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Panic in Zamfara as Bandits Raid Communities for Levies

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By Our Reporters

Residents in four communities in Maru Local Government Area of Zamfara State have fled after bandits abducted over 100 people.

Those kidnapped were said to have refused to pay N110 million monthly levy to a criminal group.

It is reported that the bandits, on Friday night invaded Mutumji, Kwana, Mahuta and Unguwar Kawo and went away with those they seized.

The bandits were reported to have sent a letter promising they would come return to take away more people if they failed to pay the N110 million levy within one week.

A resident said, “We have to flee to other places due to the fear that after abducting 110 people, the leader of the bandits, sent a warning letter to us that we must pay  the levy within a week or else he would send his men to come and abduct more people.

He said the bandits had directed the four communities to pay certain amount of money to make up the N110 million.

Pay levy per village as shown in the bandits’ letter is: Mutumji N50million, Kwana N30 million, Mahuta N20 million and Unguwar Kawo N10 million.

The four villages are now inhabited by sick persons, very old persons and animals

Residents said the bandits had been collecting levies from them for a long time with the full knowledge government officials.As at the time of filling this report, there was no government official response.

Worried by the security crisis, the Zamfara State Governor, Dauda Lawal on Sunday in Gusau enjoined residents to continue to pray and seek divine intervention to end lingering insecurity in the state.

Lawal made the call in a message he sent through his Chief of Staff, Alhaji Mukhtar Lugga, to the opening of the state’s 27th Qur’anic recitation competition.

Gov. Lawal said in his message to the Qur’anic recitation competition that: “on behalf of the state government, I extend condolences to families of those who lost their lives recently due to insecurity.

“The state government is aware of the challenges faced by some communities in the state.”

He said the state government had recruited operatives of Community Protection Guards, a local vigilance group, as part of measures to provide lasting solutions to insecurity in the state.

“Since its inception, my administration has been making efforts to address security challenges bedevilling our communities.

“I am therefore appealing to people of the state to remain calm and continue to be patient.

“I believe with the measures put in place, very soon the security challenges will become history by God’s grace,’’ he said in the message delivered by Lugga.

Gov. Lawal also commended the Qur’anic recitation committee for organising the annual event.

He noted that the recitation and memorisation of the holy book had a very significant impact in promoting peace and stability.

COVER

Insecurity: State Police Bill Passes Second Reading in Reps

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By Ubong Ukpong, Abuja

A bill seeking to alter the provision of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to provide for the establishment of state police passed through second reading in the House of Representatives on Tuesday.

Entitled “A Bill for an Act to Alter the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 to Provide for Establishment of State Police and for Related Matters (HB.

617),” the proposed legislation was sponsored by the Deputy Speaker Benjamin Okezie Kalu and 14 other lawmakers.

Leading the debate on its general principles, one of the co-sponsors, Hon.

Tolani Shagaya noted that the primary purpose of government as enshrined in Section 14(2)(b) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (As Altered) is the security and welfare of the citizens.

He noted that in recent times, the nation’s collective security has been greatly challenged and state policing is not only inevitable, but urgently desired to tackle the mounting challenges of insecurity.

The lawmaker explained that the establishment of State Police is a clarion call for a tailored, community-centric policing system; and an acknowledgment that our states are uniquely positioned to address the security challenges within their borders.

Listing some of the key innovations of the proposed alteration, he said, “the transfer of “Police” from the “Exclusive Legislative List” to the “Concurrent Legislative List”, a move that effectively empowers States to have State controlled policing; the introduction of a comprehensive framework to ensure cohesion as well as accountability and uniform standards between the Federal Police and State Police; the provision of prescribed rigorous safeguards preventing unwarranted interference by the Federal Police in State Police affairs, emphasising collaboration and intervention only under well-defined circumstances.

Others included: “the establishment of State Police Service Commissions as distinct from the Federal Police Service Commission with clearly defined roles and jurisdictions; a re-calibration of the National Police Council to include the Chairmen of the State Police Service Commissions, emphasising the collaborative and consultative nature of policing in our federal system, a recognition of the possible financial challenges which may be faced by States Police, by empowering the Federal Government to provide grants or aids subject to the approval of the National Assembly, thus ensuring adequate resources for effective policing, etc.”

Shagaya added that the alterations proposed in the Bill are not just alterations to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, but also the building blocks of a more secure, accountable and resilient Nigeria.

Contributing in support of the bill, Hon. Ahmed Jaha stated that the bill is timely as security is the responsibility of all and everybody’s business.

He noted that with community policing and Nigerian police working in tandem, they will rid our communities of all forms of crime.

Also, Hon. Babajimi Benson supported the bill, commending the Deputy Speaker for initiating it.

On his part, Hon. Awaji-Inombek Abiante in supporting the bill noted that Nigeria has had enough of insecurity and establishing state police is a way to improve the situation.

The bill when put to vote got the support of the majority of the members.

It was later referred to the Committee on Constitution Review by the Deputy Speaker who presided over the session.

He urged members who have further inputs on the bill to channel such concerns to the committee.

