, and had sold many to different criminals in their various camps.

He said a total of 1,500 AK-47 live ammunitions were recovered from the suspects, adding that efforts are being intensified by the police to get the fabricator arrested.

The police spokesman said a total 30 suspects, involving 14 cases, were arrested over offences of conspiracy, armed robbery, kidnapping, car theft, culpable homicide, unlawful possession of prohibited firearms, receiving stolen goods and forgery.

He said 21 AK-47 riffles, SMG riffles, 2,200 live ammunition of various types, 14 AK-47 magazines, 10 assorted charms, bullet proof vests and a cash of N1.8 million were recovered from the suspects.

Adejobi said other items recovered were 10 fake vehicle number plates, 25 fake vehicles chassis numbers, one HP laptop and a printer, two Toyota Camry vehicles and one Honda Civic car.

He said the suspects would be charged to court upon conclusion of investigation.


We’ve put a seal on abolition of Osu caste in Igbo land – Archbishop Obinna

Outgoing Archbishop of the Catholic Diocese of Owerri, His Grace, Most Rev. Anthony Obinna, said that the Church has completely abolished the Osu caste system in Igbo land.

Obinna said this while addressing newsmen in Owerri as part of activities marking St Patrick’s Day celebration.

The Apostolic Administrator who mentioned the abolition as part of his achievements while he served as Archbishop, said that the diala/amadi – osu – ume – ohu caste systems are no longer in existence.

According to him, the practice had negatively affected marriages and Chieftaincy titles as well as various offices in church, public and community life, hence the need to abolish it.

“On Thursday, March 10, 2022, the Catholic Bishops of lgbo land in Onitsha and Owerri Ecclesiastical Provinces, jointly issued a pastoral directive to end the idolatrous, inhuman and painful discrimination among Ndiigbo (Igbo people),” he said.

He, however, said that he would continue as the Archbishop Emeritus and Apostolic Administrator of the vacant seat of Owerri Archdiocese until Archbishop Lucius Ugorji takes over the Archdiocese of Owerri on June 23, 2022.

“We pray for Archbishop Ugorji, who was elected the new President of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN), on Wednesday, 9 March, 2022, and wish him all the best as he takes up his multiple responsibilities,” he said.

Speaking on the recent invasion of Ukraine by Russia, Obinna called for prayers for an end to the war.

“The war in Ukraine, a pandemic worse than COVID-19, is in the air and affecting even lgbos and other citizens of the world.

“People are intensifying prayers to God between bombs and death. Let us all join in praying for Nigerians, Ukrainians and Russians for an end to this annihilation and brutality,” he said.


Al Makura solicits Reps’ support on APC chairmanship

Sen. Tanko Al Makura, one of the Chairmanship aspirants of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has solicited for the support of the party’s caucus at the House of Representatives toward actualising his dream.

Al Makura said this when he visited the caucus on Thursday in Abuja.

“I will ensure internal party democracy and equity, justice and fairness. I will promote gender and youth aspiration. My leadership will be inclusive,” he said.

He promised to pay special attention to the vulnerable and people living with disabilities.

Al Makura said that he was privileged to be a member of the merger committee that led to the formation of APC from the Congress of Political Change (CPC).

“I have seen a lot of alliances, but never in the history of merger have we seen one like that of the legacy parties that formed the APC,” he said.

He said that the legacy parties were all focused and determined to succeed, adding that the unity and commitment that led to the merger must be sustained.

Deputy Speaker Ahmed Wase, said that the visit showed that Almakura was willing to deepen democracy, saying that the lawmakers would pray for him and wish him well.

He said that Almakura has the quality and capacity to move the APC forward if elected as its chairman.


5 escape as kidnappers abduct 8 in Kwara

No fewer than eight people have been kidnapped between Araromi Opin and Obbo Ile in Ekiti Local Government Area of Kwara.

A relative of one of the victims, Mr Adekunle Oluwole said on Thursday in Ilorin the incident took place on Wednesday evening.

He also said that five of the eight people involved escaped from the kidnappers.

