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Alia Seeks Collaboration with Traditional Rulers, Others to End killings, Kidnapping in Benue

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From Attah Ede

Benue State Governor, Rev. Fr. Hyacinth Alia has called on traditional rulers and other stakeholders, particularly those from Sankera axis to join forces with his administration and proffer concrete solutions that would entrench permanent peace and promote unity in the area.

Governor Alia made the call while speaking during the burial of Late Chief Fezanga Wombo, Ter Katsina-Ala 1, held at the Akume Atongo Stadium, Katsina-Ala local government area of the State on Saturday.

Alia expressed total displeasure at the level of insecurity in the Sankera axis where cases of wilful killings, kidnapping and other criminal activities have become order of the day.

He called on the abductors of the Caretaker chairman of Ukum local Government and his orderly to immediately release them unhurt.

The governor directed all illustrious sons and daughters of SANKERA including serving and past members of National Assembly to convene a meeting within 24 hours and suggest possible ways of ending insecurity in the area.

He also directed Tor Sankera I, Chief Abu King Shuluwa to summon a meeting of all traditional rulers in Sankera and bring out ways through which the rising tide of insecurity in the area will be tamed permanently.

Alia added that all resolutions at the two meetings must be made available to him within one week for necessary action.

While calling on the traditional institution to practice the Tiv cherished cultural values that would help shape the behaviour of the youth, Governor Alia warned that any traditional ruler found compromising the security situation in his area would be sanctioned.

He explained that the selection of the next Ter Katsina-ala would be done on merit and not political affiliation.

Governor Alia who mourned the passing of Chief Fezanga Wombo, prayed to God to console the family and grant the soul of the late monarch a perfect place of rest in heaven.

Earlier, Tor Sankera I, Chief Abu King Shuluwa decried insecurity in his area and appealed to the Governor to intervene.

The Tor Tiv, HRM Orchivirigh Prof. James Ortese Iorzua Ayatse, represented by  Tor Kwande, HRH Ambrose Iortyer extolled the virtues of Late Fezanga Wombo and appealed to Tiv youth to shun criminal ways and learn to promote peace and unity in their communities.

The Secretary to the Government of the Federation SGF, Senator George Akume, represented by Sen. Jack Tilley Gyado, the Speaker, House of Representatives, Abbas Tajudeen represented by Salman Idris, Senator Emmanuel Memga Udende, Sen. Gabriel Suswam, and the Speaker Benue State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Hyacinth Dajoh, amongst others, mourned the deceased and prayed to God to grant his soul eternal rest.

The Bishop of the catholic dioceses of Katsina Ala most Reverend Isaac Dugu while praying for the repose of the soul of chief Wombo called on the political elite from Sankera to unite in the fight against insecurity.

Responding on behalf of the deceased family the member representing Katsina Ala, Ukum and Logo at the House of Representatives, Hon. Prince Solomon Wombo said the insecurity in Sankera has given the people a bad name that needed to be corrected.

He thanked Governor Alia, Speaker House of Representatives, Senators Emmanuel Udende and Gabriel Suswam and all those who contributed to the successful burial of their father, praying that God will replenish all their efforts.

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Benue PDP to gov: Account for the N44b grants

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From Attah Ede Makurdi

The main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Benue State, on Monday, asked Governor Hyacinth Alia to give account of how he expended the N44 billion special intervention grants he received from the federal government between August 2023 to this year, 2024.

