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NARTO Strike Causes Fuel Scarcity in Abuja

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By Laide Akinboade, Abuja

Many fillings stations in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) were on Monday shut down, leading to long queues by motorists at the few outlets that were dispensing petrol.

Operators in the downstream oil sector confirmed that the development was due to the suspension of operations by the Nigerian Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO), in fulfilment of their threat to down tools beginning from Monday.

The Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL) filling station on Arab Road in Kubwa, Abuja, was closed on Monday morning.

The Conoil filling station along the Zuba-Kubwa expressway had long queues.

NNPCL retail outlet in the Central Business District of Abuja also had very long queues on Monday morning, as many other stations run by independent marketers closed shop due to the halt in the transportation of petroleum products by NARTO members.

On the airport road, all the filling stations on the corridor were not dispensing.

It was reported that the Federal Government had ordered oil marketers to negotiate with NARTO to avert the planned suspension of operations by it members.

The report stated that oil marketers and the executives of NARTO met about six times in between Saturday and Sunday, following the declaration of the petroleum products’ transporters to halt operations.

It also stated that the Federal Government through the downstream regulator and the petroleum ministry would meet with NARTO members, as well as other parties today (Monday) in Abuja to sort out the issues.

NARTO had vowed to stop lifting petroleum products beginning from today (Monday) due to the high cost of operations.

NARTO members have repeatedly raised concern over the high cost of diesel required to power their trucks for the transportation of petroleum products across the country.

Oil marketers had lamented  that diesel price was between N1,250 to N1,400/litre depending on the area of purchase.

NARTO’s President, Yusuf Othman, had in a statement he issued in Abuja on Thursday, said the statement was an official announcement from the association’s headquarters that members of the group would park their trucks from Monday.

“Why? It is because what we spend on operations is more than what we get in total, both in local and bridging,” he stated.

While the tanker operators insisted that the suspension of operations was still in force, it was, however, gathered on Monday that the meeting between them and the Federal Government was ongoing at the time of filing this report.

This, according government sources, was aimed at halting the suspension of operations by NARTO in order to avert a nationwide scarcity of fuel.

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Stakeholders Task NASS to Complete Electoral Act Amendment in 2025

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Stakeholders in the electoral process have tasked the National Assembly to complete the amendment of the Electoral Act and the review of the Constitution, two years before the 2027 general elections.

The stakeholders said this in a communique issued on Monday after the National Multi-Stakeholders Forum on Electoral Reform Priorities, held under the auspices of Youth Electoral Reform Priorities.

The participants said this would enable all stakeholders and other Nigerians, to fully understand the changes made to the laws, for effective implementation and compliance.

The participants observed that the processes leading to the 2023 general elections fell below expectations.

“Constitutional reforms to strengthen the electoral process are national priorities for many Nigerians, especially the organisations represented at the multi-stakeholders forum.

“We urge the Federal Government to create special election committee with non-partisan people of impeccable character to take over the power of the President in appointing the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

“This committee will also be responsible for appointing INEC National Commissioners and Resident Electoral Commmissioners,” they said in the communique.

The stakeholders also said that the amendments should ensure that all pre-election cases were concluded before elections and post-election cases concluded before inauguration of elected officials.

“There is also need for periodic audit of the National Register of Voters.

“INEC should transmit polling unit electlon results in near real-time to the dedicated portal accessible by the public. This should be induded in the Electoral Act amendment.

“INEC should be unbundled by creating the National Electoral Offenses Commission which will have the power to prosecute electoral offenders,” they added.

The participants called on government to empower and expand the scope of the National Orientation Agency to mobilise Nigerians for future elections through effective voter education programme.

“Nigerian youths and otherstakeholders should continue to be actively engaged in the electoral process, beginnng with the constitutional and electoral review,” they said.

The Forum was organised by Kimpact Development lnitiative with the support of National Democratic Institute and National Endowment for Democracy.