According to him, the people were returning from the inauguration of Kwara All Progressives Congress (APC) State Executive Committee from Ilorin.

He listed those involved as Mr Daniel Adewuyi, the Isapa Ward Chairman in Ekiti local government area of the state; the Eruku ward Chairman; Women Leader Eruku; Women Leader Obbo Ile, and Chairman Obbo Ile Ward as well as Women Leader Koro ward, and Women Leader Isapa ward, among others.

Oluwole added that the member representing Ekiti Constituency at the state House of Assembly, Mr Ganiyu Abolarin, and the Ekiti local government APC chairman, Mr Wale Awelewa, were at the hospital where some of the victims were rushed after they escaped on Wednesday.

He said some of those attacked by the kidnappers have been released from the hospital after receiving treatment and medical expenses setyled by Abolarin.

He also confirmed that four Hilux vehicles fully loaded with members of the Nigerian Army had been deployed to the area to arrest the kidnappers.

The Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) of the Kwara Command, SP Ajayi Okasanmi, told NAN that he was yet to be briefed about the matter.

Okasanmi however promised to keep the public abreast of developments, which he has not done since afternoon.


Ladoja visits Olubadan, dismisses rumoured rift with traditional ruler

The Osi-Olubadan of Ibadanland, High Chief Rashidi Ladoja, on Thursday, visited the new Olubadan of Ibadanland, Oba Lekan Balogun, at his palace, few days after his coronation.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the visit of Ladoja, a former governor of Oyo State, who is the next in line to the Olubadan throne, lasted for about 30 minutes.

Although Ladoja refused to make public the purpose of his visit when accosted by newsmen, sources close to the meeting, however, said that he came to pay homage to the traditional ruler.

The source quoted the former governor as dismissing the rumoured rift between him and the new Olubadan, describing it as the figment of the imagination of those peddling it.

Ladoja was said to have recalled how he flatly prostrated for Oba Balogun during his coronation on March 11 as a mark of his absolute loyalty and reverence to his person and the throne.

FELLOW PRESS reports that two other members of the Olubadan-in-Council, High Chiefs Owolabi Olakulehin and Gbadamosi Adebimpe also joined the meeting, with the Ekarun Olubadan, Chief Hamidu Ajibade, also in attendance.

Oba Balogun was, on March 11, installed as the new Olubadan of Ibadan land at the popular Mapo Hall in the earth of the state capital.

The staff of office was presented to the traditional ruler by Gov. Seyi Makinde at the ceremony witnessed by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, some governors, traditional rulers and other eminent personalities.

Nigeria news

2023 Elections: Army assure Nigerians of secure environment

The Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt.-Gen. Faruk Yahaya, has assured Nigerians that the Army will provide conducive and secure environment for the conduct of the 2023 general elections.

Yahaya gave the assurance at the closing of the Chief of Army Staff First Quarter Conference 2022 on Thursday in Abuja.

He urged army personnel to remain professional and glaringly apolitical as they carry out their constitutional duties of maintaining peace and security in aid of civil authority across the country.

He also charged them to continue to uphold human right principles in the conduct of operations in tandem with the constitution and rules of engagement.

“This is particularly important as the activities outlined in the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) calendar gathers steam.

“In line with our constitutional responsibilities, we will continue to provide conducive and secured environment for the conduct of the general elections through Operation Safe Conduct in aid to civil authority,” he said.

The COAS also tasked all commanders to continue to educate and inculcate in the troops on the ‘core values’ of the Nigerian army which among others include, courage, integrity, selfless service and respect for others.

He said the aspect of ‘courage’ was extensively discussed during the conference as fundamental requirement in the development and maintenance of the ‘warrior ethos’ which is key to accomplishment of kinetic missions.

According to him, the concept and content of the ‘warrior ethos’ should be taken seriously in all aspects of their training.

Yahaya said the successes recorded so far in all operations could be attributed to the renewed zeal by the troops to decisively confront all forms of security threats.

He urge them to sustain the dogged posture, warning that no untoward conduct or misdemeanou89⁹u0plr would be tolerated from any quarters.