The party stated this following a startling revelation from the All Progressives Congress, APC in the State at a press briefing on Sunday night in Makurdi, that the governor received such amounts and has not done anything with it to see in the State.
The APC had during the meeting passed a vote of confidence on President Bola Ahmed Tinubu while revealing that Governor Alia has received from the federal government variously the sums of N5 Billion as post-subsidy removal fund, N9 Billion as Infrastructure Fund, and N30 Billion Sub-national Intervention Fund, collectively amounting to N44 Billion without making use of it.
The PDP State Publicity Secretary Chief Bemgba Iortyom, in a press statement issued and made available to newsmen in Makurdi, observed that the said interventions of N44 billion are outside the monthly federal allocations which have also increased by about 70% since the removal of fuel subsidy in May last year. “We as a party finds this revelation as shocking as there has been no disclosure from the governor of receipt of such funds, with the exception of the post subsidy removal (palliatives) fund which, after much pressure from the PDP, the APC had accepted having received in part N2 billion, and thereafter had kept sealed lips over the outstanding N3 billion”.”If there was a N9 billion infrastructure fund and a N30 billion Sub-national intervention fund, the people of Benue State are only getting to know about it from the APC statement, and this by all standards of transparency and accountability is unacceptable.”PDP is saddened that this non disclosure of N44 billion federal intervention grants by Governor Alia reinforces his policy of concealment and disregard for due process and the rule of law which underpin a style of governance that is in character a sole administratorship.”We recall that on several occasions, our great party had urged the governor to give account of contracts awarded for projects without recourse to due process and extant financial guidelines and regulations, or disclosure of costs for such projects.”It is our position that Governor Alia should come clean and disclose how he has expended the N44 billion special grants, as to do otherwise will be to thicken further the cloud of suspicions hovering over his administration, particularly against the backdrop of the N20 billion scandal rocking the Bureau of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs right under his watch”, the statement read in part”.

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Armed herders attacks soldiers, kill one, injured another in Benue

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From Attah Ede, Makurdi

Troops of Operations Whirl Stroke (OPWS), operating in Benue, Nasarawa and Taraba States, were reportedly attacked by suspected armed herdsmen leading to the death of one soldier, while another one was injured in Ochuekwu, Benue State.

The soldiers were deployed to Ochumekwu, Apa local government area of the State to keep peace following constant attacks on the community by the armed herders.

Force Commander, Operation Whirl Stroke OPWS Major General Sunday Iserihen Igbinomwanhia who confirmed this to newsmen on Monday, in Makurdi, said one personnel was killed and one injured.

He however said the troops in response killed three and injured several of the herdsmen, while one AK47 and rounds of ammunitions were recovered from them.

” OPWS is currently carrying out a clearance operation to flush out suspected armed foreign herders who have invaded Kwande local government area of the State”, he said.

It could be recalled that in February, a soldier was killed and two (2) others were injured in Agatu local government when suspected herders laid ambush on the troops.

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Borehole Drillers Seek Expatriate Levy Review

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The Borehole Drillers’ Association of Nigeria (BODAN), has urged the Nigerian Government to reconsider its decision on the Expatriate Employment Levy (EEL), as it poses a threat to the survival of the drilling sector.

BODAN President, Mr Francis Uzoma, told newsmen on Monday that the decision has prompted many foreign drilling companies to consider relocating to other countries.

The Expatriate Employment Levy mandates an annual fee for organisations employing expatriate workers, requiring $15,000 (£12,000) for a director and $10,000 for other employees.

This move, according to the Federal Government aims to encourage foreign companies to increase the employment of Nigerian workers.

Uzoma said the federal government should reconsider the decision by reviewing the mandated levy to be more considerate in line with current economic realities.

According to him, its members, especially the foreign investors have been worried about the new decision saying it was not beneficial to continue to operate in the country.

“I just came out from a meeting with my members and they have expressed concern about the new law which mandates organisations employing expatriate workers to pay $15,000 for a director and $10,000 for other employees.

“These companies have already indicated their intentions to leave the country, many of them are Indian and Asian drillers.

“There are predictions of massive job losses, affecting mainly Nigerian workers and would contribute to unemployment.

“We are calling for total review of this annual levy as the one-month window given for payment is not tenable and would affect the economy.

“Without such reconsideration, there’s a risk of drilling companies relocating to neighboring countries, as they have expressed dissatisfaction and unfavorable business conditions”.

These effects, he added include potential repercussions on the borehole sector, hindrance to knowledge transfer, and limitations on equipment and technology use.

He stressed the potential retaliation from foreign investors, particularly Nigerians in diaspora, highlighting the importance of considering the policy’s impact.

He mentioned his intention to write to the Minister of Water Resources and Sanitation, outlining the adverse effects of the policy on the economy.

NAN recalls President Bola Tinubu’s cautionary statement during the recent launch of the EEL handbook, where he warned against using the levy to obstruct potential investors.

He highlighted the government’s expectations to enhance revenue and promote indigenisation, emphasising the objective of balancing employment opportunities between Nigerians and expatriates.

Tinubu clarified that the government’s aim is to narrow wage gaps between expatriates and the Nigerian labor force.

Also, it is to simultaneously foster increased employment opportunities for qualified Nigerians within foreign companies operating in the country. (NAN)

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