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HoR Deputy Speaker Intensifies Advocacy for Peace in S’East

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Deputy Speaker, House of Representatives, Chief Benjamin Kalu, on Sunday, intensified his advocacy for peace in the South-East zone, with the launch of “Food for Peace Programme”.

Speaking at the launch during a meeting with APC stakeholders from the 17 Local Government Areas of Abia in his Bende country home, Kalu described the programme as an integral part of the recently unveiled Peace in the South-East Project (PISE-P).

PISE-P, which advocates a non-kinetic approach to peace in the region, was unveiled on Dec.

29, 2023 by President Bola Tinubu.

Tinubu was represented by Vice President Kashim Shettima at the well-attended ceremony held at the headquarters of Bende Local Government Area.

Kalu said that the programme would also be launched at later dates in the other four South-East states of Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu and Imo.

He said that the programme was meant to help provide food for the people of the region, whose economy and means of livelihood were heavily impacted by insecurity, heightened by the sit-at-home order every Monday.

He said that the initiative had received resounding support from eminent Nigerians, including industrialists, business moguls and corporate organisations, who had made substantial financial and material donations toward its success.

According to him, many organisations and donor agencies that believe in the South-East have shown interest to assist in rebuilding the region from the economic ruins occasioned by insecurity.

The deputy speaker also said that subsequent phases of the intervention for the return of enduring peace in the region would be on agriculture, education and health, amongst others.

“The launch will move round the entire states in the region showing love to the people and keeping their hope alive, in line with the Renewed Hope Initiative of the President.

“You should take the message of peace to the churches, villages and communities and also promote peace and unity within the party at the ward, local government and state levels.

He charged the stakeholders to embark on membership drive and also reach out to estranged members with a view to reconciling them back to the party.

He challenged them to strengthen the party at the various levels and assured them of his readiness to provide the necessary assistance to make APC the dominant party in Abia and South-East in general.

He thanked the stakeholders for obliging him the APC platform to run for the election, adding that he also worked hard to withstand “the Labour Party’s tsunami” that characteeised the general elections in Abia.

He recalled how gunmen, allegedly sponsored by his rival attacked and riddled his campaign office with bullets during the campaign in an attempt to stop him.

He thanked God that his aid who was present at the time of the attack escaped unhurt.

The deputy speaker also announced the passage of the South-East Development Commission Bill in the House of Representatives.

He said that he personally undertook the drafting of the bill and lobbied his colleagues to buy-in into it.

He said that the bill had the potential of addressing the question of the alleged marginalisation of the region, when it becomes an Act.

Kalu said: “The provisions of the bill make it unapologetically clear that the resources of the Federal Government will be utilised to reconstruct the South-East.

“After the civil war in 1970, we have not experienced the reconstruction of the region from the ruins of the country’s 30-month-old civil war.

“Moreover, it will help to create jobs for our teeming unemployed youths and also address the underdevelopment and obvious deficit in physical infrastructure in the region.”

Speakers at the meeting, including Sen. Chris Adighije, who presided, former Chief of Army Staff, Gen. Azubuike Ihejirika (rtd.), Chief Mark Wabara, former Minister of Labour, Chief Emeka Wogu, and spokespersons for Abia North, South and Central Senatorial Districts, lauded Kalu for his leadership quality and advocacy for a non-kinetic approach for peace in the region.

They also commended the president for supporting his emergence as the deputy speaker of the House of Representatives, in spite of APC’s poor showing in the general elections in the region.

Other chieftains of the party in attendance were former House of Representatives members, Chief Stanley Ohajuruka and Chief Sam Onuigbo, the Abia representative in the Board of the Niger Delta Development Commission, Chief Eruba Dimgba, amongst others.

Major highlights of the meeting were the reception of scores of new members, who defected from the Peoples Democratic Party and Young Progressives Party to APC and distribution of food items, including rice, noodles and spaghetti, and economic empowerment materials to his constituents. (NAN)

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FG Revokes 924 Dormant Mining Licences as Minister Decries Racketeering

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The Federal Government has revoked additional 924 dormant mining licenses.

Minister of Solid Minerals Development, Dr Dele Alake announced this on Wednesday in Abuja as he decried the racketeering of the issuance of the licences.

He told newsmen that mining licence racketeering was impeding the development of the sector and obstructing genuine investors from showing interest in Nigeria’s mines.

Licences revoked were 528 for exploration; 22 mining leases, 101 quarry licences and 273 small-scale mining licences.

The minister explained that a grace period of 30 days was given to defaulters to rectify their statuses, and to state reasons for dormancy on the sites allocated to them in line with Constitutional provisions.

He said that 963 licences were published in the official gazette of the Federal Government in December 2023 awaiting revocation.

Out of these, only 39 of the listed licence holders responded to the warning as they either moved to site immediately or they stated challenges hindering their operations, he added.

Alake stated that the revocation of the licences was taken to sanitise and reposition the mining sector to boost Nigeria’s economic profile and to accelerate its industrialisation.

He noted that the “first-come, first-served’’ rule in the licencing regime was a disincentive for genuine investors as the rule prohibited issuance of fresh licence on a site already allocated.

The ministry revoked 1,663 mining licences in November 2023 because of failure by licensees to pay statutory charges and other dues to the Federal Government.

Alake said that following the revocation of the 1,663 licences in 2023, government received a lot of pressure to reconsider the punitive measure.

According to him, in response to the pressure, government issued a policy for defaulters to make restitution and show remorse in order to be considered for reinstatement.