The COAS also urged commanders to exercise effective control of arms and ammunition placed under their care and spare no efforts at thwarting any forms of arms spread in their domains.

He said the nefarious activities of violent criminals being confronted in the ongoing operations had direct connection with proliferation of Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) in unauthourised hands.

He commended troops on their efforts and sacrifices in all theatres of operations, adding that synergy with sister services and all security agencies in their joint operations should be sustained and improved.

“Additionally, I am pleased to note the increasing support extended to our troops by our host communities and Nigerians at large.

“This is very much in line with my vision to improve our general cohesiveness in joint operations.

“I therefore enjoin all Commanders to constantly leverage on our improved relations with the civil populace and our host communities and sensitize troops accordingly in that regard,” he said.

The army chief enjoined commanders to sustain the high level of professionalism so far exhibited in employment of platforms in the field to ensure optimal performance.

According to him, it is a Command responsibility to ensure proper deployment, employment and maintenance of all equipment and facilities.

He said the conference had provided them the opportunity to interact and deliberate on the affairs of the army such as ongoing operations, training, logistics and the welfare of personnel.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that COAS conference had in attendance the principal staff officers of the Army and Defence Headquarters, Chief of Defence Intelligence, Commandant of the Nigeria Defence Academy and Commandants of Army Institutions.

Others in attendance are the General Officers Commanding (GOCs) and field commanders.


Oyetola reiterates support for people with disabilities in Osun

Gov. Gboyega Oyetola of Osun, on Thursday, said that his administration would continue to protect the interest of persons with disabilities (PWDs) in the state.

Oyetola stated this at an engagement programme with members of Joint National Association of Persons With Disabilities (JONAPWD), Osun chapter, in Osogbo.

The governor, who was represented by his Special Adviser on Civic Engagement, Mr Olatunbosun Oyintiloye, said that his administration was committed to the welfare of PWDs.

According to him, people with disabilities are important members of the society and, therefore, deserve to be well catered for.

As a demonstration of the importance of PWDs, the governor said that an executive bill, tagged: “Special People’s Bill” had been forwarded to the House of Assembly to ensure their protection.

When passed, he said that the bill would ensure that persons with disabilities were safeguarded against any form of discrimination, while they would also have equal access to an environment conducive to social and economic development.

On other intervention programmes, Oyetola said that PWDs were also given priority during the state government’s free monthly food distribution exercise.

He noted that a reasonable number of them also benefited from the Community for Social Development Project (CSDP) and training at skill acquisition centres, especially those built for persons with disabilities in various parts of the state.

According to him, parts of his administration’s social intervention programmes are: survival loans, COVID-19 palliatives, special grant transfer programme under YESSO, in collaboration with World Bank.

“Also, more than 300 PWDs are benefiting from the N10,000 monthly grant of the state government’s “Gbowo Ga” scheme for empowerment.

“You can be rest assured that I will continue to protect your welfare and interest in further unfolding opportunities”, the governor said.

On the July 16 governorship election in the state, Oyetola urged them to obtain their permanent voter cards (PVCs) and vote for him, for continuity and development, assuring that if re-elected, he would not disappoint them.

Also speaking, Special Adviser to the Governor on Youths, Sports and Special Needs, Mr Adegboyega Adelabu, said that the ministry was working on the Special People’s Bill to encapsulate the needs of PWDs.

Adelabu said that the bill, when passed, would establish PWDs Commission for their benefits.

On his part, the Commissioner for Commerce, Industry, Cooperative and Empowerment, Dr Bode Olaonipekun, said that the state government had organised several trainings for the PWDs, with start-up packages.

Olaonipekun urged members of the association to submit their members’ database to enable government to offer them further assistance.

In his response, Spokesperson of the PWDs, Mr Sunday Smith, commended the governor for the various social intervention and empowerment programmes given to them.

Smith said that members of the association were solidly behind the governor who, he said, had performed well in all sectors.

“We enjoy the benefits of the monthly food distribution, Osun Health Insurance Scheme (OHIS), empowerment and training with startup packages.

“However, we request for more appointments, recruitment slots, empowerment programmes and means of conveying us to various places,” he said.


