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Six kidnapped as Kogi Assembly laments spate of insecurity in Yagba East

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From Joseph Amedu, Lokoja

Six persons have been kidnapped in the last three weeks in Yagba East Local Government Area of Kogi State.

The member representing Yagba East in the Kogi State House of Assembly Hon. Emmanuel Obaro disclosed this on Tuesday when he moved a motion of urgent public importance on the floor of the house in Lokoja.

Hon.

Obaro who could not ascertain whether the kidnapped victims have regain their freedom stated that, the issue of kidnapping, armed robbery is gradually spreading in his constituency which is creating a rippling-effect that can harm individuals, families and engulf the environment with fear and uncertainty across the various communities in Yagba East Local Government.

His words, “I am aware that in the last three weeks, six different cases of attacks, leading to loss of lives that are likened to banditry are reported. Other cases of attacks in the form of kidnapping are on the rise. These attacks are affecting businesses already and dissipating the resources of the vulnerable poor victims.

“It is my desire that measures be resolved by this honourable House to address these issues and ensure that people can live their lives without fear of violence and victimization.”

He, however, commended the Kogi State Governor Alhaji Yahaya Bello for securing the State for more than seven years, praying that his motion will be given an urgent attention to restore peace in his constituency.

“A passionate plea be conveyed by this august Assembly urging the State Government to provide a 24-hour security surveillance on Isanlu to Egbe road, where applicable, military, local hunters or Vigilantes should be involved to eliminate the criminal threats” he added.

Seconding the motion, the member representing  Igalamela/Odolu Major Enefola, lamented that the resurge of kidnapping, banditry, armed robbery remains a thing of concern for all in the State, stressing that, all hands must be on deck to address this societal menace.

He said, “On the 24th of December, 2023, a Rev. Father was kidnapped in my Local Government when he was going to perform his religious obligation. Ransom was paid before he was released. I would like us to speedily invite the head of vigilantes, to know their challenge and see how we can rub minds together to curb the growing spate of armed robbery, kidnapping across the State”.

In his submission, the minority leader and member representing Yagba West Hon. Idowu Ibikunle who could not hide emotions following his experience while going to his constituency said “Whenever I am going to my home land, until I enter my home before my mind will be settled.”

Ruling on the motion, the Speaker of the house, Rt Hon. Aliyu Umar posited that the people of Kogi State are aware of the giant achievement of the present administration in terms of security.

He charged the house Committee on Security to interface with the newly appointed caretaker Chairmen to discuss a way forward in addressing the present insecurities across the State.

Meanwhile, A bill for a law to repeal and re-enact the customary court of appeal (Establishment) law, 2008 and other matters connected therewith, as well as a bill for a law to repeal and re-enact the Kogi State area Courts law, 1991 and other matters connected therewith, 2023 and a bill for a law to enact the Kogi State animal disease control and other related matters law 2023 have passed through first reading in the Kogi State House of Assembly.

The house, thereafter, condoled with the people of Ondo State over the demise of their former Governor Rotimi Akeredolu.

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PenCom Recovers N25.45bn from Defaulting Employers in 11 Years

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By Tony Obiechina, Abuja

The National Pension Commission (PenCom) has successfully recovered a total sum of successfully recovered a total of N25.45 billion in unremitted pension contributions from defaulting employers between the years 2012 and 2023.

This substantial amount encompasses the principal contributions of N12.

93 billion and penalties totalling N12.
52 billion in about 11 years.

The disclosure was made by the Head of Corporate Communications of PenCom, Mr Ibrahim Buwai during the Finance Correspondents Association of Nigeria (FICAN) Annual General Meeting held in Abuja at the weekend.

Buwai highlighted the importance of the Pension Reforms Act, noting that the legislation mandates penalties for late remittances, accruing interest at a rate of 2% per month.

He emphasised the nearly equal distribution between recovered principal contributions and penalties, underscoring the comprehensive efforts to enforce compliance.

He said: “From the inception of these recovery agents’ programmes in 2012 to December 31, 2023, the principal contributions that were recovered were about N12.9 billion while the penalty was about N12.5 billion.

“So, you can see that it’s almost 50-50. All this is what has been recovered from employers and paid into RSAs. The good thing is that all this penalty and principal goes into the individual RSA account.

“Nobody takes a penny, not PFAs, not PenCom, nobody. All these money recovered were for RSA holders and it goes into RSA. What you can help us by way of employers is that it is not in their interests not to remit because it is cheaper to remit than not to remit.”

