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Bandits With RPG, Others Kidnap Students in Kagara



Kagara students

By Modupe Gbadeyanka

Just about two months after an abduction in Kankara town in Katsina State, some bandits have stormed a secondary school in Kagara in Niger State.

It was gathered that the gunmen were at the Government Science School in the town on Tuesday night to kidnap some students who were in the boarding school.

The terrorists also went away with some members of staff of the institution after a gun battle with security officials, who initially resisted them but were overpowered.

It is not certain the exact number of persons abducted by the bandits but reports said they may be more than 15.

The abductors have released images of their location and one of them could be seen holding a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG), a shoulder-fired missile weapon that launches rockets equipped with an explosive warhead.

The abducted persons could also be seen sitting on the floor and covered in dust.

Recall that two months ago, some bandits kidnapped hundreds of students of Government Secondary School, Kankara in Katsina State. They were later released after negotiations with the government.

The incident happened hours after President Muhammadu Buhari arrived in his Daura, Katsina home state.

The abduction of secondary students in the northern part of Nigeria is almost becoming a norm for bandits, who use this means to raise funds by negotiating their release.

The trend started in 2014 when some secondary school students at a girls’ only school were kidnapped by Boko Haram terrorists in Chibok, Borno State. All the girls are yet to be released.

Modupe Gbadeyanka is a fast-rising journalist with Business Post Nigeria. Her passion for journalism is amazing. She is willing to learn more with a view to becoming one of the best pen-pushers in Nigeria. Her role models are the duo of CNN's Richard Quest and Christiane Amanpour.

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FEC Approves N20.1bn to Equip Customs



Nigeria Customs Service

By Adedapo Adesanya

The Federal Executive Council (FEC) has approved a total of N20.1 billion for the procurement of various operating equipment for the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS).

Mrs Zainab Ahmed, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, disclosed this on Wednesday to State House Correspondents at the end of the weekly FEC meeting held at the Presidential Villa in Abuja and presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.

The council also approved N539.3 million for the construction of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) building at the Ilupeju Medium and Small Taxpayers’ office, according to the Minister.

The Minister further said that a total of 427 operating vehicles worth N14.55 billion and nine assorted gunboats worth N5.6 billion were all approved for Customs contracts.

“The ministry also presented, on behalf of the Nigerian Customs Service, a memo that was seeking for Council’s approval for the design, construction and supply of two NC36M patrol boats, in favour of Messrs of Boat Plus Limited, in the sum of N5,062,530,400, inclusive of 7.5 per cent Value Added Tax (VAT) with a delivery period of 12 months and council approved our request.

“We also presented a memo, again on behalf of the Nigerian Customs Service, for the approval of council for the design, construction and supply of seven fast assault patrol boats and seven regular patrol boats, in favour of Messrs Siwa West Africa Limited, in the sum of N501,472,471.08, inclusive of 7.5 per cent VAT with a delivery period of eight weeks.

“The purpose of the purchase of these two types of patrol boats is to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of operations of the Nigerian Customs Service in its bid to control smuggling and also ensure enhanced efficiency in all customs duty operations in the Marine Unit of the Nigerian Customs Service.

“We also presented, again on behalf of the Nigeria Customs Service, a request for Council’s approval and council approved the procurement of 427 operational vehicles for the Nigerian Customs Service operations in favour of various contractors in the combined sum of N14.55 billion, inclusive of 7.5 per cent VAT with a delivery period of four weeks,” she said.

On his part, the Minister of Information and Culture, Mr Lai Mohammed, speaking on behalf of Minister of State for Education, Mr Emeka Nwajiuba, also revealed that council approved a project for the extension of the University of Ibadan’s library worth N532 million.

“The Minister of Education also presented a memo for the award of contract for the construction and furnishing of the extension of the library of the University of Ibadan. The memo, which was approved, is at the cost of N532,609,000 and with a completion period of 48 weeks.

“It was a memo that was very well received because of the need to actually extend the library facility in the University. For many years, the library of the University of Ibadan had needed real extension, given a surge of the student population,” he said.

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Lagos Charges N1.37m for 2021 Umrah



2021 Umrah Lagos

By Modupe Gbadeyanka

Muslims who wish to observe the 2021 Umrah (lesser Hajj) in Saudi Arabia through the Lagos State government will have to pay N1.37 million.

A statement issued by the Lagos State Muslim Pilgrims Welfare Board disclosed that the amount is the least package fees.

“The first package at a cost of N1.37 million includes stay at a 3-star hotel; Sahur (morning meal) and Iftar (evening meal) in Nigerian delicacies; economy class ticket with a reputable airline; executive and convenient local transportation; five days stay in Madinah, including three days isolation period; COVID-19 tests in Makkah and Madinah; visitation to historical sites and two-to-a-room accommodation,” the Executive Secretary of the board, Mr Rahman Ishola, explained.

Mr Ishola further said the Umrah exercise comes up during the last 10 days of the Holy month of Ramadan and has two different packages that the intending pilgrims can choose from.

