Abuja Chamber President commends NSE for impacting positively on economy

The President of Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) Prince Adetokunbo Kayode, SAN, has commended the leadership of the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) for using their mandates to impact positively on the Nigerian economy.

The President made commendation when he led a team of Executive officials of the Chamber to honour an invitation extended to him by the stock market regulators to sound the closing gong recently.

He used the occasion to make case for a partnership between the two organisations to train Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) operators in order to effectively manage their businesses.

“I must commend the Director General of NSE, Mr. Oscar Onyema and his dynamic and vibrant team for the untiring efforts they have injected in carrying out the mandate of the is critical organisation.

“I want to use the occasion of this August invitation to place on record our appreciation to the management of the NSE for living up to the core mandate of their responsibilities. You have discharged your duties not only effectively but also efficiently which have made this organisation a result driven one. Let it be known that, we are proud to be associated with the giant strides of the NSE under its current leadership led by Mr. Oscar Onyema.

According to a statement signed by the Media and Strategy officer of the Chamber, Mr. Lubem Gena, Prince Kayode said the president used the opportunity to announce that, ACCI will formally make a request to NSE for consideration on the need to train Nigerians especially the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) players in areas that will generate more employment opportunities, employability skills and add great impetus to the overall growth of Nigeria’s economy.

“One of the problems that has been of serious concern to the Organized Private Sector (OPS) is the funding of the MSMEs in the country. We are not in the habit of blaming anybody because the government has done its bit by putting institutions in place to handle the funding problem. The concepts are always good but the mechanism of implementation is always the problem.

“Our Chamber, since my assumption of duties, has comprehensively taken a diagnostic look at the situation and have come up with various initiatives to improve the situation for the better.

“One of such is the establishment of a training arm known as the Business Entrepreneurial Skills and Technology (BEST) Center. This is where we provide the operators in the MSMEs with the dedicated and basic skills needed in accessing targeted financing, business management, Information Communication and Technology (ICT) skills and general business principles to our members in particular as well as the general public.

“I can authoritatively tell you that we have done remarkably well in this area and within a few weeks, the Provost of the Center, Prof. Adesoji Adesugba will be approaching you to enter into a discussion on how to help ACCI to drive and deepen the process”, he stated.

He also seized the opportunity to inform of the other activities of the Chamber across the other three centres namely: Policy Advocacy Centre (PAC), Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Center and the Abuja Trade Center (ATC) and enjoined the NSE to continue to play its assigned role of operating, regulating and quoting companies.

After briefly explaining the role of the Chamber in national development and its current activities, Prince Kayode received a standing ovation from the operators on the floor of the stock market.

In her speech, the Executive Director in charge of Regulation, Mrs. Tinu Awe, who represented Mr. Onyema said she was well aware of the internal developmental strides made by ACCI noting that, Prince Kayode has deployed his mastery into improving the existence of businesses in Abuja in particular and the country at large saying the NSE door is therefore open for the chamber.

She informed of the role of the NSE pointing out that it has, over the years, maintained efficiency in operational, pricing as well as enforcement of regulations governing insider trading amongst others.

The President was accompanied to the ceremony by the First Deputy President, Alhaji Abubakar Al-Mujtaba, Vice President Commerce, Mr. Johnson Anene, Vice President Mines, Rose Nwosu Esq, Vice President Women Development, Jumai Oluyede-Mohammed, Vice President Industry, Engr. Taiwo Oluseye, Acting Director General, Mrs. Tonia Shoyele and Media/Strategy Officer, Mr. Lubem Gena.

 

Presidency to probe NFF over ‘reckless’ spending in Russia

There were strong indications yesterday that the Presidency may have set up enquiry into the alleged ‘reckless’ spending by top officials of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) at the on-going FIFA World Cup in Russia.

The Super Eagles failed to equal their Brazil 2014 World Cup feat here in Russia, following their 1-2 defeat from the struggling South American side, Argentina, on Tuesday.

An official of the sports ministry told The Guardian in St. Petersburg yesterday that the Presidency was not happy with the ‘bad’ stories emanating from the Nigerian camp in Russia, adding that Sports Minister, Solomon Dalung had been given strict instruction to look into the various issues.

