Customs Harassing Igbo Travellers—Obi
By Dipo Olowookere
Officials of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) have been accused of subjecting Igbo travellers to hardship by seizing rice meant for household consumption at its numerous checkpoints in the region.
This allegation was made by former Governor of Anambra State, Mr Peter Obi, at the end-of-the-year meeting of Diamond Brothers Club held yesterday at Oriental Hotel, Lagos.
Mr Obi noted that some people visited him at his Onitsha home to complain about the hardship on people because of countless Customs checkpoints on roads, especially in the South-East.
He stated that to have first-hand information about the complaint, he travelled by road from Lagos to Onitsha and described the situation as worrisome and counter-productive.
Speaking further, Mr Obi wondered if the roads in Nigeria have become wharfs or borders to warrant many Customs checkpoints.
“We know that Customs police our borders to, among other things, guard against smuggling of banned goods, but, if they do this effectively at the borders, as obtainable in other countries, there would not be need for Customs checkpoints all over the place,” he said.
Mr Obi said he observed over 10 checkpoints from Ore to Onitsha and added that, in this time of recession, what was more worrisome was that they stopped travellers and demanded Customs papers, clearance papers for vehicles, including those bought several years ago.
“Even families going home for Christmas were stopped and the rice they were given as gifts in their offices or bought in the open market were confiscated under the presence that they were foreign rice.”
Mr Obi appealed to the Customs Comptroller General, Mr Hameed Ali, “to look with interest” at what is happening and “to completely overhaul their mode of operations by targeting those importing banned goods at the borders and not innocent Nigerians trying painfully to eke a living.”
He commended Customs for their contributions to the growth and development of the country, but argued that, “taking their checkpoints to places that have or have no need of them is subjecting the people to underserved hardship.
Tinubu Travelled Abroad to Rest, Will Return Soon–Aide
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
The office of the president-elect has confirmed that Mr Bola Tinubu has jetted out of Nigeria for a rest in the United Kingdom and France ahead of his swearing-in ceremony slated for May 29, 2023.
An online platform on Wednesday reported that the winner of the February 25 presidential election travelled to Europe for urgent medical attention.
But in a statement issued by one of his aides, Mr Tunde Rahman, it was emphasized that the former Governor of Lagos State only left the country to have a rest in London and Paris before going to Saudi Arabia for lesser hajj.
It was disclosed that Mr Tinubu travelled out of Nigeria on Tuesday night via the Murtala Mohammed International Airport (MMIA) Ikeja Lagos.
“After a very exhaustive campaign and election season, President-elect, Asíwájú Bola Tinubu, has travelled abroad to rest and plan his transition programme ahead of May 29, 2023 inauguration.
“The President-elect left the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Ikeja, for Europe on Tuesday night.
“The President-elect decided to take a break after the hectic campaign and election season to rest in Paris and London, preparatory to going to Saudi Arabia for Umrah (Lesser Hajj) and the Ramadan Fasting that begins Thursday.
“While away, the President-elect will also use the opportunity to plan his transition programme.
“He is expected back in the country soon.
“We enjoin the media to stop publishing rumours and unsubstantiated claims and to always seek clarifications from our office,” the statement said.
INEC Declares Labour Party’s Alex Otti Abia Governor-Elect
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
The candidate of the Labour Party in the governorship election in Abia State, Mr Alex Otti, has been declared as the winner of the exercise by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
The former banker polled a total of 175,467 votes to defeat his closest rival in the poll, Mr Okey Ahiwe of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), who garnered 88,529 votes.
The Abia State governorship election was earlier declared inconclusive by the electoral umpire due to issues arising from over-voting. The collation centre had to be moved to Abuja from Umuahia, the state capital.
The governor-elect, in a short post via his verified Twitter handle, reacted to the development by saying, “See what the Lord has done.”
Mr Otti left the banking industry a few years ago after serving as the managing director of the defunct Diamond Bank, which merged with Access Bank. He left his office in the bank to pursue his political ambition in 2015, but he failed until he succeeded in 2023.
Cash Scarcity: NLC Orders Workers to Embark on Strike
By Adedapo Adesanya
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has directed public sector workers in the country to embark on strike beginning from Wednesday, March 29, 2023.
President of the union, Mr Joe Ajaero, gave this directive at a media briefing at Labour House in Abuja on Wednesday, March 22.
He also directed affiliate unions of the NLC to be on standby for a picketing exercise across all branches of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) nationwide.
The union leader said the directive became imperative following the expiration of a one-week ultimatum given to the apex bank to make cash available for Nigerians.
The scarcity has heightened with plans by the central bank to mop up the old Naira in circulation. The apex bank recently said it had removed N2.3 trillion from circulation between October 2022 and February 2023 while printing fewer new notes.
Business Post reported that between October last year and February 2023, the cash in circulation dropped to N982.09 billion from N3.29 trillion.
This is one of the factors that has extended the scarcity of the Naira and have also prolonged it into March.
Despite the Supreme Court judgement on March 3, 2023, that the old Naira remain legal until December 31, 2023, new notes have not reached many households with the old notes and new notes difficult to acquire.
With the cash in circulation dropping and the currency in commercial banks’ vaults or that of the CBN rising, Nigerians still find it difficult to access the money deposited in their accounts despite the ruling that the new and old notes should co-exist for 10 months.
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