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Senate approves N5.079trn 2024 budget for Nigeria Customs Service

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The Senate has approved the 2024 budget of N5.079 trillion for the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) for the 2024 fiscal year.

The approval followed adoption of recommendations of a report of the Committee on Customs, Excise and Tariffs on Thursday at plenary.

Presenting the report, Chairman of the Committee, Sen.

Jibrin Isah (APC-Kogi) said the total capital expenditure earmarked for the fiscal year was N706.
43 billion for the 2024 financial year.

He said personnel cost stood at N225.99 billion, representing 31.99 per cent of the budget, while overhead cost was N111.76 billion, representing 15.82 per cent.

Isah said the cost for on-going capital projects stood at N148.

42 billion, while new projects were earmarked for N220.26 billion, representing 52.19 per cent.

According to him, the service hopes to timely roll out of the 2024 fiscal policy measures to enable it commence implementation promptly.

He said that as part of its strategy, the National Single Window project that had lingered in past years was still being pursued for better process, harmonization, standardization and enhanced revenue generation.

Isah said the service intended to provide flexible windows for the perfection of illegally imported vehicles.

This, he said, was to ensure the collection of expected import duties and 25 per cent penalty charge from such a category of transactions.

He said the measure would enable the government to realise more revenue.

“There will be an intensive revenue recovery drive, using a number of mechanisms.

“This shall include the Systems Audit, real time auditing, post clearance auditing, institution of revenue recovery committee and other intelligence gathering tools.

“The revised penalties and charges in the new Nigeria Customs Service Act, 2023 will improve the service’s revenue generation,’’ Isah said.

According to him, the service is looking forward to the area of cargo tracking in collaboration with the relevant government agency, Shippers Council for effective monitoring of cargo, vessel movement to diversion or theft.

He also said that the decongestion of the nation’s ports was proposed towards efficient and effective port operations, adding that it was capable of yielding more revenue.

“The service’s anti-smuggling campaign, using all required operational guidance as provided within the confines of Customs laws, will be intensified.

“This is to ensure that illicit trade that creates a sphere for revenue leakages as well as economic sabotage are reduced to the barest minimum.” Isah said.

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Succour as Businessman Donates Cash to 17 Families of Slain Soldiers

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By David Torough, Abuja

The families of men of the Nigerian Army killed in Ukuama community expressed gratitude haven received cash support from a businessman. They applauded the philanthropist for his goodwill donation.It was learned that the philanthropist, Gboyega Kaizer Obelawo, a young Nigerian businessman, is also the Managing Director of Kaizer Pro Limited and has been demonstrating similar gestures as part of his company’s corporate social responsibility.

The beneficiaries, who were families of the 17 soldiers brutally murdered in March this year in Ukuama community of Delta State, expressed their heartfelt gratitude for the cash received to support their businesses as well as other pressing personal needs.
”Truly the country and Army my husband served with his colleagues have not abandoned us, we have been well attended to both from the government and the Nigerian Army. Receiving the good news of another support from a good Nigerian willingly is heart melting and a good sign that my husband’s sacrifice is well appreciated by good Nigerians.” said one of the beneficiaries. In a follow up chat with a retired soldier who preferred not to mention, said, “I was sincerely surprised when I learnt that an individual, private citizen could voluntary part away with such an amount at this challenging time in the country. Now I am proud to have served in the Military because there are still people who appreciate our sacrifices.”It was gathered that Kaizer has been fond of supporting individuals in need for several years, with a focus on empowerment and sustainable development as one of the corporate social responsibility of his company.Amazed by the kind hearted gesture by a good Nigerian and private citizen to families of fallen heroes, our reporter tried to reach the young philanthropist in a bid to secure an interview with him on phone, he however declined that he will prefer not to talk about it for now.It would be recalled that there was a bloodbath that took place at Okuama in Delta State where 17 soldiers were murdered in a most gruesome manner that was condemned by many Nigerians, which later led to the military’s intervention in the community in a bid to fish out the perpetrators.

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FEMD Raises Alarm over Rising Cases of Building Collapse in FCT

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The Federal Capital Territory Emergency Management Department (FEMD) has raised alarm over increased incidences of building collapse, fire outbreak and flood in the territory.

The acting Director-General (D-G) of the department, Mrs Florence Wenegieme, raised the alarm during a press conference in Abuja on Wednesday.

Wenegieme said that the department had responded to seven emergencies between June 24 and July 13, out of which four were building collapses, flood incident, fire outbreak and attempted suicide.

She said that a flash flood occurred at Trademore Estate, Lugbe, on June 24 and a fire incident at old Karu Market on June 28.

She also said that the four building collapses included an incident on June 28 at Guzape District and another at Prince and Princess Estate, on June 28, followed by the incident at Nkwere Street, Garki on July 1.

She added that the recent building collapse was the incident at Kubwa Phase II on July 13, while a suicide attempt was averted at Aso TV/Radio Mast, Katampe on July 8.

The acting D-G blamed the developments on residents’ attitude of dumping waste on water ways, non-adherence to Fire Safety and Building Codes, use of substandard electrical materials and illegal electrical connections.

Other factors, she added, include storage of volatile substances in markets and homes, high use of combustible materials in building construction, activities of quacks in building construction, and use of sub-standard construction materials.

She further identified contributing factors as violation of building approval, carrying out maintenance work without regulatory approvals, and non-conduct of Environmental Impact Assessment before building construction among others.