It was attended by a wide range of organisations including the Youth Electoral Reform Project; Nigerian Youths Parliament; National Association of Nigerian Students; representatives of political parties; Inter-Party Advisory Council, and the Conference of United Political Parties.

Others were the Nigerian Union of Journalists: Nigerian Labour Congress: Nigerian Bar Association; Christian Association of Nigeria; Jama’atu Nasril Islam; and Nigerian Medical Association.(NAN)

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Adamawa Govt. Earmarks N55.5 bn as 2024 Supplementary Budget

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The Adamawa  Government has approved the sum of N55.5 billion as supplementary budget for the 2024 financial year.

Mrs Neido  Kofulto, State Commissioner for Information and Strategy said this while briefing  newsmen on the development in the late hours of Tuesday in Yola.

She said the supplementary budget was part of the emergency Executive Council Meeting presided over by the state Deputy Governor Prof.

Kaletapwa Farauta.

According to her, the supplementary budget is necessitated by the need to capture and finance projects which were  not initially captured in the main budget.

“The council resolution on the supplementary estimate will soon be presented to the State House of Assembly for ratification and approval,” she said.

Mr Emmanuel Piridimso, State Commissioner for Budget and Planning said the budget was initiated to finance other additional projects as the State finances had reasonably increased.

According to him, the ministries captured in the supplementary budget are, Ministry of Education, Women Affairs, Commerce and Industries and Works and Energy Development and among others.

The Adamawa  government had on Dec. 9, 2023 presented an appropriation estimate of N225.8billion.

(NAN)

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Prominent People are Behind Mounting of Illegal Checkpoints in Benue- Chairman BIRS

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From Attah Ede Makurdi 

The acting Chairman of Benue State Internal Revenue Services (BIRS), Mr. Emmanuel Agema, on Monday, lamented over the activities of illegal tax collectors in the State, saying prominent people with the State are behind the mounting of those illegal checkpoints across the state.

Mr. Agema who disclosed this while speaking with newsmen in Makurdi, said that not more than 35 persons have been charged to court.

He maintained that upon assumption of office, the board decided to terminated revenue contract with a few to close revenue leakages about and now using the board staff to collect taxes, a development, he said has assisted the board to generate more revenue for the state.

The acting chairman said the State government has giving the board a target to generate over 16 billion as internally generated revenue for 2024, adding that in 2023, the board met its 14 billion target and surpassed it.

Mr. Agena who decried the activities of illegal tax collectors in the State, said most of them are backed by very prominent individuals, averring that under his watch, the era of patronizing politicians is over.

“We have already arrested 35 people who are engaging in illegal tax collection and have been arraigned in court.

He disclosed that a truck conveying palliatives from Adamawa to Anambra State was hijacked by some youths in Aliade, Gwer East local government area of the State 

According to him, the youths who mounted illegal checkpoint, stopped the vehicles, broke their windscreen and stole the sum of #200,000 from one of the drivers.

He said two persons have been arrested and transferred to the DSS on the governor’s directives that a thorough investigation be carried out to fish out those behind illegal tax collection in the state

 “The truck was intercepted and the driver beaten while the windscreen of the vehicle broken and over 200,000 naira stolen. 3 persons have been arrested and are in police custody. They will be moved to DSS for thorough investigation

“Our aim is to flush out or reduce illegal tax collectors to the barest minimum. This has been a big challenge. We have constituted a team headed by director of Tax collection. Prominent people in the State are involved in encouraging these boys. 

“We also plan to recover over 5.6 billion from ground rent. We are liaising with the Ministry of Land towards this direction. 

“We also, engaged the service of Softnet, an ICT company to aid us collect revenue. They are paid commission. The company have engaged over 250 staff who have been trained and given POS to collect revenue.

“Taxation is about confidence. Our work now is easy because tax payers are willing to pay because the people are seeing what government is doing”.

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