“The minister saw all these things coming even before we came to Russia. That was why he instructed the NFF to be mindful of the number of people they brought to Russia. Now the Presidency is not happy with the stories coming from here in Russia and the minister has been directed to carry out a thorough investigation into the alleged spending by the NFF in Russia,” the official said.

Meanwhile, the President of the NFF, Amaju Pinnick, was said to have embarked on a ‘desperate’ move to secure another term in office.

A source close to Pinnick yesterday told The Guardian in St. Petersburg that one of the steps he took to pacify some angry members of the NFF on Wednesday was to give his personal credit card to the Secretary-General of the NFF, Mohammed Sanusi, to settle their hotel bills amounting to $30,000.

“But that is even against the financial rules because it could be used against him later, especially now that everyone in high places is against him,” the source said.

“Amaju just wants to return to the football house in the August election, but I doubt if this move will save him because virtually all staff of the NFF and board members are angry with him. He always wants to do everything alone, and that is not good for the system.”

All efforts to speak with Pinnick yesterday proved abortive, as he was said to have gone to officiate in another venue of the competition as a member of the FIFA organising committee. (Guardian)

Amazon to expand delivery network

Amazon announced Thursday a new initiative to expand its delivery network, in an attempt to diversify its dependency on the nation’s postal service which President Donald Trump has criticized.

The company said in a statement Thursday it will help individual entrepreneurs to build and run their own delivery companies.

With startup costs as low as $10,000, owners can operate a fleet of up to 40 delivery vehicles and could make $300,000 in annual profit, according to the statement.

Amazon said owners would have access to the company’s delivery technology, hands-on training, discounts on some assets and services such as vehicle leases.

The move may have come as Trump recently slammed Amazon on several occasions for taking advantage of the USPS that is an independent agency of the federal government.

“Why is the United States Post Office [USPS], which is losing many billions of dollars a year, while charging Amazon and others so little to deliver their packages, making Amazon richer and the Post Office dumber or poorer? Should be charging MUCH MORE!,” he wrote Dec. 29 on Twitter.

“I am right about Amazon costing the United States Post Office massive amount of money for being their Delivery Boy ” he later wrote on April 3.

Trump’s criticism also stems from founder and CEO Jeff Bezos, the world’s richest person, who owns the Washington Post that have written stories that have been critical of Trump before and after his election.

While delivery rates between Amazon and USPS, and other couriers like FedEx and UPS, are undisclosed and renewed annually, the e-commerce giant may have found a way to diversify its delivery methods.

There will also be deals for owners on Amazon-branded vehicles, branded uniforms, fuel and comprehensive insurance coverage.

“Customer demand is higher than ever and we have a need to build more capacity,” Amazon’s senior vice president of worldwide operations Dave Clark said in the statement, adding, “it’s exciting to continue to see the logistics industry grow.” (Anadolu)

EU leaders reach deal on migration

European Union leaders have reached a deal aimed at controlling the number of migrants and refugees trying to enter Europe.

A hard-fought, but vaguely worded deal was struck early on Friday after more than nine hours of negotiations at an EU summit in Brussels.

Leaders agreed that “controlled centres” should be set up in member states on a voluntary basis for “rapid and secure” processing to distinguish between irregular migrants and refugees eligible for asylum.

It was not yet clear which countries would host the centres.

Relocation and resettlement from the centres would also happen on a voluntary basis, the joint statement said, suggesting countries will not be required to take in people.

The leaders agreed to increase funding for Turkey and freed up 500 million euros ($581m) in funding for North Africa.

A joint statement asked to “swiftly explore” the concept of “regional disembarkation platforms” where migrants and refugees would be processed in third countries “to eliminate the incentive to embark on perilous journeys” .

The agreement calls on all member states to “take all necessary internal legislative and administrative measures” to counter movement of asylum seekers within the EU while the 28 countries agreed to share responsibility for migrants rescued at sea.

Veto threat

After the announcement of the deal, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said: “Today Italy is no longer alone”.

