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COVER

Ibadan Explosion: FEC Directs  Immediate Review  of  Laws on Explosives 

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By Ubong Ukpong, Abuja

The Federal Executive Council (FEC) has constituted a committee to review the laws guiding the use of explosives in the country to determine whether they were  being violated by illegal miners whose activities led to Tuesday’s deadly explosion in Ibadan, Oyo State.

The explosion killed two persons and wounded about 80 others.

It also destroyed several buildings, vehicles, and other properties.

Minister of Defense, Mohammed Badaru, who made the disclosure while addressing State House Correspondents after FEC chaired by President Bola Tinubu at Council Chambers, Presidential Villa, Abuja.

Badaru said the committee is made up of all the security agencies, the Minister of Environment, Ministry of Solid Minerals.

According to the minister, council expressed concerns about the incident and the need to prevent similar incidents in the future.

Speaking on council’s deliberations, the minister said: “In today’s deliberation, the explosion in Ibadan was raised and the government sympathised with the victims and the very good people of Oyo State.  And currently investigation is ongoing to find out the real cause of the blast and to see how best we can prevent it happening in the future.

“After that, there is the issue of environmental protection as well as mining, areas protection and forest protection were discussed and a committee was set by Mr. President.

“That includes all the security agencies, the Minister of Environment, the Ministry of solid minerals to look into all these issues, and see how we can provide lasting solutions to stop the issues that centre around environmental degradation both in our forests and the mining sites. And also the rampant illegal mining and the control of earthing in the mining sector.”

Reacting to Governor Seye Makinde’s revelation that the explosion was caused by explosives stored by illegal ministers, the minister noted that there was also suspicion in some quarters that it might have been a gas explosion.

He noted that federal agents were now on ground at the scene of the incident to ascertain the cause and ways to prevent future occurrence.

“The first question has to do with the Ibadan explosion where the governor said that preliminary investigation suggested that there are some explosives around the area where it happened that are owned by some illegal miners.

“Well, we have seen that report. There is another report suggesting that it was a gas explosion. So, our team is there trying to find out what is the cause.

“But for the council to be proactive, it has already set up the committee that I told you to look into how the control of explosives law was broken if indeed there are explosives around the area where this incident happened.

“That was why the committee was set up to look at the rules to see where the chain is broken and see how it can be fixed and gather more information if this is happening rampantly around the country.

“You all know that there is a strict rule in the storage, movement and ownership of these explosives and the rule is being monitored. If there is any case of breakdown, we will find out and deal with it”, he said.

Similarly, an Oyo state member of the House of Representatives, Rep Staley Olajide, on Wednesday, demanded that government must take absolute control of access and usage of dynamites, to prevent misuse by illegal persons to the detriment of the public.

Olajide, who represents Ibadan North West/South West of Oyo state in the House of Representatives, was speaking to journalists against the dynamites explosion in Ibadan.

The lawmaker who was saddened by what befell his constituents, said how these dynamites are acquired, stored and used, must be controlled by government.

He regretted that the activities of illegal miners in the state,  caused innocent citizens their lives in the blast.

The House Committee on ICT Chairman, further regretted that the task seems overwhelming to federal security agencies, insisting that state police was the answer to the ongoing killings in the country.

Olajide reiterated the 10th Assembly’s resolve towards the passage of bills on State Policing as part of ongoing efforts aimed at tackling the ravaging insecurity across the country.

 While commiserating with Oyo State government and families of victims of the explosion which occured in Ibadan, on Tuesday night, the lawmaker said, “Community policing is actually one of the very smartest way to police your people. somebody sees something somebody knows something, they need to speak at the right time.

“Failure to do so will cause situation like this. So, we are going to reopen that because remember, we’ve also been talking about State Police, we’ll be talking about Community Police.

“So, I think you know situation like this would actually present an urgency to the matter, so that that way we can get the right support that we need to pass whatever legislation that we need to to pass for this.

“So definitely we’re going to pick this up and it’s going to be in the front burner of the activities of the House as soon as we reconvene as a House.”

Hon. Olajide who applauded the prompt intervention of Governor Seyi Makinde and all the First Responders, noted that efforts were on to nip the situation in the bud.

He said: “We woke up to a very horrific situation in Ibadan which happened around 8pm last night. From information gathered so far coming from the office of the Governor of Oyo State, who I must also commend immensely for his rapid response to the situation.