For the second package, he said pilgrims would be required to pay N2.7 million and comprises accommodation at the 5-star Ajyad Makareem Hotel in Makkah and Coral Hotel in Madinah.

“This is in addition to other benefits contained in the first package like Sahur and Iftar among others,” he added.

The board scribe explained that the increase in fare was due to the strict implementation of the COVID-19 protocols by Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Health, emphasising that the Umrah exercise will hold between April 27 and May 15, 2021, and urged interested Muslims to seize the opportunity provided by the agency to make their payment as soon as possible.

He also encouraged those who had already made initial deposits to endeavour to pay up the balance for the package of their choice and forward evidence of payment (teller/bank receipt) and international passport to the board on or before April 18, 2021, for further necessary action.

Mr Ishola stated that it is mandatory for all the intending pilgrims to get the COVID-19 vaccine before embarking on the pilgrimage, stressing that without the vaccination, they would be denied entry into Saudi Arabia.

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FG to Use Gas to Lift Nigerians Out of Poverty




By Adedapo Adesanya

The federal government has revealed that it plans to use the implementation of the National Gas Expansion Programme (NGEP) to lift no fewer than 100 million Nigerians out of poverty.

The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Mr Timipre Sylva, was quoted as saying in a statement issued on Monday that this would be achieved by creating jobs for millions of young Nigerians.

“Counting the impacts of the programme on our socioeconomic space within the first year of its launching, the administration further stepped up its commitment to industrialising Nigeria through gas utilisation by declaring the year 2021 to 2030 as the Decade of Gas.

“With proven gas reserves of over 200 million cubic feet and natural gas presents an opportunity for the nation to use gas as the catalyst for its socio-economic renaissance,” the Minister stated.

The federal government rolled out the NGEP last year and it involves the conversion of fuel-powered cars and generators from petrol to gas.

Aimed at deepening domestic usage of natural gas in its various forms, the programme aligns with the federal government’s plan to make gas the first-choice source for cheaper and cleaner energy and is expected to deliver at least one million vehicle conversions by the end of 2021.

The Minister oversaw the physical launch of the policy as President Muhammadu Buhari virtually conducted the rollout.

The NGEP seeks to deepen the penetration of gas as a cheaper alternative to petrol for powering automobiles.

The Minister stated that the induction of gas to power automobiles and other engines represented a step in the right direction, as the NGEP is set to create two million jobs annually for the country.

It was revealed that under the directives of the President, Nigeria will continue to strengthen the gas value chain, as a vital tool for transforming the economy.

Gas products to be widely pushed for adoption include Compressed Natural Gas (CNG), Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) and Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG).

The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) also pledged support to the effort of the NGEP, the national oil corporation has established designated NNPC retail filling stations offering free petrol-to-gas conversion services for some cars to enable vehicles to run on LPG or CNG.

There are currently 80 locations in the country capable of fueling the vehicles, and the price of CNG is expected to cost N97 per litre.

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Nigerian Navy Acquires Tools to Fight Crude Oil Theft



Nigerian Navy

By Adedapo Adesanya

The Nigerian Navy has acquired 172 patrol boats, four helicopters, four ships and 14 unmanned aerial vehicles to aid its fight against crude oil theft and sea piracy within the country’s territorial waters.

This was disclosed by the Navy spokesperson, Mr Suleman Dahun, who noted that the agency has made significant progress in the recapitalisation of its fleet, with dozens of vessels commissioned since 2020 and more on the way.

These acquisitions, according to the Nigerian Navy, came as the service attempts to deal with a continued spate of pirate attacks in the Gulf of Guinea, as well as oil thieves and other criminals in the Niger Delta region.

Mr Dahun, in a statement, said that France’s Ocea shipped the third and fourth C-Falcon interceptors (P273 and P274) to Nigeria via cargo ship earlier this month, explaining that the first two (P271 and P272) were delivered at the end of 2020.

“Over the last eight years, Ocea has supplied one FPB 98 Mk I patrol vessel, eight FPB 72 Mk II and two FPB 110 Mk II patrol vessels to Nigeria. Ocea also won three tenders for two additional FPB 110, one OSV 190 SC-WB and four C-Falcon vessels.

“The two additional 35-metre FPB 110 boats were delivered by the end of 2020. In September last year, Ocea launched a new hydrographic survey ship, the Lana, which is expected to be delivered later in April 2021.

“The Nigerian Navy is also expecting four 17 metre Suncraft Manta boats from Malaysia (these were built in 2020) while Damen is set to deliver two 40 metre fast patrol boats. The Damen boats are being built at its facilities in Vietnam.

“On the smaller end of the scale, Suncraft has supplied 25 of its 9.5 metre long rigid-hulled inflatable boats (RHIBs) and 15 of its 8.5-metre RHIBS. Another 90 small boats are either expected or have been delivered to the Nigerian Navy,” he stated.

The Nigerian Navy said acquisitions include locally manufactured vessels, as indigenous construction of a third 43-metre Seaward Defence Boat and two logistic supply houseboats at the Naval Dockyard Limited and Naval Shipyard Limited, were in progress.