I87,791 kg drug bust: NDLEA wants terminal operators to reexamine customers

The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency ( NDLEA) has advised terminal owners and operators to always reexamine their customers to prevent the proliferation of drug cartels within the seaports.

The Commander, Apapa Special Area Command of NDLEA, Mr Ameh Inalegwu , Nacortic Commander ( CN), made the appeal at the War Against Drug Abuse ( WADA) programme organised for seaport terminal owners and operators in Lagos on Thursday .

FELLOW PRESS reports that WADA is an advocacy campaign launched on June 26, 2021 by President Muhammadu Buhari .

“ The campaign is to create awareness that will suffuse society with anti-drug culture.”

According to the commander, a total of 187, 791 kilogrammes of assorted drugs were seized by the NDLEA as well as arrested 15 suspects comprising Nigerians and expatriates in the last six months .

“ A huge quantity of the illicit drugs came into the country through the waterways and these drugs range from Cannabis, Cocaine, Tramadol to Captagon, ” he said.

Inalegwu stressed that it was very worrisome that some of these arrests and seizures were made at the terminals.

“ The most unfortunate and frustrating thing is the claim by the terminal operators of not knowing the importers or the owners of the seized containers,” the commander said.

He said that the NDLEA was was organising the training for the terminal owners and operators to enhance their capacities on how they could reexamine their customers and their operations.

The Director, Seaport Operations, Mrs Omolade Faboyede, at the event pointed out that the volume of drugs moved through a single shipment would take any other mode of transportation several times to move.

Faboyode called for effective blockage of maritime corridors to win the war against illicit drug trafficking.

She said, ” If you ask me what exactly we want from owners and operators, I will say three things.

“Number one is intelligence, number two is intelligence and number three is intelligence again,’’ she said .

The NDLEA’s Assistant Commander-General of Narcotics (ACGN), Mr Segun Oke, while conducting the training said that the menace of drug abuse in the country was worrisome.

He highlighted them to include: robbery, burglary, rape, vandalism, an increase in sexually transmitted diseases.

Oke, who is also the Zonal Commander, NDLEA Zone H , which comprises Lagos State and Ogun , said that terminal owners and operators needed to be more proactive in the fight against drug trafficking.

“On March 7, this Special Areea Command intercepted about three million of opioid capsules of Tapentadol and Caprisoprodol .

“ The terminal operators and owners should reexamine themselves, their.customers, and even their workers,” he said.

He said that owners and operators must ensure that NDLEA officials are contacted before opening any consignment brought into their domain.

“Yhe NDLEA will not hesitate to deal with owners and operators who assist drug criminals, “ Oke said.

Mr Oladotun Ojuri, the Managing Director of Michelle Bonded Terminal who spoke on behalf of owners and operators commended the NDLEA for engaging them in the campaign.

Ojuri promised the agency that the terminal owners and operators would be more observant and ensue due diligence in the discharge of seaport operations.

Business & Economy

Sugar Master Plan: We’ve created 15,000 jobs – FG

The Federal Government says it has so far generated over 15,000 jobs through its National Sugar Master Plan programme, stressing the country will soon achieve self-sufficiency in sugar production.

Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Mr Niyi Adebayo, revealed this in Abuja on Thursday, at the weekly ministerial briefing organised by the Presidential Communications Team.

According to the minister, currently the nation produces just five per cent of its sugar needs but the government is making frantic efforts to become self-sufficient in making the product available to Nigerians.

He added that although returns on investment in sugar production were slow, government would continue to focus on investing in the sector.

“We’re looking at Nigeria being self-sufficient in sugar production in 10 years.

“We’re hoping and we believe with the programs that we have in place that within the next 10 years, we will be 100% self-sufficient in sugar, and not only that, we’ll be able to export sugar produced in Nigeria.

“Certainly, with regard to employment, at the moment, the National Sugar Plan has created employment for 15,000 people,’’ he said.

On the effects of the ongoing Russia-Ukraine crisis on Nigeria’s economy, the Minister said his ministry would soon advise the president on what to do.

“Well, I can assure you that my ministry is looking at all the issues involved.