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MOFI Launches N100bn Fund to Stimulate Investments

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By Tony Obiechina, Abuja

Ministry of Finance Incorporated (MOFI) has launched a N100bn project preparation fund to stimulate investments in Nigeria.

The Managing Director/Chief Executive of MOFI, Mr Armstrong Takang disclosed this at the Public Wealth Management Conference in Abuja on Tuesday.

The conference which was declared open by Vice President Kashim Shettima had in attendance the Minister of Finance Wale Edun, the Chairman of the MOFI Board Dr Shamsudeen Usman, a former Finance Minister Dr Olusegun Aganga, Chairman of Heirs Holdings Tony Elumelu and other top officials in the public and private sectors of the economy.

As part of a broader strategy to deal with these challenges, Takang said MOFI, as the trusted custodian and the shareholder for the Federal Government of Nigeria’s investment assets is executing a number of initiatives aimed at contributing towards building a more inclusive and sustainable economy.

According to him, the conference would foster collaboration among stakeholders, facilitating the exchange of insights, experiences, and best practices in managing public assets.

He said by working together, stakeholders can find innovative solutions to the challenges the economy is currently facing.

He explained that efficiency and transparency and accountability are at the heart of effective public wealth management, pointing out that the conference will be used as an avenue to optimize the performance and returns from federal government’s assets under MOFI’S management, ensuring that they deliver maximum value for the Nigerian people.

He stated that given the importance of public wealth in rebuilding the economy, especially at a time when there is a need for more focus on domestic resource mobilisation, now is the time to encourage the exploration of innovative mechanisms such as public-private partnerships and alternative financing models.

By unlocking hidden value in public assets, Takang said the country can attract investments and drive economic growth for Nigerians.

He also disclosed that the conference would provide potential investors with data-driven insights on federal government assets, noting that by presenting compelling investment opportunities, MOFI can attract the capital needed to fuel economic development and create jobs for Nigerians.

Speaking also at the event, Usman said MOFI will leverage and explore innovative strategies that will unlock the full potential of the government’s public assets.

He said, “We are starting a journey that other nations such as Singapore or Sweden, or more recently Saudi Arabia have undertaken before.

“We will blend the lessons learnt from such country’s experiences with the unique circumstances of Nigeria. We are committed to working collaboratively with all stakeholders to achieve our project.

“From the 10 year plan, we have in line with Mr. President’s emphasis on delivering results, identifying a number of key deliverables, and setting specific key performance indicators to track and report our performance.

“We aim to maximise returns, attract investment, and guarantee sustainable economic growth.”

Foreign Investment Drops by 80 Percent

Meanwhile, foreign investment into Nigeria dropped by 80 percent to $3.9bn in 2023 from the $5.3bn that was invested in the country in 2022, analysis of a report of Capital Importation into Nigeria has shown.

The report which was released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) showed that Nigeria attracted $1.1bn in Q1 2023, $1.03bn in Q2, $654.6m in Q3 and $1,08bn in Q4.

In 2022, $1.57bn was imported into the country in Q1, which reduced to $1.53in Q2. It further went down to $1.15bn and $1.06bn in Q3 and Q4 respectively.

However, the report said the S$1.08bn that was imported into the country in Q4 2023 was slightly higher than the $1.06bn recorded in Q4 2022, indicating an increase of 2.62 per cent.

“In comparison to the preceding quarter, capital importation rose by 66.27 per cent from the $654.6m in Q3 2023,” the report added.

It said other investments ranked top accounting for 54.64 per cent ($594.7m) of total capital importation in Q4 2023, followed by portfolio investment with 28.46 per cent ($309.76m) and Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) with 16.90 per cent ($183.9m).

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Wike Gives Ultimatum to Illegal Land Owners in FCT Communities

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By Laide Akinboade, Abuja

Minister Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA), Nyesom Wike on Monday gave ultimatum to illegal settlers in Chika Aleita Abuja Science and Technological Village to leave.

Wike stated this during an inspection tour of the technology village in company of his counterpart in the Ministry of Science and Technology, Uche Godfrey Nnaji, in Abuja.

Issuing the order, Wike said the fast encroachment was aided by inability of the past administration to take action and stop individuals from building illegally despite the payment of compensation.

He noted that the money expended in providing infrastructure to the village will not be a waste.

“I will give Development Control a go ahead to demolish because I heard they have been compensated since 2018.

“We want to take over the place so that infrastructure can come in. It will even attract investors. I can tell you that they have been compensated.

“No amount of propaganda can stop us from doing the right thing,” The FCT Minister said. .

Earlier, the Minister of Science and Technology, informed Wike that leaving illegal settlers that have encroached the buffer of the village constitutes a big risk and loss to the country’s investment drive to the village that is a the replica of London technology village.

He said the government of Great Britain was able to generate 6 billion pounds in six years.

Nnaji noted that the country stands the chance of making more if right environment is put in place.

The Abuja technology village was the creation of Federal Government during the return of democracy to the country.It is a Free Trade Zone expected to incubate science and technology but subsequent administrations failed to execute the project.

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