He said that the restitution varied depending on the category of licence revoked.

“The highest, which is on mining attracts a restitution N10 million per revoked licence payable to the Federal Government.

“For the small-scale licences, the restitution is N7.5 million for reinstatement and for exploration licence, the restitution is N5 million,’’ Alake said.

The minister warned in his 2024 New Year goodwill message that more mining licences would be revoked for other categories of defaulters.

He warned also that Nigeria’s mining sector would not continue to suffer from low investments because of nefarious activities of individuals who bought licences for promising mine sites only to resell them at the illegal market.

He added that the practice was tarnishing Nigeria’s image and was diverting funds that could be used for exploration to the illegal market to acquire licences at exorbitant prices.

Alake stressed that Nigeria was losing a significant amount of Foreign Direct Investment to the untoward practice. (NAN)

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Sokoto Assembly Adopts Motion to Establish Skills Centre for Displaced Widows

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The Sokoto State House of Assembly, on Wednesday, approved a motion advocating for the establishment of an Educational and Skills Acquisition Centre to support widows displaced by banditry and other security challenges in the state.

The motion, which was moved by Alhaji Abubakar Shehu (APC- Yabo) and seconded by Alhaji Atiku Liman (PDP-Silame), also urged the state government to repurpose the Sultan Maccido Waqf Centre for the initiative.

Shehu highlighted that the Sultan Maccido Waqf Centre, originally established by the State Zakkat and Endowment Commission in collaboration with Qatar Charity Organisations, could serve the purpose effectively.

He stated the importance of empowering widows and their children, emphasising the need to transition them from dependency to self-sufficiency.

“The conversion of the Centre into an Education and Skill Acquisition Centre for widows and children displaced by banditry is crucial to empower them economically and prevent them from becoming liability to the society,” he stated.

The lawmaker expressed concern about the sight of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the metropolis, often seen begging without access to economic activities or education.

He said the proposed center would offer training in various skills such as catering, knitting, tailoring, cream making, welding, mechanics, carpentry and building, among others.

Shehu emphasised that funding for the centre should be a joint responsibility of the state government, Zakkat Commission, international donors and individual contributions.

Contributing to the discussion, Alhaji Bello Idris (APC-Gwadabawa North) stressed the importance of conducting a comprehensive census of IDPs in the state to ensure proper support and utilisation of the centre once established.

Following deliberations, Speaker Alhaji Tukur Bala conducted a voice vote, and the motion was unanimously adopted by the lawmakers. (NAN)

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Undertake Reforms for Functional Justice System – Tinubu Tells Judiciary 

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President Bola Tinubu has called on the nation’s Judiciary to embark on reforms that will ensure functional justice system and support economic growth.

Tinubu gave the charge on Wednesday when he declared open the National Summit on Justice, 2024, held at the National Judicial Institute, Abuja.

Represented by his Vice, Kashim Shettima, the President also emphasised the need for a legal framework that would guarantee basic human and political rights of individuals and provide security for all Nigerians.

According to him, much can be achieved when institutions of government, including the Executive, Legislature and Judiciary, unite to acknowledge their challenges and brainstorm.

” This is with a view to proffering solutions to the problems bedeviling Nigeria,” he said.

The President, therefore, urged the judiciary to align its activities within the tenets of his administration’s Renewed Hope Agenda.

” Particularly as they relate to the priorities on inclusivity, fairness, rule of law, and anti-corruption stance, among other things”.

He said that his administration had pledged to be impartial and adhere to constitutional principles.

Tinubu said that the Summit availed institutions in the justice sector “with an opportunity to push boundaries by identifying needed system changes and critical reforms that would allow Nigerians to reap the benefits of huge investments in the sector.”

He explained that the Federal Government was determined to implement its policies and promises made to Nigerians for a renewed hope, through the instrumentality of the “law and the dictates of justice to create opportunities for our people.”

President Tinubu said that his administration made funding for the third arm of government a top priority, doubling it in the Renewed Hope budget 2024 by more that 100 per cent from 2023, budget.

” I urge the leadership of all justice sector institutions to seek a new direction and focus on outcomes by creating a justice system that truly responds to the needs of our citizens.

” I demand informed and coordinated responses to the identified challenges plaguing the effectiveness and efficiency of the sector.

” I demand performance so that Nigerians can feel and acknowledge the impact of your reform efforts.

“;Ultimately, the expectations are that law and justice should aim to ensure public safety, economic development, peaceful co-existence, and the well-being of our people.”

Earlier, the President of Senate, Godswill Akpabio commended the commitment of all stakeholders in the justice sector in building a consensus that would ensure a more robust judicial system.

He underscored the commitment of the National Assembly to a more vibrant and transformative justice system

He assured that the legislature would play its part by deliberating on the outcome of the summit in a bid to enshrine the outcomes into law.

On his part, the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Okukayode Ariwoola, said giving the high expectations from the judiciary, undertaking a holistic reform of the sector had become necessary.

He noted that constitutional, statutory and operational reforms in the justice sector was imperative in meeting the aspirations and yearnings of the general public.

The CJN attributed most of the achievements recorded in the judiciary to the support of Tinubu administration, particularly in the enhancement of the welfare of judicial officers and improvement in their working environment.

In the same vein, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Chief Lateef Fagbemi, emphasised the significance of the revised draft national policy on justice.

He noted that building a national consensus on the advancement of the justice sector has become necessary. (NAN)

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