“These vessels were expected to join the service in the first quarter of 2021. In addition, about 170 riverine patrol boats were built in Nigeria and more acquisitions are planned.

“On the aerial side, the Nigerian Navy has taken delivery of a single AW139 helicopter from Leonardo Helicopters and is in the process of procuring 14 unmanned aerial vehicles, to enhance response capability, through South Africa’s Epsilon and CACTIC in China.

“These are expected to be delivered within the current year. Over the last six years, the Nigerian Navy has acquired a total of 378 platforms, including 172 patrol boats, 114 RHIBs, two Seaward Defence Boats, 12 Manta class boats, three Whaler boats, three tugs and two barges.

“Other platforms acquired included 22 fast attack boats, 14 UAVs, four helicopters, 14 River Town class boats, 12 houseboats and four capital ships,” he said.

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TAWN Echoes Determination to Fight Poverty



TAWN yoghurt Making

By Modupe Gbadeyanka

A non-government organisation known as The African Women Network (TAWN) has reaffirmed its determination to help eradicate poverty among women.

Recently, the group, which was established to help empower African women, organised a free skills acquisition programme at the Waterside community in the Ogba area of Lagos State.

The event was part of activities rolled out to celebrate the 2021 International Women’s Day (IWD) themed Choose to Challenge.

President of TAWN, Mrs Pat Okeahialam, while speaking at the programme, noted that the theme for IWD this year was particularly profound for TAWN as the group remains determined to show up all forms of unfair practices against women in the society even as it remains resolute to impact women with different skills that would benefit them economically.

On the free acquisition programme, she said TAWN was very passionate about women and is desirous to see women, no matter their status in society, excel in their chosen profession using their talents or acquired skills.

It is that passion to help women fight poverty, injustice, diseases, idleness, inequalities in societies that underscored the free training for women in the Ogba community, she stated.

“At TAWN, we believe that people are the greatest asset we have and the greatest infrastructure that we build upon, especially the women.

“And that is why we are determined to ensure that every woman and youth benefit from the policies and programmes of TAWN. We hope to empower women across the continent through targeted initiatives,” Mrs Okeahialam said.

Participants were taught different skills they could immediately use to financially empower themselves and their families like bead making and liquid soap making, handled by Mrs Blessing Njideka Adebola.

Balloon decoration and yoghurt making were handled by Mrs Okeahialam, while tie & dye was taken by Mrs Iyobosa Ikade, the arts teacher in American International School, Lagos.

The beneficiaries of the training commended TAWN for the laudable initiative, assuring that they would utilise those skills because they are very relevant to their financial stability and growth.

Mrs Bernice Mbaolu, who spoke on behalf of the participants, said, “God bless you. We are so grateful for what you people have done for us today.

“What you have taught us can never be forgotten by us. With these new things we have learnt today, we will be able to help our husbands; we will no longer depend on our husbands or children for everything. We can make a living from these skills. Thank you very much.”

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Alleged US Terror Watchlist: Pantami Reacts



Isa Pantami

By Aduragbemi Omiyale

Nigerians woke up to reports on social media alleging that the country’s Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Mr Isa Ali Pantami, has been put on the United States terror watchlist.

According to the reports, the Minister got into trouble with the world power because of his alleged support for known Al-Qaeda members as well as the late Mohammad Yusuf, who is believed to be the founding leader of the Boko Haram terrorist group.

Mr Pantami, before he was appointed as Minister by President Muhammadu Buhari, was a well-known Islamic cleric, who worked in Saudi Arabia at the Islamic University of Madinah as Head of Technical Writing.

He studied Computer Science at Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University in Bauchi, graduating in 2003 and then obtained an MSc in 2008 before securing a PhD from Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen, Scotland.

He is also trained on Digital transformation at Harvard University, USA, then Management Strategy in both, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the Institute of Management Development in Loussaune, Switzerland. He was also in Cambridge University for Management Programme, among others.

Reacting to the reports, after one of the publishers retracted the story, the Minister said his lawyers would take legal action on those who published the defaming article.

“Your retraction through your independent investigation has been noted. However, investigative journalism requires the investigation before publishing, not after.

“Further, major publishers will meet my lawyers in the court on this defamation of character.

“My lectures against the doctrines and all other evil people have been available for over 15 years, including debates that endangered my life against many criminals in Nigeria. If you can’t understand Hausa, get an objective Hausa speaker to translate for you objectively.

“On the issue of NIN-SIM verification to fight insecurity, there is no going back. Our priority as a government based on the provision of our constitution 1999 (as amended) Section 14(2) is security, not just economy. For sure, [there is] no going back at all. Let the sponsors continue.

“FYI (for your information) all, by the Almighty, no amount of intimation will stop @IsaPantami from implementing the good policies of President Muhammadu Buhari on security.

“Finally, if you are yet to verify your SIM using NIN, do it very soon, before our next action. Criminals are feeling the heat,” Mr Pantami said.

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