“And since the war has come up, the trade department in my ministry is looking at all the things that we import, and what we export to them with a view to come up with a policy paper, which we will be presenting to the President.

“Like I mentioned earlier, we have mandated our trade department to do an analysis, to look at all the issues involved, and to come up with a report.

“And once that report is ready, it will be presented to Mr. President, after the presentation I shall come here and brief you about it,” he said.

According to the minister, there are many requests from investors around the world, who want to do business with Nigeria in sugar production

“We get interest every day, we analyse these interests, and we give support to anybody who is interested in participating in the backward integration programme of sugar production.

“We are not giving out loans to the people we’re dealing with. We are dealing with recognized major conglomerates within the private sector, who are investing their own funds in the backward integration programme.

“All we are doing is we are providing intervention where possible, assisting them with infrastructure, and that is all.

“We’re not giving out any loans with regards to the sugar backward integration programme,” he added.

Adebayo, who also spoke on ports decongestion in Nigeria, noted that new ports will soon come on board, in order to ease the pressure on Apapa and Tincan ports.

He also explained why the Calabar and Warri ports are not currently being used.

Adebayo disclosed that the Calabar port had a legal challenge involving a subcontract for the dredging of the port.

He said: “On the development of ports, I pointed out earlier that yes, apart from Apapa and Tincan; we have a new port of Lekki coming up. I know that there are plans for a new port to come up in Badagry.

“At the last Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC) meeting, we also looked at the possibility of utilization of Warri port, but there are certain issues and problems with it at the moment that has been looked into.

“I believe the breakwater has collapsed, so the government is looking at how that can be repaired and to see how dredging can be done so that bigger vessels can use that port.

“Calabar port is a problem; apparently there is a court case on that one at the moment with regards to a subcontract for the dredging of that as well.

“As we all know, Port Harcourt and Onne are operating, and the government is looking at improving the road network to that port so that it can ease the congestion of Lagos.”


Obaseki seeks investments to transform Edo’s economy

Governor of Edo, Mr Godwin Obaseki, has called for investments in manufacturing, agricultural and tourism sectors to transform the state’s economy.

Obaseki made the call at the Nigerian-British Chamber of Commerce (NBCC) Meet the Governor of Edo State Forum with the theme: “Investment and Business Opportunities,” on Thursday in Lagos.

The governor said a 1,000 hectare property with 40 megawatts of electricity on the Benin -Sapele expressway had been set aside for investment.

He added that talks were ongoing to build the core infrastructure, gas networks, sewage facilities to make the location environmentally compliant.

Obaseki stated that investors had shown interests in developing pharmaceuticals.

He, however, added that he was very keen to work on food processing to address food importation and shore up the contribution of the agricultural sector to livelihood and the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the state.

“With the escalating food prices in the world, there is really no reason why we are spending what we are spending on food importation.

“The state government is very committed to creating the needed environment for business partnerships to thrive in Edo.

“This administration is also very committed to moving upwards our GDP ranking to at least third position from its current seventh place via its vast investment opportunities before the end of my tenure.

“To this, Nigerians are encouraged to come take advantage of the opportunities currently existing in Edo following our clearly set out policy directions to transform the state’s economy,” he said.

The Edo governor said the state had transformed its educational sector to develop human capacity to a global standard.

He added that it had also addressed its security architecture with a four tier security system that involved communities right from the street corners, and rebuilt police facilities and retrained officers.

Obaseki said the state, due to its deep rooted cultural nature, had developed a structured manner of harnessing the rich history and culture via recollection of artifacts and building of museums to drive tourism.

He added that top investment opportunities in Edo were in tourism, digital and port infrastructure.

“With a phenomenal population growth, and GDP ranking at number seven, we are aspiring to be number three by the end of our tenure.

“To this, we have properly trained and transformed our public service, our educational system, improved our healthcare and social welfare and have used technology to harness human capacity development,” said Obaseki.

He added that as top priority, there was need to connect Edo via the Benin city river port, which was being worked on to massively decongest Apapa ports of its gridlock.