“The dynamite or explosive detonated, we do understand the loss of lives. I do not want to speculate on the numbers of lives yet, because I don’t have those firm numbers yet. But we do know that there are casualties.

“From the Office of the Governor we also understand that a lot of people are in the hospitals receiving treatment, which the Governor has actually made commitments to make sure that everybody is taken care of to get the first class medical treatment that they deserve and they are going to get.

“Also let me say this very clearly that, I want to commend the First Responders NEMA, the Police, DSS and all the emergency responders that have responded to this urgent call.

“At this point, that area remains a crime scene, which means we have to work with the law enforcement to preserve the integrity of that area. I was going to go there this morning, but I was advised against it because going there we will also be part of the problem because if we go there, while the whole area has been cordoned off. And so to go there right now, we could polarize the area and we don’t want to play politics with the lives of our people.

“We’ll let the first responders and all of the security, medical agencies on rescue missions, we’ll let them go through their work. And then we’ll now go there condone with our people and also offer the relief materials because when you have a situation like this.

“And also let me say this, I have spoken to the Speaker of the House of Representative Rt. Honourable Tajudeen Abass. He also has offered his condolences to the people of Ibadan and Oyo State at large. And he has actually mandated me to also go ahead and do more fact-finding and present that to him at the end of today.

“So that we can figure out what kind of materials is needed for our people, so that we can actually come up with some kind of relief for our people.

“It’s unfortunate, but the information that we got it is that one of these illegal miners actually was in possession of this explosive in a residential area, which eventually cause this disaster. But we will find out more information.”

In a bid to unravel the immediate and remote causes of the ugly incident, Hon. Olajide beckoned on Director General of Department of State Security to conduct thorough investigation into the incident.

COVER

Tinubu Charges Qatari Investors to Report Bribe Demanding Officials

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By David Torough

President Bola Tinubu yesterday in Doha, Qatar charged captains of industry in Qatar to report to him any government official who will demand a bribe or any form of inducement at any point in their business activities in Nigeria.

Speaking at the Nigeria-Qatar Business and Investment Forum in Doha yesterday Tinubu told Qatari investors that Africa’s largest economy is being reformed and upgraded.

He reassured the international business community that Nigeria is ready for serious business as his administration will deal decisively with any and all entrenched interests in the country who undermine investor confidence in the Nigerian economy, pledging to remove all bottlenecks standing in the way of profitable and legitimate enterprise.

The president said, “I am here to give you the assurance that reforms are going on; forget about whatever you heard in the past. Whatever is the obstacle or problem that some of you might have experienced; it is in the past, because there is no obstacle in the future.

“Do not offer a bribe to any of our people, and if it is requested or taken from you, report to us. You will have access to me. Nigeria will no longer be defined by the past, but by what we do now and moving forward. Do not let perceptions become a hindrance to your will to invest. Nigeria is serious about revolutionizing investment promotion.

“We are removing obstacles today and we are going to continue to remove all obstacles. We have done so much within nine months. And I assure you, it is free entry and free exit. Your funds will flow smoothly into and out of our country. Bring your investments.”

Tinubu noted that the war against corruption and insecurity in Nigeria had been significantly strengthened with the appointment of the former Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, as National Security Adviser (NSA).

“We have a man who has won many global awards for anti-corruption as an anti-corruption czar.

“My responsibility is to tell you that Nigeria is open for business and to assure you that your investments are safe in our hands. We have men and women of great reputation here. And we believe we can forge a good committee that will advance our discussions to fruitful conclusions.

“A nation is an artificial entity unless there are good people to drive it. People build great nations and we have great people. We are ready,” the President affirmed.

Tinubu noted that Nigeria possesses vast opportunities in various fields, telling his host: “We have oil and gas; we have solid minerals. I do not see why we cannot become prolific partners in exploring iron ore, as well as steel production, and energy across the board.

“I am here to give you assurances in all spheres: tourism, hospitality, healthcare, and many other opportunities that abound around us. Do not be the investors who miss out on the golden opportunity we present,” the President added.

Welcoming the Nigerian delegation in the presence of Qatari captains of industry, Sheikh Mohammed bin Hamad bin Qassim Al Abdullah Al Thani, Qatar’s Minister of Commerce and Industry, said his country looks forward to exploring opportunities in Nigeria, owing to its population demography and market, as it seeks to prioritize new investments in low carbon initiatives, mineral products, petroleum chemicals, industry, and consumables.