 Addressing Compliance Challenges

PenCom’s recovery efforts are not without challenges. Buwai pointed out two major issues: employers failing to remit pension contributions and the lack of proper schedules accompanying remittances to Pension Fund Custodians (PFCs), which hampers the allocation of funds to RSA holders.

PenCom has taken proactive measures to combat these issues, including publicising a list of uncredited remittances and urging concerned parties to ensure compliance.

Buwai said, “We have the issue of employers not remitting. The second issue is that employers remitted but if there is no company schedule that shows the employers that these monies belong to Pension Fund Custodians (PFCs), they cannot apportion to RSA holders.

“We are not happy and that is why in 2023, we put out a statement on it and on our website, we have a long list of remittances that we saw were uncredited, calling on the people concerned to come forward and make sure the remittances are done.”

Ensuring Pension Fund Safety

Reiterating PenCom’s commitment to the safety of pension funds, Buwai assured that the regulatory body maintains strict guidelines to safeguard pension assets. These guidelines are meticulously designed to protect pension funds against potential investment risks.

He said:, “We are not wavering, we have not made it lax or easy. All those stringent guidelines that were thoroughly outlined so that pension funds might be protected in the event that these investment instruments might be available – those stringent requirements remain.

“All we know is that if the pension funds are available, pension funds managers will review and take their decisions.

“I have to also clarify that PenCom does not partake in investment issues on the pension funds.

“All we do as regulators is that we set out general guidelines as contained in our investment regulations.”

The diligent efforts of PenCom to recover unremitted pension contributions reflect its unwavering commitment to protecting employees’ retirement savings and ensuring employers adhere to regulatory obligations.

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FCTA Shuts Illegal Orphanage over Alleged Trafficking of 23 Children

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By Laide Akinboade, Abuja

Mandate Secretary of the FCT Women Affairs Secretariat, Mrs Adedayo Benjamins-Laniyi on Monday revealed that the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) has sealed off an orphanage in Karanmajigi, the Priesthood Orphanage after 23 children, aged one to 14 were trafficked from Plateau State.

Benjamins-Laniyi stated this at a press conference in Abuja, where she said that the FCT Minister, Nyesom Wike had authorised the secretariat to profile and recertify orphanages operating within the FCT.

According to the Mandate Secretary, “There is no question, yesterday, with immediate effect, that ‘home’ was sealed, shut down.

“We have the name of the proprietor of the orphanage home, but we are not naming names now for obvious reasons.

“When the entire material investigation is concluded, there will be an official gazetted presentation of the facts, the findings and the delivery of this intervention we’ve started here today.

“NAPTIP, as we speak is already on it. Using this as an example, one of the first things I have done is to get approval for the recertification of orphanage homes in Abuja.

“The minister has approved that there should be a full thorough reprofiling of anything that has to do with orphanage and recertification status of all orphanages in Abuja.”

She noted that the Women’s Secretariat was already working with the office of the Commissioner of Women Affairs of Plateau State to reunite the children with their families, some of whom she said had been at the uncertified orphanage for five years, since 2019.

“We are working with the Plateau State government to reunite the children that I had earlier mentioned by name and by age, with their families in Plateau State. This is a transition arrangement,” she said.

The Plateau State Commissioner for Women Affairs, Mrs Caroline Dafur narrated that the proprietors of the orphanage home abandoned the children at the orphanage, under the care of one Pastor Abraham, in a terrible condition of hunger.

Three of the children had then escaped and were discovered by officers of the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), who reported the case to NAPTIP and took the children to the Human Rights Radio, who then notified the Plateau State government and the FCT Women’s Secretariat.

“We came in yesterday and on reaching here, we were told that they went to church.

We kept going from one church to another, looking for them until we found them in a Deeper Life Church, where we were able to pick them up, and we went to the home. We saw the place, in fact, it is not supposed to be called a home.

“The place is just so unkempt. I wonder how the children were sleeping in the small room.

“Nine girls were sleeping in a very small room with just two mattresses. And then for the boys, they were in a small room too, with two mattresses just on the floor.

“And I mean, it’s so pathetic the way human beings treat human beings in this country,” Dafur explained.

She expressed the displeasure of the Plateau State government, while appreciating the Mandate Secretary for the assistance in evacuating the children and relocating them to the Karu Childrens’ Home.

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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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