“There is also massive integrated planning to connect communities via the land programme, given our rich and active diaspora ready to invest in the real estate sector.

“Edo is the home of culture and what we have done is define the archeological district for tourism.

“It’s not so much the return of artifacts but the right museums to host the returned pieces properly.

“We plan to use museums as research facilities to connect to roots as those assets offer huge potential for tourism,” he said.

Chairman, Edo State Oil Palm Programme, Mr Rasheed Sarumi, tasked Nigerians to take advantage of investment in the state’s sustainable oil palm production to reduce Nigeria’s import of crude palm by about 20 per cent.

World News

Technical fault halts Polish railways, a key Ukraine exit route

Poland railways operator, PKP PLK on Thursday reported that technical issues caused a widespread traffic control system outage, disrupting an important means of transport for refugees fleeing Ukraine.

Infrastructure Minister , Andrzej Adamczyk said that railway workers were dealing with the situation and normal service would be resumed as soon as possible.

Almost two million people had fled to Poland from Ukraine since Russia launched its invasion on Feb. 24. Poland had offered free rail tickets to refugees, allowing them to travel to stay with friends and family around the country.

PKP PLK deputy chief executive Miroslaw Skubiszynski said: “regarding the transport of refugees, which has been the key task of the railway over the past few days, we are in full coordination of the process together with the ministry of infrastructure.

“The process is not halted and can be carried out to the extent possible.”

The traffic control outage was nearly nationwide, affecting 820 km (510 miles) of track, he added.

Business & Economy

Agency advocates local production of bioethanol to curb importation

Prof. Abdullahi Mustapha, the Director General (D-G), National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA), says Nigeria can end its reliance on importation of bioethanol with local production.

Mustapha said this during an interview with newsmen in Abuja on Thursday, after making his presentation at the ongoing 2022 Science, Technology and Innovation (STI), Expo.

The Bioethanol is ethanol that is made from agricultural products, and which is used as a fuel supplement.

Mustapha said NABDA had brought to the expo ground microorganisms such as yeast, that had been successfully isolated and which had economic value.

“This yeast is very indigenous with thermal resistance that can be used in the fermentation process to produce bioethanol.

“This is a great achievement considering how much is spent to import bioethanol into the country; there is no need to spend money on the importation of microorganisms.

“The substrate used for the production of bioethanol is cassava and sugarcane, and all these are abundant in the country.

“Nigeria can produce thousands or millions of litres of bioethanol per day day with this yeast that we have produced.’’

Speaking on the agency’s bio-fertiliser and insect repellant spray, Mustapha said the biofertiliser was unique and high yielding, while the chemical contained in the repellant was organic and harmless.

The D-G further said the grass NABDA was producing for animal feed could be used for the national livestock transformation programme, and that the insect resistant maize project, together with the genetically modified cowpea and cotton, were mitigating food and employment crisis in the country.

According to him, the agency in its quest to achieve its set goals, is collaborating with both the private and public sectors,

Dr Clement Ebri, the Chairman, NABDA Board, described Mustapha’s presentation on `Biotechnology as an Innovative Tool for National Economic Growth”, as very brilliant.

“I believe the outpouring of today’s event will contribute to ignite economic and social prosperity of our people.

“We are bringing in the SMEs because we really need to have a trickledown effect to ensure that this whole biotechnology idea cuts across the whole country.

“It is really a grassroot thing because if everyone starts doing it from the base, before long it will become more of a normal for our country.

“With that, the growth will spread to all nooks and crannies,’’ Ebri said.

World News

Russia rejects ICJ ruling on Ukraine

Russia has rejected an order from the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to halt the use of military force in Ukraine.

“We cannot pay any heed to this ruling,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov says, the Interfax news agency reports.

“At the International Court of Justice there is the concept of agreement between the parties.

“ There can be no agreement here,” Peskov says.

The United Nations’ highest court upheld a lawsuit filed by Ukraine against Russia on Wednesday.

The court’s president, Joan Donoghue, said in the judgement: “The ‘special military operation’ being conducted by the Russian Federation has resulted in numerous civilian deaths and injuries.”