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FCTA Resettles Abuja’s Largest Mechanic Village




By Laide Akinboade, Abuja 

The Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Minister, Nyesom Wike has taken concrete steps to relocate Abuja’s largest mechanic village, popularly called Apo Mechanic Village, to a permanent site, 25 years after the idea was first muted by the FCT Administration.

This was as he dismissed speculations that the Administration had given a deadline for occupiers of the mechanic village to move out or risk demolition, saying there was no such directive.

He also warned officials against nepotism in the allocation of shops.
The move would see thousands of auto technicians, spare parts dealers and other ancillary service providers being relocated from the current road corridor where they operate to a more expansive permanent site in Wasa district, a 15 minutes drive from their current location.

Inaugurating a 19-member technical committee on the relocation of auto technicians from Apo to Wasa, the minister who was represented by the Coordinator, Abuja Metropolitan Management Agency AMMC, Chief Felix Obuah said for years the technicians had lost hope and were afraid that the place could be demolished at any time.
He said rather than embarking on any demolition, the Wike led Administration has decided to first provide a better alternative and ensure an orderly migration before demolition the current site to pave the way for expansion of the roads.
Obuah said; “You will recall that sometimes two weeks ago, we had a wetin to see how we can relocate the Apo mechanic who had been operating on the right of way.
“We have set up a technical committee to go into Wasa and Apo to enumerate who and who we are relocating. This is what we have done today, at the end of that we will be able to give accurate time when we are going to relocate them. 
“I have handed over some of the things they need, most of these people are still coming even as of now. When you think you have finished, others are coming they have over twenty, thirty thousand people and we have to be sure that this number they are brandishing are actually existing. We have to verify, open a database to make sure that everybody we are allocating is actually on the road corridor.
“We are not doing this as a bazaar, so that those who have lost hope that do not have anywhere to trade at the road corridor, right of way, we are now relocating them to a permanent place, removed from the road corridor.
“It is the hope that was lost that Mr President through the Minister has restored but I am assuring you this thing will not take more than three months for all these things to be done. It has to do with technical, engineering, allocation and resettlement so it is not a day’s work. We have to build a prototype that other people can also follow up. It is not an easy thing.
“We want to make sure that Abuja wears its status as the capital of Nigeria and so the Minister gave an approval that those occupying the right of way should leave so that construction can start in that area.
“As a man who has human feelings, he felt that there is no need moving in to chase the people without providing an alternative. It was on that note that a better place that can take care of this set of people was provided in Wasa.
“In making sure that we relocate all of them, we invited them for a meeting and let them know our intentions. We cannot do that without also bringing the relevant teams who will help us to achieve this to make sure that there is no problem.
“That is why we have decided to inaugurate a technical committee that will see to the efficient relocation of these people. That is why we have invited all the technical teams so they by the time we start, we will be able to handle any challenge they may arise.
“We are inaugurating a 19 member technical team drawn from Development Control, Abuja Environment Protection Board AEPB and Urban Affairs. Others are Resettlement and Compensation, General Counsel and Legal Services; Lands; Urban and Regional Planning, Mapping and Surveying, Finance and Administration, Directorate of Road Traffic Services DRTS/VIO among others.
“The shops are not to be allocated to our girlfriends, our uncles, our sisters or relations. That is why the first term of reference is the enumeration of eligible persons.
“We will do our best to ensure that the people are not shortchanged. We will develop a database for all the technicians and dealers there.
“Some people said we have given a deadline for the traders to go away. That is not true. We haven’t given such deadline,” he added.
According to Obuah, the committee is to conduct enumeration of eligible Auto Mechanic-technicians/Dealers for possible Relocation to Wasa; Immediate preparation of the Relocation Site; Expeditious handling of compensation matters; Establishment of Demarcations/boundaries of the site; Identify Areas of Integration where necessary; and, Review of the Layout.
Chairman of the Committee, Malam Abubakar Makama said the issue has been lingering for over 25 years without any solution and thanked the Coordinator for swinging into action within just three months in office.


Constitutional Amendment Crucial for Efficient Implementation of LG Autonomy – Lawyer




An Umuahia-based Legal Practitioner, Mr Chuwkuemeka Nwachukwu, has said that the 1999 Constitution must be amended to allow for effective implementation of the Supreme Court judgment on Local Government (LG) autonomy.

Nwachukwu said this in an interview in Umuahia on Friday.

He said that the 1999 Constitution as amended “has a lot of loopholes”, which must be critically addressed before the LG Autonomy Act and judgment of the nation’s apex court could be effectively enforced.

He, therefore, called for an Executive Bill from the Presidency for the immediate amendment to take care of “the lacuna in the Constitution that has been pointed out over the years”.

Nwachukwu said that failure to do so could undermine the import of the landmark Supreme Court judgment of Thursday on LG autonomy.

He said that clear legal frameworks were essential for effective governance and implementation of judicial decisions.

According to him, this will help to ensure that LGs can operate as an autonomous third tier within defined legal boundaries, thereby enhancing local administration and accountability.

The legal practitioner also called on the Federal Government to set up a monitoring mechanism for checks and balances in the implementation of the judgment across the states of the federation.

Also reacting to the judgment, the immediate past Chairman, National Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE), Abia chapter, Mr Ikechi Nwaigwe, said the Supreme Court’s decision had nothing to cheer about yet.

Nwaigwe said that until every process was put in place to realise the desired LG autonomy, Nigerians should not think it is yet Uhuru.

He argued that desperate Nigerian politicians would always work against the wishes of the people with all their might.

“I am not yet excited by the decision of the Supreme Court, which affirmed the financial autonomy of the LG system.

“It is a good development but we have not reached our El dorado on the issue of LG autonomy.

