**Orders RRS, LASTMA, LASEMA to enforce directive at state borders
By Dipo Olowookere
Governor Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos State has approved the restriction of trucks entering the metropolis as a way of dealing with the incessant traffic logjams experienced at the Apapa axis of the state.
At a press conference jointly addressed on Friday by officials of the state as well as members of the Association of Maritime Truck Owners (AMATO) at the Bagauda Kaltho Press Centre in Alausa, the state government specifically said owners and operators of articulated vehicles/trailers and petroleum tankers should stay away from Lagos for now.
It regretted that the incessant traffic bottleneck had impacted negatively on the commercial activities of the citizenry, adding that the directive would be enforced to eliminate the current hardship being faced by motorists.
Addressing the briefing, Acting Commissioner for Transportation, Mr Olanrewaju Elegushi, said investigations revealed that the traffic lockdown was a direct result of the challenges being faced by operators of the ports’ which had made it impossible for them to load the articulated vehicles/trailers that has come from the hinterland to evacuate imported items from the ports.
He said the gridlock was worsened by the current rehabilitation of some major roads and other minor roads which necessitated the closure of some roads in Apapa, noting that the situation had led to the traffic bottleneck and backflow of the articulated vehicles to as far as Ojuelegba on the Funsho Williams Avenue, Surulere.
Explaining the reason for the directive, Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr Steve Ayorinde, said the Apapa gridlock had also become a reoccurring problem due to constant breakdown of operations at the Ports.
“Clearly, it is the breakdown of operations at the Port that is the monster causing this reoccurring issue. We keep having this issue of gridlock in Apapa because issues that the Ports Authorities and the concessionaires are dealing with are recurrent and the spill over effect of those issues are causing all these.
“If the Ports can’t determine how many trucks they are able to deal with on a daily basis; how they are informed about coming in and going out, then it will be a problem to deal with.
“What we need to do is to keep on engaging with them, we keep on engaging with other states and so on. I mean people who have trucks in other states and already know that there is a logjam in Lagos, why send other trucks to Lagos? While clearing the mess that the Lagos State Government did not cause, can people not consider it logical to wait for few days for us to clear this and this is the reason why we are saying that trucks should stay away from Lagos in the interim.
“The idea is not to say don’t come into Lagos. It is part of what makes the economy of Lagos what it is but we are saying let us deal with the logjam that we have presently and there is no way we can deal with it, we can only deal with the effect because the causes essentially have to do with the operations at the Ports and that is why we are appealing to them,” Mr Ayorinde explained.
He also said that the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) had been unable to load product from its Mosimi Depot in Ogun State due to vandalisation, noting that tankers hoping to get fuel across to the South West States are stranded in Lagos.
In the interim, the government, however, urged the operators to utilise the Ogere Trailer Park and other parks outside the state to avoid further hardship for motorists on the road, assuring that all measures would be deployed to ensure quick resolution of the situation.
On his part, General Manager of the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA0, Mr Adesina Tiamiyu, said the state government has already instructed the agency alongside Rapid Response Squad (RRS) of the Nigeria Police and the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA) to enforce the order restricting trucks from entering Lagos for now, noting that the enforcement will subsist pending when the spill over of traffic is cleared.
He urged residents not to hesitate to immediately alert State authorities through the 112 and 767 toll free lines in the eventuality of any danger lurking.
Also speaking, President of AMATO, Mr Remi Ogungbemi said the present situation was worrisome as it is a time bomb waiting to explode if unchecked.
He urged the Federal Government to take a cue from the Lagos State government and collaborate to resolve the crisis as soon as possible.
While pledging the readiness of members of his association to support efforts geared to restore sanity, Mr Ogungbemi also called for a regulatory system in place to manage call-up of trucks through technology.
Recall that this week, the Lagos State House of Assembly appealed to the NNPC to relocate tank farms in Apapa to other less populated areas so as to ease hectic traffic situation in the area.
SweepSouth to Battle Fichaya, Others for Market Share in Nigeria
By Adedapo Adesanya
Johannesburg-based SweepSouth, the home cleaning service startup that was launched in 2014, is looking to hijack some customers from its competitors in Nigeria by offering quality services.
SweepSouth allows people to book home cleaning services at affordable prices and connects them with cleaners they call SweepStars, who are carefully vetted and are professionals with extensive experience in home cleaning.
Traditional domestic service agencies in Nigeria are mostly informal, and people who use these cleaners often have to find them by asking around their neighbourhood but the problem with this approach is that it is difficult to know if the cleaner is experienced.
Things are about to change as SweepSouth’s value proposition will help its customers find a cleaner in minutes and will deliver the best services.
The startup’s expansion in Nigeria is led by its new country manager, Ms Awazi Angbalaga, an operator who has worked across industries in the past eight years.
Ms Angbalaga noted that SweepSouth has been test-running its services in Nigeria for the last two months and that the uptake has been exciting.
“Although we’ve largely been testing out our service here, we have already had our first 300 bookings, and the feedback we’ve received backs our belief that our proposition is compelling to Nigerians. While we’re growing our bookings every week, our focus continues to be providing the best service to our customers,” she said.