Italy had threatened to veto any deal if fellow EU leaders failed to do more to help the country, where a large share of incoming migrants and refugees arrive.

When asked about his view on the agreement, Italy’s interior minister Matteo Salvini, who campaigned on an anti-immigrant platform, said “let’s see the concrete commitments”.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel told reporters the EU still had “a lot of work to do to bridge the different views”.

Merkel was given an ultimatum by her interior minister to reach a European deal on migration at the summit or face unilateral action that explicitly went against her wishes, in a political crisis that threatened to bring an early end to her fourth coalition government.

EU migration commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos hailed the agreement as a “first positive step towards more solidarity”.

Stranded ships

In recent weeks, vessels with rescued migrants and refugees on board have been left stranded in the Mediterranean after they were barred from docking.

On Wednesday, humanitarian ship Lifeline docked in Malta after eight countries had agreed to take a share of the refugees and migrants on board.

Earlier in June, hundreds of migrants and refugees arrived in Spain after the vessels that rescued them were turned away by both Italy and Malta.

The political crisis over migrants comes amid a steep decline in the amount of people arriving on Europe’s shores.

The United Nations’ refugee agency has said it expects about 80,000 people to arrive by sea this year, which is about half the number that arrived in 2017.

In 2015, more than a million refugees and migrants arrived in Europe.

“It really is this engineered panic,” Judith Sunderland, an associate director at Human Rights Watch’s Europe and Central Asia division, told Al Jazeera.

On Friday, EU leaders will reconvene to discuss Brexit and the eurozone.  (Aljazeera)

100s arrested at US Senate Office Building protest

Hundreds of protesters were arrested Thursday after staging a sit-in at a U.S. Senate office building in Washington to protest the Trump administration’s immigration policy.

U.S. Capitol Police arrested 575 activists, mostly women, decrying President Donald Trump’s “zero-tolerance” policy on admission of undocumented immigrants.

They chanted “What do we want? Free families!” and “This is what democracy looks like,” as they sat in the Hart Senate Office Building’s atrium.

Protesters wrapped themselves in Mylar blankets, like the ones given to children separated from their families at the southern U.S. border and detained.

Democratic Senators Tammy Duckworth of Illinois, Maizi Hirono of Hawaii and Ed Markey of Massachusetts were among those who visited the protesters to lend their support.

Democratic Representative Pramila Jayapal of Washington, herself an immigrant, tweeted that she was among those arrested.

Under the zero-tolerance policy, the government has begun prosecuting all migrants caught entering the country without authorization. Trump has halted his policy of taking children from their detained parents under public pressure, but an estimated 2,000 of them are still being held, with many families saying they don’t know how to locate them.

Similar protests also took place elsewhere around the country. Hundreds gathered at a rally outside a federal courthouse in Brownsville, Texas, near the U.S.-Mexico border in the Rio Grande Valley.

Dozens of people shut down a government meeting in Michigan to protest a contract with Immigration and Customs Enforcement to house detainees at a local jail. (VOA)

Kwara expends over N11bn on infrastructure

Kwara State Government yesterday in Ilorin disclosed that it had expended over N11billion on infrastructure across the state between December 2016 and December 2017.

Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Media and Communications, Dr Muideen Akorede, who briefed pressmen alongside commissioner for Information and communications, Alhaji Mohammed Ishiak Sabi, on the outcome of the state executive council meeting held on Wednesday, explained that the fund was expended under the government’s special funding window tagged Kwara Infrastructure Development Fund (IF-K).

Akorede who explained that the council received report on the state’s IGR reform under which IF-K got its funding between December 2016 and December 2017, said N4.97bn was expended on existing projects while N6.07bn was spent on new projects.

Speaking further, Akorede who explained that projects captured under Kwara Public and Private Partnership Bureau was the branding and repositioning of Kwara Hotels, said the Hotel would be benchmark against best practice, saying NOVOTEL and IBIS would handle the project under Accorde Hotel Group.

“The State Government would retain the ownership of the Hotel but will offer Kwarans the opportunity to be part owners through crowd funding arrangement.