On ways forward, Wenegieme called for the review of existing laws in the building industry to tackle the rising trend of building collapse like stiffer punishment for violators, especially when lives were lost.

She also called for the review of the Fire Safety Code to mandate the use of non-combustible materials in building construction to reduce risk of fire outbreaks.

“All developers should provide insurance cover to construction workers on site throughout the duration of the project.

“All buildings should be inspected by relevant authorities on completion to see if they meet minimum safety standards before they are certified for human habitation and other purposes.

“Responsible agencies should also make it mandatory for developers to submit professional certification of site engineers as part of securing building approval to eliminate the activities of quacks,” she said.

To discourage citizens against suicide, the acting D-G urged the National Orientation Agency to intensify campaign on civic responsibility to stimulate positive behavior and sense of patriotism among citizens.

She said that as part of disaster risk reduction, the department had been going round the city to ensure that structures removed for standing on waterways were not rebuilt.

She added that multi-disaster risk sensitisation and awareness campaigns were also ongoing, including jingles in TV and radio stations in different languages on issues of flood, fire outbreaks, building collapse and other potential emergencies.

“We have also temporarily closed the collapsed Dogon Gada box culvert and a Slip Road by Galadimawa roundabout to avoid loss of lives when it rains. These are flood-prone locations when it rains.

“We equally mounted flood warning signboards in flood prone locations and held strategic stakeholders meetings for prevention, mitigation and effective response to flood, building collapse, fire outbreaks, epidemics and other emergencies in the FCT.

“The department has also established local divers, disaster vanguards, town criers and disaster marshals and built their capacities for effective disaster response in their communities,” she said.

Wenegieme thanked the FCT Minister, Nyesom Wike, Coordinator of Abuja Metropolitan Management Council, Mr Felix Obuah and other stakeholders for their support to strengthen emergency response in the FCT. (NAN)

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Nigeria Records 22 Building Collapse, 33 Deaths in 7 Months -COREN

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The Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria (COREN), the regulatory body governing the practice of engineering has said that Nigeria recorded 22 building collapse between January to July 2024.

The President of COREN, Prof. Sadiq Abubakar made this known at a news conference on Wednesday in Abuja.

The news conference is themed,’’The Incessant Spate of Building Collapse in Nigeria in Recent Times-A Call for Sustainable Collaboration by All Stakeholders.

Abubakar said that from January to 14 July, alone, at least 22 cases of building collapse have been reported in Nigeria with Lagos accounting for 27.27 per cent, Abuja and Anambra 18.18 per cent each.

He added that Ekiti and Plateau followed with 9.09 per cent each and Kano, Taraba and Niger states accounted for 4.55 per cent each.

’’Records also showed that Lagos takes the lead in the incidences of building collapse.

’’As a matter of fact, over 91 buildings have collapsed resulting in the death of over 354 persons in Lagos from 2012 to date.

’’Similarly in Abuja, about 30 buildings have collapsed from 1993 till date resulting in the death of more than 64 persons and injury of many.

’’The most recent occurrences of building collapse close to DMGS Onitsha , Anambra state on June 12 and that of  a school (Saint Academy)in Plateau on July 13 where 22 students died and 134 injured as well as the building collapse in  Kubwa , Abuja.

He said that the incidences were worrisome.

According to him, this calls for deep reflection and collaboration of all stakeholders in stemming the tide.

’’While we commiserate with all victims and families, we want to commend the efforts of all emergency and security services for their prompt response at the time.’’

According to Abubabkar , the leading causes of building collapse varies from one location to the other.

He said some building collapse as a result of aging and  from some investigations and researches conducted over time, use of substandard construction materials and structural failure were also responsible.

He said that other factors included :illegal change of use of buildings, illegal addition of floors, quackery, inadequate or lack of supervision and oversight.

He added other factors were faulty foundations or lack of conduct of soil/geotechnical investigation, sharp and corrupt practices amongst others.

Abubakar also commended the respective affected state governments for constituting a panel of enquiry to look into the various cases with a view to finding out the immediate and remote causes and preventing future occurrences.

’’This is not the time for apportioning blames or contest of superiority within the built environment but a time for all stakeholders to unite and proffer workable and lasting solution, particularly in the prevention of building collapses.

’’All professionals within the built environment have a role to play in this.

’’In this regard we have identified and categorised many stakeholders that we will be engaging shortly,’’he said

The President said that the proliferation of illegal miners even within residential areas as reported in some quarters was a danger to the structural stability of buildings.

He added that the council had therefore, urged affected states to take urgent steps to reverse the trend adding that it was also time to enforce the compulsory insurance of some building under construction.

Abubakar said that perturbed by the incessant and avoidable incidences of building collapse in Nigeria and loss of lives in recent times, COREN had deemed to make major moves.

He said that COREN had taken some steps in monitoring and prevention of building collapse by training and licensing Engineering Regulation Monitoring (ERM) inspectors.

Abubakar added that COREN had reconstituted its Council Committee on Engineering Regulation Monitoring (ERM) and added an additional role of enforcement to its responsibility in line with the amended COREN Act.

He said that COREN had constituted  ERM&E Task Force at regional levels including Ibadan, Port Harcourt, Enugu, Kano, FCT, Gombe and Lagos among other steps to tackle buildingcollapse.(NAN)

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