At the moment, SweepSouth charges a base fee of N3,400 ($8) for cleaning a one-bedroom apartment and around N7,500 ($18) for cleaning a 3-bedroom apartment. The pricing is at par with what is obtainable with traditional domestic service agencies, which is important for a service which is aiming for mass-market adoption.
But SweepSouth will face competition from those traditional domestic service agencies and newer startups such as Fichaya which are now targeting Nigeria’s young working-class population.
Remote work and a growing class of young tech workers, who are willing to pay gig workers for services that make their lives easier, are powering the home services industry. Other startups in this space even offer home-cooked meals and laundry.
To break into the market, SweepSouth may also look to provide additional services such as its SweepSouth Connect, which links people with a wide range of professional artisans. SweepSouth Connect is already available in Kenya and South Africa.
The startup did not confirm if it will launch its Connect service in Nigeria but it stressed that for now, the focus is to reach mass adoption and provide exceptional service to customers.
At the moment, customers can only make bookings from the SweepSouth Nigeria website, but the startup shared that it will launch its app this month. The app will improve customer experience across the entire process from booking to leaving reviews for the SweepStars they’re matched with.
Buhari Loses Suit to Challenge Electoral Act at Supreme Court
By Adedapo Adesanya
The Supreme Court has struck out a suit filed by President Muhammadu Buhari and the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Mr Abubakar Malami, challenging Section 84(12) of the Electoral Act.
On Friday, the case was expunged on the grounds that it lacks the jurisdiction to entertain it and is an abuse of the court process.
A notice for the judgment delivery was served on President Buhari and the National Assembly on Thursday, inviting them to appear before the court today for the judgment.
The President and the Minister of Justice had filed a suit at the Supreme Court, seeking an interpretation of the controversial clause in the Electoral Amendment Act 2022.
In the suit filed on April 29, President Buhari and Mr Malami, who are the plaintiffs, listed the National Assembly as the sole defendant.
There have been several debates regarding Section 84 (12) of the amended Electoral Act 2022 which was assented to in February.
Upon assenting to the act, President Buhari had asked the National Assembly to delete the contended clause, however, the parliament declined the president’s request.
Section 84 (12) of the legislation holds that “no political appointee at any level shall be a voting delegate or be voted for at the convention or congress of any political party for the purpose of the nomination of candidates for any election.”
In their suit marked SC/CV/504/2022 and filed on April 29, 2022, President Buhari and Mr Malami sought an order of the apex court to strike out the section of the Electoral Act, which they argue was inconsistent with the nation’s constitution.
According to the court document, the plaintiffs contend that the Section 84(12) of the Electoral (Amendment) Act, 2022 is inconsistent with the provisions of sections 42, 65, 66, 106, 107, 131, 137, 147, 151, 177, 182, 192 and 196 of the Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, (as amended), as well Article 2 of the African Charter on Human and People and Peoples Rights.
The plaintiffs further contended that the constitution already makes provisions for qualification and disqualification for the offices of the President and Vice President, Governor and Deputy Governor, Senate and House of Representatives, House of Assembly, Ministers, Commissioners, and Special Advisers.
They urged the Supreme Court to make: “A declaration that the joint and or combined reading of section 65, 66, 106, 107, 131, 137, 147, 151, 177, 182, 192 and 196 of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, (as amended), the provision of Section 84 (12) of the Electoral Act, 2022 which also ignores Section 84(3) of the same Act, is an additional qualifying and/or disqualifying factors for the National Assembly, House of Assembly, Gubernatorial and Presidential elections as enshrined in the said constitution, hence unconstitutional, unlawful, null and void”.
However, in its decision on Friday, the Supreme Court held that President Buhari, having assented to the bill on February 25 2022, cannot turn around to challenge the same act.
In a unanimous judgement delivered by Justice Emmanuel Agim, the court said allowing the suit to have its way will amount to approbating and reprobating at the same time and no court of law shall allow that.
The apex court unanimously agreed that President Buhari lacked the jurisdiction to bring the suit before it because of the nature of the reliefs sought.
London Police Arrest Ekweremadu, Wife Over Organ Harvesting
By Adedapo Adesanya
The London Metropolitan Police has announced that it arrested a Nigerian national, Mr Ike Ekweremadu, and his wife, Mrs Beatrice Nwanneka Ekweremadu, for allegedly conspiring to bring a child to the United Kingdom for organ harvesting.
In a statement on its website, the Met Police wrote that “Beatrice Nwanneka Ekweremadu, 55 (10.9.66) of Nigeria is charged with conspiracy to arrange/facilitate the travel of another person with a view to exploitation, namely organ harvesting.
While the statement did not, however, give further details about the suspects, the age and description given match that of the former Deputy Senate President and his wife.
“Ike Ekweremadu, 60 (12.05.62) of Nigeria is charged with conspiracy to arrange/facilitate [the] travel of another person with a view to exploitation, namely organ harvesting.”
As at press time, neither Mr Ekweremadu nor his aides have issued a comment about the development.
But the police added that “both [have] been remanded in custody and will appear at Uxbridge Magistrates’ Court later today.
“The investigation was launched after detectives were alerted to potential offences under modern slavery legislation in May 2022.
“A child has been safeguarded and we are working closely with partners on continued support. As criminal proceedings are now underway we will not be providing further details.”
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