“This arrangement will be 100% local contents and expected to create over 1,500 indirect local jobs to artisans, 500 jobs for professionals and 182 direct jobs after completion,” Akorede explained.

Also speaking, the commissioner for information and communications, Alhaji Mohammed Ishiak Sabi, said council also considered requests from experts on the upward review of contract sum of Diamond Split Underpass, Kulende-UITH-Oke-Ose and Ilesha-Baruba-Gwanara roads projects.

According to the commissioner, the council after thorough deliberations on expertise’s advice, decided to approve the upward review of Split Diamond Underpass from N2,930,847,252.06 to N3,639,444,659.04, making a difference of N708,597,407.33.

Alhaji Ishiak Sabi added that Kunlende – UITH-Oke-Ose road project was reviewed upward from N2,385,217,963.01bn to N3,47,86,789.16bn and the Ilesha-Baruba-Gwanara road was increased from  N2,156,953,404.88bn to N2,361,904,549.71bn.

According to the commissioner, the upward review of the contract sum becomes imperative so as to take care of some unforeseen circumstances that might jeopardised the life span of the projects.

Nigeria’s solid mineral revenue hits N262b in nine years

Total revenue from the solid mineral sector in Nigeria in the past nine years stands at about N262 billion, maintaining a slow rise from N8.1 billion in 2007 to N65.7 billion in 2015.

Analysis of data provided in the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) audit dashboard showed that the country’s revenue from the sector in 2008 stood at N9.5 billion and moved to N19.4 billion in 2009. In 2010, the figure declined to N17.3 billion but moved to N26.9 billion, N31.4 billion, N33.8 billion in 2011, 2012 and 2013 respectively. In 2014, the revenue went to N49.6 billion before hitting N65.7 billion in 2015.

However, while the total royalty earned for the period under review stood at N7.4 billion, the total metric tons of solid mineral produced in the country stood at about 330 million metric tons with contributions from limestones hovering at 54.5 per cent of the total production.

According to the report, production of solid mineral reached the peak in 2014, when the country produced about 47 million metric tons of solid mineral while the lowest production was recorded in 2007 when the country produced about 13 million metric tons of solid minerals.

Though Nigeria is blessed with numbers of solid minerals, including coal, lignite and Coke, gold, columbite wolframite and tantalite, bitumen, iron ore, uranium, mining of minerals only accounts for 0.5 per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), a situation blamed on the influence of vast oil resources.

Chief Executive Officer, EPINA Technologies Limited, Prof. Eguakhide Oaikhinan, noted that while the sector could add as much as $50 billion (about N15.3 trillion) to the nation’s GDP by climbing from 0.5 per cent to 10 per cent growth, government has been insensitive to the call for the overhaul of the sector.

“Everybody seems to be concerned with oil or the mining of the minerals. In the raw state, these mined minerals sell at very low prices but when characterised and processed, it could have very competitive market value for the country,” he noted.

While the Advisory Partner and Mining Leader at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) Nigeria, Cyril Azobu, told The Guardian that Nigeria is a fast evolving mining jurisdiction, he insisted that the sector could contribute much more given that most of the country’s rich solid minerals endowment remain largely untapped.

He noted that the lack of proper policy in the sector remained a basic challenge there must be tackled if the desired objective would be achieved in the sector.

Azobu said: “There has over the years been a preponderance of largely informal operations fraught with the use of crude equipment and extremely dangerous working practices because of the absence of a formal policy on artisanal mining.

“We have a situation where for a very long time the solid minerals sector was neglected by the government. The agriculture sector also suffered from this neglect. Because of this, the sector has remained underdeveloped with no real structures put in place by successive governments to unlock its potential.” (Guardian)

UN: 10,000 children killed, maimed in conflicts in 2017

More than 10,000 children were killed or maimed last year in armed conflicts around the world, a U.N. report said this week.

More than 21,000 “grave violations” of children’s rights were reported in 2017, a sharp increase from the year before, according to the annual Children and Armed Conflict report that was released Wednesday.

“Despite some progress, the level of violations remains unacceptable,” said Stephane Dujarric, spokesman for U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

The report covers 20 countries, including hot spots such as Yemen, Syria and Afghanistan.