“I said so because I know Nigerian politicians are desperate and can work so hard to upturn the process of achieving complete autonomy because it will be for the good of the Nigerian people.

“I will be excited if President Bola Tinubu will ensure that the process is completed with necessary legislation passed and proper implementation begun,” he said.

Nwaigwe said that the process of getting proper autonomy should not overlook the process of who becomes LG chairman and persons who might be godfathers to them.

“The process of reaching the desired destination should also ensure the Independent National Electoral Commission conducts the elections to promote competition among parties.

“If the State Governments, through their State Independent Electoral Commissions (SIECs), conduct the elections, the judgment will not achieve the desired goal.

“The state governors will still manipulate the SIECs and the elections,” he said.

In Imo, the state Chairman of NULGE, Mr Charles Okere, said that the LG autonomy would help to promote the welfare of council woŕkers.

Okere, who hailed the judgment, said it would facilitate projects execution according to the peculiar needs of the people at the grassroots.

“The judgment is a welcome development even though it only guarantees financial autonomy because the councils’ administrative responsibility still rests with the State Assemblies,” he said. (NAN)

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Foreign News

ECOWAS Court Nullifies ECOWAS Commission Staff’s Dismissal




The ECOWAS Court of Justice has nullified the dismissal of Mr Momodu Cham, a former staff of the Commission, saying it breached Article 69 of the ECOWAS staff regulations.

Cham had filed the suit following his dismissal from his position as a Procurement Officer with the Inter-Governmental Action Group against Money Laundering and Terrorism Financing (GIABA), a specialised ECOWAS agency.

The applicant, a community citizen residing in Banjul, Gambia, had joined the Economic Commission for West African States (ECOWAS) and its President, as first and second Respondents, respectively, in the suit challenging his sack.

Delivering judgment, Justice Dupe Atoki, the Judge Rapporteur, held that the cessation of Cham’s salary by the Commission before the exhaustion of the appeal process was arbitrary, unlawful, null, and void.

According to Justice Atoki, the action of the Commission is contrary to Article 73(b) of the ECOWAS Staff Regulations.

The Court, therefore, ordered the Respondents to pay Cham his salary arrears and other entitlements from January 2021 to June 2021, as compensation.

It further ordered the Commission to pay Mr Cham’s salaries and emoluments from July to December 2021 as compensation for the unlawful dismissal.

“Requesting an on-the-spot response to charges without prior notice or an opportunity to prepare a defense violates procedural safeguards outlined in the ECOWAS Staff Regulations.

“The regulations are designed to ensure an Applicant’s rights are fully maintained until the Council’s final decision.

“Consequently, the summary dismissal of the Applicant by the 2nd Respondent breached Article 69 of the regulation.

“Therefore, the cessation of the Applicant’s salary and other emoluments after invoking the right of appeal is a violation of Article 73(b) of the ECOWAS Staff Regulations,” Justice Atoki held.

The Court, however, declined to grant any orders for mandatory injunctions against the Commission and reinstatement of the applicant .

The Applicant had contended at the trial that he was suspended on July 11, 2019, following a forensic audit report by Ernst and Young UK, which implicated him in irregularities related to the purchase of IT equipment for GIABA.

He said that on Jan. 26, 2021, he was summarily dismissed, and his salaries and emoluments were withheld in violation of the ECOWAS Staff Regulations.

Cham had prayed the court to grant him several reliefs, including a declaration that his dismissal was arbitrary, null, and void.

He also sought an order setting aside his dismissal and the immediate payment of his salary arrears and other entitlements from January 2021.

The applicant had also prayed for his reinstatement to his position as a Procurement Officer and compensation for costs incurred in prosecuting the suit.

The Respondents, in their defense, had however, maintained that the applicant was properly suspended and later dismissed following a forensic audit report and a subsequent query.

They had also argued that the dismissal was appropriate due to the allegations of gross misconduct, embezzlement, theft, fraud, and abuse of trust.

The three-member panel also had Justices Gberi-bè Ouattara, presiding, and  Sengu Mohamed Koroma, as a member.(NAN)

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Gunmen Abducts Acting Rector Benue Polytechnic, Demand N70m Ransom 




From Attah Ede Makurdi 

Acting Rector, Benue State Polytechnic Ugbokolo, Engr. Dr. Emmanuel Barki has been abducted by gunmen suspected to be kidnappers.

He was kidnapped while returning from Makurdi to Ugbokolo after official assignment that took place in the State capital, Wednesday.

It was gathered that the Acting Rector was kidnapped along side with some management staff of the polytechnic and his driver.

It was further gathered that the abductors moved them away from the highway and reportedly abandoned the official vehicle of the polytechnic.

A source who disclosed this to newsmen in Makurdi on Friday, on condition of anonymity, said the abductors called the family of the Acting Rector and demanded for N70m as ransom after 24 hours that he was kidnapped with his driver and other management staff of the Polytechnic.

Some since the incident happened, prominent individuals have been paying visit to the family of the Acting Rector to sympathize with them.

The immediate past Chairman, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) Benue State chapter, Rev. Dr. Augustine Akpen Leva, condemned the dastardly act and prayed for the immediate release of the Acting Rector.

Dr. Leva particularly called on Governor Alia to improve on the security situation of the state to enable people and even the travellers go to places of their choice without been victims of kidnappers.

When contacted, the Benue State command police public relations officer SP Catherine Anene, confirmed the incident, saying investigation is ongoing. 

However, the special adviser to governor Alia on internal security, Chief Joseph Har also confirmed the abduction of the rector.

According to him, the Acting Rector was kidnapped three days ago.

He said he was not aware of any ransom negotiation, but that security personnel have been in the bush since then combing the bushes.

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