“We look forward to working with our Nigerian counterparts to achieve our joint objectives in these sectors,” the Minister said.

The President of the Nigeria-Qatar Business and Investment Forum were: Borno State Governor, Professor Babagana Umara Zulum; Kaduna State Governor, Senator Uba Sani; Lagos State Governor, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu; National Security Adviser (NSA), Ribadu; Coordinating Minister of the Economy and Minister of Finance, Mr. Wale Edun; Minister of Solid Minerals Development, Dr Dele Alake; Coordinating Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Professor Muhammad Ali Pate; Minister of Marine and Blue Economy, Mr. Adegboyega Oyetola; Minister of Trade, Industry and Investment, Dr Doris Uzoka-Anite; Minister of Youth, Dr Jamila Bio Ibrahim; and the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources (Gas), Mr. Ekperipe Ekpo.

Others at the meeting were Special Adviser on Energy, Mrs. Olu Verheijen; and the President of the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Mines, and Agriculture (NACCIMA), Mr. Dele Kelvin Oye.

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COVER

Mob Beat Two Policemen to Death after Road Crash

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By Our Reporter

Two policemen on escort duty were yesterday beaten to death, two others injured following a mob action at Ikpeshi in Akoko-Edo Local Government Area of Edo State.

This happened after a Toyota Hilux vehicle belonging to the escort duty policemen in the convoy of former Edo House of Assembly member Emmanuel Agbaje hit a motorcycle, resulting in the death of the rider, a woman and her child.

Ikpeshi youths, according to sources, besieged the office of Edo State Security Vigilante Network, where the two policemen were taken, overpowered them and beat the policemen to death.

Two other policemen were rescued by the vigilante members.

The rescued police were taken hospital.

The four policemen were from Police Mobile Force (PMF) 19, Port Harcourt in Rivers State.

The chairman of Akoko-Edo local council, Tajudeen Alade who condemned the activities of Ikpeshi youths declared that the persons involved would be identified, arrested and prosecuted to serve as a deterrent to others.

Edo Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Chidi Nwabuzor, confirmed the incident.

He said investigation into the incident was ongoing after which the command would release more details to the public.

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COVER

NDIC Reimburses Depositors of 183 Rested Microfinance, Mortgage Banks

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By Tony Obiechina, Abuja

Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC) has reimbursed depositors of 179 rested microfinance and four mortgage banks across the country.

The Managing Director of the corporation, Dr Bello Hassan disclosed this at the NDIC Special Day during the just-concluded 45th Kaduna International Trade Fair.

Hassan, who was represented by the NDIC’s Deputy Director of Communication, Hauwa Gambo reiterated that the corporation’s priority was the protection of depositors’ funds of licensed banks in distress.

According to Hassan, in carrying out its statutory functions, the corporation has introduced the Single Customer View framework to expedite payment to depositors of liquidated banks.

He added that the NDIC has enhanced its collaboration with the judiciary for speedy prosecution of failed insured banks which has resulted in resolving long-drawn cases of closed banks such as Fortune and Triumph Banks liquidation.

According to the NDIC boss, the efforts have significantly improved the debt recovery rate, which enabled the corporation to declare 100 per cent liquidation dividends to uninsured depositors of more than 20 deposit money banks.

He said, “Our priority at NDIC is the protection of Nigerian depositors. We are dedicated to safeguarding depositors’ funds from the adverse effects of bank failure. The corporation has introduced the Single Customer View framework to expedite payment to depositors of closed banks.

“The corporation has enhanced collaboration with the judiciary for speedy prosecution of failed insured institutions. This concerted effort has resulted in resolving long-drawn cases of closed banks such as Fortune and Triumph Banks in liquidation.

“Moreover, we have utilised alternative dispute resolution mechanisms and out-of-court settlements, revitalising our liquidation activities. These efforts have significantly improved our debt recovery rate, enabling us to declare 100 per cent liquidation dividends to uninsured depositors of more than 20 deposit money banks in liquidation.”

Hassan also said that NDIC deployed digital remote payment strategies to facilitate electronic funds transfers to verified depositors’ alternate bank accounts.

To address the apathy among depositors with small balances, he said the NDIC launched the ‘Deposit Tracer’ in partnership with mobile operators, which allows depositors to access their unpaid balances through mobile accounts.

He urged depositors of banks in liquidation to utilise the various initiatives by the corporation to claim their funds trapped in closed banks.

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