According to the report:

— The Saudi Arabia-led coalition was responsible for at least half of the more than 1,300 child deaths in Yemen. It was also responsible for injuring more than 300 children.

— Nigeria and Iraq imprisoned 2,200 and 1,000 children, respectively, because their families were allegedly associated with terrorist groups.

— Al-Shabab extremists in Somalia abducted more than 1,600 children to use as soldiers or sex slaves.

— In South Sudan, more than 1,200 children were recruited as soldiers.

— In Yemen, there were more than 840 cases of boys as young as 11 being recruited and used as soldiers.

“The point is, these kids should not be treated like children of a lesser God; they deserve the same rights as every kid to live their lives at least meaningfully and to be given a chance at recovery,” said Virginia Gamba, the U.N. special representative for children and armed conflict.

Gamba said crises in the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Myanmar, South Sudan, Syria and Yemen were the main reasons for the “serious increases” in violations reported. (VOA)

Police brutality, extortion have reached frightening level, says CJN

The Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen has stated that police brutality, unwarranted arrests and illegal detention have reached frightening level and ordered Magistrates to carry out inspection of police stations and other detention facilities across the country.

The directive, which is in line with the provisions of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015, is intended to check complaints of incidents of police’s brutality, inordinate arrests, detention and extortion of innocent Nigerians by police officers across the country.

According to a statement by the Senior Special Assistant to the CJN on Media, Awassam Bassey, the CJN’s order was contained in a directive to Chief Judges of the 36 States and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

Onnoghen said, “I have observed, and received several complaints of the horrific incidents of police brutality, inordinate arrest, detention and extortion of innocent Nigerians by Officers across the country.

“These incidents have assumed frightening proportions in recent times. The Magistrate Courts are currently overwhelmed with cases of such brutality, inordinate arrests and detention of Citizens.

“As we approach election year, it is imperative that we curb these excesses through the instrumentality of the statutory powers of the courts”.
Onnoghen added that the powers of the magistrates to carry out oversight functions over police stations in their jurisdiction, is derived from the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) 2015.

He said Section 34 (1) of the Act states that “the Chief Magistrate, or where there is no Chief Magistrate within the police division, any Magistrate designated by the Chief Judge for that purpose, shall, at least every month, conduct an inspection of police stations or other places of detention within his territorial jurisdiction other than prison.

‘’Section 34 (2) further states that, During the visit, Magistrates may, call for and inspect, the record of arrest; direct the arraignment of the suspect; where bail has been refused, grant bail to any suspect where appropriate if the offence for which the suspect is held, is within the jurisdiction of the Magistrate.”

The statement noted that by this directive, the magistrates are “to, at least, every month conduct an inspection of Police Stations or other places of detention within his territorial jurisdiction other than prison”.

He further directed the Chief Judge of every state and Abuja to put in place appropriate mechanisms to ensure compliance with the above provisions of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act. (Thisday)

How Muslim cleric ‘hid Christians inside mosque’ during Plateau attack

An imam in Plateau state reportedly hid over 200 people, including Christians, inside a mosque during the recent attack in the state.

According to BBC Pidgin, the religious leader, whose identity was not disclosed, saw people fleeing Birkin Ladi local government area where part of the killings took place.

He was said to have rendered them assistance by offering a mosque in Nghar Yelwa, his village, as a place of refuge.

The Imam was said to have hid the women in his house before taking the men to the mosque.

“I first took the women to my personal house to hide them there, then I took the men to the mosque to hide, ” the imam reportedly said.

After hiding them, some armed men reportedly approached the imam, asking him to identify the Christians among the people.

He was said to have lied that they were all Muslims. According to the report, he laid on the floor, begging the armed men to leave.

One of the survivors of the attack lamented the death of his son.

Another man expressed sadness over how more than 60 victims were buried in a mass grave.

“Look at how they are buried,” he said crying.

“Where do we run to? We were born here and we grew up here but they want us to leave. To where?”

Over 100 people were killed in the attack. (Daily Sun)